After a week in rural Sumbawa we got ready to hit our next destination: Bali. One of the most renowned tourist spots in all of Indonesia. Known for its beautiful beaches, its colorful culture, its amazing landscapes and its wide range of fun activities depending on where you go on the island: surfing, diving, yoga'ing, hiking & partying.Read More
Like most holidays, this week of fun, chill, beach, bingtangs, surf & yoga missions, awesome Indo food and celebrating Kaj's 30th went so fast. I completely forgot that I had famous Bali to look forward to - I just wanted to stay in this interesting rural paradise forever.Read More
I want to share this little spot we will stay at for some of our time in Indonesia - a little secret get-away opened by some young cool people my BF knows. Living the dream: moving to Indo and opening a chilled guesthouse surrounded by ocean, nature & all the time in the world... (how I imagine it must feel to live in a place so close to my definition of paradise).Read More
So I finally got a little taste of Hong Kong... That cool spot everyone in Shanghai loves and that several people have told me I will absolutely love to.
The city-life, the out-of-city-life, the night-life, the convenience, the food, the people & especially the-much-less-hassle-than-Shanghai factor.
My little hike on Lamma Island reminded me of such a mix of things. I mean, I wouldn't know how to describe this little nature's pearl in one sentence. Some parts reminds me so much of my grandmothers little fishing village Årø in Denmark, some of the steeper hike parts reminds me of what I imagine parts of New Zeland looks like (yes after watching Lord of the Rings that is) and some parts reminds me of the beauty of China which I know after my travels to the more rural areas of China (for example Shengsi Island).Read More
I'm in Hong Kong la! Finally made it to this cool spot known for exciting metropol life balanced with the magnificent surrounding nature in form of islands and mountains. First thing on our list: A Hike to The Peak!Read More
One of our major stops a long Taiwan's East-coast was the renowned Taroko Gorge which is located outside the City Hualien. I have long heard it's a must-visit as well as heard lots of colorful descriptions about the wonder of this Gorge.
Taroko means "magnificent and beautiful" in Truku which is the traditional language of the Truku Tribe in Taiwan. It's nickname is the Marble Gorge due to the massive amount of shiny Marble present everywhere here - you walk through marble caves and you just see piece after piece that you want to take home.
Today Taroko Gorge is considered a National Park and you can still get in and explore its many sights for free, though we read that they would start charging an entrance fee this year. And they should. Despite the unavoidable crowds Taroko Gorge is amazing. You can explore trails & tracks, temples, waterfalls, caves and not least and as already mentioned lots of marble.
We arrived at the entrance of Taroko Gorge early in the morning as recommended by The Lonely Planet and did one day of exploration. If you want to see everything 2-3 days are necessary but from my point of view it's really not a must.
After a long, happy and active day in the Gorge we continued to our final stop: Dulan. Here we had rented the same house as we stayed in a couple of nights last year. This house is located not far from Dulan Mountain and the renowned Water-Running-Uphill stream.
It's jungle'ish surroundings and ruralnesss makes this place such a sweet spot for rejuvenating and finding some peace of mind. It's in the mountains but only a 15 minutes drive from the beach. This year we were so lucky to see those wild monkeys we always hear near the house but unfortunately they were faster then my iphone could load my camera.
We stayed in Dulan 3 days filled with yoga, surfing, chiling, feasting and getting ready to go back to busy Shanghai. My boyfriends parents continued to the far south part of Taiwan - the famous Kenting National Park and from here they drove back to Taipei taking a more western route. They stopped by Taiwan's old capital Tainan on the West-coast which I highly recommended them as I had such a lovely stay here last year - this was also where I did my Yoga Cleanse Retreat.
I'm so in love with Taiwan. In my opinion it shares a lot of the best things with Mainland China but is less crowded, easier to get around without Chinese (but it is definitely so much easier with some Chinese skills), easier to get help by the locals and another plus is that Taiwan is super super cheap.
If you like China you will love Taiwan, I already can't wait to go back!
