Tag Archives: Taiwan

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29

15th May 2015

For the last few years on my old little blog I have made lists of the things I’ve achieved during the year. This is mainly because my birthday hasn’t always been my favourite holiday so I’ve tried to look at the day differently. Instead of putting a lot of expectation into one day, I’ve tried to use it as an excuse to reflect on the year just passed. It’s been a very busy year indeed. I’ve done this for the last two years which you can see here: All the things I did as a sprightly 26 year old, and my achievements as a full blown Korean Alien at 27.

So what have I been lucky enough to experience in my 28th year?

.Won a charity scavenger hunt by being as embarrassing as possible on the Korean Streets (Go team ‘gin on my face’) collageofhunt

.Danced the night away in Busan on an epic girl’s night with about 25 ladies. The hen do to end all hen dos, but without a hen.

.Met three of the best girls around.

.Walked the Great Wall of China.

.Listened to the world’s oldest jazz band in Shanghai.

.Played the same piano as Cole Porter and Charlie Chaplin.

.Fell in love with Taiwan.

.Saw Taroka Gorge (Hualien, Taiwan) in all its splendour.

.Learned to like gin.

.Rode a bike for the first time…on Vietnamese roads no less.

.Went swimming in the sea (deeper that my knees terrifies me)

.Taught an art class to cute kiddies

.Ate Peking duck in the old capital of Peking/Beijing

.Noreabanged with Lee’s family.

.Became debt free (kind of..well close enough)

.Was interviewed for a Korean newspaper

.Travelled to Namhae Island in a 9 hour car ride and still loved every person in the car at the end of it.

.Learnt to Kayak

.Beat Lee at pool

.Left our jobs and house …and Korea.

.Lee and I had our first Christmas together

.Learnt to pole dance and danced in a show (I front of people, no less)

.Planned and started traveling on the trip we had always talked about around Asia.

. Got an Australian working Visa

. Met snow monkey’s in Japan

.Saw a geisha

.Ate Okonomyaki

.Went to a Japanese Photobooth with Lee

.Went to a wedding dress café (?) wedding27

. Started this blog

. Made a new animation Showreel

. Got offered a job in a large animation company (couldn’t take it but it’s still an honour to have been offered)

. Sold my first photo and article to a professional newspaper

.Visited the Philippines

.Met a Tarsier

.Went to the mountains of Guilin.

.Fell in love with Hong Kong

.Learnt the importance of Skype

. Learnt the importance of cheese.

.Spent three weeks exploring Vietnam

. Saw Lee turn 30

. Discovered Cambodia

. Went to my first Opera

.Celebrated 10 years with the tall one.

Watched my fantastic friend run a marathon.

Got a new tattoo

.Heard my sister’s first piece of music played live that she had composed…See’s now a mini musical genius.

.Became addicted to Instagram

. Ate far too many noodles

. Read 10 books

.Filled 3 sketch books.

.Bought our first laptop together

.Got a lot of wrinkles/laughter lines

 

Favorite film this year: Guardians of the Galaxy or Big Hero 6

Favorite song: Uptown Funk

Favorite drink: Gin and Tonic or Red Wine

Favorite food: Lee’s Pad Thai Curry and Bahn Mi

Saddest moment: Saying goodbye to our home and friend in Korea and not seeing my family while i was 28 🙁

Happiest moment: too many to count but sitting in our own private paradise in Cambodia was one and singing at the top of  our lungs while dancing to Michael Jackson at a friends house in Korea also is a winner.

Main thing I’ve learnt: Hard times make the good times better, hard work pays in the end and food poisoning is the devil

All in all it’s been a fantastic year and I can’t wait to see what my 29th has in store. I know it will have lots more travel . I have now currently seen 24 countries and I’m hoping by the time I turn 30 it will be 30 (quite a tall order but I think we can just about do it). I also hope it includes a lot of catch ups with all my favourite people, especially my family and friends back home. Thank you again to everyone that helped me achieve this crazy list. 29 and feeling fine (I’m old enough to understand how lame that sentence was and still say it proudly without irony).

