Taipei - 10 Must Dos

I love this city, the people, the vibes and all the amazing things you can visit. I'm not a big fan of Taiwanese food but if you like it, Taipei is a real paradise for this as well!

What are the 10 must dos in this beautiful city?

I would say...

  1. Stroll around Ximending district
  2. Walk along Dihua St
  3. Visit Bao An temple and Confucius temple
  4. Get amazed in the big square in Zhongshan district where you find four incredible buildings, one on each side: the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the National Concert Hall, the National Central Library and the Evergreen Maritime Museum
  5. Rent UBike and ride along Keelung river
  6. Visit Wufenpu market: a maze of lanes and alleys full of racks of clothing, a gigantic outlet that carries literally everything, mainly women's apparel and accessories
  7. Go on top on the 101 tower, the highest in Asia: 360-degree view of the city
  8. Hike on top of Elephant Mountain to see the sunset on the city (easy hike)
  9. Visit one of the many night markets! I would suggest to avoid Shilin since it's too commercial and touristic... Go for either Raohe or Linjiang St! :) Make sure you try some typical food like the stinky tofu or, if you eat meat, you'll find plenty of options!
  10. Get lost in Daan Forest park

Some shots taken walking around the city...

Yangmingshan - Hiking in the green

Yangmingshan National Park is less than 1 hour bus ride from Taipei and it's great for some hiking and nature-watching. You can also combine the hot springs in Beitou and do an amazing full day trip!

One of the easiest way to reach the park is taking the red line of the MRT until Jiantan and then the S15 bus. The last stop is Qingtiangang that is exactly where the trails start. There are various options and you need to go further into the wild in order to be immerse in nature without having people around. 

I climbed up to Mt. Qixing (2100mt) that is the highest peak and it takes around 1.5 hour of stairs up to the main peak and then went down to Xiaoyoukeng passing through the volcano. A part from this trail there are really tons of different options if you want some hint shorter or less steep! Once you reach Qingtiangang you can decide which one to do and spend one day lost in the green :)

If you're doing my same itinerary then you can take the bus 108 from Xiaoyoukeng until Yangmingshan Bus Station and then one of the many buses to Taipei centre.

Here's what's left of my map! :) 

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Enjoy getting lost! :) 

Sun Moon Lake - Cycling and Hiking in Taiwan

From Taipei I took the HSR (high speed train) to Taichung and then the bus to Sun Moon Lake. I bought the ticket for the train in advance online and it costs TWD 700 while for the bus there's no need to book in advance and there is one every hour.


In SML I took a basic hotel, convenient to what I had in mind to do, that is renting the bike to go explore the lake and then to climb Mt. Shuishe. My hotel was in fact in front of the Giant shop that rents bicycles and next to the bus station of Shuishe.


My recommendation is to spend at least 1.5/2 days in Sun Moon Lake. One day you can rent the bike (really nice Giant shop on B1 of the Visitor Center building) and either do the full loop (around 30km) or just a few parts of that. In any case you have to stop and visit all the amazing temples along the way.


I did the full loop starting from Shuishe Visitor Center going clockwise and stopped at Wenwu Temple, Xuanzang Temple (Xuanguang is a smaller one next to it but it's nothing special) and the amazing Cien Pagoda with a breathtaking view!!!!
You'll also find many view points where to enjoy the peaceful and beautiful scenery. 

 

Some more shots to show you how wonderful it is!


The other day you can do some hiking!

Mt. Maolan is a short (around 2km) and easy one, it starts behind Shuishe Visitor Center, while Mt. Shuisheda it's way more challenging and starts from Ita Thao. 

This last one takes around 6 hours and it has around 800mt elevation. Make sure you have enough water and snacks with you because there's nothing along the way! The surrounding is amazing and very very wild but from the top there's not a great view since it's mainly covered by he trees!

ENJOY! :) 

Jiufen - Little Gem

"wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow"

"wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow"


I really fell in love with this little village nestled against the mountains and overlooking the ocean! Kinda Asian version of the Italian Cinque Terre ;) 

I went there for a one-day trip from Taipei but if you have time I suggest to spend one night there in order to explore more! You can either hike the mountains around there or rent a motorbike and visit the coast. 

