Pottery Painting in Daegu

It’s certainly been a long time! Sorry for the silence. We’ve had English summer camps to prepare for and execute, along with my upcoming travels next week to prepare for. It’s a difficult thing to balance-dreams and the present.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post! In June, I had the opportunity to revisit a pottery studio in Daegu. Originally, I had gone last October to paint a tea cup and saucer as a gift. This time, two art-loving friends were visiting from the other side of Korea, and I knew they’d love a chance to paint their own mugs!

1445068706108.jpeg

Back in October, with the co teacher who introduced me to the studio

The owner is a lovely woman who let us sit there for nearly the whole day painting. On my original visit, she had been just as welcoming. She offered us as much time as needed and offered me some mandarin oranges as a snack. She also helped with technique and advice about which stain would bake best. I’m no potter, so this was immensely helpful!
DSC_0996

The owner sells her own creations at the studio along with unglazed pottery for customers to paint. The cost of the unglazed pottery, access to the studio and supplies, and kiln-firing is about 20,000 won(18 USD) per piece. Very reasonable considering how much we got!

DSC_0995

Illu Deco Studio is located in Igok-dong, on line 2. Seongseo Industrial Plaza is the closest subway stop to the studio.

2016-08-07 10.34.07

Address: Daegu-gwangyeokshi Dalseo-gu Igok Gongwon-ro 1 angil 17

DSC_0998

DSC_1002

There was a bit of drama halfway through-I swiped my hand over the top of the plate! The stain dries as a powder, which meant I was out of luck. I had to repaint the whole thing. Oh well. Practice makes perfect.

I didn’t have enough time to finish both the plate I made and the spice jar I’d selected. Fortunately, the owner let me return next weekend for no extra charge and paint the jar. Super sweet of her!

DSC_1006

After we had finished, the pottery was left at the studio to dry. When the woman who owns the studio has enough pieces to fire up the kiln, she bakes them. This took about three weeks; at which point, I went to pick them up.

I really recommend this place if you’re in Daegu and would like an artsy day out! Plus, you have a nice memory to take home at the end of the day.

Boseong Tea Fields

It’s spring in Korea, which means cherry blossoms are on the trees, and the green tea fields are bright and beautiful. The most well known one in Korea is Boseong Tea Fields!

How to get there from Daegu

There are several direct buses to Boseong, but none of them go from Daegu. Darn.

You can get a direct bus to Boseong from Seoul, Gwangju, Mokpo, Busan, or Suncheon. I would recommend taking the bus to Mokpo, Gwangju, or Suncheon. Busan is also an option, but you’ll be backtracking. I took the bus from Gwangju, which is the route shown here.

seodaeguStation

Courtesy Rome2Rio

route

Courtesy Rome2Rio

Go to Seodaegu Station, located at Manpyeon Station on Line 3. The bus terminal is right next to the station. From there, it’s a two and a half hour journey to Gwangju.

In Gwanju, you can buy tickets to Boseong Bus Terminal. From there, you will need to take the ‘Nokcha Bat'(녹차밧)  bus to the fields.  The other option is to take a taxi to the fields, but that will cost you a bit more. If you have a group of four or five people to split the fare with, it will cost the same as the bus.

20160430_134605

Waiting for the Nokcha Bat bus in the bright spring sunlight.

What to do

  • Hike the tea fields
  • Try the green tea ice cream and other green tea flavored foods
  • Have a pot of tea
  • Buy goodies for the folks back home

When you hop off the bus, you’ll immediately be greeted by a souvenir shop and cafe. There are four or five of these as you head up to the hills. The real reason to stop here is for the green tea ice cream! This was some of the best I’ve had in Korea, although Baskin Robbins is still a close second( psst…the best tea ice cream I’ve had was in Kyoto).

20160430_142941

DSC_0830

20160430_150227

We found Narnia.

DSC_0847

DSC_0851

DSC_0860

DSC_0854

Diana found Fool’s Gold along the pathway of the tea fields. We’re rich, we’re rich!

