I am a STEM quadruple major and recent University of Washington graduate. I currently work as a Software Engineer at Facebook.
Read more about me via the links on this page, and feel free to e-mail me with any questions.
|2014||Apr||+||Software Engineer @ Facebook|
|2013||Aug||-||Undergrad @ UW|
|2009||Aug-Dec||Study Abroad in Europe|
|2007||Sep||+||Undergrad @ UW|
|Secure e-mail||read here|
If you can guess where the cover photo was taken, I will add your name to a list of winners (coming soon).
Here are the latest photos and posts from my blog.
When planning the trip, I was actually hesitant about going to Taroko because of the difficulty of arranging transportation. The scenic areas of the park are arranged along a stretch of highway. A tour bus will stop at each spot, as will a personal vehicle, but it’s difficult to get around by local bus. (I learned at the park that it is possible - more on that later.)
Several things happened. First, everyone I talked to said that Taroko is a must-visit. Second, J. recommended the Zhuilu Trail. Instead of visiting five places in the park, I could hike Zhuilu and visit one or two more. Third, about a week before the trip I redesigned a large chunk of my itinerary. Instead of a day trip out of Hualien, Taroko became a stop on the way up into the mountains. Logistics became much simpler.
There was one complication. Zhuilu is in a protected area of the park, and hiking the trail requires a permit from the park. It also requires a mountain permit. There is a lot of information to cover, so I’m making a separate post just for the logistics. Photos tomorrow!
Introduction to Permits
Most tourist destinations in Taiwan do not require any permits. For example, most trails in Yangmingshan and most trails frequented by Taroko visitors do not require any permits.
However, longer trips require a mountain permit, which can be applied for and granted at a local police station on the day of the trip. The point of the mountain permits is to provide an account of trail usage and to keep a record in case of emergencies.
Trails passing through protected areas of national parks require an additional entry permit from the park. The point of these is to limit the number of people who hike the trails. Park permit applications must be filed in advance and, the rules / process is different for each park.
Zhuilu Old Road Permits
First, a map of the park:
This is a map of the longer trails. The Zhuilu Old Road is the chunk of the red trail between Yanzihkou (燕子口) and Cihmu Bridge (慈母橋). This map omits some shorter trails such as the ones in the Buluowan / Yanzikou area. At the Taroko National Park Visitor Center you will get a different map that includes these trails but excludes the Zhuilu Trail and others.
No later than a week before your trip, and no earlier than a month before, submit the on-line application. You will need:
You can also check whether the day you want has open slots. There’s an on-line status page for that.
You should get a reply (by e-mail) relatively quickly. If the reply is in English, be prepared to be confused.
Otherwise, they may either approve your application or advise you to make changes. When I applied, only the short version of the itinerary was possible due to trail damage, so I had to change my itinerary.
If they approve your application, you will get an e-mail (in Chinese) instructing you to download the permit from the park web site. You can always log in and check your application status. The username is your passport number, and the password is your phone number.
Print two copies. One copy is to give to the park officials, another is to present to a park ranger if you run into one and they ask. If you don’t have access to a printer, save the permit to a USB stick. They can print it for you at the Visitor Center. It looks like this (just without the white slip at the top):
A bit past the Visitor Center is a police station where you can get the mountain permit. Show them your park permit and passport, and wait 5 minutes. The white slip at the top is the mountain permit.
There’s one more step before you can set off on your hike. Once you arrive at the trailhead, you will have to hand off one of the copies to the local guard who will open the gate for you. They will most likely not speak English. In my case, there were also two issues: I arrived a little late - so the guard instructed me to come back before 4 PM, which is when it starts to get dark in the mountains; and part of the trail was closed - it said so on my permit, but the guard wanted to make sure I’m aware of this. This became somewhat comical, as I was nodding, and she (or he? I don’t remember) was not satisfied with that. 你聽得懂我說什麽？”Do you understand what I am saying?” So, I repeated the instructions.
Getting around the park
When planning my trip, I relied on this bus schedule. In summary, there are a few local buses running between Hualien and Taroko. But there are also shuttle buses which compliment the local buses. Here is a schedule:
The notable stops are:
Each day, two runs start and stop at Luoshao (洛韶), further in the park. One goes all the way to Lishan (梨山), which was my next stop after Taroko.
I found these blogs very useful as I planned my trip:
Watch out. Crazy trip ahead.
