Archives

Taipei Travel Guide

China - Ross French - May 7, 2020

Taiwan is divided into several major provinces. For most of the tourists, you will want to pick one of the following two places as your first destination: Taipei and Xinbei, which is commonly known as the northern part of Taiwan; or Kaohsiung and Tainan, which is known as the Southern part.

While many other options exist, you would want to stay within Taipei for their first trip to Taiwan. This is, therefore, a detailed guide showing your way around Taipei.

Traveling and Accommodations

After getting off the plane at Taoyuan Airport, you would have four options: Take the Taoyuan High-Speed Railway, the Taoyuan MRT, Airport bus or Taxi. You will most likely arrive at the Taipei MRT Station if you intend to take any of the public mass transport.

The Taxi is fairly priced – assuming that you are dropping off at Taipei Station, the taxi fare would roughly be 600NT. If you would like to get to your hotel directly, taxis are usually the way to go.

The High-Speed Rail is the fastest (probably even faster than taxi) but also the costliest out of the rest three. MRT and the bus take the same time, so it would depend on your preference. One thing’s for sure: There are so many English signs in the airport to guide your way. You are very unlikely to get lost.

Once you are in the city, you should primarily use the MRT (the local Metro system) to travel around. Most of the city’s attractions are easily accessible using the MRT, but note that the metro system is complex and is considered quite confusing for many first-time visitors, so be prepared to get lost a few times. You can keep on using Taxi or calling Uber, or hop on a bus to experience the city. Also, Taipei is a very walkable city, and you should be able to walk from places to places if you know your way around. It’s your choice!

One last thing: The rate of hotel rooms caters to all markets and rooms are available every time of the year. If you don’t know where to look, hotels near Ximending and Taipei Station, possibly Wanhua and Zhongxiao Dunhua districts are your safest bets.

Attractions

Many of the biggest and most important landmarks in Taiwan, such as the Taipei 101, National Palace Museum and The National Taiwan University are within the city.

Taipei 101 is the tallest building of Taiwan. It is 101 floors high—hence the name—and the top floors comprise two observation decks. This is one of the sleekest buildings of the city, and the best place to have a bird’s-eye view of the city. After you’ve enjoyed the view from above, you should also have a look at the lower floors—it is a mall with a huge food stall serving international food.

The National Palace Museum is not the same as the one in Beijing. They share the same Chinese name (Gu-Gong—literally translated as ‘the old palace’) and have a similar focus: Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks dated back to the Ming and Ching dynasty. While the scale of collection in Taipei is much smaller than the one in Beijing, this is still one of the biggest collections of Chinese artwork out of the world. If you are into art and Chinese culture, check it out.

Lastly, there is the National Taiwan University, which is known as NTU. NTU is the Harvard of Taiwan. While you may not enter campus’ building (Unless you have been invited by someone from the campus), you may take photos on the outskirts of this historical campus. CD shops, book stores and eateries are scattered around here, so even if you are not going inside the campus, there’s no harm in walking around.

Shopping

When compared with other parts of Taiwan, Taipei is well known for being a shopper’s Heaven. SOGO, atre, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi are just some upscale big malls in The Shinyi commercial circle. In there, you should be able to find all the international big brands you know and love.

Taipei is also known for its underground shopping malls. The Taipei Underground Shopping Mall hosts shops that sell tourist goods and souvenirs. It is also famous for selling Japanese Comics, novels, video games and related goods.

One place you should definitely visit would be Ximending, which is a pedestrian walkway a-la ‘night market’. While the business here usually starts in the afternoon, in the evening, Ximending kicks into another gear. You will most likely find people queuing for bubble tea and restaurants, while the shops sell an array of souvenirs and clothing items. Wallets, bags, accessories, clothes, Taiwanese snacks, and many traditionally related goods that can furnish your rooms, can easily be found here.

As for your souvenir wish list, Food is usually your safest bet. Pineapple Cakes, Tea leafs, ‘pork papers’ (pork jerkies which are thin as a piece of paper—this is super crunchy) are some most sought after items that will satisfy even your pickiest friends.