DSC_0857

It’s a good hike up to the top of the fields, but it’s worth the view. You can see the ocean beyond the mountains, and the surrounding fields.

DSC_0836

DSC_0838

Ajummas taking a break from picking tea leaves.

Green Tea Lunch

After our hike, we stopped by the gift shop for some quick browsing. The shop sells powdered green tea, loose leaf, tea bags, along with other tea related goodies. I wound up buying some powdered tea and some adorably illustrated magnets and postcards!

The gift shop also has a tea room attached, where you can sample a pot of tea and have some green tea ice cream. While we had already had a cone each, Diana and I split a soft serve and got a pot of tea.

The tea is very earthy, but I preferred the ice cream at the entrance. This sort was similar to the free frozen yogurt served at buffets. Not the best.

DSC_0882

Afterwards, we headed to ‘Heaven’ for some green tea samgyeopsal(pork belly). EVERYTHING is green tea flavored at the fields. Even the rice that accompanied the meal had green tea in it!

 

That last photo? That’s the fat drippings from green tea meat. Feast your eyes!

After the meal, it was time to head back to Gwangju, where we were staying for the night. If you are nearby on the west coast, this is an easy day trip; but for someone coming from the east, as Daegu is, I’d recommend staying in Gwangju. Eight hours combined on buses is not something I’d wish on anyone.

I hope you can make it to the tea fields if you’re in Korea. The views alone are worth the trip!

Taiwan, Round Two

Follow my blog on bloglovin

TotalTravels

This is what the journey looked like

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but this is what my travels looked like in those two weeks. To Seoul, to Taipei, to Taichung, to Sun Moon Lake, to Tainan, back to Taipei, to Hong Kong, to Taipei, to Jiufen, to Keelung, to Taipei…. Phew! Especially for a first time solo traveler, this was a lot to pack into that time period!

Let’s start back in Hong Kong. From my hostel, I took the airport shuttle bus. My flight was the red eye, which meant a night in terminals. With all of my souvenirs, my luggage had expanded quite a bit! I had to purchase an extra bag to check in. In fact, I had nearly tripled my load. I had started with the one backpack, and now had my duffel bag, and the extra one full of mugs, books, and oatmeal.

Once I’d checked in, I had some of the famous fish ball soup and Horlicks for dinner. I know-classic combination.

image-20160222_203247

Then it was time for the flight, behind three very giggly early 2o-somethings. Good for them for being so excited at midnight to fly economy. Not sure if the mother and son next to me appreciated their excessive reclining though!

We arrived at one thirty in the morning. At that point, I was feeling okay, but quickly degraded as the night wore on. A very kind man working at the airport suggested I camp out on the third floor, where the restaurants are. While they were all closed until seven, the seating was more comfortable.

I wound up doing pilates on the floor, which was very flattering when a bunch of Korean guys decided to camp out on the third floor as well. Hello, strange sweaty foreigner. Oh, you speak Korean?…this is awkward. Really, they were fine, and had a much easier time sleeping than me. It’s strange no matter who catches you mid jumping jack.

Eventually, I made myself comfy in one of the breastfeeding stalls in the diaper changing room. Thank goodness I’m female, because I could at least pretend I’d misplaced my baby if someone found me. This is my new travel hack. They have hot water, wipes, and chargers there. I made myself some tea and charged my devices, before putting a shirt over my head and conking out. If I ever have another red eye flight, I’m going to the diaper changing room!

Day 1

The buses finally opened up at six in the morning, so I headed for Taipei. This week, I was staying in one hostel in New Taipei(Sleep Taipei), which was such a relief! The place was reasonably priced, and I met some of the best people there. If you are considering staying here, know that they do not provide towels as a service! Bring your own or pay extra.

They did not allow for check ins until three in the afternoon, but let me drop off my bags. While I was waiting, I found a nice cafe to have lunch.

When I was able to check in, I met one of the wonderful women I was sharing the room with, Sammie. She gave me some tips about what to see, so I headed out with my camera.

