XIAO LIU QIU and MAOLIN PARK

I should have write this article long time ago, but didn’t really find the motivation at this time. But if you go to Taiwan, you should really go to these two places!

XIAO LIU QIU : Swim and snorkel with turtles in Taiwan in Xiao Liu Qiu (small island next to Kaoshiung) was a short but great experience. Short because we arrived a little bit late, try to catch a ferry in the morning to make sure to have time to explore this cute small island.

 

MAOLIN PARK : Next day we went to see the Duona High Suspension Bridge, which is located about 2 hours and a half from Kaoshiung (by scooter) and waterfalls. Maolin is a park that offers different scenic spots as hand-built suspension bridges and waterfalls but also rituals and ceremonies. This district is one of the homelands of the Rukai aboriginal people.

To have more information about the location I invite you to read my friend’s post which is more complete, just HERE.

 

To have more information about the location I invite you to read my friend’s post which is more complete, just HERE.

Watch the video made by my friend about our 3 day trip there :

 

Pour la version française je vous conseille d’aller lire les deux articles écris par mon amie où elle explique très bien nos deux journées : ici pour les tortues et ici pour Maolin

 

JAPAN

I’ve been to japan last february for 8 days. I spent this days with my brother who was already there. I was afraid that 8 days will not be enough but finally we managed to visit Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto !

We first spent our 4 first days in Tokyo, visiting as much I we could (Odaiba, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akasuka, Harajuku, Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park and Meiji-Jingu, Ginza, Kabukichô). We’ve been really lucky with the weather and also had the opportunity to ear a free philharmonic orchestra while we were only searching to visit Tokyo University.

 

To reach Osaka we decided to take a night bus (half price  of a shinkansen ticket). The bus departed at 11:15pm and we arrived early in the morning around 6:30am. The bus was really conformable, probably the first time I succeed to really sleep in a bus. Bus company was Willer Express, you can book your seat on their website. We stayed in Osaka only one night and visited Osaka Castle, Shinsaibashi, Dotombori (by night) and Shinsekai.

 

We left Osaka the next morning and after 30 minutes in a train we arrived to the impressive Kyoto Station. We’ve been quite lucky with the weather for the first day but then it rained all day and it was difficult to stay motivated to visit temples. We visited Ginkakuji (you will see lot of tourist girls dressed as Geishas), walk along Tetsugaku no Michi (the Philosopher’s Path), Pontocho (during night), Shinbashi Dori, Teramachi, Shijo-Dori. Still miss a lot of temples and places but didn’t have time in 2 days.

I took again a night bus to go back to Tokyo but this time the bus wasn’t comfortable at all and I couldn’t sleep. My brother stayed in Kyoto and my flight was at 8pm. What could do a girl alone in Tokyo for her last day ? SHOPPING of course! But wasn’t as good as I expected.

Good addresses/tips :

  • ABC Ramen, in Ginza, Tokyo –>  their sesame ramen was crazy good!
  • Siddique Shinjuku Nishiguchi Ekimae, in Shinjuku, Tokyo –> a good indian, their naan are huge and I advise you to try their spinach curry.
  • 156 Ichikiro, Tokyo –> good noodles & ramen
  • Tokyo metropolitan building –> best Tokyo view with free entry
  • Kyoto Hana Hostel or Khaosan Kyoto Teach –> 2 good hostels for Kyoto

 

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CAMBODIA

While we were in Thailand, we decided to cross the Cambodian border to reach Siem Reap. I wanted to visit Cambodia since few years and this was the perfect opportunity even if it was only for 1 week.

We left Bangkok around 8:30am (we missed the early morning train (6am)). Instead of a train we booked a minibus that drove us until the border. Before reaching the border, the bus stopped in a small restaurant which is in fact a place to make Cambodian visas. They charge 40 US$ per visa. Little bit reticent at the beginning, we finally ceded to do it there. We crossed the border and office without any problem and in the other side, another minibus was waiting for us.

We arrived in Siem reap around 7pm. It took us the all day to reach this town but so worth it. We took a tuk-tuk to go to our hotel and then went to Angkor Night Market to eat and have one drink. Ok…several drinks. We also booked a tuk-tuk driver for the next 3 days. We wanted to see as much as possible and our driver (recommended by a friend) took us to all the temple places of Angkok Wat site and also to a floating village for 40 US$ each. It was 30 at the beginning but because we choose to visit another place in the north he charged us 10 more. Still a good price tho.