 

29th birthday dinner

29th birthday dinner

 

When the beach is so deserted you set a self timer , but accidentally leave the camera in manual

When the beach is so deserted you set a self timer , but accidentally leave the camera in manual

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My family sending my pics to feel close to home

My family sending my pics to feel close to home

paper interview lee's family visit Korea leaving do friends

 

A night at the Opera

A night at the Opera

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The Differences between Taiwan and China

6th January 2015

 

cks7 China and Taiwan have shared a long history. There is still on going issues today that have separated both the countries and it’s people.

I am not going to go into the politics of the situations since I am just a traveler and not in tune enough with both societies to make those kind of statements but I did find it interesting to visit both China and Taiwan in a short space of time. There were lots of quirks that separated each country and there were also many traits that showed their important linked past. This is a a few things we noticed that differed between these two incredible countries .

The Train Stations 

China is one of the most populated countries in the world so you kind of expect their public transport to be packed to the rafters, but nothing can really prepare you for the game that is getting onto the subway. The elbows, pushing and craziness that accompanies every trip is a little over whelming but it is quick and it is efficient. The other weird aspect of being in China is having to go through security every time you enter a subway station. You can’t take certain items on board. It’s a strange thing to get use to even if it does mean the subways are safer. Taiwan on the other hand is like a different world. Straight lines everywhere, queues to get on trains, queues to get on escalators and even queues to queue. It’s fantastic. As British people who have lived in Korea for a while and got use to the pushing and shoving, it was heaven. The etiquette on the trains is also fantastic. There are signs all over asking you to text instead of call and reminders for you to be courteous…it actually says ‘courteous and thoughtful’ on the poster. We felt like the rude ones. Taiwan public transport is like a dream.

rsz_dsc_0393 The Food

Oh China and Taiwan, how happy you have made me. It isn’t much of a secret that Lee and I LOVE food and for me at the top of that list is Chinese food.

I had always grown up being warned that food in actual China isn’t like the Chinese food in the UK. I was worried that the tastes i’d come to love were an illusion and I would be eating nothing familiar but you know what, it was the same but just ten times better. We started in Beijing , the home of Peking duck then made our way to Shanghai for noodles and pork galore. We ate so many dumplings that I had to re buy my entire wardrobe. We boarded the plane, leaving China behind and headed to Taiwan wondering what we would find. Taiwan did not disappoint. A combination of night markets, breakfast restaurants and mango ices made our bellies very happy. Each day it was tough trying to decide what we would eat since we didn’t want to waste our bellies. The only reason I’m glad I don’t live in China and Taiwan is that I would weigh three million stone.

china5 china20 china21 rsz_2dsc_0105 rsz_dsc_1832 The Traditional vs The Modern 

China has history everywhere. The buildings, the people and the traditions can be seen on every inch of this country. The Great Wall, The Temple of Heaven and The Forbidden City ooze history. It is a shame that so many touristy things have been built up around them but they are still beautiful and you can imagine what it was like to be there when they were first built.

Taiwan has a lot of history too but it also has a huge modern artistic influence that wasn’t as prominent in China. When people left Taiwan they wanted a bit more freedom (It’s obviously a lot more complicated than that but for simplicity sake….) this meant they were probably the artistic, creative people. This can be seen everywhere, from the animated road signs to the statues that litter the streets. Art is a way of life here.

There isn’t one place I prefer more than the other because tradition has always influenced the modern so it’s impossible to separate them. It was great to go to China first to see the history and then be in Taiwan to experience what people had done with that knowledge. It was a great blend of worlds. I think seeing these two countries in close proximity to each other made each one better.

rsz_cks8 rsz_dsc_0211 rsz_dsc_0060 rsz_dsc_0024 The People 

Chinese people and Taiwanese people have been through a lot .They have seen extreme poverty, strife and change but they have come out as  happy and kind people. The Chinese as a whole were a little more pushy and sometimes rude but after being there for a period of time and meeting many lovely individuals it became clearer that what we interpret as rude is actually just ingrained culture.