To get there you can take the 1062 bus from Taipei straight to Jiufen Old Street (about 1 hour).
Once there, as first thing, just get lost walking along the super crowded Old Street!

A few things you could and should try:

  • drink the Taiwanese bubble tea
  • try the taro and sweet potatoes balls, apparently super typical
  • stop in one of the traditional and super cute tea houses overlooking the sea
  • try the stinky tofu or any other "strange" (for me!) food you find there
  • visit the temples along the way and get lost in the small alleys

After having visited the Old Street you have many options specially if you like hiking!
One of the best spot where to see the sunset is Mt. Keelung that you reach walking from Jiufen itself. Once you enter the path you will soon find a junction, at that point keep left: it's the longest route but the one with the best scenery!!
Have a look at my pics during the sunset and I'll let you judge :) 

Another option is to go to Teapot Mountain but you need to take a bus from Jiufen and then start the hike!
If you don't wanna hike then you can take a bus to Jinguashi, another small village, less crowded than Jiufen and really near.

KERALA - 4 Must Do's in Munnar

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1. Trekking Munnar is a real paradise for nature lovers and it's a perfect place to do many trekking tours! I personally fell in love with the bright green tea plantations. I strongly suggest that you explore the area close to Lakshmi Hills. In fact, you can walk nearly 10 km reaching an elevation of 1472m all while enjoying the view of Anamudi's peak, the highest mountain in the South of India. Along the path you'll have the chance to see tea and spices plantations (pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg...) and meet the tea workers.

Augustine (+91 9497678473) is a super nice guy who works as a guide in Munnar area and can organize among other things, amazing trekking tours, overnight camping, and jeep excursions! Feel free to drop my name if you decide to contact him :-)

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2. Waterfalls

There are a couple of scenic waterfalls in the area. My favorite is located at Athirappally, on the way from Kochi to Munnar. In order to reach this specific spot, you’ll have to leave your car in the parking area, pay a small entrance fee, and then walk around 10 minutes.

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3. Tea museum and shopping

Even though I highly recommend you to sleep in one of the hotels/tents/resorts outside Munnar, I think that the main village is certainly worthy of visiting, even for just a few hours. Some of the main attractions include, visiting the tea museum, buying some spices and tea in the adjacent shop, treating yourself to some typical handcrafted chocolate,  purchasing a saree to really plunge into Indian culture. Generally, most shops in this area will sell two types of sarees, the traditional Kerala style that is white with embroideries or the classic pan-indian style (many colors either silk or cotton).

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4. Ayurvedic treatment or Abhyangam massage 

After a long and intense day, pamper yourself with a (deep tissue) massage or Ayurvedic treatment! The Fog Resort has a nice SPA which offers many treatments that suite every kind of need! What I've found super interesting is the Shirodhara, also known as the "brain massage", done pouring hot oil drops on the forehead...you can’t miss it.

ENJOY!! :-)

Chiang Mai - Elephant Tour

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Durante i miei viaggi mi è capitato di avere esperienze contrastanti con i tour organizzati dalle agenzie locali. Alcune volte si sono rivelati troppo turistici (come nel caso del tour su Chiang Rai), altre volte sono state esperienze fantastiche. Di questa seconda categoria fa parte un'escursione che vi consiglio assolutamente! Io amo gli animali e la natura e questa mezza giornata è stata davvero emozionante.Si tratta della visita al Baanchang Elephant Paradise ("baan" vuol dire casa e "chang" elefante), vicino a Pae. Ho comprato il tour su questo sitoe devo dire che è valso tutti i 3200 bath! Per mezza giornata ti prendi cura di un elefante, gli dai da mangiare, fai una passeggiata di un'oretta nella giungla, lo spazzoli e fai il bagno con lui...! ho sempre adorato Dumbo fin da quando ero piccola quindi per me ̬ stato qualcosa di fantastico! :-) So che in internet si trovano altre escursioni con gli elefanti più economiche, ma non ti permettono di cavalcarlo e prevedono "show" di questi poveri animali in stile circo, che tristezza...! Secondo me sono da evitare!

