I’ve consolidated all of our travel-related posts under a new tab at the top of our blog. Between our two trips to Taiwan, we have stayed in seven hotels, traveled the High Speed Rail in both business and economy class, taken a “slower” train to Taroko Gorge/Hualien and back, and had a wonderful time exploring all that Taiwan has to offer. I hope we will be able to return some day, and share these experiences with our children as they grow older. (Our previous trip is documented under the 2009 Trip tab.) If you are heading to Taiwan soon, I hope you have a great time!
Posts Tagged ‘travel’
I hate to waste space in my suitcase with a hair dryer, since most hotels provide them in the room. However, hotel hair dryers and my hair do not get along. Hotel hair dryers tend to be pretty weak on the air pressure, and lack the concentrator nozzle attachment I normally use with my dryer at home. I think I’ve finally found the perfect hair dryer. The Babyliss Tourmaline Mini Folding Travel 1000 Watt Hair Dryer weighs in at just 8 ounces. Despite its tiny size, it produces an impressive amount of heat and air pressure, and it comes with a nozzle attachment. Look at how it compares in size to my other hair dryers.
I am almost finished shopping for our trip. . .now it’s time to start packing!
Tags: Taipei 101, Taroko Gorge, travel
Planning this trip to Taiwan will be a little different for us. We know a little better of what to expect, and there are some things we know we would like to do and see again. This trip will be a little shorter, so we won’t be able to do everything we did last time. . .but I wanted to share my top ten for Taiwan. There is much more to explore in Taiwan, so if you have recommendations or suggestions for our next trip, please post a comment and let me know.
2. Din Tai Fung: Best dumplings in the whole wide world as far as I am concerned. At the restaurant we visited, we watched through the window as the dumpling chefs rolled out the dumplings, filled them and quickly pinched them together.
3. Taipei 101: At the time we visited this building in 2009, it was the tallest building in the world. It held that title for six years before the opening of the world’s newest skyscraper in Dubai. Taipei 101 is designed to withstand typhoon winds and earthquakes, common in Taiwan. The design and views from this building are all impressive. (We also loved the food court at Taipei 101.)
4. Flower Market: This market in Taipei (and the Jade Market, see below) are only held on the weekend. The plants and flowers are beautiful. . .I just wish I had a way to bring home some of the beautiful orchids. There are some great photos of the Flower Market and the Jade Market at this website of Neil Wade Photography.
5. Jade Market: When we arrived at the Jade Market, it was just opening so some of the vendors were still setting up. It is across the street from the Flower Market. We bought some teacups at the market. I’m a better negotiator of price when I speak the same language – it did help our negotiations to use the expression “Tài guì le” a few times (“too expensive”). In the photo above, I asked permission before taking this picture of two men and a young boy playing Chinese chess at the Jade Market.
6. SOGO Department Store: This department store is a mall in itself…but like nothing we have in the United States. We had fun just walking through the different sections. It does help to know the expression in Chinese for “I’m just looking” because the attentive sales clerks are often standing close by ready to help (“Wǒ zhǐshì kàn kàn, xièxiè”).
7. Taiwan Handicraft Promotion Center: This is where we picked up many of the souvenirs and gifts for family and friends. It is a multi-story building with thousands of authentic Taiwanese gifts, everything from embroidered purses and clothing to beautiful jewelry and decorative art and furnishings. Prices are marked on the items, rather than negotiated like the Jade Market. I was skeptical at the Jade Market whether some items were authentic, and felt a little more comfortable buying some higher-priced items at the Handicraft Mart.
8. National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall: This is an impressive tribute to the former president of the Republic of China.
9. Traditional Market: I’m not sure if this is the correct name. When we were in Tainan, we walked through a morning market where vendors had brought fresh food (meats, vegetables, etc.) to sell. It was so interesting, and I wish we had been able to spend more time exploring the market.
10. St. Lucy Center, Tainan: I can’t leave this one off of my top 10 list. This is the orphanage where our sons have lived until we could adopt them and bring them home. The caregivers are wonderful and it was obvious from our brief time at the orphanage, the women bond with the babies in their care. They rejoice with the families coming to adopt the children, but I have to wonder how hard it is for them to say goodbye to the children. I’m grateful for the love and care the staff and caregivers give to the children. They are doing their best to prepare the children for their new families.
I would love to hear the places and things that would be on your top ten list for Taiwan!
Tags: Eddie Bauer, exofficio, icebreaker, mountain hardwear, travel
The Amazing Race is one of my favorite shows. I love to watch the teams travel around the world and often wonder how they pack, given they will be traveling through hot and cold climates and carry only a hiking backpack. The Amazing Race website says contestants need to be available to travel for about a month during production. Amazing Race Host Phil Keoghan offers up his own list of 12 Travel Tips.
