Saturday, November 14, 2009

Goodbye Asia - Hello Jetlag: Taiwan

I had no idea what to expect from Taiwan; no expectations. So it's no surprise that the trip exceeded my nonexistent expectations. This stay was all about food and I loved it for that.

Let's talk about the hotel. We stayed at the Fullon Hotel in Taipei. This hotel was THE BEST of our entire trip. So swanky and nice. Comfortable beds. Huge bathrooms. And consider this: this hotel was cheaper than any in Japan.

We visited the tallest building in the world (as of the date of this printing). Taipei 101. I was surprised to see the first floors filled with super high end stores. I mean, who could afford any of this stuff?

We ate at a night market, which is an alley with a giant assortment of food vendors. You can get just about anything to eat and boy did we eat. We had some pastries, takuyaki, spring rolls, oyster omelets, noodle soups, everything. And after all was said and done and tummies were full as hell, we spent an average of $6 per person. It's a wonder there weren't more fat people roaming the streets.

We also went to a Pixar exhibit which seemed to be attended by all of Taipei. And after, we ate at a very questionable hole in the wall with a Noodle Nazi woman. It was scary, but at about a buck for a bowl of noodles, worth it!

Then it was off to the tour of Central Taiwan. We jumped on a bright yellow bus with the cutest curtains. We visited plenty of farms (plant and livestock), a Gold Exposition, the coast, lighthouses, the jungle of Yilan, and the 2nd and 3rd highest elevated 7-Eleven stores in the world!

Oh the tour I saw the biggest espidereses that I have ever seen. These things set up giant web camps in the jungle trees and were so big, I didn't know espidereses grew to that size. But as we crept through jungle, they just kept getting bigger and nastier. These things were feasting on giant butterflies. I had to take video of me fleeing from Spider Town, running for my life with hands as blinders. Scariest moment of my life bar none.

The three weeks in Asia really flew by. It actually feels like I never went on vacation, which sucks. But this trip has inspired me to travel the globe! I want to see as much of it as I can. So in marking off one of the three destinations I need to visit before I die, I ended up adding an entire page. Now's the time!

World traveling,


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Goodbye Asia - Hello Jetlag: Kyoto

After the Disney parks, we took a bullet train to Kyoto for some sightseeing.

We went around and visited the Gold and Silver Pavilions which had really beautiful gardens and landscaping.

We went to the Ryoan-ji Temple to visit the Rock Garden. You're supposed to sit and stare until you gain some enlightening. It was really very neat. We also ate the Yudofu, which they are apparently known for, but it just ended up being really really pricey tofu in water.

We toured the Nijo Castle which was huge. Some very nice gardens and artwork inside. The history of the creaking floorboards was really interesting.

The most popular temple seemed to be the Kiyomizu Temple which is really high up on a hill. You're supposed to lean out over the railing and leave all your troubles behind. We also saw the famous kissing stones. It was really crowded when we went with schools, but had an incredible view and was very refreshing.

We also visited the Heian Shrine which has maybe the most beautiful garden in Kyoto.

Also in Kyoto was the best Ramen I've ever had at Honke Dai-ichi Asahi. There was a long line out the door, so we knew we were in good hands. We also had Burnt Ramen from Gogyo, which is a more trendy ramen place. It was really good, but burned in lard makes for a heavy feeling. Didn't feel well after.

We also had some okonomiyaki from a crazy looking place with a statue of a dog pulling a boy's underwear down. Hilarious.

To be continued...