Lin Family Mansion and Garden

Right next to my hostel was the lovely Lin Family Mansion and Gardens. It’s the most complete example of Chinese garden architecture in Taiwan, and had been on my bucket list even before I arrived in the country. As usual, it was raining when I arrived, but I think it added to the beauty of the place.

The stone mountains are replicas of the mountains from the Lin’s hometown in China. They wanted to bring a bit of home to their new residence. Really, it’s not very old-dating back to 1847, but it’s still a bit of Taiwanese history. Worth a visit!

Eslite 24 Hour Bookstore

Afterwards, I was still in groggy traveler mode, having skipped the sleeping pill because of the red eye flight. I could have gone adventuring to some strange sights, but I wanted comfort after the awkward night in the airport. Taipei has a 24 hour bookstore. This was another destination I’d researched before my trip.

It’s an easy walk from the subway station, and well worth a visit. As expected, there are less English language books than at the Hong Kong Eslite, but there were still plenty of magazines. I bought several craft magazines and a very cute sketchbook/planner, and settled myself in the cafe for dinner. There I sat with a cross stitch sampler and listened to the other customers go about their business.

Then it was time to head back to New Taipei for an early night in. Before I went to bed, I made of list of everything I wanted to see the next day and mapped out how to get there. So glad I took this step, because it made the second day stress free, and like I had actually accomplished something.

Inadvertently, I met the other woman who was sharing the room with me while my contacts were out. Whoops! I blearily walked past her, took my sleeping pills, and became blissfully unconscious.

Day 2

Fu Hang Dou Jiang(Taiwanese Breakfast)

Fu Hang Dou Jiang is known as the best breakfast spot in Taipei. On the advice of others, I got there early and took my place in line. It goes very fast, as they’ve streamlined the process, and you can watch them at work while you wait.

I ordered the flat sesame bread with egg and the sweet soy milk. Word of warning-don’t drink the last bit of soy milk. All of the sugar dredges have settled down there to haunt you! It’s pretty tasty until those last few sips. As for the flatbread, delicious!

DSC_0200

I went back again the next day and tried the more crepe like breakfast option and the savory soy milk. The crepe was pretty good, although not as nice as the flatbread. I could do without the savory soy milk. Sorry, but soy sauce and soy milk don’t mix too well.

Shandao Temple

20160224_104041.jpg

Shandao Temple is right across the street from Fu Hang Dou Jiang. This was probably my favorite temple because the decoration is very minimalist compared to other temples,and there were very few visitors-all very respectful. It was nice to take a few moments to enjoy the quiet and place an offering on the table before heading to my next destination.

Taipei Botanical Garden

The Taipei Botanical Garden is great place to go for a peaceful walk. Admission is free, and the rain really complemented the path. It’s right next to the History Museum as well, if you want to make a day of it. I had a really nice time exploring the area for an afternoon.

There are aquatic gardens, edibles, and then native plants to look at while you enjoy the quiet.

Sunny Hills

DSC_0187

If you’ve ever been to Taiwan or researched the food scene at all, I’m sure you’ve come across pineapple cake. Sunny Hills is known for having the best pineapple cake in Taipei! If you go the bakery in Taipei, you are seated and offered a complementary pineapple cake with green tea. When I went, I was under the impression this was a cafe. Yet, there is no place to pay for your single cake. Instead, you can buy some of the tea or a package of cakes.

I bought the cakes to take back for my co workers. The cakes come in a nice cloth bag, which I kept for myself. It’s one of the souvenirs I can take with me everywhere to remind me of Taiwan!

As for the cakes, they taste very similar to jam thumbprint cookies, but larger. Very good, and also very familiar to me.

Ribansyo Tea Room

Ribansyo Tea Room is another one of those locations that had me eager to set off for Taiwan. It’s an old Japanese temple that’s been converted into a tea room! It’s a bit pricey, but one of the staff took the time to explain Japanese tea ceremony practices to me,and showed me the proper way to brew and pour Japanese green tea. Well worth it, in my opinion!

