Head south-east out of central Taipei for a short 20 minute drive, and you’ll be in the foothills of Wenshan district, which offers much more than gondolas and tea. With historical towns, trails that seem to never end, night markets, and well-hidden spaces, Wenshan is a quirky respite from Taipei city life that offers plenty without sacrificing convenience. In fact, my love for Taiwan started here almost 6 years ago when I first arrived, and it’s all thanks to a number of hidden gems I’ve found while moseying about understated Wenshan. Continue reading
Happiest Lunar New Year to my readers! To celebrate the first day of the lunar calendar, why not ring in some blessings, and spend time observing the wonderful temple traditions. Here I am at the UNESCO Cultural Heritage listed Dalongdong Bao An Temple (大龍峒保安宮), probably at its busiest and most vivacious during this time of the year.
First day of the Lunar New Year (初一) is dedicated to family, and families will gather in temples to start the year auspiciously – with good thoughts and well-wishes that comes with praying to ancestors and the gods. A visit here at Bao An though, is not complete without a customary side trip to the nearby Confucius Temple (台北孔廟), and savouring favourite street eats down the road!
Just like for me, I hope this year will bring you to new roads and kingdoms, and satiate some of your relentless curiosities!
Happy Year of the Playful Dog!
There’s much to love about central Zhongshan, and it isn’t just because it once was Taipei’s centre for business and pleasure. Glamorous hotels, international dining, and large shopping centres may still grace the district, but it is the winding alleys full of boutique stalls and cafes that make this place perfect for a day of moseying about. From Japanese sites of yesteryear, to hidden hubs of art and entertainment, Zhongshan can cater to all interests. Here’s my top 10 alternative spots of areas predominantly west of Zhongshan and Shuanglian MRT station.
I’m not kidding anyone. This blog post is about Sun Moon Lake – only, through the eyes of someone who never saw its appeal until recently.
Usually when I hear of someone basing their travel plans around Sun Moon Lake, I would try my best to not scrunch up my nose and judge. It’s been done to death. Why put up with the crowds, and the horrible long-weekend traffic that can transform a one and a half hour stretch of highway into three, when there’s so much quiet beauty Taiwan has elsewhere? Continue reading
Every one, in one small way or another, is a little romantic. Whether you are the type to wear matching outfits with your beloved, or just like spending quiet time with that significant other, it sure feels nice to get romantic once in awhile. For me, it’s about appreciating beauty and sharing a common interest with that special someone. So in the spirit of Double Seven Day (seventh day of the seventh lunar month also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day), here are my seven less-known (and low-cost!) places in Taipei for romance. Continue reading
July 2017 saw me return to Taiwan for a week of island hopping and scuba-diving. Starting in Houbihu near Kenting (後壁湖，墾丁), I boarded a boat to Orchid Island (蘭嶼). It was a beautifully bright and hot day, but setting my eyes on the island, I felt somewhat cool. To say Lanyu is green is really an understatement. Mountains covered in lush vegetation against a backdrop of the bluest of blue seas. I couldn’t help but felt immediately revitalised.
I was fortunate to have close encounters with the island’s numerous residents – a goat spent an hour relaxing with me and my partner under a shaded pavillion. The photo I took of its eye and the vivid scarlet sunset on the beach are two of my favourite shots.
Back in Taipei, I found myself admiring Jiantan MRT Station (捷運劍潭站), but unfortunately I had little time to people-watch and shoot at the same time. Next time, perhaps.
Summer of 2016/17. I finally found a Saturday to myself to stroll from my rustic neighbourhood to the modern tech mall, Syntrend, which actually has a lovely high vantage point to shoot. Highlight of the day was being allowed to sit next to the group of ladies at the market (pictured below), and having a stranger kindly take care of my things when I went outside to shoot the golden light over Syntrend.
In a quiet alley of Shida University district, there’s a shop that sells congee and ‘convenience’ noodles (方便麵). A single man in his 50s has been dolling these bowls of comfort food for years. But his business may not last much longer.
“The rent is getting heftier and heftier each year. Many stores have moved on and it may soon be my turn.”
I respond with a sad smile. The demand for larger western-style eateries come with the increasing international crowd. But what would local student life be, without slurping a bowl of heart-warming congee after a late night of study?