Taiwan was exactly what I needed after fast-paced Hong Kong. It was also a much needed relief on my budget. Although Taiwan is definitely not the cheapest destination in Asia, it was a hell of a lot cheaper than Hong Kong. I adored the good humored and playful nature of Taiwanese culture, and the friendliness that I came across time and again.
Besides a couple of rogue bus drivers who refused to let us off because they were late for the rest of their route (um, what?), I had very few negative experiences in the country. In fact, Taiwan is right up there with Vietnam as one of my favorite countries in Asia thus far.
This last year I had the chance to do a lot of day hikes around the Pacific Northwest. I found myself chasing waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, exploring mountainous landscapes at Mt. Rainier National Park, and even adventuring around the epic scenery to be found on Vancouver Island. Although a lot of these hikes were during spring and summer, the great majority of the hikes I did in Oregon were in the midst of winter.
I used the beautiful nature that was anywhere from 1-3 hours outside of Portland to get rid of any lingering winter blues. The Pacific Northwest is notorious for gloomy, rainy, and wet weather. It does snow occasionally too. Basically, if you’re hiking during the winter, you should be prepared for any kind of weather. The weather can also change multiple times throughout the course of a day.
Securing a one year work visa Down Under can be as easy as filling out an online form in 15 minutes.
It always surprises me how many Americans don’t know about the working holiday visas down under. To be fair, I was one of those Americans too, until I took my first solo venture to Europe and made friends from a variety of different cultures. One of those friends happened to be British, and she told me about the working holiday visa she was planning on doing in Australia, and how she thought it applied to Americans too.
In an instant, the course of my life changed drastically.
It’s that time of the year again. 2016 is already coming to a close, and I’m preparing for a new 12 months of goals, travel, and life. When I look back on 2016, I see a year that was difficult, challenging, and a whole lot of fun too. I based myself in North America this year and had many wonderful adventures starting from the Pacific Northwest.
This was an epic year of travel for me. I traveled to more US states than I thought possible in a year, and, to my glee, I finally added Canada to my destinations. In fact, I visited Canada four separate times throughout the year. I just couldn’t get enough of the Great White North.
I’m writing this on a train back to Taipei. By the time this post is published I will already be in Myanmar, but right now I still have a few more days in Taiwan. As I’m sitting on the train, I can’t help but appreciate the memories I have from this country. Taiwan ended up being a place I loved even more than I thought I would, and I’m truly sad to be leaving so soon.
I spent just over a month in Taiwan and I feel like I barely scratched the surface. I traveled the west coast, made it down to the southern tip, and back up the east coast. I noted the changes in local culture with each new area of the country, but how they also had a few common threads. Taiwan is a place I could see myself living in for awhile if the timing worked out in the future. For now, I’m grateful for what this country has given me.
These are the 38 reasons why life is simply better in Taiwan.
If you dislike Christmas, you may want to pass on this post because it’s all kinds of gooey hot chocolate goodness and holiday fun. I’ve always been a fan of Christmas and winter in general. There’s something about curling up with a good book by the fire, the Mariah Carey Christmas album blasting, and the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.
The holidays may be too obnoxious and materialistic for some, but I really appreciate the family time and Christmas cookies that come about this time of the year. Sadly, I won’t be at home this Christmas, but I’ll be tuning in with a Skype call to still spend time with the family, and hopefully enjoy my own Christmas feast in Myanmar.
The buses barreled past at an alarming rate, not giving me the usual berth I would find in North America. The smells that wafted up from the grates and alleyways made me equally intrigued and wary. The electricity that I felt every time I stepped out into the humid air was unforgettable. These were my first impressions of Hong Kong.
The smog made us both sick within a few days, we were unable to get out of bed with our pounding heads, coughs, and other ailments that crept up on us. We bounced back soon enough and Hong Kong grew on us in a way that makes you reminisce about a new travel friend who was exciting and a bit of a mystery.
South America is a region I’m looking forward to exploring in the not-so-distant future. The only time I’ve really experienced Latin America was with a quick 3 week trip to the green country of Costa Rica. It was my first trip abroad when I was 18. I never made it further south and Latin America as a whole is high on my list for a slow travel destination after Asia & Europe.
But even though I’m not going to South America anytime soon, it doesn’t mean that I can’t still daydream about the place. One location in particular that I’ve heard amazing things about is Colombia. What used to be seen as a dangerous and sketchy country in South America run by drug lords, now has a huge tourism draw, and is seen as an intriguing and attractive place to visit.
Estonia is still a destination that is often overlooked by travelers. It’s a place that conjures up images of castles, mythology, and the best parts of the Baltic states. What most people may not realize is the impressive balance between nature and technology when it comes to Estonian culture.
Estonians are very modern in the fact that their country is considered one of the most technologically connected nations in the world. Most everything in daily life can be done online, even when it comes to political elections and healthcare. Instead of technology making Estonia a vacant population that has all eyes glued to a screen, they have somehow managed to find a balance with nature as well.
One of my goals on The Atlas Heart is to break down travel misconceptions or judgments about places and ideas. Perhaps it could be that destination that everyone warns you not to visit because of how dangerous it is, or maybe you yourself had preconceived notions that were proven wrong once you arrived to where you were going.
My aim is to present a variety of different opinions and experiences through the eyes of other travelers. It’s important to hear travel stories from all different perspectives in life, I call it seeing the world through a kaleidoscope lens.