Welcome to Taipei

Well I never said I’d win any prizes for creative titles anytime soon…

Okay so I’m still not sure how this post will turn out in terms of a broad overview of Taipei or an unorganized day-to-day summary of the past week. WE SHALL SOON SEE.

I’ll start with the heat, because that was the one thing all people had warned me about time again. With good reason. I left Taoyuan airport at 7am and as soon as I stepped out to greet the new earth I was literally enveloped in a heavy thick sheet of warm air and humidity. For me this has been the toughest adjustment not only because I’m from a moderate climate but because I’ve always been extremely sensitive to heat. There’s barely any breeze and even at night it stays at around 28 degrees Celsius. Every twenty minutes outside I need to run into one of the billion 7-11’s to find solace in air conditioning.

But on the bright side it’s been liberating to not have to wear make-up. When at home in summer I would put just on a smidge for cover from acne scars. Taipei doesn’t even give me that option it’s just all “Nope you’re going to sweat today. And tomorrow. And forever.”
Which is a really nice change from the need I sometimes feel to look nice when going out from back in Vancouver.

Now if any of you find yourselves in Taipei someday you are going to stay at Eight Elephants hostel. K? K. I met people studying at MTC like me within the first few minutes of me sitting in the common room. And now we’re tight. Likethis (Yes the lack of space bar is on purpose). Plus the staff go above and beyond any form of service I’ve ever experienced and it truly is as if everyone staying here is part of one big family.

Taiwanese people put the Canadians to shame when it comes to politeness. I’ve had people walk me five minutes to a place I was looking for rather than just pointing and telling me. When the language barrier has been an issue the other person has done everything in their power to write and use gestures to try and communicate with me instead of just walking away. To be unselfish and put other’s needs before yourself is a huge part of the culture here and it is truly heartwarming to see this in the world. Compared to Vancouver this is a nice welcome change of social attitudes.

Even the language barrier the adjustment has not been that bad. With complicated questions I’ve been lucky enough to find that most people speak English. However I still use my limited Mandarin skills as much as possible, mainly in regards to buying food. In all honesty I do feel that it’s improving because I’m in a situation where I need to speak and listen and read every day. There are no breaks in stimuli like there would be back in Vancouver.

I’ve seen so much and still have so much to see. I’m still not used to the situation of being in a foreign country for more than a few weeks. It’s fun to remember I could cancel my own plans to sightsee and that it’s okay to do so.

I honestly thought that homesickness would be a huge issue for me. While there’s a sad pang here and there the people I’ve already met and the city itself are making me feel right at home.

Well it turned into a broad overview of Taipei after all! Which means the next post will pretty much be a picture and descriptive list of the sights I’ve seen.


You Are a Tourist


Maybe not?

Either way, I’ve been wanting to write a post which details the top ten places/things to see and/or do in and around my (almost) home city of beautiful Vancouver for a while now.

Now for those of you who follow my blog or stumble upon this post you know that I am not a certified travel guru or anything of the sorts. However, I do feel that if you are looking to spend a week or two somewhere in Canada or British Columbia (WE ARE PRETTY COME VISIT) then there are quite a few things available for your entertainment in (and around) Vancity.

Keep in mind that when planning out this post the brainstorming process gave out things that I myself would find appealing in a city I wanted to visit. Below are my top ten to-do’s in Vancouver, with an emphasis on outdoor excursions and the arts scene.
*[Please note that these are in no particular order. I didn’t know how to impose a ranking system on this list].

gastown image

1.) Gastown
Say what you will about the fake steam clock, Gastown was Vancouver’s first downtown core and has a lot to offer in terms of the history of the city. Take an afternoon or evening stroll around this part of historic Vancouver and admire the beauty of the architecture and enjoy one of the many wonderful places to eat. Walking tours are also available.
(Okay so I’m a tacky tourist get a picture of/with the steam clock and if you’re looking for souvenir shops there are some decent ones in this area).


