Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bali Colors: heat and relief.

For my color series I usually isolate one color that defined a place for me, but the color scheme of Bali was a little too complex for that tactic. So much of the beauty of Bali was in its carefully balanced opposites; the good and evil in its religious epics, the beautiful and the grotesque in its temple architecture, the fire of a sambal and the cool bite of lime in its food. So in its colors too, it makes sense, there was a balance; between the heat of bursts of pink, orange and red, and the relief of deep green. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I have just returned from Bali, and I think I am still recovering from what an incredible destination it was. I had expected to like it, but not to love it-- and certainly, not to love it as much as I did. The idea of 'Bali' seemed like such a cliche that I was sure it would be one big tangle of resorts, or perhaps just feel like a letdown. But this island was full of surprises. Like the seemingly endless miles of brilliant green rice terraces, hemmed in by bamboo groves and coconut palms. And the grandeur of the temples, trimmed with ornate details and surrounded by lush gardens. Or how incredible mealtime was-- the fresh bite of lawar, the richness of suckling pig, the flavors of coffee, vanilla and palm sugar. Or how neatly the quiet threads of ritual seemed to run through Balinese daily life. The island not only surprised me with every day, but it also shook me out of my jaded state, and reminded me of what I love about Asia-- and made me thankful that I'm able to live here.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

to Taipei.

I would really like to write a little about my new home city, Hsinchu, but with our schedules filled with apartment hunting and settling in at new jobs, we haven't had much chance for exploration. And, to be fair, I guess the problem is compounded by the fact that we seem to slip up to Taipei whenever we have some time off. Which is, I guess, one of the best things about Hsinchu-- it's only a quick half an hour trip away from Taipei. This makes a day or an evening in the big city a very easy outing.

And so we embarked on such a trip yesterday, with only two things in mind: shopping and museum going. We stopped first at Eslite, a massive department store set in the shadow of 101. Though the Eslite bookstore itself is incredible, we spent more time slowly working through the other levels of design items. After a quick stop at a disappointingly small Muji, and some time spent caught in a tropical storm, we headed to the Taipei Fine Arts museum to see a show of Gaultier clothing.

Taipei is a really exciting city right now, but it's not just because it has become such an international center. It's partly because Taiwan is developing such a unique identity, and designers and artists are finding so many exciting ways to explore it. While it was awesome being able to see the Gaultier show and browse among Japanese design items, it was even more exciting to find a creative bag by a Taiwanese designer, and to see a local artist's video installation that reflected the island we're living on. So while we may, in a sense, have the world available just a short train trip away, right now I'm even more excited to have Taiwan there too.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Eating Taiwan Famous.

And in news related to my last entry, I have started a second blog: Taiwan Famous. It's going to be a Taiwan only blog, a journal devoted exclusively to my explorations in eating on this island. I'll be chronicling my journey here as I effort to eat and shop locally on the island, seek out interesting local dishes, and try to learn the basics of good Chinese cooking.

I will of course still be continuing writing here on PRIMITIVEculture-- I say continuing even though my entries over these last few months have been pretty sparse. But in a way, I think this blog split will give me some new energy on PRIMITIVEculture. As I prepared for our move to Taiwan, my thoughts on blogging were starting to get so muddled that I really couldn't even write an entry. I wanted to write about all the different foods here, but I didn't like the idea of PRIMITIVEculture getting bogged down with so many minute details about a single subject that, admittedly, not everyone would be interested in. So in the end, a split seemed the best idea. This blog can continue as a visual exploration of the world (including, but not limited to Taiwan), with a focus on style, food, design and photography. And the new blog's project will have a very singular focus, which I think will give it a lot of strength.

So I hope you'll join me for a meal over there, and still continue to travel with me here.