China is a collectivist country which means it puts a large importance on the family and sharing. Taiwanese people are individualists which means they see the importance of being your own person. Both of these have their merits and their downfalls. The best analogy I can compare the good and bad aspects of a collectivist society is this:

Imagine a large family with lots of brothers and sisters. If things go wrong you have a massive support system and people to look out for you, you all have something in common.  The flip side to this is that it also means you have to fight to be heard. If you are sat with your family for dinner and your mum puts a plate of pizza on the table, everyone grabs for it to make sure they get some. Everyone is equal so there is no one apart from grabbing for the biggest piece to decide who deserves it.  The smallest person normally doesn’t get a look in….but this may just be my experience from being the youngest cousin in a very large family.

This is sometimes the feeling in China. When you get on a bus it definitely is every man for himself and when you see people driving it is definitely a competition. In Taiwan , like the US or the UK I imagine people can be more lonely since family isn’t the centre of the country as much as it is in a collective society, but it also means people have more personality shining through and tend to express themselves a lot more. Individualism sounds like it might be a selfish society but from my (very little experience) it seems the exact opposite. It seems to follow the line of ‘how would I want to be treated as an individual?’…or of course there is the old adage ’treat others as you would like to be treated’.

Both are really interesting ways to live, neither are wholly bad or wholly good.  I love the people in both countries and it was an honor to experience their ways of life.

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This lovely Taiwanese man heard Lee’s accent. Found out he liked rugby and that we are from the heart of rugby country….he ran off at full speed to bring Lee a Taiwanese scarf to wear and to have some pictures.

Babies 

This is one that mainly concerns China but twins are EVERYWHERE . I slowly started to notice it when we were in Beijing and then I couldn’t not see it. Lots of the littlest, cutest kids you’ve ever seen in matching clothes and squeaky shoes. So cute. The only theory Lee and I had on this is that since Chinese people can only have one child that IVF must be quite popular. (this is based on nothing but our odd brains though so don’t take that as fact).

The other thing that China likes to do with its babies is give them little arse-less chaps…yes you read that right. They don’t wear nappies (diapers for all you American lovelies out there) they save the environment and let the kiddies go to the toilet when they need to. It was an odd thing the first time I saw it but after a while I got use to it. It’s just another one of those weird things you discover when you travel. Although I have heard from Chinese people that this is more of a Chinese country tradition and is dying out. It was definitely more popular around the tourist attractions like The Forbidden City and things, which would make sense.

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There isn't a photo of the babies in arse-less chaps but believe me it's true

There isn’t a photo of the babies in arse-less chaps but believe me it’s true

So there are many differences between each country. Some born out of being far away from each other and other from their history and past but they are both fantastic places with fantastic elements to get excited about. If you are looking for something to add to your 2015 travel bucket list then China and Taiwan will not disappoint.

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Taiwan Oddities

5th January 2015

market7 I love travel…well duh, right! And one of the reason I love travel is those tiny oddities that jump out at you in a new country and stick out as something completely unique. When I go to a new country I always carry a little notebook and I jot down things to remember , tiny memories I might lose if I didn’t make a note. Lee and I always sit down at some point on the holiday and jot things down…normally over cocktails.

What we normally forget though is where we put those notes. Today I found a scribbled note listing some of the fantastic oddities we discovered in Taiwan.

This was such a rarity after living in Korea that we took a photo

This was such a rarity after living in Korea that we took a photo

  1. No Bins –

Just like Korea, there’s NO BINS…ahhh! I don’t understand why or how a country doesn’t have them. It’s bizarre to me, especially coming from a country where my mum would kill me for even thinking of dropping a piece of litter. I think it’s for safety reasons and also because they look messy but tis odd.