2.) Chinatown
Being a halfie, I’m biased.
No seriously, Canada’s largest Chinatown is listed as a National Historic Site of Canada and is full of whimsical shops (Full of lovely cheap goods. Grab some pretty fans or a qípáo, a mandarin gown, for a very reasonable price). Walking tours of Chinatown offer a history lesson of this area for those who like to describe what it is they’ve photographed on their vacation.
*Hot tip! — vancouversightseeing.com offers a “kill- two-birds-with-one-stone” combo (of sorts) with a walking tour that encompasses both Gastown AND Chinatown (Cue “HEYOOOO”‘s)

canada-granville-island3.) Granville Island
Okay, first things first: I love love love love LOVE it here. The shops themselves are a bit pricier than desired for someone on a vacation, but simply taking a day to stroll around the harbour, window shop, and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the public market can fill up your day. Take an aquabus around the water or head on over to the Granville Island Brewing Company (If of legal age, of course) if you go with the purpose of spending some cash in the place which was once an industrial manufacturing area.

bridge_header1-14.) Capilano Suspension Bridge
Whether you decide to come to Vancouver in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, Capilano Suspension Bridge is customized for each of the seasons. 140m long and not for those afraid of heights, at 20 years old I still get a thrill from walking across it and reaching the other side. The view is absolutely gorgeous from the bridge, and the Treetops Adventure (in which you walk along paths built up in the…well, the treetops) is a must. Nature trails and totem poles throughout the area offer something that is unique to BC.

seawall5.) Stanley Park/Biking (Or a different form of getting around) the Sea Wall
I JUST got around to rollerblading the seawall last summer, and that was for the sole purpose of timing myself. The next time I go around I will go at a more leisurely pace in order to take in the astounding seaside views that go along with it. You can rent a bike if you’d prefer, or go for a jog or a (very very long 22km) walk (although you do not need to complete the entire seawall if you choose to walk). Afterwords relax in one of the multiple green spaces or beaches. Or make a day out of walking around the park itself. It will not disappoint.

grind6.) Grouse Grind
Not for those who despise stairs with every nerve of their being. It’s nicknamed “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” for a reason. Approximately 1.5 hours of roughly outlined stairs.
Beaver tails at the top (Or if you’re a health nut you can appreciate MOAR SPECTACULAR VIEWS) and then take a gondola ride down the mountain.

OrpheumTheatre7.) SEE A FORM OF THE ARTS
Whatever is argued at one point or another if you want to have a day enjoying all forms of art then you have a load of options at your disposal. My recommendations are the Vancouver Art Gallery (Admission by donation on Tuesdays) a concert by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Drool. Yes. Go. NOW.) in the beautiful Orpheum, or a concert by the Vancouver Opera. During the summer months come down to the waterfront in Vanier Park to enjoy one of Shakespeare’s plays at Bard on the Beach.

56540792.BurrardStreetinVancouver8.) Walkin’ around Downtown
The buildings, people-watching, a growing number of food carts, window shopping, the waterfront…the possibilities are endless and it’s pretty difficult to get lost in the downtown core. Pack a water bottle, wallet, and camera and get going!

Whistler-Village9.) Okay this isn’t technically in Vancouver…
An overnight or weekend trip to Whistler is something I highly recommend if you find yourself with a few days extra and feel exhausted from all the Vancouver-ness you’ve taken in over the last few days. The Sea to Sky highway in itself is worth the 1 hour 40 minute drive. Stop along the way to take in the amazing west coast scenery (Warning, take a gravol before heading up as this road is fond of twisting). Once you get to Whistler…I don’t even have the time to list all the things to do. If it’s winter, you will obviously ski or snowboard. If it’s summer, you will obviously zipline, go on a trail ride, go for a hike…oh my gosh three suggestions in and I’m exhausted.

Okay I’ve lied, I actually don’t have ten things to suggest and in all honesty I’ve been stuck on the tenth thing to see or do for a few weeks down. I’ve decided to list a bunch of things that hopefully can satisfy any type of tourist; whether you’re like me and like to walk and take pictures or you have a family or loved one you are bringing with you, here goes…
For a more quirky Vancouver, walk down Commercial Drive and grab a bite on one the many cafes and look into the stores; most of which sell unique, reasonably priced jewellery. If you’re here in the summer or early fall check out the Richmond Night Market for its many stalls of goods and food. Food. Did I mention food?
If you’re bringing around a family we’ve got a zoo, an aquarium and Science World (It’s called Telus World of Science now but I grew up calling it by its original name), an amusement park and a fair in the last two weeks of August.

Wow…a  lot to take it, I’m sure (It was a lot to write). This is in no means mandatory. Do some personal research, you may end up finding an outing that you cannot stop thinking about and that in itself is a sign to either fairly soon or one day come see what Vancouver and beautiful BC has to offer.