In Taipei we rented a car and drove down Taiwan's East coast. This side of Taiwan is the least populated and also said to be the most beautiful. From my trip last year where we did the coast by train I knew that this coastline is absolutely breathtaking! So I was super excited to go by car and be able to drive even closer to the sea as well as do as many (coffee) stops as we wanted.
We visited the the old mining town Jiufen which literally is located in the middle of a beautiful lush mountainous landscape. The town went into sharp decline when mining was discontinued which might be why the Jiufen we found was almost like a ghost town. According to the official tourism Jiufen never really turned into a real ghost town as some had feared only because of its charming streets, tea houses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean which make it a popular visit for both Taiwanese and foreign tourists like us.
From here we stopped at Bitou Cape's paved footpath which gives access to the most picturesque views of the Taiwanese sea and sky. After a beautiful walk we stopped for a swim at Fulong Beach, found a seafood place to eat lunch (sashimi is big in Taiwan, probably due to the Japanese influence on the country's history and it is so fresh & yummy).
We spent the evening in a small beach town where we visited another night market (must-do in Taiwan) and found our beds not too late. Hualien & the famous Taroko National Park also known as Tarok Gorge.
As most international flights arrive in Taiwan's capital Taipei this year's Taiwan trip started out here. I flew in and met up with my boyfriends parents who had flown in from Australia and we visited the old Raohe Street nightmarket for all sorts of yummy, weird and very local snack! The following day the three of us caught a bus to get out of the bustling capital and visit a more nature-filled place: Destination Wulai.
I love Taipei, it is such a colorful city with lots of life, lots of culture and lots to see & do. But coming straight from the center of Shanghai all I could think about was getting out of the city - out of any city - and instead explore a more rural area.
Wulai - Hotsprings & Waterfalls
Though only 40k out of Taipei and still part of New Taipei City Wulai looks and feels like a different world. The little village known for hotsprings and waterfalls is green, lush and have a pace of life that suits any traveler who's looking to slow down while exploring some of the beauty of Taiwan.
Best reasons to go?
Wulai is easy to access, easy to enjoy and easy to fall in love with!
Easy To Access
Wulai is super accessible - catch bus 849 from the outside of Xindian Metro Station in Taipei (the station in the most southern part of the Taipei Metro Map). The busride to Wulai is 15 TWD which is like RMB 3 or less than $0,5. It takes approximately an hour and it's a really local ride with lots of stops as well as a really beautiful ride through the outskirts of Taipei towards a more rural Taiwan. According to the Lonely Planet you can take a taxi from Taipei and get there in 30 minutes. This should cost around 600 TWD each way.
We took the bus and it is really super easy! Wulai is the end station so no need to worry about getting off at the right place. Wulai bus station is also the beginning of Wulai Old Street and village center so perfect place to start exploring.
Easy To Enjoy
At the bus station you will find a big map which shows just how easy it is to get a good overview of Wulai. The little village and its attractions can be explored in a day's time. Continue straight ahead and you'll find the tourist information on your left. Here you can get a map and overview over the biggest natural attractions such as: Wulai Waterfall, the Jiajiuliao Trail and Neidong Forest Recreation Area.
Wulai old street with its famous snacks (try sticky rice and hot almond milk) and souvenirs is located just after the tourist information. This is a nice little stroll but I'll recommend to do it after some of the nature trails. At the end of the old street you find a bridge and across you can find the public hot spring area just down at Wulai River. You can combine a river dip with a hot spring experience so don't forget to bring your swim outfit!
Wulai is also the hometown to the Atayal tribe which is the second biggest tribe in Taiwan. In Wulai you can visit the Atayal Tribal Museum if you are interested in knowing more or just keep your eyes open for Atayal monuments and local Atayal people who among different things can be recognized by their traditional face painting.
Easy To Love
After a day in Wulai you already feel like you know the village. But not in a "been there saw that" kind of way. More in like a "been there want to stay or go back" kind of way.