One thing you might not have expected would be books—Taiwan has quite the literature scene. If you know a friend who can read Chinese, why not buy him a book of Yang Mu, one of the greatest modern poets in Taiwan?

With so much to buy and enjoy in Taipei, why not book your tickets now? Fly to Taipei now with Cathay Pacific.

Food

Even without mentioning, you should have heard about bubble tea by now, which is a variant of milk tea with tapioca balls added on, served cold. You will see people drinking this popular drink once you’ve touched down, as bubble tea shops can be found literally everywhere—including the Taoyuan airport.

Besides bubble tea, you would most likely want to taste some local snacks and food. Some of the stuffs you should definitely try include:

1. Xiaolongbao/Meat dumplings

The term literally translated as ‘small cage buns’. It is, however, not a bun, but meat dumplings with soups inside, wrapped in a very thin layer of skin that’s almost translucent. This item does not originate from Taiwan, but it is very popular there.

2. Beef Noodles

While the Beef served with the noodles is nice, what makes a bowl of beef noodles shines is the soup, which could have taken over 24 hours to prepare. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for 24 hours for your bowl, as Beef Noodles can be found in most of the places in Taiwan.

3. Oyster vermicelli

While the name might trick you into thinking this is a noodle dish, this is more like a soup or a snack. Small pebbles of oysters and vermicelli are the main ingredients. Pig intestines are often added. If you think this is some odd Asian flavor, wait until you taste the Umami flavor on the soup, which is usually based on fish stocks or bonito flakes. You will be pleasantly surprised.

4. Fried Chicken cutlet

We are not referring to the American style Wings or the Korean style chicken nuggets, or any of the stuff you have in KFC. Taiwanese like their chicken cutlet fried and sprinkled with spiced salt, sometimes with paprika. It is spicy, crispy and juicy. In short: It’s finger licking good.

You can find many of the food listed here in any of the ‘night markets’ in Taipei. Shilin night market, Shi-Da Night Market and Raohe Street Night Market are some places where you can start looking.

In Conclusion

There is really nothing stopping you from visiting Taiwan. So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to Taipei now.

Continue Reading

Kickstart your Travel Funds with These Simple Saving Ideas

Travel Tips - Ross French - April 25, 2020

Dreaming of travelling the world? What’s stopping you? For most, it’s the cost. From flight tickets to other transport, hotels and hostels, activities, insurance, souvenirs, drinks, food, even your travel supplies, it all adds up to a pretty hefty amount. Sadly, it’s this large sum that puts many people off the idea of travelling.

I’ll never save as much money as that! That’s a crazy amount – it’s just not worth it!

Sound familiar? The truth is that regardless of how much money you might need, travelling is money well spent. So, how can you save money for your travel adventures? Here we’ll look at how you can kickstart your travel funds with these simple saving ideas.

Invest in an ISA

An ISA is a special kind of saving account where you can deposit as much as 20k a year, without having to pay a penny on tax. Meaning that your money works hard to earn you interest! Click here to find out more about ISAs and how to find the right one for you. The money you save each month can be placed in your ISA and saved over time until you’re ready to hit the road. It’s a simple yet effective way to save and travel.

Sell those unwanted belongings

If you’re going to be on the road for a while, then it might make sense to get rid of a lot of your old belongings and utilise the money for your travels instead. From old clothes to accessories, even home décor items, shoes, books and tech. Check out eBay, Craigslist and Facebook marketplace for a captive buying audience. Remember – one mans trash is another man’s treasure!

Work even more

If overtime or more shifts are available, then you should consider taking them on and putting your earnings straight into your travel fund. If extra shifts aren’t possible right now, then don’t worry you can make money by participating in online surveys, earning cash back on certain goods, or even utilising your skills and talents and selling your own products and services online. E.g. arts and crafts, voiceover work, logo design etc.

