Mar 31, 2011

Taroko Gorge @ Hualien, Taiwan (19-21 March 2011)

Eternal Spring of Shrine

We decided to go straight from Taoyuan International Airport upon arrival to Hualien in order to save a day. We spent the next two nights in Hualien at this beautiful minsu (in chinese) or B&B named Jia Li Bao 家麗堡. The minsu is complete with internet which is like 10 times faster than Msia line and the owner actually comes and pick us up from the train station.

view from the minsu

The minsu is opened by a couple who were like the best host I ever encountered. They were extremely friendly and even brewed tea for us while we were snacking on food that we bought from the Hua Lien night market (ZiQiang). Free pickup also provided from the night market back to the minsu. In fact, we all agreed that Zi Qiang night market is one of the best we went comparing with Shih Lin and Feng Jia in Taichung. Although it was small, the bbq meat stall is really good and we even need to take numbers to order our food. We also love the coffin bread that we bought there.

To get to Hua Lien from Taipei, simply take the train from the main Taipei railway station heading to north and look for Hua Lien stop. We took the Taroko Express which is just about 2 hours travel and worth NTD 440.

entrance to Taroko National Park 

Shakadang trail

We also booked an 8 hour day tour to Taroko Gorge from Hualien with the minsu owner and we were quite shocked to see a lady tour guide and driver. Taroko Gorge is only a short distance away from Hualien. I find that most people here were extremely friendly and they love chatting with foreigners especially. We even got discount for the room (we had a lovely Japanese style quad room) and the day trip to Taroko Gorge which was only NTD6,000 for the four of us after discount from NTD6,500 as we told the owner that our friend recommended us. We were even posted as the VIP guests of the minsu!!!

Anyway back to Taroko, the national park is considered one of the must see attractions when in Taiwan. The place is a heaven for hikers and nature lovers with lots of greenery and beautiful scenery in every corner. The gorge is amazing with intertwining rivers flowing in between. We trekked the Skadang Trail and visited the Eternal Spring Shrine. One hour trek turned into 2 hours as we so occupied with photographing with mother nature. It turn out that the weather forecast of raining was wrong as we were rewarded with super sunny blue sky throughout the 8 hour trip.

near the Swallow grotto

A 2 km trail

posing in front of the tunnel that need torchlight to go in

view from the trail

a very famous bridge

colourful leaves..autumn or spring?

temple of guanyin

entrance of the temple
too tired to walk up the stairs and just decided to take photos of the entrance

Later on we headed to the famous 'seven star' 七星灘 beach which faces the Pacific Ocean. Will write about that next as photos from Hua Lien are too much to be posted in one travelogue!

Overall, Hualien remains the best place we visited in Taiwan and we all agreed that if we ever come back to Taiwan for another visit, we will definately visit Hua Lien again for more trekking as well as chilling out in our favourite minsu

Check out the food available at the night market

Mar 26, 2011

Back From Taiwan

Just got back from Taiwan today and darn, it's exceeded my expectation!

Love all the food and especially the hospitality received throughout the journey (special mention to the minsu in Hualien)

Shopping is heaven here!

Photos and travel log will be up I need my beauty sleep..zzz

Mar 13, 2011

Symphony of Lights @ Hong Kong

Symphony of Lights

When I was holidaying with may family in Hong Kong last November, it rained for two days two nights non stop, not the kind of rain in Malaysia where it rains for a few hours and stop.

One thing I hate while travelling is rain. I can withstand cold even up to negative degrees but not rain. It was raining when I was hiking the Scottish highlands, it was raining when I went to Oban with Adri, it was raining when I went to Iceland to catch a northern light and now even Taiwan is forecasted to have scattered showers for the next 2 weeks...:( and I will be there in a week time.

Anyway, depressing stuff aside, when I was in HK I wasn't too sure whether I could catch a good glipmse of the Hong Kong night view as well as the symphony of lights. This symphony of lights is held every night at both the Hong Kong island and the Kowloon side, specifically you can see the performance of lights from Tsim Tsa Tsui. Just get down at the MRT station and walk towards the Avenue of Stars where you can see many of Hong Kong stars handprint. I read that the view is better from this side than the Hong Kong island side. But this time, my aim was actually to capture the night view of Hong Kong since the last time I was here, I didnt bring along my tripod.

You have to actually 'chop' a place along the harbour as the crowd started as early as 7pm. The show starts at 8pm though. Fog and mist covered most of the buildings and photos did not turn out as good as I expected.

Mar 12, 2011

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

the famous tower upclose

Pisa is a small town located in Tuscany and about an hour train ride from Florence. We took this chance to visit the famous leaning tower as a day trip from Florence. Pisa is small to walk around and after a few minutes walk, we could see the leaning tower from far. Even from far we could see that the tower is tilted towards one side. We could see almost all the tourist did the must do pose in front of the Pisa tower! and off course we also couldnt resist not to pose the cliche pose..haha..well you gotta pose what you gotta pose when you are in Pisa!

Other than that, we practically covered Pisa in less than half a day. However, it's a good experience to see the tilted tower upclose. One can actually climb up the tower to have a good view of the town but we didnt do so as the weather was too hot. Why the tower is tilted? Read somewhere that it started sinking after a few years after it was built.

Pisa from afar

posing the cliche pose :)

the cathederal

notice those tourists on the left side?

The Quest so far...

Visited Countries
my world domination..muahaha

Found this application off the internet....Just for fun :)

Mar 5, 2011

Roars of the Niagara Falls

view from Prospect Point

The video is taken by my dad to show how thundering and loud the falls can be

Niagara Falls is the largest waterfall in the world and situated at the border of US and Canada. We managed only to see the falls from the US side as we need visa to crossover to Toronto. The trip was in 2007, my first ever country beside Asia. The falls on the American side consist of the Bridal Veil, Horseshoe falls and American Falls.

The best time to visit Niagara Falls is actually during summer when the Maid of Mist is operating. Maid of Mist is the boat operator that takes tourists to see the falls closer. Practically I was wet from head to toe at the temperature about 3-4 degrees Celcius during the boat ride. I remembered that I read somewhere that Niaraga Falls had not been frozen during winter since 1910s. Seeing the falls upclose is surreal and made me realised that time never stops for anyone.

my favourite flower, tulips!

American falls

cave of the winds

all wrap up
getting ready for the boat ride

view from the Maid of the Mist

falls upclose

Another must to see things at Niagara Falls is the night scene. During summer, there are light that illuminate the falls at night which gives a mystical feel for the viewer. My regret is I didnt drag along my tripod to take a better view of the falls at night. For the best view of the falls is of course from the Canadian side.

colourful lights

frozen falls during 1911 (pic taken off the web)