Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The End to My Asia Trip

Thus ends my two month travel to Asia.

Landing in San Francisco

I arrived in San Francisco around 6pm on Wednesday.

The flight From Manila to SFO was not too bad, I spent most of the time watching documentaries and movies. One documentary was on Jeff Bezos, the man behind Amazon, and the other was on Chris Sharma, one of the world's best rock climbers.

Customs took awhile to get through because there were many people in line.

Upon exiting, I had a difficult time finding the exit as well as means of getting home. I had two options on how to get home: shuttle or caltrain.

In the end, I opted to take the caltrain because it was much cheaper than a shuttle. I got home around 9pm.

Layover in Manila, Philippines

Its about 9pm here in Manila, Philippines. The flight from Taiwan took 2 hours and the layover is another 2.

It'll be a 10 hour flight back to San Francisco where i hope to catch the caltrain down. The Manila airport is not very good, it's quite small and dirty.

The internet is fast though and there is HD NBA games streaming in front of me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Last Night in Taipei, Taiwan

On my second to last day in Taipei, I left Sylvia's apartment in the morning and headed off into the city to check into a hostel. At that point, I had stayed with Sylvia for probably a week or so and felt it was about time to give her some space.


Taipei Zoo, Taipei, Taiwan

On Tuesday I met up with Charlie and we went to the zoo.

Initially, the plan was to go hiking but for whatever reason, we ended up going to the zoo instead. I think it was a combination of how close the zoo was to the stop we were heading towards and the gondola next to the zoo. Charlie wanted to ride the gondola and so did I.


Weekend Getaway, Yilan, Taiwan

On Saturday, I took the train up north from HuaLian to Yilan to meet up with Sylvia, Cow Pig Fish, and Nicole.

To get around, the girls rented two motorcycles.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Hiking Taroko Gorge, Hualien, Taiwan

Around 9am I headed to the train station to grab a bus to Taroko. The train station was bustling with people trying to get you to join their tour and some of them were pretty persistent. For about 230 TWD I got a roundtrip bus ticket to the park from Hualian.

At Taroko, there are many sights to see, I don't think you can see all of them in one day but you can definitely see the important ones before the sun sets. Supposidly, Taroko is the larged marble gorge in the world, more than 1,000 meters deep and it is because of the marble that the gorge still exists today.

I started off at the Taroko Park Headquarters, moved to Bulowan to hike the Swallow Grotto trail, and then finally to TianXiang to hike Baiyan waterfall trail. If I came here again, I would like to try the Shakadang trail.

There really isn't much to say about the first two places. The headquarter was pretty but nothing in comparison to the park itself.

The swallow grotto trail was nice as well but because I didn't complete the trail, I didn't get to see all it had to offer.


Hualien, Taiwan

On thursday I left Taipei and headed south east towards HuaLian. The city reminds me a lot of Taichung in that, there seems to be not much to do within its immeidate vicinity. Much of what people come to this city to do involves taking a bus an hour out or so.

Tomorrow I will go to Taroko Gorge.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hiking Xiang Shan (Elephant Mountain) Taipei, Taiwan

Tuesday morning I went hiking at Xiang Shan. To get there is really simple: take the red line to Xiang shan exit.

Located really close to the city, Xiang Shan is a really easy hike. Although it can be steep in the beginning, it's not long at all and you can make it to the top in a half hour or less.


Taichung to Taipei, Taiwan

On Monday I had absolutely no plans and just hung around the hostel. I tried talking with the girl working there but she just wasn't interested. Fortunately, i started talking with another guy who was eating breakfast and we ended up spending the day together. His name was Charlie and although he is originally from Taiwan, he currently works in New Zealand.

Charlie rented a vespa/taiwan-motorcycle and we rode up the mountain to xingzhu.

There, we went to a popular summer resort called xingzhu summer resort. Albeit small, the place is perfect for pictures. The ride up to the resort was probably the best part of that day trip. The mountain was very nice to look at.


Taichung p.4

On Sunday I took the bus to sun moon lake south of taichung. The trip by bus took an hour and a half. 

While walking along the lake I randomly ran into Monika and Patrick and their aboriginal host family.

I would have to say that drinking tea with them was the highlight of my day at sun moon lake.

The family invited me to stay with them for 2-3 days but because my clothes were back in taichung i could not. Had I stayed, I would have been taken to the light festival further south and a day of hiking in Ali San.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Taichung p.3

On Saturday I spent most of the day lounging around the hostel. I woke up around 11am, went out to get lunch, and chatted with Elley, the girl working at the hostel bar/cafe.

Around 4pm I met up with Cathy and You and just followed them around while they shopped at 一中接 market. At one point i wanted to buy a plain black hoodie but the sizing of the sweaters in taichung is weird and even XL shirts are too tight on me. Vendors there do not like you trying on clothes so it made finding a sweater even more difficult.

We hung out til 10pm and then we had dinner with Cathy's family. They seemed like a good bunch and I enjoyed their company.  Cathy's sister had just returned from school that day. She studies in Thailand. It was too bad I did not get to talk to the parents much. The least I could have done to repay them for getting dinner was provide better company.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Taichung p.2

Yesterday I took the local train from Taichung north to HouLi with Cathy and her friend You. We went biking in HouLi Horse park. Cathy rode a normal bike while me and You got a tandem bike. It was difficult for many reasons but I still had a great time taking in the view, hanging out with my two friends, and eating baby tomatoes. 

