Monday, September 17, 2007

Taiwan update

Apologies for my slackness with updating this thing- I'll try and do better in future!

Anyway, here we go. Since my last post, I've had to do a fair bit of work but I've managed to get in quite a lot of exploring too. There's lots of waterfalls and forested areas right near the apartment- its surprisingly easy to get away from it all considering Taiwan packs 23 million people into an area smaller than Canterbury! One scooter trip took us through a beautiful bush-covered pass that reminded me of Motueka; to a quintessential Taiwanese village called Pingxi, which despite its tourist savvy, felt pretty authentic.

The people are extremely friendly and helpful - its not unusual to have a veritable flock of locals pooling their knowledge in an attempt to decipher our rantings when we ask one of them for help. I say we, but Jess and Des can actually communicate pretty well using basic Chinese- mine currently extends to 'thank you', 'excuse me' and a few numbers. I do intend to learn though.

We've also spent a bit of time exploring Taipei- its pretty impressive. Taipei 101- all of half a kilometre high- is still the worlds tallest completed building (the as-yet unfinished Burj Dubai has just overtaken it) and there is plenty of other architectural bling- the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is also a sight to behold.

The weather has been fairly mild so far- I am spoilt by an air-conditioned apartment- however before I came the air-conditioned temperature was hovering around 30 degrees which wouldn't have been so good!

Having said that, we are currently catching the edge of the typhoon that's threatening Shanghai- it's raining and there's strong winds- just like Wellington really. Everyone is off work though and apparently we can't go outside in case we get maimed by a falling air-conditioner!

We're heading to Cambodia (via Singapore) tomorrow for 10 days, so there's going to be another long gap between posts... but I should have plenty of interesting stories to tell by then!

Check out more photos at

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Travel update - Wollongong / Taipei

For those who weren't aware, I'm currently in Taiwan and will be travelling for the next 6 months, so this blog is going to morph into something of a travel diary- at least that's the plan. Posts should show up on facebook too for those that way inclined. Feel free to write abusive comments if I'm slack with updates...

Anyway, I left warm, sunny Christchurch on Sunday for Wollongong, where I experienced the very best of Australian weather (rain and biting cold southerlies) and hospitality (from Alana and various other New Zealanders). Good times all around. After a few days chilling out in the 'Gong, I flew out of Sydney for Taipei.

Jess met me at the airport, and I have never been so stoked to see anyone in my life! So now I'm at her and Desiree's apartment in Hsi Chih city. It's right next to a mountain with waterfalls and a great cafe with amazing views of Taipei (including Taipei 101, the recently deposed former tallest building in the world). I've already experienced an earthquake, met Tom Cruise (the apartment security guard), consumed more tofu in 2 days than the previous 25 years, and eaten who knows what on several occasions.

We also had a bizarre encounter with a stray dog who firstly insisted on walking in front of us to the waterfall (which was thoughtful of him- presumably he was checking for snakes!) but then stole Jess's camera from right beside us when we weren't looking, before dropping it a few hundred metres up the path. There's strays all over the place here, but they all look well looked after.