In fact, I’d really love to go back here. It’s a wonderful place to go at night, as you can see from the outdoor lighting. The staff refilled my teapot at least three times before the leaves lost their flavor. It took me nearly that long to perfect their method of pouring the tea from one cup to another, while avoiding a burn!

DSC_0189

Shilin Night Market

I capped off my day by heading to the most famous night market in Taipei- Shilin Night Market. This place was crazy compared to the other markets I visited. It’s also a ways away from the center of the city.

While I didn’t get a picture of it, I had my favorite snack at the market-black sesame cookies. Black sesame paste is wrapped in a crispy rice flour coating, and covered in more sesame seeds. Black sesame paste is so addictive! The package I got came with four cookies; and by the time I had walked through the whole market, I had finished them all.

When I returned to the hostel, Sammie ordered snacks for us to try, and I finally met the other woman properly, Fanni. She mentioned she was going to Jiufen the next day, and I asked if I could tag along. I’m so glad she let me stick with her, as I’d been debating whether I wanted to take the train to Jiufen after all of my travels the previous week!

Day 3

Jiufen

We took the morning train after breakfasting at Fu Hang Dong Jiang once more. This was when I tried the other options from their menu.

From Taipei Main Station, we took a train up the the Jiufen area, and then a bus up to Jiufen itself.

20160225_090156

Jiufen is the area that inspired Hayao Miyazaki to write the story for Spirited Away. I think it may have been a bit different when he visited over ten years ago, because it’s quite touristy! You can still get some great photos, but Fanni and I passed through Jiufen Old Street fairly quickly without even realizing it. We then hiked to the other side of town, looking for Jiufen, not knowing we had already walked through it!

I don’t regret it though, because I took some of my favorite pictures here and had a wonderful time being silly with Fanni! The tombs are a much more interesting sight than Old Street in my opinion, and there were no other tourists!

The rain was probably the reason for that, but it was no deterrent for us!

 

Sneaky, sneaky Old Street…

After some more exploring, we hiked up Keelung Mountain. Fanni was used to hiking, but it had been a while since I’d gone up so many stairs! It was a good workout, and a great time with a new friend. I think my face says it all.

20160225_132952

At the top of Keelung Mountain. Soaked, but happy

Afterwards, we stopped for tea. Feeling a bit adventurous, we ordered Salted Plumb tea. And because we are also a bit wary, some Earl Grey just in case.

The Earl Grey was a good idea. Salted plumb is…interesting. Certainly an acquired taste. I kept drinking it, but Fanni eventually said, “You know, it’s okay to leave it.” Ha! My face must have not shown utter delight.

Keelung

I was told I NEEDED to go to Keelung, which is a short busride from Jiufen, and try the spring rolls. Sammi confirmed that the food is amazing at the market in Keelung, so we headed off. She also told us to try an ice cream spring roll, and a few other snacks. Unfortunately, most of the stalls were closed for the rainy season, but we did find the spring roll. It was very tasty, although I’d still say black sesame paste tops it! Nothing beats black sesame paste(except for pumpkin, blueberries, oatmeal, and fish tacos).

Afterwards, we took the bus back to Jiufen to hike up Keelung mountain once more for he night photos. It was still raining, and there are no lights up the path, so I was a big baby and stayed at the lowest tier. Fanni, who is not as cowardly as me, went up to get the best photos.

We returned with snacks for Sammie. Again, tired, but happy.

Day 4

This was my last day to hang out with Fanni, as she was headed down to Kaohsiung to visit another friend in the mid-afternoon.

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple is probably the most famous temple in Taipei. Not much more to say about it, except that Fanni noticed the sort of offerings people were leaving-modern packaged snacks, along with fruit. You can even buy snacks at the front of the temple to leave as an offering. It’s always a bit bizarre when the modern world meets tradition.

Red House

Afterwards, we headed to the Red House to see if they were selling Qipao(traditional Chinese dresses). I love to buy a special garment from each country I visit, but we couldn’t find any in the area. The interior has been converted into artists stalls, which were really lovely to look through.