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  1. In Taiwan the English word for Limes seems to be Lemons.

There might be an official term for them but on all posters and in all pictures they were called lemons. I honestly didn’t care since I love limes with a passion and they don’t have them in Korea. That’s not true, they do but they cost an arm and a leg (and another leg too). Fresh lime/lemon juice…I miss you.

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  1. People are super polite.

I have mentioned it time and time again but the Taiwanese are so nice. Always smiling, always cheerful, helpful, and chatty. It was a pleasure to be in their presence and in their country. Take us back!!

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  1. Breakfast restaurants

What’s the best meal of the day? If you didn’t say breakfast then you are wrong, unless you said lunch or dinner. Those are good too. In Taiwan they love breakfast, in fact they love it so much that there are tons of restaurants especially open just to provide you with breakfast. Pancakes, egg rolls, bacon burritos you name it, they’ve got it. They open at about 5am and are closed by 12. You can normally tell it’s a breakfast restaurant from the long doughnut like pastries hung up outside and the fact they are the only places open that early. The only problem you may find is there is no English but we had no problem pointing at what others had just saying ‘best’ at the lovely man serving us.  We sadly only discovered one on our last day in Taiwan so make sure you get in there every day if you visit. You won’t regret it.

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2014 Our Favourite Bits

27th December 2014

Some how when we weren’t looking, the year dissapeared. We have almost been in Korea for two years and sometimes if feels like meer hours. As 2014 gets ready to hang up it’s hat it’s the perfect time to reflect on what a fantastic year it’s been.

There have been many things that I’d love to include but we’ve narrowed it down to some of the top moments from the past year.

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  1. Dumplings in Shanghai

In August this year we went to China. Our first stop was Beijing where we ate our weight in duck and noodles. We thought it couldn’t get better than Beijing, but then we went to Shanghai. If Beijing is the traditional brother then Shanghai is the kooky nephew. In Shanghai the first things we noticed before we checked in was the fantastic smell coming from a small hut next to our hotel. This little booth contained a very hard working woman. She made dough in the morning and filling in the night. She was our dumpling supplier for the rest of the holiday and by jove were they delicious. At 30p a pop we easily lived on them for the entire holiday. You will notice a theme with this list…food will be featured heavily.

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  1. Being in North Korea

When we decided to move to Korea we knew that we wanted to visit this almost mythical mysterious place. The DMZ is the dividing line between North and South Korea and you can visit it on a tour, run by the American Army. I don’t know what I was expecting before I got there but this place utterly shocked me. It was a very jaring and humbling experience and I think there is definitley something to be said for understanding the country you are living in and the hardships it has and is facing. The day we went it was cold, grey and snowy which only added to the somber atmosphere. There isn’t anything I’ve experience as terrifying as coming face to face with a North Korean soilder. Stepping over that dividing line, even for 5 minutes isn’t something I ever thought I’d do but I’m very glad I did.

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  1. Visiting my brother in Scotland

I’ve only ever been to Scotland twice in my life and both have occurred over the last two years. This seems shocking to me now that I live in Asia and travel far and wide. Our home of Wales and Scotland are stupidly close. What’s even more shocking is that up until January this year Lee hadn’t been at all. Luckily My brother is living in Edinburgh so when we traveled home in January we decided to pop up there and celebrate his recent engagement to his beautiful fiance. Edinburgh is one of those cities that just blows me away. The history, architecture, people and food are the best around. Sitting in a resturant eating haggis, drinking hot toddys and laughing with my brother has been one of the best parts of this year.

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  1. The Nightmarkets of Taipei

Taiwan just blew us away. It you sit still for two seconds any where near me I will tell you how Taiwan is just the best place I’ve ever been. One of the lovely things about Taipei was the amazing night markets. The crazy amounts of delicious food, fresh fruit juices, fun games and lovely people are what makes Taipei feel like the perfect mix between traditional China and kooky Japan. I still dream about the cheese sticks and lime juice there. This overlooked city is waiting to be discovered by the masses so get there quick.

