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Taiwan Diary

This is my second trip to Taiwan. Our family loved it so much when we visited 3 years ago, that we decided to come back.

What is not to love? The accommodations are fairly inexpensive, it Is safe, clean, and there are a lot of things to see and do.

The first time we visited, we stayed at one of the 4 Tango Inm Hotel near Shillin Night Market, known for its vibrant night life of shopping and dining. This time, because there are 14 of us, we stayed at the Midtown Richardson Hotel in the center of Ximending area, another shopping district of Taipei. (As you may have guessed, my family’s trips always revolve around eating and shopping. (And at the end of each trip, we always wonder how we gained so much weight LOL).

A few tips:

1) If you’re going to Taipei, stay near Shillin or Ximending. Theyre not exactly Ritz Carlton type areas, but they are the real Taipei- busy and bustling!
2) For luxury shopping- head on to the two Breeze Malls or Taipei 101 (a mall at one of the talllest buildings in the world).

3) Don’t rent a car- they have an amazing bus, metro rail, taxi and inexpensive uber system. Use Googie Maps and you can choose the best option that fits your budget. It is so easy to get around and everything seems to be 15-22 min away.

4) Taiwan isnt just about shopping- they also have great street food choices.

5) Taiwan also has Uber Eats in case you prefer to stay in.

6) Taiwainese people are so kind, polite, and helpful. They don’t speak English as well Filipinos, but you will manage.

7) Taiwan is a small country- but there are so many things to do here and it has so many cool attractions from massive malls to cool museums to trendy restaurants to historical temples.

8) Check the weather before you visit! They have 4 seasons in Taiwan- so pack your jackets if you’re visiting in the winter months! (And swimsuits in the summer months).

 

The Riga Christmas Market is a Magical Experience

I am a sucker for a European Christmas Market. Generally, they open on the first week of December and close on Dec 23. They open around 10 am til 10 pm (in bigger cities, they close at midnight).

The stalls offer everything from homemade holiday decorations, local arts and crafts, local delicacies, cheese, wine, and handmade clothes and accessories (basically nothing that says “Made in China”).

Each city or town in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Baltics has one. You can also see these in France, Italy, and Spain (although not quite the same).
It is a social activity for family and friends. They serve mulled wine, different types of delicacies, and even desserts.

The biggest one I have ever been to is the Vienna Christmas Market. It is pretty, although I think it is too big and lacks that intimate feeling. The smaller one in Salzburg is charming.

I also love the Christmas market in Munich’s Marien Platz. They sometimes even have carolers singing Christmas melodies. There are so many food options there.

The Christmas Market in Frankfurt is way too small and too packed in my opinion. The carousel is beautiful, though.

The Christmas Market in Riga, Latvia, is one of the smallest markets I have ever been to. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in heart. Such a beautiful setting! If I could only describe it in one word, I would say “Magical.”

Everyone has a favorite market … visit these countries this winter and find your own favorite!

Memorable Latvia

I arrived here not knowing what to expect. Honestly, I have been so busy that I had no time to do my research.

However, two months before my trip, I messaged my friend Andy who works for the US Foreign Affairs if it was safe to come to Latvia.

He just rolled his eyes at me. LOL “Yes, why not? It is very safe there! Go!”
The Riga Airport, though small, is very clean, organized, and modern. You even have dozens and dozens of taxis to choose from. (Some are even Mercedes Benz).

I stayed at Wellton Centrum and Spa which is smack in the heart of the city and the Old Town district. This was the best decision ever! The place has adequate rooms, but they’re clean and such great value. Most of all, it is within walking distance to many restaurants, charming coffee shops, tourist attractions and shopping (the mall is just across the street).
I had the perfect timing too- it has been snowing nonstop since I got here. Yup- I love snow! Haha 😂 Although locals gave me a weird look when I told them I am here for a vacation, “Latvia in November? Really?” You should have seen their faces. 😂😂 It was though I was crazy.

Don’t you worry, folks, you will see me here again!