Next time, I need to make buying a qipao a priority!

Toilet Cafe

For lunch, we headed to Modern Toilet, a poop themed restaurant in another university area.

Surprisingly, the food is pretty good! I ordered the green curry, and Fanni got a hot pot. Each meal comes with drink and dessert, which of course, comes in a tiny urinal.

After a visit to a cute cafe, it was time for Fanni to head onto more travels. I missed her company, but enjoyed getting dinner with Sammie later that day. We got hot pot- another Taiwanese specialty. I love how much you can customize your dish with spices and vegetables. Sammie was so sweet and helpful! I needed to ship some of my gifts to my family in order to lighten my load, and she promised to help me find a post office in the morning.

Day 5

In the morning, we headed to the post office, but they were only accepting cash. Well, I was out, having put way too much on my transportation card(I still have the card, which has about $40 USD on it). Still, I couldn’t have done any of that without Sammie.

We also went to the supermarket to buy more oatmeal and tea for me to bring back. Yes, this is what I bring back from my exotic travels!

received_2537067289637487

My Treasures!

She also helped me pack the collection of mugs I bought my family, and stood with me for more than half an hour at the bus stop. Because the bus was late, she called the bus company to see what the problem was. It turns out, it was a national holiday, and EVERYONE was getting out of town. Oh well.

Seriously though, she and Fanni made my last week so amazing!

20160227_103917

My last meal in Taiwan. Super cheap crispy pork wrapped in rice.

There were many things I didn’t manage to pack into my trip. If I get a chance to visit Taiwan again, I’d like to spend more time in Taipei and see more of the university areas. I really enjoyed what I saw of those spots! The National Palace Museum was another location left on my list. It’s a ways away from the city, and there just wasn’t enough time to pack it in. I also really want to go back to the south. Besides my time hanging out with Fanni and Sammie(and I chalk that up to the company 🙂 ), this was my most enjoyable experience in Taiwan.

Lessons Learned

  • Pharmaceuticals aren’t a sign of weakness. If you need to take pain killer or use a sleep aid for a short time, it’s okay. The first portion of my trip would have been much more enjoyable if I had realized this earlier. On a related note, I’m getting older. My late 20’s have arrived, and there’s no more dancing around all night and feeling a little groggy in the morning. It’s time to change my habits.
  • For me, solo travel is nice; but traveling with good company is far better. When I had someone to chat with, or just go on crazy adventures, my time became much more enjoyable. Naturally outgoing people may have less of a struggle forming connections at hostels, and running about together. Sometimes, you have to suck it up and ask someone if you can join them for a day or two. They just might want some company as well.
  • Exploring one area in great detail is preferable to seeing many places for a short while. On my next travels, I plan to stay in one location and really get to know the city. Maybe a few day trips if it works out okay, but nothing crazy like this! Rome2rio guesstimates my travel time was around 36 hours. 3 days of planes, trains, and automobiles! More walking and photo taking, less commuting.
  • Your vacation is yours alone. It’s nice to get suggestions from others about what to see and do, but it’s also okay to disregard it. If you don’t like laying on a beach, watching the sunset, and drinking tequila(Sounds boring. Yes, I’m nuts), then you don’t have to. If you’d rather run around dingy alleyways, take photos, and eat oatmeal(life goals here), that’s a perfectly acceptable way to spend your time.

Whew! This was certainly a long post, but it’s the last of the winter holiday ramblings! Hope you enjoyed!

 

Hong Kong: TWG Tea Room

For my last afternoon in Hong Kong I wanted a special treat. This whole weekend was a foodie paradise, and my last real meal was a great indulgence.

twiningsmap

TWG(The Wellness Group) Tea is located in the International Finance Center(I’m sure my spelling of that word is killing some people), which is right next to Victoria Harbour. While there’s no great view of the harbour, the interior is pretty enough to distract. So many shiny containers!

