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!

20 Vacation Ideas for 2015

What are you looking to do on your vacation? Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, adventure, beach & sun, casinos, fabulous resort, family trip, relaxation, spas, architectural wonders, ancient cities, skiing, food tripping or shopping, there are many amazing options for all interests and budgets.

Perhaps one of these images I took from around the world can help you decide where to spend your vacation. (Not in any particular order)


1) ROME, ITALY: Pilgrimage, museums and great food

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2) BALI, INDONESIA: Fabulous (and inexpensive) hotels/villas, spas, family getaway and relaxing vacation



3) VENICE, ITALY: Romantic getaway and great food



4) LAKE LOUISE, CANADA: Picturesque landscape, road trip, hiking and majestic mountains



5) NAPA, CALIFORNIA: Great wine and cuisine and beautiful scenery



6) PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES: Beaches, snorkeling, family trip, and diving


7) LONDON, ENGLAND: Architecture, history and art



8) MARRAKESH, MORROCO, : Adventure, fabulous hotels and landscape


9) SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA : Wonderful shopping, cool restaurants and landmarks



10) RONDA, SPAIN: Great weather, architecture, and breathtaking mountains and beaches



11) CARMEL, CALIFORNIA: Dramatic shoreline, world-famous golf, and spas



12) CANCUN. MEXICO : Adventure, parties, beautiful beaches and pyramids



13) LAKE COMO, ITALY : Outlet shopping, picturesque lakes and alps, wonderful architecture



14) ZURICH, SWITZERLAND: Picturesque city, great people watching and beautiful lakes



15) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Hot surfers, great beaches and party town!



16) SALZBURG, AUSTRIA: Beautiful town, quaint shops, charming architecture and history



17) BEIJING, CHINA: Great Wall of China and Olympic Village, and culture

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18) GRAND CANYON, NEVADA : Nature, landscape, road trip and family trip

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19) SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA: Adventure, cultural immersion, religious trip and relaxation

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20) OIA, GREECE: Breathtaking landscape, beach, sailing, food trip and relaxationIMG_4415



Try to take photos of food for your records. Why? Because olfactory memories take us further back in time than other factors; this is supported by experimental evidence. Taking photos of what you ate during your trip will bring back happy memories of your trip.



Filling up the gas tank of your rental car can be quite confusing. Is the gas tank on the left or right side? Now, with this simple tip, you know exactly where the gas tank is.