This was the day I was supposed to visit Jiufen, then continue to hike the Caoling Old Road, and take the train to Hualien, where I would spend the night. Instead, I had a slow morning, then a really long day of hiking, and came back to Taipei around 23:30. What happened?
I was tired after a day wandering and slept in a bit. Then I packed my stuff and had breakfast with R. from the hostel. By the time I checked out, it was 12:00. At 12:33 I boarded the train to Gongliao (貢寮). I arrived at 14:04.
The guides for hiking the Caoling Trail recommend starting at Fulong. I didn’t read the guides, so I started here. Turned out, there is not much to do in Gongliao.
I did, however, get to see the countryside for the first time.
I soon came across a large temple. A sign pointed me to it very early on, but I ignored the sign.
There are signs for the Caoling trail, so finding the way is easy. Initially, it involves following a road. It’s already scenic, though.
Eventually the actual trail begins. As usual, it’s made out of stones and climbs stairs.
At 16:30 I reached the pass.
It was beautiful. Here, I had a choice. I could take the direct trail down to Dali, or I could go right toward Taoyuan Valley. I turned right despite a sign instructing otherwise.
The trail went up and down hill after hill. On top of each hill was a lookout post. Thus I call this the Great Wall of Taiwan.
Eventually it got dark. I put the camera away and turned on my headlamp. The only exception was to register the highest point on the trail.
Here’s a map of the trails in the area. The dotted white shows the path I took. I would like to hike the whole thing again, but with a day pack (not all my stuff) and when it’s light out.
Overall, by the time I got to the Daxi train station, it was around 20:00, and I was pretty dead. Fortunately, I had extra water, there was a functional well by the trailhead, and I passed an open convenience store with candy and snacks. I didn’t have time to make it to the Hualien hostel before close (they don’t do late check-ins), so I booked a room at a hostel in Taipei and came back by local train.
When I arrived (around 23:30) I found instructions taped to the entrance on how to check-in. The next morning, I woke early, left the money and keys in my room, and walked out around 06:00 to catch the early train to Hualien. I never saw the hostel staff.
For the next few days I will be in the mountains of Northern Taiwan.
Back at Yangmingshan second car park I waited for the bus 1717 toward Jinshan. (The linked page shows a timetable and expected arrival times at each stop.) Jinshan is a Northern coastal town and the transfer point toward Yeliu. For lunch there I had an oolong noodle soup which was packed with assorted seafood.
The photo shows my lunch stop, as well as a wheel cake cart. Somehow those were the only wheel cakes I stumbled across in all of two weeks.
Yeliu (easily reachable from Jinshan by bus 1815 that stops 20 feet from the 1717 terminus) is known for one thing, and it is not the boats in the harbor.
No, it is the Yeliu Geopark. Volcanic rock, carved underneath by water and wind, turned into mushroom like statues.
Meanwhile, the wind kept polishing the rocks as waves broke around us.
The most famous of the rocks here is known as the “queen’s head”. Visitors lined up and waited a long time for their turn to take a picture with the “queen’s head”.
That’s it. The queen’s head.
The peninsula on which these rocks are located is similarly shaped. Beyond the mushroom rocks is “turtle head hill”. Most people don’t care about the hill, so the path is quiet. At the tip of the peninsula is an observation platform with a picnic table, while at the top of the hill sits a lighthouse.
There are plenty of buses going from Yeliu to Keelung, which is famous for its night market. It is also a port town, and there are trains and buses going between there and Taipei.
When I woke up the next morning, it was dry. This was good news. I packed plenty of gear for rainy days, but getting out of the house would have been difficult.
My destination that day was Yangmingshan National Park to the North of Taipei and the Northern coast of Taiwan. In this post I account the part of the park around Datun Peak.
Logistics: there are buses to Yangmingshan from the Jiantan and Beitou stations (on the red line). From Jiantan, buses either stop at the Yangminshan bus station or continue to the Yangmingshan second car park. The bus station sells day passes for the park shuttle buses, which connect to other trailheads. The shuttles don’t run often (more often on weekends than weekdays), and it only makes sense to buy the pass if you’re spending the entire day at the park. All buses accept EasyCard - but only if you have money on it. The car park is next to the visitor center. There is also a short trail from the bus station to the visitor center.
I took the shuttle to the Erziping (二子坪) stop. From there a road/trail leads to Erziping, an old farming area.