I'm not so fond of the travel agencies in general, sometimes their tours are really too touristy (as in the case of the tour of Chiang Rai), but sometimes they made me experience really beautiful and touching moments! Of the latter category is a trip that I highly recommend! I love animals and nature, and this half-day in the Baanchang Elephant Paradise ( "baan" means house and "chang" elephant), close to Pae, was really awesome. I've bought the tour on this web site and I must say it was worth all the 3200 baht! For half a day you are caring for an elephant, feed him, have a ride in the jungle, brush him and even swim with him ...! I've always loved Dumbo since I was small so for me it was a dream come true! :-) I know that online you can find many other tours that are cheaper, but they're not worth it since you cannot ride them and you have to assist to sad "shows" of these poor animals as if they were at the circus! Just avoid them!

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Enjoy :-)

BFL

Yoga in Bali

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If you're coming to Bali and want to practice yoga, you'll find plenty of studios and yoga schools but not all are worth it! As you know there are many types of yoga so you should choose the studio and the class according to your habits and experience. If you're a beginner my suggestion is to try as much as different classes possible in order to understand what better suites you! :-)

Here follows the list of my top 3 spots where to do yoga in Bali.

THE YOGA BARN - UBUD

The Yoga Barn is definitely my favorite yoga spot in Ubud! It includes a yoga studio, an holistic healing retreat center, a Guest House (I've spent there 3 nights and it's really nice and cozy) and the Garden Kafe (click here for more details) with a fabulous healthy menu stocked by their own organic on-site farm. You can join more than 10 daily yoga classes from Classical Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Power, Pranayama, Restorative, Iyengar, Yin & Anusara and have the possibility to attend specific workshops (my Acroyoga workshop has been really intense and addictive!)

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DESA SENI - CANGGU

Located in Canggu (north Kuta region in southwest Bali) Desa Seni is an amazing structure that offers beautiful wooden homes, an Holistic and Spa center, Yoga classes and much more! The property is surrounded by rice paddies that lend a quiet, serene vibe. The only sounds you will hear is of frogs, crickets, geckos, and a Balinese flute in the evenings. The wide schedule of yoga includes classes from beginners to more advanced level, private lessons and events. Desa Seni is a living art community bolstered by a holistic attention to details.

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SERENITY ECOGUESTHOUSE - CANGGU

A wide schedule for all types of practices and a nice setting in bamboo cottages. Sometimes you will even hear the waves crushing down at the beach next by when doing your Shavasana. The structure includes also a nice guesthouse as well as the Alkaline Restaurant which is a great place to relax after your yoga session with a juice and a raw energy bar. Have a look at the class schedule here. Acroyoga classes available as well!

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THE CASHEW TREE - BINGIN

Amazing spot where you can do yoga every day at 9.30am (except from Friday) and also eat amazing food while chilling in the garden!

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Namaste :-)

My Awesome Cafe - Singapore

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State cercando un posto particolare in cui mangiare piatti sfiziosi e nutrienti circondati da un'atmosfera friendly e curata? My Awesome Cafeè ciò che fa per voi!Mi sono subito innamorata di questo posto, ancor prima di entrare. I banconi in legno, le lanterne colorate appese al soffitto, le lampadine decorate usate come bicchieri, le sedie vintage...è stupendo, anzi è proprio il caso di dire "AWESOME"! :-)

Are you looking for a special place where to eat delicious and healthy food, surrounded by a friendly and cosy atmosphere? "My Awesome Cafe" is the right choice! I immediately felt in love with this place, even before entering. Wooden counters, colored lanterns hanging from the ceiling, decorated light bulbs used as glasses, vintage school chairs ... wonderful, or better "AWESOME"! :-)

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Il menù ha confermato la mia prima impressione: piatti sfiziosi, salutari, sandwich particolari e drink originali! Anche i vegetariani saranno accontentati e appagati con piatti come la My Awesome Vegetarian Salad. Ingredienti come avocado, cranberry, chorizo, fois gras, granchio, salmone affumicato, brie e noci abbondano sia nei gustosi sandwich che negli altri piatti. Un consiglio per quanto riguarda i drink analcolici ̬ la Awesome Drinkable Idea, ovvero acqua di cocco con bacche di Goji, semi di Chia e scaglie di cocco, servita nel bulbo di vetro (simbolo del ristorante) che puoi portare a casa come oggetto di design.