In fact, it was a bit too nice for my backpackers wardrobe; but I shrugged it off and enjoyed myself. The waiters could think me a bit grubby if they wanted to. And to be fair, they were extremely polite to me. The only one doing the judging was myself. But who cares? I was here for tea and sugar!

Now, I have to admit I was calling this place Twinings the whole time I was there. It’s on my old posts if you don’t believe me. Tra, la, la. Space case moment! Nothing a little google searching can’t remedy.

DSC_0245

When you are seated, the wait staff hand you a menu, a tea listing, and a booklet with a description of each tea. The tea menu is extensive. I kept waffling between one option or another because it was just too hard to pick one.

menu

Tea Menu

Eventually, I settle on the French Earl Grey, although all of the Earl Grey’s were tempting.

It was too early for the tea time menu(I had to be back at the hostel by 4:30) and too late for breakfast; but the dessert  and all day menu options were more than enough. The Eggs Benedict looked good, but I had that for lunch the day before. The Dessert options looked so good!

I chose the Choux au The, probably the richest thing on the menu.

According to the menu: “Ethereal composition of light and airy choux pastry filled with three homemade ice creams infused with Caramel Tea, Vanilla Bourbon Tea, and Singapore Breakfast Tea, then enrobed in warm chocolate sauce.”

DSC_0242

Oh, you can bet I ate that all. And what the menu fails to mention is that the Choux au The also comes with fresh raspberries and strawberries, a square of fantastically dark chocolate, a dusting of cocoa powder, and….popping candy! Just like the ‘Pop Rocks’ I remember from kid days.

DSC_0239

I sat for a good hour and a half just enjoying the atmosphere and my perfect meal. And if you do wind up at a TWG, the vanilla bourbon tea ice cream was hands down my favorite. So yummy!

You might guess I’d have a sugar high after this meal. Oh, just a smidge. There’s a giant escalator that covers 800 meters and goes up to an elevation of 135 meters. Well, I took the adjoining stairs, twitching all the way.

Hong Kong Weekend

Follow my blog with bloglovin

Oh, Hong Kong. How do I love thee? Let me go into way too much detail about it.

The flight from Taipei to Hong Kong is around two and a half hours long. Except for a small delay due to the rain(this whole trip seems to be themed on rain and sleep deprivation!), it was uneventful. Uneventful is always my preferred method of travel by airplane. Excitement on a plane means screaming babies and turbulence.

The rain was coming down hard and the sun had set by the time I set foot in the airport. Again, carrying the one bag made my life so easy here. I skipped luggage and went straight for the transportation card counter. Hong Kong uses the Octopus card for transportation, as well as pay for goods at many shops.

I should have mentioned it earlier, but Taiwan has a similar card. You can pick one up from any convenience store or within the subway stations. The Octopus card at the airport has a $50 HKD deposit. You can return it when you leave Hong Kong for the deposit fee.

20160219_183622

We’re not in Kansas anymore. The old British influence is still felt in Hong Kong. Notice the spelling.

At this point, I still hadn’t fallen in love with Hong Kong. I mean, it’s an airport. There isn’t an airport in the world that can make you love a city. I was meeting a friend, Michelle, which made this trip very exciting! We were staying at the same hostel,so I caught the bus over to Homy Inn North Point. For anyone visiting Hong Kong, I cannot recommend this place enough! You can get a two bed shared room with a bathroom for a reasonable rate. The location is awesome, being close to the subway, trams, and many great sights in Hong Kong.

Once I had my Octopus card, it was time to catch the bus to North Point. The buses are double decker, but I stayed on the lower deck to have a better view and in case I had to dash at my stop. There’s also a monitor to watch for how many stops are left on the route.

ctb_enviro_500_12m

Typical Hong Kong bus. Source: wikipedia

The ride to North Point was my first awe inspiring moment in Hong Kong. While it was raining, just like Taiwan, Hong Kong suits the rain. Anyone who plays the game Bioshock will understand that my first views reminded me of Rapture. Being a fan of the game, I was very happy to see its real life replica.