I continued South toward Qingtian Temple, then turned left toward Datun West Peak. The trail began a steep climb. The rope proved incredibly useful.
Soon forest gave way to tall grasses which bent over in the rain.
Eventually I reached the peak. The climb was relatively short - only 160 m. On clear days this peak has a great view of Taipei. Not today.
The trail down was steeper and very muddy. Fortunately there was still a rope to hang on to.
Back down, I could choose to go right and climb to East Peak or go left and walk through the valley. Content with West Peak, I went left.
I then took the trail to the bus stop. The direct trail climbs the main peak of Mt. Datun. So I began up the stairway to heaven.
There was, as expected, nothing to see at the peak. It was wet and cold, so I kept going to the bus stop. A shuttle took me back to the visitor center, where I boarded another bus onward in my journey.
But first, lunch! Having spent three hours in the hills, I was hungry. So, here is a storefront (永和豆漿，110台北市，信義區，福德街270號) and my lunch there.
After lunch I checked out another YouBike and rode West along Zhongxiao Road (blue line).
Outside the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall there were stalls with food and games, staffed by apparent volunteers from a world peace NGO. I don’t know too much about that. Inside I watched the changing of the guard. In a large chair in the back sat the Father of the Nation, looking down at the Land Under Heaven - or a small part of it, rather - at long last in the hands of its people.
Outside the hall there was some kind of drill team performance.
After exploring the park around the hall, I kept going and briefly stopped at the old Air Force Headquarters library.
That bear is the Formosan black bear. They are an endangered species endemic to the island. They are also the only large wild mammal species to live here - the Formosan clouded leopard became extinct in the late 20th century.
I ended my day at the Da’an park. It’s Chinese name calls it a “forest park”, but it’s more like a large park with a pond. Around the pond were many turtles and birds, and all were fed.
(Especially that one.) There was also a large playground.
Soon it got dark and started to rain. I put on my jacket and biked back to the hostel.
Dinner was at the Lijiang night market. Tomorrow I would wake early and head North.
When I arrived at the hostel on Friday morning, R. (of the staff) sat me down, gave me a map of the MRT, and circled every other station, telling me about all the things I could do there. So, the next day in the morning I headed for the closest circle: Xiangshan Station.
The previous day J. armed me with the knowledge that would make the best of my Taipei experience: I could get a bike. The YouBike share program requires (1) a Taiwanese phone number, and (2) an EasyCard, which can be purchased for NT$100 at any MRT station. The bikes are loaned for free for 30 minutes and NT$10 for every 30 minutes thereafter. You have to wait 15 minutes before returning a bike and checking out another one, unless you just checked out a bad bike and want to swap. Register here. (Note: I used the Chinese form, and I can’t say for sure that the English one works.)
I left the bike at this park. The neighborhood is where Google Taipei people probably live and work:
Xiangshan (像山, Elephant Hill) starts South of here and is a very popular walk. Climb up some stairs, and you get a great view of Taipei.
It’s a short hike. But you can keep going. Past Elephant Hill, there is a fork. Go left and descend to another trailhead. Go right, and the trail becomes quiet as you climb toward Thumb Peak.
Thumb Peak is a short and fun spur that climbs up a rock.
Remember: this is just a few kilometers our of the city. Back on the trail, the climb continues to the highest peak.
Yes, that’s a gondola to the top of the highest peak, and you can’t ride it. And here is the view to the other side:
There is more to the mountain than views. Insects, butterflies, flowers. There are also giant Taiwan spiders.
There are also a large number of temples scattered throughout the mountain.
Next post: lunch and the rest of the day.
I was due to meet J. at NTU at 12:30, but I was late by about an hour due to moving in taking longer than expected. We had lunch and walked around NTU. We then took bikes along the river, but that’s for another post.
Funny story: there are two ways to pay for MRT here: with a chip card, or with tokens. You get a 20% discount if you pay with card. Early on I used tokens, but I couldn’t find any machine with a slot to deposit them. Then I figured out that while they look like old-style tokens,they actually have chips inside, and you’re supposed to tap them on the card reader when you enter.
Between the 31st of October and the 16th of November I traveled to Taiwan. I was on vacation to visit the island and also to reunite with my friends, whom I will refer to in this blog as A. and J.
Though there is a direct flight from Seattle to Taipei (and back), I chose to fly with layover in San Francisco. This had two advantages. First, it was about $300 cheaper. Second, it allowed me to spend a day in the Bay Area and visit the Facebook HQ in Menlo Park.
