Birds from my cycle in Jiaoxi, Taiwan.

Thanks to a fellow blogger’s challenge, after I commented on his blog, in appreciation of some lovely bird photos, check it out here. So here are a few shots.

A juvenile Black-Crowned Night-Heron

A Cattle Egret.

These two are Javan Mynas

and Grey Treepies

Let’s see what other wildlife I can spot in this beautiful part of Taiwan. Thanks for reading, Sam.

Exercising the elderly

I would like to introduce my workaway host, this is Cheng-Han Tsai, he runs a community project called Homgoo village, (I talked a bit about this in another post). Cheng-Han supports himself by running activities for local elderly residents, on the outskirts of Jiaoxi, Jilan province, Taiwan.

It’s great to see this level of support for the aged, I’m not sure if everyone gets this type of care here, but nevertheless it’s nice, and I’ll find out. Here this wheel chair bound gentleman, is being encouraged to take part in the exercises, Cheng-Han is very empathetic and effective at engaging with his students.

One of the exercises was to play catch with a balled up rag, I was lucky enough to participate and play catch with one lovely older lady, not only was the exercise good, (I haven’t played catch for a while) but in particular the humour was over flowing, we laughed a lot. Cheng-Han is really an expert at getting everyone moving, participating and having a laugh.

He tells me it is hard work, and I saw this first hand, he really has to use a lot of energy and effort to help these older people to get moving, despite their aches, pains, disabilities. I can relate as I’ve also taught, but with a far younger age group, where all my energy was used up trying to help students and keep them on task, keep the paint flowing, onto the canvas rather than each other.

Thanks for reading, looking forward to sharing more from Jiaoxi soon, Sam.

First day in Taipei

I’m in Taipei until Wednesday, and on a mission to make some stories.

I arrived at around 11.30 today, from Beijing, met my friend Phu and family from Vietnam, for a coffee and lovely catch up. Now I’m sitting in my hostel after I spent a few hours walking around the local area.

I grabbed some dinner, see below

I’m aiming for a diet mainly comprising of vegetables, so this afternoon I went for the rice and cabbage with artichoke, I thought I would try a few sauces, wasabi, some chili with tomato mixture and not sure about the other, overall basic but tasty. I’ve been eating this kind of thing for a while, so I’m quite used to it now, it is nice when I find an opportunity to be healthy and eat basic when on the road, takes an effort but well worth it.

Shortly after lunch I headed into “Peace Park”, a place that seems to be teeming with wildlife, mammal (human mainly), reptile, feathered and gilled. I looked around for something particularly interesting to photograph and write about.

I saw a lady with a large tortoise surrounded by people, I decided to approach, to ask a few questions, in English, she spoke some, and told me her lady tortoise was 20 years old, she has had it all that time, I suggested that it must be like a family member, her English didn’t extend that far, some confusion ensued, finally she agreed it was like a girlfriend, not quite what I was getting at, but I think we were roughly on the same wavelength, and good on her for chatting in English. I attempted to take a few photos, she refused to appear next to her shelled girlfriend, but the tortoise (it had a name something like Moustong, I should take notes for names) seemed to stop and pose, or maybe it was just moving slowly.

I had no idea what this bird was until now, it’s a Black Crowned Night Heron, interesting to see such exotic looking birds here, just wondering about, something to be said for a culture that treats wildlife so well. There were also squirrels, lots of tortoises, fish and smaller birds such as tree sparrows, personally these are my favourite, they seem to be abundant and add a lovely and lively chirping to the mornings and evenings, whilst I was in Beijing and again now I’m in Taiwan.

I’m intrigued by travel journalism at the moment, so exploring the world has an added purpose, my writing and photographing agenda is to make interesting stories, I will endeavor to use my own perceptions to enhance the intrigue of what I experience, let’s see, all I can do is continue doing, learning and fill my head with the right stuff, and wrong if it helps.

I often look up, there are some interesting effects created by leaves with their vibrant colours, glowing with light coming through, in high contrast to the sky above. With a 400mm zoom lens and narrow depth of field, I can blur out the back leaves nicely. A wiley cat, if there was ever one, this one was on a leash, I can only imagine what would happen with all those fishes and birds around, if this little tiger was loose, what a beautiful and warm looking orange coat, wild big eyes (maybe that was because he’s a cat and on a leash), the nice lady allowed me to take a few shots, though I wish I’d endevoured a bit longer and got a better shot with his big eyes.

Ok and finally humans, we do often enjoy nature, I think even when people say they don’t, they are in some kind of denial, if you consider that in reality everything is nature, in my opinion anyway, if nature was not there neither would we be, food, water, air, when we spend time in it, I believe we connect to the simple reality of things, in an uncomplicated way, and that connects us with ourselves also in a direct and simple way, like a mirror, some things seem very clear, and it has taken a lot of effort trying to convince us otherwise.

I’m looking forward to spending more time in nature, Wednesday I’ll be heading out of the city, so I’m looking forward to sharing those experiences very soon, and also making art inspired by nature.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

UK and Euro Poetry Slam Champ – Beijing

Welcome to Beijing Sare Hirsch! I really enjoyed her poetry and talk, very informative and inspiring, and I was lucky to have a brief chat afterwards, thanks for the advice, to just keep writing and reading, I kind came to that conclusion already, but was great to have it confirmed by a successful poet, its always nice to be agreed with anyway.

Certainly I have found that by just reading a lot of poetry (I think I said this in another post, so excuse the repetition) it results the flowing out of words, more easily, this combined with not comparing myself with others, also allows me to share it more freely and learn from that, to do it, rather than just thinking about doing it.

It is an educational experience as someone trying to make a living through creativity and not quite being there yet and meeting with other creatives who are making their living mostly through their craft.

There is often that conflict between free creative expression and paid for creative expression, the line between the two seem to be more like a wall, for me at this stage in my career anyway, I have committed myself, for the next few months at least to collaborating and helping other creatives do and achieve what they want, getting paid where it seems appropriate, and trying to understand and define that line between creating for profit and creating for love, maybe they can be the same, I’m not sure but it is interesting to see where this exploration will take me, maybe it is just a matter of just keeping on making and sharing, until what we love to do become something that other people love to experience.

Thanks for reading, Sam.

Upducky Band and Damhsa – Bookworm, Beijing

I love live music, and what a treat an Irish band in Beijing and me filming and photographing it. Being mostly from Wales, I feel an affinity towards the Irish, though in confusing contrast, my English side feels the guilt of association with oppression, anyway labels aside, I really enjoyed their show, good timing as well, being Saint Patrick’s day.

Sometimes I am too sensitive perhaps, but we are what we are, there are always benefits to our different states of being, and I think sensitivity and live music are a great combination, we could also include empathy in that equation, I try to be empathetic, though I’m sure a lot of the time I’m more of an emotionless plank, which also has it’s advantages, I think its about using sensitivity when it’s most helpful and the blank plank state for when it is the most helpful, I’m still learning when and where to use both.

Often it is just a case of constantly getting these wrong, accepting and using failure and becoming more aware, reaching a new level, very much a challenge in day to day reactions with people.

The magic of a live performance can really be felt and explored through connectedness with the moment and sensations rather than thoughts, as I’m sure most have experienced.

Thanks for looking, Sam.