Monthly Archives: July 2016

DEFINITELY THAT YOU SHOULD HAD WHILE TRAVELLING

One of the greatest joys of travel is the unpredictability of exploring somewhere new. But however different our travels might be, we’ve all been struck by a number of universal thoughts along the way.

So whether you’ve grappled with getting up at sunrise or been through the various stages of recognising your own ineptness in another language, you’ll have most likely experienced something along these lines…

 

1. THE FLIGHT WAS DEFINITELY TODAY, RIGHT?

You checked – multiple times – yet still face a moment of abject panic when you arrive at the airport bugged by the unsettling feeling that you’ve mixed the dates up. You know you should have confirmed it one final time. A firm pat on the back if you got the date right; credit card at the ready if you got it wrong.

 

2. WHY HASN’T TELEPORTATION BEEN INVENTED YET?

Twelve hours squashed into an aerodynamic tin can ingesting stale air is no one’s ideal start to a trip. But unless a cargo freighter across the Atlantic sounds like a viable alternative, we don’t yet have many other choices.

 

3. SPEAKING ANOTHER LANGUAGE? EASY!

Just say it with the right accent and you’re off. Dos cervethaas por favoorrr.

 

4. MAYBE I’LL JUST SMILE AND NOD…

Ordering beer was one thing, but you now realise you should have kept up with Duolingo for longer than those four enthusiastic days. You just keeping smiling and nodding – actual words are completely overrated.

 

5. 4AM IS BEAUTIFUL – I SHOULD BE AWAKE AT THIS TIME MORE OFTEN!

While the cheap flights which forced you to check in before even the airport cleaner arrived weren’t the best introduction to the beauty of 4am, getting up at dawn to see sights like the Bolivian salt flats is enough to convince you of the benefits of those early mornings. You’ll definitely apply this to life back home…

 

6. DORM WITH 17 OTHER PEOPLE? NO PROBLEM: I SLEEP LIKE A LOG.

At some point you’ve definitely been lured into the big budget dorm – you’re the master of snoozing away nights on airport floors after all. But hostels play by distinct rules; all’s well and good until the inevitable nose-trumpeter gets going or the even less charming noises of an amorous couple become the backdrop to yet another sleepless night.

 

7. A 14-HOUR BUS JOURNEY WILL BE A BREEZE.

Reclining overnight bus seats always seem overrated – or at least until the next morning when you wake moulded into the shape of the 30-square-centimetre space that was your “bed”. The day spent unintentionally giving your best John Wayne impression just adds insult to injury.

 

8. SHOULD I HAVE EATEN THAT?

You love street food and the feeling of embracing local flavours as you dive into that delicious, seaming bowl of, well, whatever is floating around in there. But there’s always that nagging question at the back of your head about whether you’ve just committed a momentous travelling faux pas.

 

9. NO, I REALLY SHOULDN’T HAVE EATEN THAT

It looked delicious but it was a recipe for an afternoon spent in a squat toilet. Speaking of which, where’s the nearest?

 

10. ALCOHOL IS A GREAT WAY TO “EXPERIENCE THE LOCAL CULTURE”

A night of “tasting the culture” – read: drinking a bottle of sake – is the obvious way to learn about your new surroundings, right? Maybe, but the inevitable brain-splitting hangover reminds you that there are many more wholesome, less painful, ways to do so. Museums. Temples. People-watching. You vow to make better choices next time.

SYDNEY ON VACATION TIPS

Sydney and Melbourne have been battling it out for supremacy as long as Europeans have been setting sail for Australia. Both are capitals of their respective states – New South Wales and Victoria – and both think they should be the capital of Australia.

So fierce is their rivalry that nobody could choose between them, and instead Australia had to build a whole new capital inland in Canberra.

Canberra, though, has nothing on these two. Both have gorgeous coastal locations, world-leading museums, trend-setting restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Both are great places to shop, to watch sports and to hit the beach. And both are gateways to some of Australia’s greatest sights.

So which one should you head to first? Here’s our lowdown on Australia’s greatest debate. Get ready to weigh in.

WHICH IS BEST FOR CULTURE?

Melburnians would sniff at this question – their city, after all, is known as Australia’s “cultural capital”. You’ll find the Southbank precinct here, with the vast Arts Centre (the country’s busiest performing arts venue), the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited arts museum, and the country’s oldest professional theatre company the Melbourne Theatre Company.

There are more than a hundred art galleries in the city, as well as plenty of cutting-edge culture, from some of Australia’s best street art in the narrow lanes that run through the CBD to audiovisual art at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square.

