Friday, January 3, 2014

Wandering to LaLaShan (拉拉山)

(post started in November... finally posted in January!!!) 

I opened up the blog earlier this week to reference where I had found Christmas decorations in years past --- it reminded me of how much I miss updating my blog! 

During the month of September, we enjoyed a four day weekend celebrating Moon Festival, and although unfortunately hubby had to work, the baby, our nanny, & I rented a car and hit the road for a day or two! My main goal was to get out of town and breathe a bit of fresh air, so our path was spontaneous and organic, following the small roads out of the big city, winding through the mountains. 

The entire island was itching to get out of Taipei for the weekend, so I figured we would meet the least traffic on the smaller roads, rather than the speedy interstates. We chose the path less traveled, and found it pleasantly deserted. We just wandered the small mountain roads, stopping as we pleased at road side stalls and family restaurants. As I had hoped, the area was almost entirely deserted as we explored the back roads. Little to no traffic, and plenty of sightseeing and stretching our legs as we went.

With a typhoon on the way and the sun already set, we finally reached Lalashan National Park only to discover that the power was out on most of the mountain! Baby in tow, and daylight long gone - I figured we'd better find a place to stay. The whole adventure felt like a movie, as I drove up the mountain (inside the national park) in the darkness. When I finally found a light, we pulled over to ask for help / directions, and happened to be parked at a small bed & breakfast! Their place was running on a generator - 3 hotel rooms at this place and 1 room available! We had found a comfortable, albeit unexpected, place to settle for the night. Unbelievable, and thank goodness!

When we woke in the morning to the sun rising over the mountain, and our mountainside views, it was incredible! We ate a nice breakfast on the patio, admiring the view, and tried to check out a trail before the approaching typhoon, although the wind, rain, and a park ranger cut our adventure short ultimately. 

What a way to spend a weekend. :) 

I'm looking forward to visiting LalaShan again sometime when the weather is agreeable (no typhoon coming) so that we can get out and hike on the trails. Either way, it was a grand adventure and a great escape from the city.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

beautiful Bali, Indonesia

It's hard to believe in the 10 months since starting a family that I have failed to post even ONE new blog post, but despite the silence we continue to travel and have new adventures worth sharing if I can just find the time to myself! :) Even with an infant, we hope to keep up our traveling lifestyle and if we can acclimate him to change early on perhaps he will continue to be a well seasoned traveler as he grows up!(?) Here's hoping.

Despite the appeal of Taipei (isn't it "all" here at our fingertips?) ~ one of the biggest advantages of living in Taipei is what lies beyond Taiwan - our proximity to so many other Asian countries. That being said, finding time when hubby & I are both off work together is rare, so when we had 9 days off together this Chinese New Year holiday, we jumped at the chance to visit a new(-to-me) destination:
~*Bali, Indonesia*~

The Gerocks had already spent time living in Indonesia many years ago, and I'd always been fascinated to see this country I'd heard so much about. So, we petitioned the grandparents to join us in Bali as a sort of halfway meeting point between Taiwan and Australia and we convened for a week of leisure & family reunion. With my first post back on the blog, there's no way I can cover all of the fun we had in Bali over those 9 days ~ but here are a few of the highlights. :)

Flight to Indonesia from Taiwan w/Baby

Traveling with baby is a whole topic entirely to itself, and thankfully I am becoming better at it each time, but I'll have to save that for another blog post ~ or the occasional inquiries from friends planning similar adventures (otherwise I'm afraid I'll bore you with the minute details of my SuperMom tactics...).

Indonesia was fantastic & refreshing. It was entirely Asia, and entirely not Taiwan, which was just what the doctor ordered (even though, there are some aspects I could live without - the beggars, poverty, and the most extreme 3rd world characteristics of a typical 3rd world country). Regardless, once I looked past the superficial unpleasantries, I settled into an easy-going, friendly destination that made me want to leave work behind and just relax on the beach all day! Not to mention the beautiful people; beauty that runs much more than skin deep.

Playing with baby on the beach.

Bali is clearly an island / beach destination. We rented a private villa with a private pool for the week at Gending Kedis, but we also tried out the resorts larger pool and made a few trips to the beach - I love seeing the ocean! In Bali there were some public beaches, but also many private beaches dedicated to specific resorts or paying members, and I must say, the private beach was too perfect. Extremely posh, and not overrun with people. Once we discovered our resort's private beach (halfway through our trip) I just wanted to go there every day and layout and read my book for hours!

Entrance to our villa, "Cherida 1"

Our backyard

The Resort's private beach

Bali isn't all beach ~ we spent a few hours each day "seeing the sights." In comparison to Taipei, we suddenly realized that we were not in the big city any more and many things of interest were an hour, sometimes two hours, away! We rented a van with a driver for the week since 4 adults plus baby in a carseat couldn't squeeze into a taxi, and our driver turned out to be top notch. He was a very kind hearted guide, who could speak English, was flexible with our needs that changed frequently (based on baby's mood or needs) and was so professional. We really felt lucky to have found "Panca" the driver just by chance, and we will definitely call him if we return to Bali again! Also to note our drives allowed us to get out of town and explore the countryside a bit. There's nothing quite like seeing the "real" side of an island.