When we returned to Taichung we went to karoke and then perused the night streets eating whatever looked good to us in the stalls lining both sides of the street.

I hope to go further south on Sunday to Sun Moon Lake and meet up with my friends Monika and Patrick.

Taichung, Taiwan p.1

After three days i decided i was done with the city and headed south towards taichung. The train cost roughly 10 dollars and took about 2 hours to get there.

Upon reaching the city, my friend Cathy met me and took me to my hostel. The rest of the day was spent here and there around the city.


Taipei, Taiwan p.2

On wednesday my friend Mao took the day off from work to hang out with me. It would not be an entirely outrageous exaggeration to say we ate every 2-3 hours.

For breakfast we had yuo tiao and doh jiang from some famous breakfast place. For second breakfast i had green onion pancake with egg. For lunch we ate at some restaurant near Din Tai Fong and for second lunch we had sushi. For dinner we went to a bar restaurant where you order a bunch of small dishes and beers.


Hiking Yangmingsan, Bei Tou, Taiwan

On Tuesday I took the bus to Yangmingsan. Originally I wanted to do a half day hike but I planned poorly and could not find the trail head. I ended up just walking around the park instead. Although beautiful, the walk around the park was mostly unchallenging.


Taipei, Taiwan p.1

On Monday I landed in Taoyuan International Airport. On the bus ride from Taoyuan airport to Taipei I met a fellow traveler named Monika from Poland. Monika currently studies in China.

Once I got to Taipei I immediately met up with my old friend Ah Kuang and we went to play indoor basketball. We played basketball for about three hours before calling it quits and heading home.

It was very nostalgic to play ball again but at the same time it was also a good reminder why I stopped playing. My knees are definitely gone from all the years of playing basketball.

We dropped my backpack off at Ah Kuang's house in Beitou and grabbed a late dinner. Gan yi mein was my favorite dish.

Here are pics of Ah Kuang's funny cat:


Saturday, February 08, 2014

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand p.4

It should be no surprise that I left Ko Phi Phi dark brown rather than the pale white that I entered.

On Saturday I took the afternoon ferry out of Ko Phi Phi back towards Krabi. While waiting for the boat to leave, I ran into two french girls that I had met previously on the island, Felomina and Margeret. Felomina is short, now tanned by the island, with light brown hair while Margeret is tall, still white (despite the island's best efforts), and has long black hair. On one side of her head, Margeret has shaved a small portion of her hair off. Although strange, this style is not entirely rare, or new, and you can see it every now and then back in the states.

Once the boat started moving, we left our seats and moved up onto deck (as everyone tends to do) and just chatted in the amazing weather. I mainly talked with Felomina the entire journey back while Margeret read her book. Both girls are business majors and both have only a few more weeks before completing their degrees. Currently, they are studying in Vietnam because in France, they require their MBA applicants to experience a foreign country in order to better understand their own country's dynamics.

Upon landing in Krabi, we immediately parted ways because we were both running really short on time. I regret that I did not get their contact information. I regret in general, that I do not make much of an effort to get anyone's contact information that I meet on my travels.

Felomina had beautiful eyes and a nice smile. The last time I saw such beautiful eyes was probably Mimi's friend Celia.

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand p.3

The night parties here at Ko Phi Phi have been fun. There are two things that define the beach parties at night here on the islands: buckets and fire-shows. I would explain the two but I feel the only way to fully understand would be to experience it for yourself, so I'll leave it at that.


Koh Phi Phi, Thailand p.2

On Thursday, I went on a half day tour around the nearby islands. Ko Phi Phi is an assortment of islands rather than one big one so it's very common for people to go on half-day or even whole day tours. You can even charter a private boat and just tell them where to go rather than follow an itinerary.

Although beautiful, most of the islands are riddled with boats and tourists during the day. To get to the main island there is a port, but the other smaller islands only have beach entrances so you need to rent a long-tail boat or other kind of boat to get there.

The half-day tour that I paid for took me to some bays to swim in and then to another bay to snorkel in. Then it dropped us off at a few beaches to play with monkeys and sightsee.


Koh Phi Phi, Thailand p.1

On Wednesday I flew from Bangkok to Krabi and took the ferry immediately to Ko Phi Phi don. The flight was about an hour and a half and the ferry was roughly the same.

Because Ko Phi Phi is an island and because of its popularity, everything is expensive and it can be argued that not everything is worth what you pay for. Mostly everything is twice or three times as expensive. Sunscreen is 400 baht or more while a meal will run you anywhere from 80-300 baht depending on what your order. On average, a meal is about 150 baht.


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Hiking in Mae Tang, Chiang Mai, Thailand p.2

On Sunday I went hiking in Mae Taeng. The hike was a two day, one night endeavor into the mountains. Mae Tang is north of Chiang Mai, the city I am currently staying in. The ride from Chiang Mai to the base of the mountain is about an hour and a half. From the base, the jungle hike to the top of the mountain is another 2-3 hours.

The first day we hiked to a small waterfall to cool off.


Monday, February 03, 2014

Chiang Mai, Thailand p.1

On Saturday I landed north of Bangkok in Chaing Mai.

There is not much to do within the city of Chiang Mai, there are some markets, and some temples, but most are not too impressive. There was one that was nice though:

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