Cut out the miscellaneous spends

Unless you’re buying it for your trip, you don’t need it. Including vices such as cigarettes and even alcohol. Video games, new clothes, books, nights and meals out, handbags etc. It might seem a little difficult at first, but if you keep your travel goal in mind you’ll know that it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

Continue Reading

10 Fun and Free Things to Do in Sarasota

Travel Blog - Ross French - April 7, 2020

Are you wondering about going on a trip to Sarasota and curious to find out the best free things to do in Sarasota? Then dont worry, you can check out the best free things to do in Sarasota below.

Sarasota is located at the heart of Florida’s western coast, United States. It is one of the major Gulf Coast cities in Florida. Sarasota is at a distance of 60 miles from the south of a beautiful Tampa Bay.

Beautiful Sarasota is the best place to visit at any time of the year. Above all, it is most beautiful during the winter seasons. So, you shouldn’t miss visiting sarasota in the winter season as you can have lots of best things to do in Sarasota. Sarasota is an attractive place running up to 725 square miles of land and 37 miles of open shoreline. In other words, it is a fairyland with a beautiful coastline.

Sarasota is a city with natural beauty, delightful climate, arts, and culture. Sarasota is the coastal paradise of the western coast of Florida. It is a go-to place for families and tourists. Above all, it is the best place to relax, sit back, and enjoy for the retirees admiring the natural beauty.

The best part is it’s home for many celebrities, for instance, Stephen King and Rosie O’Donnel and more. It is about an hour from Tampa Bay and two hours from Orlando. Therefore, making it a great place to come visit on weekends and holidays. Sarasota is considered as the city of paradise, mixed with a hint of reality.
The County of Sarasota offers an excellent combination of culture with modern experiences. However, its museums, along with fine dining experience, perfect beaches, a wide range of shopping possibilities. Here are some of the free and fun things to do in Sarasota.

1. A day on the beach: Sarasota is the home for the number one beaches in the country. Siesta Key beach is the most visited beach. Tourists can sit and relax, enjoying the warm sun, sipping on the cool drinks, and watch the waves go up and down, which is free of cost.

In addition, there are Lido, Longboat, Nokomis, and Manasota beaches offering a beautiful view. These beaches are mainly known for their sharks’ teeth. Siesta beach is awarded as the best beach in the United States on several occasions.

The beaches here are widely known for their bright white and quartz crystal sands. A day on the beach is definitely the best free things to do in Sarasota.

2. Go Camping: Sarasota’s key beachfront campground is on Siesta Key. It is the Turtle Beach Campground. This campground is next to the Gulf of Mexico. Camping along the Gulf coast from sunrise to sunset is a breathtaking experience with maximum fun.

This tree line campground is full of padded camping and picnic tables. Apart from that, this is the campground in all of Florida with direct access to the beach. This campground houses the unique loggerhead and green turtle nests. Therefore the name Turtle Beach Campground.

3. Go on a picnic: In addition to the beaches, Sarasota is full of several parks. In other words, Sarasota is an excellent place for a picnic. Island Park offers a wide range of fabulous and free services.

For instance a beautiful blue waters, a beautiful water fountain for children, massive sculptures, big boats, sun, and shade. Besides, there are parks Celery Fields Regional stormwater facility is an excellent place for visitors, to enjoy the scenic views.

Similarly, Circus Hammick, Curry Creek Preserve, Deer Prairie Creek Preserve are the parks best for a picnic.

4. Visit the Unconditional Surrender Statue: The iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse on the streets of Times Square on Valentine’s Day. This photograph was taken during the celebration after the announcement of the end of World War-II.

This iconic picture was built in the form of a statue in downtown Sarasota. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this photograph, which makes it more interesting.

5. Go for a bicycle ride, walk: Sarasota offers a wide range of places to visit. There are many parks and beaches in Sarasota offering bicycle rides. Long walks on the beaches in Sarasota with your loved ones make the day come alive.

Drive through Legacy trail. Go kayaking and canoeing in the Carlton Reserve. Taking a walk with your pets, fishing in Celery Fields Parks of Sarasota gives you a great feel.