The menu confirmed my first impression: delicious dishes, healthy options, special sandwiches and original drinks! Even vegetarians will be satisfied choosing for example the My Awesome Vegetarian Salad. Fresh ingredients like avocado, cranberry, chorizo, foie gras, crab, smoked salmon, brie and walnut abound both in salads and in tasty sandwiches. Concerning drinks, an alcohol-free recommendation is the Awesome Drinkable Idea, consisting of coconut water with Goji berries, Chia seeds and coconut flakes, served in the light bulb (symbol of the restaurant) that you can take home as a design object.

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Questo caffè bohemien con la sua atmosfera da epoca industriale mi ha fatto sentire nel West Village di New York per un paio d'ore. Prezzi contenuti per essere a Singapore e zona super centrale. Se passate da Singapore fate un salto al 202 di Telok Ayer e ne uscirete soddisfatti!

This bohemian cafè with its vintage industrial vibe made me feel in NY West Village for a couple of hours. Affordable prices considering that we're in Singapore and super central location. If you're planning to visit Singapore pop into 202 Telok Ayer and you will come out satisfied!

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Palermo - Mondello

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Molti di voi avranno gi?? sentito parlare della zona di Mondello, in quanto una delle pi?_ turistiche di Palermo e famosa per aver fatto da ambientazione al film ???Il Gattopardo?۝ di Luchino Visconti. Rimane fra le aree pi?_ affascinanti della citt?? grazie ai colori spettacolari che ci regalano le sfumature del mare e della sabbia chiarissima??_ in questa stagione primaverile il paesaggio ̬ dei migliori perch̩ la spiaggia ̬ ancora sgombra da ombrelloni e lettini che d?۪estate affollano questa zona rendendola quasi invivibile! Most of you have already heard about the Mondello area , as one of the most touristic place in Palermo and as setting of the film " Il Gattopardo " by Luchino Visconti. It remains one of the most fascinating areas of the city thanks to the wonderful colors given by the shades of the sea and white sand... during the spring season , the landscape is the best because the beach is still free from umbrellas and sun loungers that during the summer flock to this area making it almost unbearable!ImmagineImmagineImmagineImmagineImmagine

Se avete voglia di fare una camminata lungo-mare vi consiglio di partire dall?۪incrocio di Viale delle Palme con Viale Regina Elena e proseguire su quest?۪ultimo fino a raggiungere la famosa piazzetta! Guardandovi intorno, soprattutto verso l?۪entroterra, vedrete un susseguirsi di splendide ville in stile Liberty. Questo quartiere ̬ infatti noto per avere le residenze pi?_ prestigiose della citt??.

If you feel like having a walk along the seaside I recommend starting from the intersection of Viale delle Palme with Viale Regina Elena and continue on the latter until you reach the famous little square! Looking around, especially towards the inland , you will see a succession of amazing Art Nouveau villas . This district is in fact known for having the most prestigious buildings in the city.ImmagineImmagine

A met?? strada troverete il Charleston, il pi?_ antico stabilimento balneare costruito su palafitte. Al suo interno si trova anche un ottimo ristorante, ???Le Terrazze?۝.

Halfway there is the Charleston , the oldest seaside bath-houe built on stilts. Inside you will also find a great restaurant , "Le Terrazze".IMG_0392IMG_0520

Ci?_ che consiglio maggiormente ̬ fare un giro nella piazzetta, fermandosi magari a mangiare un buon gelato o una tipica "arancina" davanti alle coloratissime barchette dei pescatori e ai venditori di cedro!

What I recommend the most is a having a walk in the little square , maybe resting a while and tasting a deliciuous ice cream or a typical ???arancina?۝ in front of the colorful boats of the fishermen and the cedar merchants!IMG_0402IMG_0403IMG_0405IMG_0523IMG_0530IMG_0516

??_vi innamorerete della Sicilia!

??_you?۪ll fall in love with Sicily!

BFL