Sydney does have a lot to offer too though, and it certainly has more iconic architecture. There is, of course, the Harbour Bridge stretching across the water, and the famous Opera House, which plays host to a fabulous line up of events, including performances by Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet.

BUT WHAT IF I’D RATHER HIT THE BEACH?

Sydney has the edge here, with some of the world’s most recognisable big-name beaches (Bondi and Manly) strung along its shores. Head to the south shore for Bondi, where the surf is always up and you can learn how to ride those waves yourself.

You can also walk along the coastal path to Bronte beach, one of Australia’s most accessible and pleasant strolls. Manly is on the north shore and reached by the Manly Ferry – probably one of the world’s best-value cruises at just a few dollars for 30 minutes of gorgeous harbour views.

Melbourne’s answer to such strong competition is St Kilda, a sandy strand just a short tram ride from the city and home to a proper pier, as well as Brighton, with its brightly painted beach huts and city skyline views.

Interesting to do in Taipei

As the only democracy in the Chinese speaking world and the most progressive city for LGBTQ+ rights in Asia, a legacy of artists and activists have worked to make Taiwan’s capital a place where culture, progression and creativity thrive.

Now, a new wave of resident creatives are re-energizing the city. Cutting-edge art galleries stand next to traditional teahouses, and basement club techno still murmurs in the streets as local markets set up their fare with the sunrise. Affordable, safe, efficient and exciting, this sea of glass, concrete and palm trees is an urban explorer’s dreamland. For travellers looking to unearth Taiwan’s underground scene, here are eight tips for discovering cool Taipei at its best.

1. DON’T STOP DRINKING COFFEE

Taiwan’s celebrated tea culture can be traced back more than three hundred years. Home to some of the world’s best greens and oolongs, tea here is both a science and a philosophy, a remedy for body and soul.

While you’ll find no shortage of old-school teahouses, the same spirit of craft and pride has been applied to Taipei’s third wave coffee scene – and the results are glorious. Interesting cafés are popping up everywhere in the city, from over the top chemistry lab-esque B Coffee & Space in Da’an to the award-winning baristas and Scandi-inspired minimalism of Fika Fika in Zhongshan.

Whether you spend the day shooting espresso or sipping cups of siphoned single-origin brew, you’ll quickly discover why Taipei seems set to become the world’s next hub of café culture.

2. TAP INTO THE CITY’S CREATIVE SCENE IN ZHONGSHAN AND DONGMEN

Taipei was named World Design Capital 2016 for a reason. Everyone from young architects to underground record labels seem to be embracing a new “made in Taiwan” pride that’s at once trendy and distinctly Taiwanese. The neighbourhoods of Zhongshan and Dongmen are perfect for testing the waters.

While the main streets may feel a bit commercial, amble the historic back lanes of Zhongshan district and you’ll discover well-curated vintage shops like Blue Monday, cute design boutiques and stylish records stores like Waiting Room. Taipei Artist Village – an arts institution and residency open to local and international creatives – is also worth popping by.

Dongmen is even more gratifying. While the upscale main streets boast everything from craft bubble tea to the latest in Taiwanese interior design, hit the quiet residential alleyways and you’ll find quirky art cafés, craft beer bars, dusty Chinese antique shops and good old fashioned Taiwanese comfort food spots like James Kitchen on Yongkang Street.

3. SAMPLE THE STREET FOOD, ESPECIALLY STINKY TOFU

Be it in London, New York or Berlin, street food has become undeniably, and often tragically, hip. Forgo the pomp, faux-grit and absurd prices of the latest in questionable Western street food trends and rejoice in Taipei’s affordable authenticity.

From notable night markets like Ningxia and Liaoning to nameless back alley daytime stalls serving dishes perfected over generations, there’re an overwhelming variety of delicious local dishes to sample. Fatty braised pork on rice, oyster omelettes, beef noodle soup, dumplings and shaved ice piled high with fresh fruit are good for starters.

However, your ultimate quest should be to conquer the infamous chòu dòufu, or stinky tofu. It smells like a rotting corpse, but possesses a flavour profile of such intense complexity most hardcore foodies call it sublime. Others spit it up immediately.

4. GIVE VEGETARIANISM A TRY

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian having trouble finding meat-free eats, keep an eye out for restaurant signs with enormous, glaring swastikas. The symbol is associated with Buddhism in China long before it’s appropriation in Europe and marks the restaurant as entirely vegetarian.

There are loads around the city, selling delectable Buddhist meals at ridiculously cheap prices. Many are buffet style, where whatever you’ve stacked on your plate is paid for by weight. The selection is usually too vast to try all of in a single go, which will keep you coming back for more.