First Day in Siem Reap: After purchasing our temple passes and entering into Angkor Wat, our driver suggest us to do the “small circuit”. We start with Angkor Wat itself, it was crowned but still nice and impressive. Then, even if I tried to remember the name and in wh/ich order I’m still not sure so I prefer to let you know by photos and then for historical information, I recommend you to read this website. We came back at the hotel around 4 pm. We rest a bit (it’s quite exhausting to visit temples, you walk a lot and climb stairs) and then went again to the Night Market to grab something to eat.

Second Day in Siem Reap: we woke up at 4:30 to be at 5:15 in Angkor Wat to see the sunrise. The lotus lac was already surrounded by people but we have been able to found a good place. We waited patiently 1 hour until the sunrise finally start. It was nice but to as nice as I was expected and really too crowded. After that we went back to our driver for   the “grand circuit”. We saw and visited a lot of impressive temples again. We came back to our hotel around 3pm and took directly a shower. Climbing stairs when it’s 35 degrees and sunny is the best way to sweat (and burn calories).

Third Day in Siem Reap: During morning we visit monuments in the north of Angkor and also did a nice and easy hike to see a waterfall. Except that because it was during dry season, we couldn’t see anything else except a small trickle of water. After that, our tuk-tuk driver brought us to a floating village. The price ticket for the boat was 20$ per person, and we were the only 2 in the boat + a guide. He explained to us how many people were leaving there, from which country they were coming from and show us around. We stop in a kind of floating supermarket where we bought rice that we give to the school to feed the children. We visited the school, took pictures with them and to finish, the boat stop in a Koarean restaurant but we didn’t eat anything. It was really interesting to see this floating village and how people live there but I have to admit, it’s quite a tourist trap.

After our 4 days in Siem Reap we moved to Battambang. We arrived there in late afternoon and went for a tour. Our first impression was not really good, we were asking ourselves what we where doing in this town and if we should leave directly the next day. We finally found the riverside night market, eat a fried rice and went back to our hotel (First Hotel).

Next morning we woke up a little more motivated and rent a scoot for the day. First we visited Wat Banan Temple with its 359 steps, Pagoda and then we drove and got lost trying to find the Bamboo Train Station that we finally found after 1 hour. If you go to Battambang you’ll have to try this bamboo train but I still think it’s not really worth it to come to this town. After this small tour we went to Phnom Sampeau and visit its the Killing caves where during the Pol Pot regime, Kmher Rouge threw victims to their death. Then, as the sky grew darker, we had the chance to watch thousands and thousands of bas flying out of the caves. It was beautiful.

 

 

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TAIWAN: HERE I AM !

I still can’t believe that it’s been already 6 months that i’m an exchange student in Taipei. Time goes by so fast! I see myself 1 year ago, when I announced to my family and friends which university I choose. Most of them were quite surprise, all they heard about it was about factories. I could have go mostly everywhere (Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok, Mexico, Sydney, etc). So, why Taiwan ? Well, I was (and still am) really attracted by Asia and all the testimonies (from other students who have been there) I’ve heard and read were positives. Moreover, thank to its geographic location, middle of east-asia, Taiwan is the perfect place to explore other countries: Tokyo and Bangkok are at 3.5 hours by plane, Philippines 2 hours and Hong Kong 1.5 hour !

World_map_Taiwan01

 

So here I am now, living in Taipei, adapting myself to a different culture and going to the university like a real (or not) taiwanese students. Without any regret about my destination.

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What do I think so far about Taiwan ?  I just love it. Taiwan is probably the most friendly and safest country I’ve ever lived (with Japan). Here, people are really nice, always trying to help you, even if they can’t speak english. English in Taiwan. Hum, I have to admit that I was expecting a higher level. Most of the people, especially seniors don’t understand  english and as my chinese is almost nonexistent, I often need to stop someone in the street to help me to translate. Google Translater is now my best friend.

Another thing that really surprised me is the number of convenient stores in Taiwan. There’re 7-eleven and Family mart at every street corner, it’s crazy but so convenient. It’s probably the thing i’m going to miss the most when i’ll go back to France.

I’m going to stop here for this first article about Taipei, but you can be sure that plenty of others will follow (need to tell you about the food, cities, lifestyle, etc…).

 

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