Fortunately, because of Taiwan’s climate, there is no need for heavy coats, sweaters or long underwear. Warm-weather clothing is lighter and takes up less space. I learned from our last trip I could have left a couple of things out of my bag: for our day at the orphanage, I packed a cardigan twin set, but Tainan is so hot I opted to wear a lighter top instead; and I had packed a pair of capri pants last time that were just a tad too snug, especially in the heat. This time, I am hoping to do a better job packing comfortable clothes that travel and wash well. We bought some travel/hiking clothing for our last trip and that clothing worked best for us during our trip.
Here are the hiking/travel clothes I like. With this type of clothing, I have found I need to try everything on, because some brands are more fitted than others. But I often visit REI and other outdoor stores, find the clothes I like, then search for deals online.
For underwear, we bought the ExOfficio “17 countries. 6 weeks. And one pair of underwear” for both of us. We actually bought a few pairs. They are comfortable and easy to launder while traveling. They are on sale right now on the ExOfficio website, if you are looking for a deal.
I was surprised to learn on my recent visit to Eddie Bauer they have a new line of clothing coming out this summer geared for travel and hiking. The new line is called Travex. Right now, only the capri pants and a few tops are available in the store for women; there are some tee shirts and shorts available in the men’s line. The sales clerk said she should have more tee shirts and other clothing in the Travex line in the store in April. It’s pretty reasonably priced compared to specialty hiking apparel, and is said to be quick-drying.
One of my favorite skirts is made by Mountain Hardwear. I bought it for our Taiwan trip and it has become my favorite summer skirt. The tops made by Mountain Hardwear are too snug for me, but the skirt is a perfect fit.
I discovered recently a tee-shirt made by a New Zealand company, Icebreaker. The shirt is made of ultra fine merino wool, which I thought would be hot and scratchy. But it is the softest, most comfortable tee-shirt I have ever worn. It’s expensive, though, at $60 for one shirt. I’m hoping I can find a discontinued color or a discount online.
Up next. . .packing to bring home a baby.
Tags: luggage, red oxx, rick steves, travel
Size, not weight, is usually the main concern for carry-on bags if flying domestically. Domestic airlines allow carry-on bags to weigh up to 40 or 50 lbs, as long as they fit inside the 22″ x 9″ x 14″ dimensions for bag size. For our trip to Taiwan, though, the airline restricts hand carry baggage to 15 lbs (7 kg). We have Samsonite carry-on luggage we bought for a trip several years ago. I weighed the bag on our scale – it weighed in at 11 lbs, empty. This seems to be on par with most other carry-on bags, including those with the label “lite”. An 11 lb. “lite” carry-on would not cut it for our trip to Taiwan: even if the weight were not an issue, the compartment for the rolling wheels takes up a considerable amount of space and limits the amount of clothing that can go in the bag. Here is a look at a sampling of carry-on bags.
(There are thousands of bags available, this is just a small sampling.) All of the carry-on luggage with wheels weigh more than the non-wheeled options. The two best options for our travel purposes are the Red Oxx Air Boss and the Rick Steves Duffel. We looked at both before we traveled to Taiwan in 2009 (plus a few others offered by both companies). The Red Oxx bag costs $225 compared to the Rick Steves’ bag, which is less than $100. We chose the Red Oxx bag for its design and durability – it is not cheap but is a bag that will last our family a long time. The zippers are the best I have ever seen on any piece of luggage. The Red Oxx Air Boss gets rave reviews from business travelers and many reviewers brag about the amount of stuff you can fit in the bag. When our Red Oxx bag arrived, I looked it over and started worrying about all that I needed to pack – how in the world would it fit into a bag this small? But it did. The way the compartments are designed, it is perfect for travel – unlike a regular duffel bag, the soft-sided compartments allowed for better organization. I packed everything I needed and still had some room. As I packed, I kept weighing it using our bathroom scale. I could have fit much more into the bag, had it not been for the weight limit. Even though it has soft sides, when it is packed, it doesn’t look over-stuffed and it easily fits in the overhead bin of the airplane.
Here are a few other luggage-related tips:
- Rick Steves’ website offers a wonderful section on travel tips. It even offers a suggested packing list for women.
- I also used travel-size Space Bags when packing. The bags were especially helpful in condensing down all of the baby clothes we were packing.
- The ”space bag” we packed for our son weighed in at 6 lbs. I am going to try and make it a little lighter this time. We bought diapers, bottles, baby food and a baby feeding spoon in Taiwan. We also bought a baby stroller at RT Mart. Carrefour and RT Mart both offered decent “umbrella-style” strollers for about $US30. In a future post, I will list essential baby items we packed in our bags.
- Make a list before you pack and pack your bag a week before your trip. That way you won’t be up late the night before you leave, and hopefully you won’t forget any essentials.
Up next. . .our clothing choices for light travel.