6. Community Drum circle: Sarasota County houses several hippies. The hippie community holds the community drum circle every Sunday on Siesta Key Beach due to the healing property of quartz crystal beaches.

This event takes place an hour before the sunset. This is a ceremonial event and a must-go place. Above all, it involves chanting, singing, and dancing all night long.

7. Visit the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art: Sarasota’s one of the most visited museums is The John & Mable Ringling Museum. Sarasota is a Circus city once. John Ringling is the owner of the show called “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

The John & Mable Ringling Museum is a part of his home filled with interesting and unusual pieces of artifacts. The entry is free on Mondays.

8. Go on a festive mode: Sarasota hosts numerous festivals all around the year. For instance, the Sarasota Film Festival is held annually, attracting many films from across the globe.

Similarly, Ringling International Arts Festival is held in the Historic Asolo Theatre. In addition, the Sarasota Chalk Festival was held yearly in the historic area of Burns.

The Harvey Milk Festival is a music festival, and the first international street painting festival is held in Sarasota. In conclusion, Sarasota is thumping in colors and music all around the year.

9. Watch a live show: Live music is the best way to enjoy the calmness of the wavy beaches. Live music performances held every Sunday nights on Siesta Beach. The entry is free to visit these live music concerts.

10. Visit to the Farmers market: the farmers market in Sarasota is full of fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, it is full of crafts and handmade objects. Farmer’s market is open for all on every Sunday morning at Siesta Key farmers market. So, this is one of the best things to do in Sarasota as well.

Continue Reading

5 Best Alberta Road Trips

Travel Blog - Ross French - March 30, 2020

Backpacking, Alberta, is a fantastic experience. If you are looking for the most fabulous mountain road trip in North America? Then you shouldn’t miss out on Alberta Road trips.

Alberta is a province filled with lovely friendly people, diverse landscape that includes huge mountains, desert badlands, prairies, and vast coniferous forests. This special place is having more than 600 lakes and rich mineral deposits.

If you’re striving to find out more about Alberta Road trips, then you can get the best information in this post.

5 Best Alberta’s Road Trip:

Eager to go on a road trip? Then Canada’s majestic mountain drive is the best of all. Just hop in a car and journey through the gorgeous Canadian Rockies.

ICEFIELDS PARKWAY AND COLUMBIA ICEFIELD:

Icefield Parkway is one of the most spectacular and Stunning Sceneries in Canada. Head over to Lake Louise to Jasper along the Highway 93, to get to these Dazzling Icefields. In your journey, drive through the continental divide, passing through a squadron of glaciers. It runs 143 miles through the river valley that rises and drops sharply in the dense forests and mountains.

There are lots of Instagram breaking photo spots in this Icefields parkway, one of the famous one is Peyto Lake; this is just 28 miles north of Lake Louise. To get an adventure feel, you can walk a paved trail through the woods to check out the beautiful lake.

If you want to explore more places, then farther north at Mistaya Canyon, you can check out river flow from the Peyto Lake. In this location, the river dips through fissures of the rock. If you’re wildlife lover, then you can spot black bears and bighorn sheep by the side of the road while you are traveling to Icefield parkway.

The Athabasca Glacier is easily accessible among all six glaciers on the Columbia Icefield. If you want to experience the glacier, then take a bus tour as it can show you lots of great places.

How Long: 144 Miles.
Location: Lake Louise to Jasper – Along Highway 93.
Tip: It’s best to pack your food before setting out. There will be no cafes or restaurants there.

The Bow Valley Parkway:

The Bow Valley Parkway, a road trip is another fantastic ride you have to experience. It’s near Banff to Lake Louise on Highway 1A. Although the driving route is smaller than others in length, it has lots of scenic spots and covers the route length in beauty.

The scenic beauties in this road trip are Banff, the mountain town with the 1880s railroad and the unique tourist destination with fantastic spots, and the other is the iconic hamlet of Lake Louise. This route stretches off the main highway, and it follows the mighty bow river.