After work, I wandered around the South Bay for a few hours and finally made it to the airport. My flight was at 01:05 (PDT), and it arrived at around 06:00 (Taiwan time). The flight culminated with our plane driving up to the wrong gate and having to be pushed back a second time. The food was good, though.
The first thing I did at the airport after the typical passport / luggage / customs procedures was withdraw money from a local ATM. My bank charged me a 1% foreign transaction fee for the transactions but no out-of-network fees. A note about ATMs: while most banks accept foreign cards, not all ATMs do. In particular, the post office ATMs do not. Not all towns have banks, which is important to keep in mind when traveling from town to town.
The second thing I did was find the Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) counter. It’s on the third floor of the airport, and it opens at 07:00. They sell a range of prepaid plans with unlimited 4G internet and some money for phone calls. The calls are expensive - I got the “30-day pass” but ran out of money in the first week.
My phone was almost dead by this time, so I played by ear: bus to Taipei Main Station, then MRT (metro) to Xinyi district.
From there I followed printed directions to the hostel. The door had a sign “be back in 15 minutes”, so I walked 20 meters and had my first meal in Taiwan, from this guy:
The sign was still up, so I walked around a bit. I was next to Lijiang street which is a night market in the evenings, a fruit / vegetable market during the day.
The smaller streets here have plenty of motor traffic and no sidewalks, but everyone seems to be getting along fine.
A few minutes away is the main road with a large sidewalk and bike path. A few more minutes on the road leads to the Taipei 101 tower.
An hour later, I was checked in at the JV Hostel, Taipei. My room was available, and they let me check in early.
Next post: National Taiwan University, and maybe the evening.
Today there was a fire at ASKO Processing, Inc. in Fremont. Units were dispatched at 12:51. Dispatch log:
9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 A2 B4 B6 E20 E21 E8 L6 L9 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 A5 E10 HAZ1 L1 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 AIR260 COMVAN 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 AIR9 DEP1 M18 REHAB1 SAFT2 STAF10 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 B5 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E17 E2 E38 E5 L10 L4 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E18 E9 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E20 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E30 E34 E41 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E36 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E38 E6 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E40 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E6 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E8 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E80 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 E81 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 L3 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 L8 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 M16 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 MAR5 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 MRN1 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 P25 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 PIO 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire 9/30/2014 12:51:41 PM F140106800 2 REHAB1 434 N 35th St Hazardous Material w/Fire
That evening I visited the scene. All of 35th street between Evanston (the rocket) and Phinney was taped off, and full of firefighting equipment and pump trucks. Businesses in the area were closed. I presume this includes Theo’s, which was inside the perimeter. (How can you make chocolate with all that smoke?)
From an alley between 35th and 36th I could see a corner of the skeleton of what used to be the metal shop. Residents were talking about their experiences and warning onlookers to stay out of the likely contaminated water.
On Saturday I went on another long bike ride to the Mt. Rainier foothills. The ride was 158.5 km long and covered the entire lengths of the Cedar River, Foothills, White River (Sumner), and Interurban trails.
The most interesting part of the trip was covering the less-known and less-developed parts of the Foothills Trail. My analysis puts the Eastern end of the trail a bit North of Enumclaw. (North of that is some private property, then a short spur, then nondescript bushes, and after that the railroad tracks are still in place.) The trail stops in Enumclaw, then continues a few blocks later.
The Enumclaw-Buckley portion starts out as a developed paved trail, then becomes more and more rustic, finishing off as a narrow winding path downhill through huckleberry bushes as it hits Mud Mountain Road. It keeps going from there, but only for a short distance, hitting White River.
The trail resumes just on the other side of the river (which you have to cross along SR 410). Since going the full-length of the trail was not a stated goal of the trip, I missed this section, rejoining the trail in the Buckley city center, where there is an open-air museum full of old metal stuff. (Presumably, it sits on an old railroad junction.) After Buckley the trail is paved for a little bit, then becomes a narrow path again, but at least it doesn’t turn into a mountain trail. (Google doesn’t know about this section.) Then, suddenly, the pavement returns and you cross a long trestle. One wonders who uses this 2 km section of the trail, accessible from just one road abbreviated as “268th Avct. East.”
What stops one from continuing along to South Prairie? The trail enters private property. Then there is an RV park and a closed bridge across Wilkeson Creek.