The nature trails are beautiful and you can find hikes that suit most people. The waterfalls and other beautiful sights a long the trails are breathtaking and the clear water makes you want to jump in! At least if you go in summer (if you go in winter make sure to book a hotel with hot springs inside. My hotel had them but it was too warm to feel like using them). The old street and center area is charming and if I had had more time I would have sat down at a cafe a long the river to write my postcards and just be.
My boyfriends parents went back to their hotel in Taipei and I stayed alone one night in Wulai at the Beauty Garden Hotel in the more mountainous area of Wulai. It was such a good experience waking up in Wulai and eat breakfast with a view I'll never forget.
I'm definitely coming back to "Atayal's Utopia" and I can highly recommend anyone who visit Taipei to make time for a small escape to here.
October 1st is China's National Day and from this day and a week forth it is Golden Week in China! This means one week of holiday with travel opportunity and I am currently back in Taiwan to take advantage of that.
Taiwan is the small beautiful country and island located just south-east of China. A country which most people don't know much about - is it independent or part of China and what about that Japanese influence? The country has a very interesting and intense history as well as a very confusing and quite tense situation when it comes to the current status of the country... I'm not going to dig into that but if you want to know more hit google, talk to some Taiwanese people and don't forget to visit the National Museum of Taiwan History if you come by the city Tainan in the South-west part of Taiwan.
Taiwan is also a country which is not ranked very high on most people's travel destination lists (it's probably not even on most peoples list) and this is truly a shame. But to be honest, before I ended up here last year for what was my first real travel experience with my better half I had not given much thought to Taiwan. I'm super happy to now be able to share my excitement and love for this country with you.
My First Visit to Taiwan
In May 2013 me and my boyfriend traveled from Shanghai to Taipei in the north of Taiwan. Taiwan's capital Taipei is definitely worth a visit when you travel to Taiwan but make sure to keep it a visit and not a final destination - Taiwan has so much more to it and the vibrant capital is definitely not the best thing about this beautiful country.
After a couple of days in the country's colorful & bustling capital we traveled with local transport down the east coast to Kenting in the far south of Taiwan for beaching, surfing, hiking & chilling. We traveled for one week and following that I continued with a solo travel adventure to a Taiwanese Yoga and fasting retreat outside Taiwan's old capital Tainan.
A Cleanse For Body & Mind
I love challenging myself, I love trying new things and I love holistic health stuff so when I found Ananda Marga Yoga Detox Retreat in South Taiwan and discovered that I could combine my first Taiwan travel experience with a local retreat experience I was sold!
Ananda Marga offer you either a 5 or a 7 days retreat where you through fasting, yoga and mediation can
- Detox & relax your body, cleanse & calm your mind
- See the benefits of fasting, on digestion, allergies, skin disorders, back pain, etc.
- Change your relationship to food with daily inspirational talks on food, nutrition and healthy living
This year Ananda Marga started offering 3 days mediation and yoga retreats with no awful fasting included (yes fasting is awful but also very powerful and very beneficial). You still get yoga classes & group meditation as well as fresh homemade juices & healthy vegetarian food as with the longer retreats. So don't be scared away if you don't like the sound of fasting...
I had the most intense, interesting and fantastic days at Ananda Marga last year together with my 19 Taiwanese fellow retreaters. From dust at 5.30 where our intensive lemon/salt cleanse started, to our midday yoga & meditation classes, to our healthy juicing & alternative singing sessions I can truly say it was an experience I wouldn't be without.
Check out the schedule and concept here and check out the pictures from my fasting retreat experience in rural, tranquil Taiwan below. Why I can highly recommend this retreat is because it is alternative, non-commercial, simple-living, based on holistic health philosophy and super budget friendly (though from China you still have to buy a ticket to Taiwan but try to combine it with some traveling in the country and I promise you it is worth it!). Check Ananada Marga's prices and future scheduled retreats here.
I am definitely coming back to this place to revitalize my body & mind!
And what else?
I have much more Taiwan experiences to share with you as I am currently here seeing, finding, trying & doing new stuff every day with my boyfriend and his lovely parents. So stay subscribed and I'll make sure you'll get all my Taiwan write ups soon!