On your road trip, you have to cross the Bow River. If you’re a nature lover, you should stop at this beautiful place to take some breathtaking pics. Banff lies along the Bow river with forested peaks that fill with hotels, restaurants, and shops. The gorgeous scenic spots and dense evergreen trees, swift blue waters make the bow river a must-visit place for tourists.
It would be best if you didn’t miss out on the dramatic peak of Castle Mountain as it’s incredible to view from all angles.

How Long: 35 Miles.
Location: From Banff to Lake Louise on Highway 1A.

The Dinosaur Trail:

To the west of Alberta’s badlands, you can find a unique part of the province landscape that’s different from the rocky mountains. This route is North and south dinosaur trails from Drumheller. It’s a 48km loop that goes through the highways 837 and 838. This ride can get you along the red deer river.

Here you can have a look at iconic hoodoo rock formations and can even hike in Midland park. You can stop by horse thief and horseshoe canyons that are carved out by the Red Deer River. Want to explore more, then stop at Royal Tyrrel Museum — The world’s premiere palaeontological research museum.

How Long: 30 Miles.
Location: Drumheller — North and South Dinosaur trails.

The BoomTown Trail:

Boomtown trail is one of the roadways you should explore because you can learn about tribes. If you are looking for an alternative route to the east of the regular highway, you can use the boomtown way.

Usually, lots of Albertans say that riding down Edmonton to Calgary is boring to drive. But, it’s not that boring drive for newbies who visit the place because they can experience the new areas. The road takes you through the Camrose; here, you can explore Alberta’s railway history. You can visit Donalda, the home of the largest lamp, and several other rural tribes in Calgary.

The best spot you should explore is buffalo lake; it’s the gorgeous place for a paddle.

How long: 246 Miles.
Location: From Calgary to Edmonton

Cowboy Trail:

Driving down from Mayerthorpe to Lundbrek on Highway 22 will take you to the rocky hills of grasslands where you can find lots of attractions. This ride offers a great experience because you’ll see full of meadows and tranquil lake views. If you want to enjoy swimming, camping, and fishing to feel more adventurous, then you can do that because it’s allowed. In this route, you will go through the chain lake; it’s one of the most stunning lake with great views.

On your ride, be sure to stop at the Head Smashed Buffalo Interpretive center because you can view buffalo culture only at that research center. You can visit the Sundre pioneer museum and also the Mountain house National Site. Apart from these, you can check out the history of Cowboys, horse-drawn wagons, and more. Never miss visiting Bar U Ranch National Historic Site because you’ll miss a lot of history.

How Long: 355 Miles.
Location: Highway 22 from Mayerthorpe to Lundbrek.

Conclusion:

These are the few Alberta Road trips you should try while planning your trip. Along with these, they are even more road trips, but I’ll update them later. Now, start packing your bags and go on a road trip to Alberta because you can begin filling your Instagram with jaw-dropping backdrops and massive glaciers.

Continue Reading

5 Amazing Outdoor Places to See in Arizona

North America - Ross French - March 23, 2020

Are you striving to find out the amazing outdoor places to see in Arizona? Then you can explore them in this particular post.

Arizona is one of the 50 states in the United States of America. It is the 6th largest state and 14 most populous states. It is present in the southwestern region of the United States.

Many natural wonders, vibrant cities are present in Arizona, the heart of the United States. Some of the most unique and incredible terrains with the rocky countryside and huge mountains can be seen in Arizona.

In addition to the above, it is home for many distinct ecosystems and one of the wide varieties of topography in the country. For instance, many magnificent parks take home in Arizona.

There are many fascinating places to see in Arizona. You can find Many fascinatingly unique deserts, landscapes, forests, red rocks, vacation resorts are there in Arizona. In other words, it is a perfect vacation spot all around the year.

Apart from these, there are many other fascinating places to see and explore in Arizona. For instance, sandy deserts, towering saguaro cacti, and a snowbird culture having a lot of retired people enjoy their time in their recreational vehicles.

