For the second October in a row, I was speaking at a conference in Taiwan - highly improbable. This time it was the FAOBMB (Asian and Oceanic Biochemical Societies) meeting, held in Taipei. The hospitality of my hosts was absolutely staggering - they definitely don't cut corners in that regard. Invited speakers were staying at The Grand Hotel - which DEFINITELY lives up to its name - built by Chiang Kai Shek to house visiting foreign dignitaries in the '50s, it is extremely impressive in all regards. One of the best things was that it backs onto walking trails on the northern side of Taipei, so perfect for a morning run - although once up on the trails on the ridgetop, finding my way back down to town again was an interesting experience...

At the conference, I met Sean Grimmond a chap from the IMB in Brissy who is doing impressive DNA sequencing work - the scale of sequencing now is amazing. Turned out that he is an adventure racing mountain biker, so we hatched a cunning plan to spend a day walking in the nearby Yangmingshan National Park the day after the conference ended. Turned out to be an epic walk with a few 1000-m climbs to keep us honest - our quads and calves were reminding us about the walk for a good few days afterwards!

[Click on the thumbnails to get a caption and a larger image]
The most spacious hotel room I have ever had (and you should have seen Sean's!). (45kb) Stairway on the trail behind the hotel. (90kb) They don't muck around with their roofs here! (45kb)
View of the hotel in the distance. (43kb) Now *that* is an impressive building - The Grand Hotel where we stayed. (59kb) View from my room - hills in the background for running! (71kb)
Looking sideways from my balcony, across adjacent ones. (52kb) Impressive lobby! (62kb) OK - let's get in there! (72kb)
Fancy something on a stick? (95kb) Like an entire gastropod? (63kb) Or perhaps colourful sushi? (69kb)
Sausages to put the Germans to shame! (73kb) Uggh runners! The ultimate Westie sportswear! (55kb) Fruit at a juice stand. (67kb)
Various fried squares of...? (Help, Ann?) (84kb) Duck head and neck anyone?  (70kb) The Taiwanese giant land snail! (97kb)
The inscription on our bedheads - Ann...? (50kb) Impressive fig - hanging on for dear life! (106kb)