Exploring Thermal Valley and Tea Plantations near Taipei

Enthralled as we were with Taipei, we also wanted to escape the city for the cooler air of the countryside, and see some of the rest of Taiwan.  We chose two easy day trips from the capital; Beitou Thermal Valley to see some geothermal action, and the Maokong Tea Plantations in the hills.

Beitou Thermal Valley

Beitou is just north of Taipei and is known for its thermal activity – namely hot springs! Upon arrival I was slightly taken aback to read all about where the local earthquake shelter is – but as Taiwan sits near the egde of two tectonic plates, earthquakes are possible so it pays to be prepared! Continue reading

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Travelling 101 in Taipei 101

Having explored the ancient sights of Taipei it was time to see the new heart of the city. Taipei 101 is one of the most iconic buildings in Asia. At over half a kilometre tall (a staggering 509.2 metres to be exact), it was the tallest building in the world until 2010 when the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (at 829.8 metres) took the title.

Taipei 101 is 101 floors high, and can be seen from most places in the city. If you want to visit, check the boards in the 5th floor lobby as this will tell you how the visibility is and which sections of the observation deck are open. Continue reading

Hidden Delights of Taipei

Taipei was a massive surprise. My BF wanted to go here as it was off the beaten path, and sometimes it is fun to explore the path less travelled. I am immensely glad we did, as it was a real gem, and has actually become my favourite place that I have been to in Asia!

Taipei blends the intrepid nature of Asia (night markets, great food, beautiful temples) with elements that are sometimes missing (road discipline eg lines marked on the street, no spitting, friendly locals who don’t hassle you at all). It also has a good mix of old and new; temples and small alleys filled with shops and markets, and then trendy neon shops and cafes, and the towering Taipei 101. All in all, it was a dream, and my favourite destination on this trip. Continue reading

A Day Trip to Hong Kong (because, why not?!)

If you have a spare day in Macau, you can easily do a day trip to Hong Kong. Most information online is for people staying in Hong Kong and wanting to do a day trip to Macau – but we did it the other way! 🙂

We took the Cotai Water Jet from Cotai in Macau, to Sheung Wan, HK. This takes around an hour but the boat is comfortable so you can quite easily be lulled to sleep. And when you wake, you are in the hub-bub of Hong Kong! Continue reading

Munching in Macau

Hmmm what shall I have for dinner… “His Aging Mother Tofu”? Or “Rape Heart”? Or maybe “Angus Steak to the Naked Eye”? These were just a few of the delicious choices greeting us at a food court in Macau.

I was surprised by the food in Macau. As the casino chains are the same as in America, I had expected to find some western chains. Continue reading

Holy Macau! A tour of Old Town Macau

I was taken aback by the beauty of the architecture in the old town of Macau. It is a former Portuguese colony so there remains churches, libraries and theatres which are very gorgeous.

I was also taken aback by the sweltering heat! I thought i was going to pass out. After a short walk we had to take refuge in a McDonald’s to have a very necessary ice cream sundae and take advantage of their air conditioning! The good thing is that many of the main sights are concentrated in a relatively small area so if you are in a rush (or about to pass out!) you can see them without walking too far.  Continue reading

No Money, No Friends in Macau Casinos

It is often said that Macau is the Las Vegas of the East. We have been to Las Vegas not one, not two, but three times, and we really love it! So we decided to complete the pilgrimage so visit Macau.  In fact, Macau has overtaken Las Vegas many times over in being the world leader in terms of revenue. So really, is Macau the Las Vegas of the East, or is Las Vegas the Macau of the West? Ooh controversial! (My view: LV came first so will always be the OG!)

First impressions of Macau was quite overwhelming – I had expected it to feel like Vegas, but it didn’t feel anything like it. Strangely it reminded me of Panama due to the thick jungle around, low lying cloud, and stifling heat.  It was also poorer than I had expected in terms of the housing of the local population, in contrast to the opulence and excess of the casino hotels. Like nearby Hong Kong, Macau is its own Special Administrative Region of China. And Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal, and coaches bring tourists from the nearby Chinese border straight to the casinos. Continue reading

How to Travel if you are Scared of Flying

I have taken more flights than I care to count, and flown to six of the seven continents on the planet. I have even flown in a tiny Cessna with four seats in it, and flown a glider. So it comes as a surprise to many that I am PETRIFIED of flying!

I think it all started the year that MH370 disappeared, and then the other Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down over Ukraine, and then the plane crashed in the alps. Continue reading

Cooling off in Collioure

Collioure was a strange one. I had planned it as an off-the-beaten-track retreat on the coast before we flew home. Little did I know that half of the UK had had the same thought. Apparently Collioure is firmly ON the beaten track!

There is no doubt that Collioure is very pretty, with colourfully painted houses and a plethora of restaurants serving tourists. Continue reading