Perhaps someday Enumclaw and Puyallup will be connected by a contiguous public path. This requires two things: some negotiation over the status of the part East of South Prairie and a bridge over White River. Part of me wants the unimproved sections to stay unimproved, though - it adds to the excitement of crossing the trail, end-to-end.
Challenge of the week: fix and clean our sink plumbing. Note the old rusty nut and the shiny new one.
Thank you to Maple Leaf Ace Hardware for letting me in right before closing and for testing out the replacement. The folks there were surprised that my nut wasn’t catching the thread on the sink tail, but tried it on a new sink piece (with pipe and washer), and confirmed the issue. Then I asked them to try on a new one in the same arrangement - it worked. Our sink is now fixed for less than $3.50.
These came in the mail today. Three cans of tea: two black, one green; one from India, two from China; all 100% organic.
I prefer to buy from the company store in Portland than through the reseller Whole Foods. The teas arrived to Seattle within two days. I’m already enjoying the “pearl tea” (珠茶), commonly known in the US as “gunpowder”, grown in the town of Pingshui in the Shaoxing county of Zhejiang province, China.
Was in the UW marshlands on Saturday looking for wildlife. There were many more geese, ducks, herons, and smaller birds than I can photograph or show.
This is Daejeon Pavillion located in Daejeon Park of Beacon Hill, Seattle. Daejeon is a Korean sister city of Seattle.
At night, it is very well-illuminated.
It is Spring in Seattle! Photos from the Maple Leaf and Green Lake neighborhoods.
On April 3rd I went with a group of UW CSE Alumni to Paul Allen’s Living Computer Museum in Seattle. It featured old computers, all (most) working and open to use.
I never used anything older than a PC running Windows, but I definitely read about the older computers.How Seattle's Neighborhoods Got Their Names:
There is an interesting article out there about how Seattle’s neighborhoods got their names. Not all are listed: a commenter by the name
I am putting my warm clothes away until (in theory) next Winter, and so it is perfect time for a story…
After Lao-Tzu settled in his new home, his followers came and brought him gifts. One brought an old-looking lamp. At which Lao-Tzu looked and thought: “What an ugly lamp!”
The next day Lao-Tzu looked again at the lamp and thought: “If only this lamp were a clothes hanger, it would at least have served some purpose.”
When Lao-Tzu looked at the lamp for the third time, it was a clothes hanger.
Chicago / Ann Arbor installment 5, day 6: Sunny Chicago
The Millennium and Grant Parks are beautiful in Winter! For some reason, people did not disturb the fresh snow. And it’s always great to see nature and buildings mix.
The reflective thing is the Cloud Gate. It is weird. I’m not sure what the point of it is, but I couldn’t find an angle where the sun was not reflecting.
Only one thing I didn’t like: the Chicago Transit Authority (they had a train derailment recently because they put people at odd shifts, and then people fall asleep) has downtown lines running on top of streets. It’s really ugly. Though, that line took me straight to Midway airport, so I’m not really complaining.
Oh, and another thing: as far as I could tell, Midway has one security checkpoint for the entire airport, and they do weird things like close Checkpoint 3 and make Lines 2 and 3 merge together while Line 1 goes at normal speed. (I was in Line 3.) Anyway, get there early.
Thus ends my Chicago / Ann Arbor adventure.
Chicago / Ann Arbor installment 5, day 5: Willis Tower
Yes, I climbed the Sears Tower. Now called Willis Tower (seriously, why change the name). Good views from up there.
I tried to take a selfie, but failed. Then someone took my picture, which is decent. Then I tried to set up a flash, but was approached by an employee. The conversation went something like this:
- Is this a camera or an iPod?
- I’m sorry?
- Is this a camera or an iPod?
- It’s… a camera? Why?
[Something about how I can’t have something. Eventually, I get it.]
- Oh, you mean a tripod?
The only regret is spending too much time on the SkyDeck and leaving too little time to explore the city.
I graduated in the summer of 2013, but my six years of course schedules are still up, and I have no plans to take them down.
If any of these topics interest you, click "read more". You will find a whole page related to that topic.
|I am most specialized in mathematics, particularly in algebraic number theory. Read about my early math days, my trip to Budapest, my graduate coursework, and see some of my course papers for math classes.|
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A service I co-founded and run. We aim to connect students who have textbooks with students who need them.