Our outings included a fantastic temple full of monkeys, hand crafted silver smith shops, and the trendy tourist shopping areas in Ubud, where we scored some great local art and dined in an open to outdoors restaurant. The temple with monkeys was the best outing and had the most amazing views, hands down. Though I was a bit nervous for a moment there...

The Dirty Duck Diner Restaurant
View Behind the Restaurant
We especially enjoyed Ubud - it is full of tiny artisan and skilled craftsman shops and studios. If I return I'd plan to spend a few days there. Wish I could spend a few days reminiscing...
I hope I get to go back to Bali someday ~ definitely worth the trip!
Take note, Husband! I want to go back! ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Room for Baby

Now that the baby is home and we are all settling into our new routine, I think we finally managed to finish baby's room! I had originally thought we could just "do whatever" and move forward without an official "baby room,".....but ultimately I admitted to myself that this is the first baby! Of course I want everything to be fun and perfect, and feared I might look back with regret if I didn't put my best effort into everything for him :)

[Noteworthy ~ In Taiwan most rental apartments have all white walls. It is fairly uncommon to find a rental apartment here with brightly colored walls or a landlord that would grant you permission to paint. Luckily for us, we have negotiated with our own landlady and she is very cooperative (as discussed in previous post).]

I wanted to be sure we have some pictures to show baby Gerock when he's older what his first home looked like in Taipei!

Wall at Entry: Freshly painted room, Super challenging puzzle completed by Yours Truly,
new IKEA chair (not a traditional rocking chair, but it rocks a *little*)

We hunted across Taipei for the perfect rocking chair and could hardly find any contenders. Apparently, the Taiwanese have yet to be introduced to a good wooden rocking chair on a nice big Southern porch... Thankfully, this IKEA chair is designed with some give and can serve the same purpose.

Wall at Right of Entry: New wall stickers,
dresser/diaper changing station, drawer labels by Mom (me)

I discovered many cute wall stickers online from a Taiwanese auction website and much to my dismay I was unable to order them (my inability to read the Chinese on the website and lack of a local credit card). After resigning to the a room without fun stickers... I discovered the exact set I'd had my heart set on at the nearest night market by our home (RaoHe Night Market)! :)

Removable wall stickers above the diaper changing station ~
baby Gerock already enjoys gazing at them while we change his dipe

I made a few labels for the dresser drawers
For the window I had some new curtains made. I had a blast hunting for fabrics at the fabric market and finally settled on a nice Texas themed country curtain ;) Since we don't really have a baby "theme," anything goes - and I picture us using the curtains as education / entertainment for baby as he learns to look/listen/read/etc. [The bedding came with the apartment, and I have yet to update it...]

New curtains, selected and made at the Yongle Fabric Market

Close up of our Down-On-The-Farm curtains
We picked out a simple table lamp for those late night diaper changes... It gets used a LOT...

Ta Da!
And finally, here is photo of the puzzle we had framed for baby's room. This is buy a popular local artist. The picture is called lucky apple. This was THE hardest puzzle I have EVER completed! I figured I wouldn't have much time for puzzles after baby's arrival. Glad I finished this one in time.

We may not have a theme, but if you know me well, you'd also know I love elephants... What is that you say reaching up into the tree branches on the puzzle?

Monday, October 8, 2012

2 Years in Taipei

I can hardly believe it - in both directions - Could I really have been here for 2 years already? ...And... Is that all?  

The adventure continues, even though in many ways it has mellowed out a bit.
You never know what you might see or do that is "out of the ordinary" any given day. Or maybe it is ordinary? :)

So, since I've been busy navigating the city and prepping for baby's arrival - Just thought I'd share a few of the typical and not so typical happenings of late:

Dogs on Scooters: Seen it.
Dog on Motorcycle... This was new...  

This is what a large IKEA dresser in a very small bedroom looks like.
So glad we finally have storage space for baby's things!
Especially since this room has NO closet.

The dresser movers actually gave us 2 glasses as a gift.
It's marketing, but also how you know you paid too much...
[Nonetheless they were very efficient & kind]

Policeman waiting to freeze the lights for important traffic in front of our house.
I wonder how long he stood there? I gave up waiting to see who the big deal was...

Recently on a trip to Bangkok Jam @ ATT4Fun (delicious Thai food),
discovered Bar-Rito...
Now I love them  both!

Flavored mooncakes from clients for the recent Moon Festival holiday :)
Even Starbucks offers mooncakes here...

A new salad/wrap/sandwich place has opened and
filled the void of healthy dine-out options in my life!
This is "Dressed" ~ and I am already a repeat customer...

Been browsing the fabric market recently

For baby curtain ideas
(This is the winner!)

With endless choices

It takes hours to make any purchases!
Love the fabric market!

Thought I had posted this 2 weeks ago... my the time is flying these days...