Acropolis: Gem of Athens

My skin is glowing, right? Hahaha That is sweat right there. Hahaha 🙈🙈😂😂 It is seriously 96 degrees and humid. He wanted to go up soooo badly, and it is our only reason we are back in Athens. So we had to do it.

I was dying because you have to hike up this long windy, path. And you’re 😓 sweating soooo badly. Hahaha I hate the heat- but I do have to admit, it was worth it once you get up there. Pretty amazing views and architecture.

Tip for you- bring bottled water with you. Hydrate hyrdrate hyrdate!

Klima: Fishing for Compliments

 

Klima is the most picturesque fishing village in Milos and is worth seeing. INSANE!!! This beautiful village is situated near Tripiti, on the side of the Gulf of Milos. The scenic beauty of Klima has old fishermen’s houses carved into the rocks and brightly colored wooden doors. The sunset here is an amazing experience. The drive down may be challenging but worth it!

The Power of Pause

    Photos taken in Paros, Greece Amazing Paros, Greece


Santa Maria Beach, Paros, Greece

Lighthouse, Paros Greece
When your cellphone or computer is stuck- what do you do? You restart it. And then it starts working again. Right?

That is the power of PAUSE! The power of starting over! Your mind and body sometimes need to unplug from your daily life and work and just recharge. And that is what I am doing. It is easier said than done- In fact, it is brave to get away. To leave your home, work, business, family and commitments and just get away—- and pray that things don’t fall apart while youre away.

Don’t wait until you’re too old and weak before you make time for yourself or do the things you love or fulfill your dreams. DO IT NOW! Take that vacation. Enroll in that dance class. Read that book. Learn that new hobby. Pursue your passion!

Because if not now, when?

18 Packing Tips That Can Change Your Life

What I am taking for my trip to Greece. I will be backpacking/island hopping in Greece for a month and as much as I want to bring my entire closet, I also don’t want to carry a lot of suicases.
Luckily, I have mastered the art of packing from my trips to 62 countries.

Here are a few packing tips:

1) Count the number of days you’ll be away, then count your outfits. They need to match up.

2) Stay in an airbnb or hotel that has laundry facilities

3) Pick your thinnest, lightest clothes. Do not bring thick jackets or coats. (UniQlo has amazing supplies).

4) Your trip is not a fashion show- you’re not Kylie Jenner. So wear clothes that you can wear over and over – like jeans.

5) No one cares what you wear … you’re not an influencer. 😂🙈

6) Only bring clothes or items that has a purpose.

7) Bring travel size shampoo, toothpaste, soap, etc. Small containers are available at Amazon or CVS.

8.) DO NOT bring a huge suitcase- it is NOT good for your back, not good for uber, not good for the airline, airport crew, hotel doorman, and the environment. Stop being selfish- again, the world does not revolve around you. 😡😂

9) Buy a soft suitcase. Hard suitcases are tough to carry around and not good for airlines/uber cause it consumes so much space. (If you visit NYC- your suitcase is probably gonna be bigger than your room.)

10) Bring clothes that you can match up. That way you can pair them off and create a new wardrobe.

11) When it comes to picking clothes- it is about quality, not quantity.

12) Only bring 1 extra pair of shoes and make your wardrobe work around that 1 pair.

13) Bring some clothes you dont want to wear anymore. That way, you can throw them after you use them abroad, and you dont have to bring them back home. You can even donate them there! (Thanks Lance Waagner for this tip when we were in Egypt).

14) You’re paranoid you’d run out of clothes to wear? Well- more reasons to go shopping there, right? There is a Zara or H&M in every corner.

15) Compartmentalize! I bought these light packing cases on Amazon ($24). Theyre amazing. Shirts in one container. Shorts and pants in one. Undies and socks in the small container. Plus I have an extra container for dirty laundry and shoes.

16) Make the tough decisions! Deciding which outfit to bring is hard. But make them!!! 😡

17) Don’t bring expensive purses, watch or jewelry. That may only cost you your life. So leave the Louis Vuittons and expensive watch at home.

18) Only bring pants/shorts that you can wear over and over.

If your purpose in over packing is so you can impress your friends- well, you probably shouldnt be traveling with them in the first place! ❤️❤️