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  1. Taroko Gorge , Hualian Taiwan

There are some places you visit that even photos can do justice. This is one of those places. The towering pillars of marble, the clay filled rivers and the bluest seas I’ve ever seen. We were in awe the entire time. We even managed to see a wild monkey which is a first, although I hear when we visit Indonesia next year we will be sick of the little blighters. Everyone should go and you should go now.

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  1. Conquering the Great Wall of China

We did it! It was tough, it was the hottest day of the year and we went to the wrong part of the wall so had to do it twice. It was a big thing to cross off the bucket list and I was so happy to share this moment with Lee since we’ve talked about it for a long time. If you are going to visit, take about twenty bottles of water and a camera to take a million photos.

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  1. Holi Hai in Busan

Hoil Hai is the Indian festival of colour but it is also a big deal in Busan , Korea. When I first heard about it last year we had just missed it so I was stupidly excited to experience it this year. It also happened to fall on the same weekend as Saint Patrick’s day which meant it would have been rude to not celebrate with our Irish friends. We spent the weekend covered in green shamrocks and powder paint. It’s made us move a trip to India up the bucket list because if Busan was fantastic I can only imagine how great the real thing is.

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  1. My Best Friends Wedding

In April this year I had the privilage of being part of my best friends wedding. She has been my friend since I was fifteen and it was an honor to be her bridesmaid. It was the first international flight I’ve taken on my own and it was so bizzare to travel the world on my own. I was only in the UK for four days but it was completely worth it. It also helped that the wedding was on my mum’s birthday so she, my sister and my brother were all there. Traveling the world for a dance party like no other was very worth it. Plus Wales is just beautiful. Any excuse to see these sunsets is worth a twelve hour flight.

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  1. Dancing the night away in Shanghai

When we heard that there was an all you can drink nightclub in Shanghai, situated in a building that is a cross between a Victorian manor house and a eighties music video. To set the scene for you there was a see through grand piano in the bathroom and a stone statue of king Arthur wearing an afro. We danced and laughed all night, that combined with being chatted up by some very beautiful escorts made it a crazy night. Thank you China for the ego boost and good time. There isn’t many things in life I love as much as dancing but dancing with my Lee is one of them.

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  1. Lee’s family learn to Noreabang

I’ve known Lee’s family for as long as I can remember. When they decided to come and visit us in Korea we were over the moon. We took them for Korean bbq, we laughed over Makgolli and showed them the beautiful temples but the memory of us all ina norebang singing our hearts out at three a.m not because we were drunk but just because we were having so much fun we didn’t want to go home. They are my heros and there is nothing better than sharing Korea with people when they come to visit since it makes us fall in love with the place all over again.

 

Well that is just some of the great moments from our year. 2015 is shaping up to be a BIG year. My new diary is embarresingly already filled with flight details and hotel names as we get ready to leave Korea for good. We are reved up and ready to set off on our four month trip around Asia before finding a new home in Australia. There are terrifying yet exciting times ahead.

I hope you have all had a fantastic year and we thank you for also joining us on the new adventrue of starting this blog. It’s only been up and running for a few months but the response has been incredible. I hope we can get to know you all a bit better as well as share more of our adventures.

Happy New Year everybody.

 

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We made a little video – Taiwan

17th October 2014

cks9 This is our entry into the Taiwan video contest ‘Anytime Taiwan’

We happened to see an advert for this contest when we were about to enter Taipei 101 and since I love making little videos of our trips anyway it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

If you get a spare minute have a looksie and head to THIS SITE to vote for your favourite. You don’t have to vote for our one (which is ‘A vacation made in Taiwan’ ) but if you did we would be very happy bunnies.