When I arrived at the hostel, Michelle was there waiting. It was so nice to see an old friend! We met at the airport on our first day in Korea. I hadn’t seen her in six months, so it was a wonderful reunion!

After I had dropped off my bags, Michelle and I met up with her Chinese friend, Jackie. The three of us headed to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant, which was a first for me. Michelle had been the night before, and had only good things to say about the food.

My expectations based on the rave review held up! The soup was amazing, as were the coconut steamed buns, and the fritters, which managed to taste just like meat! All of this was finished off by pot after pot of green tea.

Continue reading

Taipei: MOCA and Miniatures

From the bullet train to Taipei, I had another half day or so in the city. It was Thursday afternoon, and my flight wasn’t until 4 pm on Friday; however, I like to arrive at the airport a few hours early.

Staying at the same capsule hotel as my first visit, I checked in and went about exploring again. I still hadn’t hit my groove solo traveling, so I used Foursquare to find potential sights. The Contemporary Art Museum and the Miniatures Museum came up high on the list. With camera in hand, I legged it over to MOCA.

DSC_0837

Notice how this woman perfectly matches both the VW and the shipping container. Fashionista!

DSC_0843

This woman just has awesome fashion. That is all.

MOCA is located in the Datong District, which is a hotbed for great art, cafes, and bars. The university nearby creates a vibrant atmosphere, and I really wish there had been more time to explore! This was my favorite location in Taiwan, although there are some other nice university areas as well. It’s always those young folks and their newfangled ideas…

DSC_0849

DSC_0853

Graffiti money

Continue reading

Taiwan: Sun Moon Lake

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Untitled-2

The journey so far

From the Chang Kai Shek Memorial, it’s a short one stop subway ride to the train station. Taipei Main Station is a bit surreal. The building is from the 1940’s and shows it’s age, but in a charming way. The timetable above the ticket counter isn’t digital, but the old rotating block system- similar to a clock from the 80’s. Watch ‘Back to the Future’ if you’re too young to remember these.

506029831-taiwan-taipei-ticket-counter-taipei-main-gettyimages

Source: getty images

Food counters crowd out the rest of the Station, and you pass through various enticing smells, from dumplings to cake. This is not a place you walk around hungry.

Continue reading

Taiwan: Day 1

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Be warned: This is the TLDR version intended for friends and family. You have been warned!

Two months ago, I embarked on my first solo travels outside of Korea (that’s how fast I write blog posts…). Okay, technically coming to Korea was the first, but it doesn’t count. We were babied from the moment the first bus arrived at the airport and drove us to orientation. From that point, there were co-teachers and various support groups to shepherd us about and hold our hands. Totally different from setting off to another country without any connections on the other end.

Since coming to Korea, I’ve been taking baby steps out of my travel comfort zones. On my first winter break, I traveled throughout Korea on my own. This is a woman who was scared to leave her city for two months, and still was uncomfortable without a hand to hold. While I wasn’t ready to purchase a ticket out of Korea, it was a proud moment for me, the shut in.

I traveled to Japan for the Korean Thanksgiving this last year with two other women. Japan was lovely; and I’m very grateful to have been invited on that trip because it gave me the confidence to go on this next one. Continue reading

Taiwan Travel Tip: Data in Taiwan

This is just a micro article while I continue my travels. Finding WiFi has been frustrating enough for me, that I figured someone else may go through the same thing.

Tip 1: Don’t get an EGG/WiFi device
This is a waste of money, and I couldn’t even get mine to work properly. It was around 6 USD a day, which was about 30 down the drain for the first week.
Instead, go to 7-11 and pick up a SIM card.
This made my life so much easier, and the staff at both locations where I purchased a card and recharged it were very helpful. It cost 350 TWD, which is about 10.50 USD at the moment.

Tip 2: Make sure you change the APN in your network settings.
This was a minor hastle, but it caused me a few hours of grief. Go under Settings>More Networks>Mobile Networks>Access Point Names. Select the name indicated on your SIM card’s information packet.

Boom. You’re done. Hope that helps!