Many exciting outdoor recreational sites are present in Arizona, which provides insight into the rich culture and history of native America. There are two unique national parks and fifteen national monuments in Arizona.

As you are looking for the best places to see in Arizona? Here are the best and must-visit places to see in Arizona.

The Grand Canyon:

It is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Arizona, United States. Grand Canyon is formed as a result of soil erosion due to water. It is a large and deep river valley in Arizona.

This is formed by the Colorado river cutting the channels through the layers of rocky planes of the Colorado rift. As a result, the Grand Canyon runs 277 miles long and 18 miles wide and a mile depth. The local tribes consider the canyon as a holy site.

An endless view of ridges with colorful walls and deep caves are the major attraction of the Grand Canyon; in other words, the view is surreal. Especially in the late afternoons, a hue of colors, namely orange, red, yellow, and every shade in between, is reflecting on the walls of the canyon.

There are several tourist attractions along the canyon and its rim. Namely Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon- Parashant National Monument. Above all, the helicopter ride of the canyon is the most fantastic view to behold, similarly, the hiking into the canyon is also one of the incredible experiences.

Monument Valley:

Monument Valley is the most iconic image in the southwestern Arizona. A group of towering sandstone buttes makes a Monument Valley. The largest is about 300 meters above the valley. The Colorado region in Arizona houses the Monument valley.

Lands in the monument valley are very unfriendly with sharp rocks and colossal sand dunes. It is a 17-mile self-drive route along the park. In addition to the self-drive, Monument Valley is a large area that includes a tribal park, namely Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

Sedona:

Sedona is a city that sits on the country line in the northern Verde Valley region of Arizona. The main attraction of Sedona is the array of red sandstones. Besides, many beautiful red mountains and sharp rocky specimens make Sedona a beautiful place.

It is a great road trip from Phoenix to Sedona about a one-and-a-half-hour drive. The streets of Sedona are full of tourist shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Also, there are many biking and hiking trails in and around Sedona. Sedona has a rich history. As a result, there are several Native American housings in Sedona.

There are several energy vortexes in and around Sedona. Therefore it is considered a highly spiritual place. There are a wide range of activities going on in Sedona, for instance, UFO tours, jeep tours, hiking, aura readings to psychics, crystal seller.

Havasu falls:

Havasu Falls is the largest waterfall of the Grand Canyon on the south side of Colorado River. It is present in Havasu Creek, Arizona. It is the most famous waterfalls and is most visited falls in Havasu Creek. The waterfalls are as high as 100 feet, and it is located about one and a half miles from Supai.

The water pools at the foot of the Havasu Creek and appears to be having a blue color tint. In other words, the water seems to be having a blue color. The falls appear to be divided into two sections in two directions during heavy rainfall.

There is a tribe that resides near Havasu Creek called Havasupai Indians. Visitors are not allowed into the creek; however, recently, they mostly depend on tourism. Also, there are many exciting activities like a long hike, horseback riding, mule ride, and helicopter ride are available for visitors in Havasu Falls.

Tombstone:

Tombstone is a city in Arizona that showcases the country’s life of the old west people. It is the historic city of Arizona. There are a lot of activities happening in and around the city of the tombstone. This city is known for its famous Wild West depiction in modern society.

For instance, staged gunfights taking place in the streets of Tombstone. People walk around the city in costumes that portray the lifestyle of the glory old days of Arizona.

In addition to the above, there are several tourist destinations in Tombstone. Similarly, most of the town’s history can be seen in the historic sites for instance the Boot hill Graveyard, O.K. Corral. There is a park that is present in the original courthouse of the Tombstone city called Tombstone Courthouse State Historical Park, which is now a museum.

Historic Re-enactments takes place on the streets of Tombstone. The streets are well-packed with shops, restaurants. There is a theatre in Tombstone that never closed its gates in eight years. Besides, the popular activity in Tombstone is the ghost tour, which takes place early in the evenings.

Continue Reading