About Carrie Kellenberger

Carrie Kellenberger

Canadian expat Carrie Kellenberger has kept a home base with her husband in Asia since 2003. A prolific traveler, Carrie has funded her travels primarily as a writer, editor, travel blogger and photographer, but she has also worked as an educator, voice over artist, model and nightclub singer. She draws upon her 15+ years of travel experience to write about travel-related issues and the countries she has visited on her award-winning web site, My Several Worlds.

Her photography and travel articles have appeared in both print and online publications around the world, including Travel and Leisure Asia, Unearthing Asia and Hip Compass Escapes.


Latest Posts by Carrie Kellenberger

Vegan Raw Vegan Dining in the Heart of Taipei

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Today, I get to tell you about a new friend of mine and her amazing restaurant in Taipei. I am pretty excited to be writing this restaurant review because I believe deeply in the power of raw food. There are certain foods and supplements that are essential to maintaining my health and my well-being and truth be told, I’m a huge juicing and smoothie addict.

I just finished placing a home delivery with NAKEDFOOD prior to writing this article and am receiving a box of wholesome goodies in the mail on Monday! (This is my kind of grocery shopping, by the way. If I could buy everything online, I would.) 

Raw Vegan Dining in Taipei

NAKEDFOOD Taipei is a live and raw food restaurant which also has a nice selection of wine, although I am not wine drinker. I had my very first glass of gluten-free beer during my first visit to NAKEDFOOD which was delicious. NAKEDFOOD bases its food philosophy on the belief that a healthy life should not only be an artful one but should also indulge in flavor and satisfaction.

NAKEDFOOD offers a beautiful and enriching dining experience from start to finish. Their mission is to share their passion for life-giving food. Everything that they serve is raw vegan in its natural state, and wow, would you be amazed at how this food looks and tastes.

I met the owner, Prashantha Lachanna, who goes by Prish, at a Women’s Conference in March 2016. After listening to her presentation about how she turned her dream of building a raw vegan restaurant into a reality and sampling some of her raw chocolates, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d be stopping by her restaurant to sample more.

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Raw vegan pizza with sliced pumpkin, tree nut cheese, avocado, tomato, marinated onion, beet root carpaccio, and preserved lemon.  I ended up ordering a number of things on the menu, including the tree nut cheese pizza, the raw cacao granola and the raw chocolate banana pie. It was all incredibly delicious and nutritious.The food was beautifully presented and the atmosphere is beautiful and relaxing.The staff are very informative and the food is bursting with flavor. I left satisfied, fully informed, and knowing that I will visit again.

The owners add so much to their dining experience. They both took the time to sit down and talk with me during my meal, even though it was 5:30pm and they had recently returned from a full day of catering. I felt so welcomed by both Prish and Leiven. They are both extremely passionate about their food and this clearly shows with every detail.

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NAKEDFOOD’s tree nut cheese

NAKEDFOOD is one of the best restaurants I’ve visited in Taipei in a long time. This is a beautiful restaurant, but it’s also very homey with lots of pillows and natural sunlight.

I was also very impressed with the prices. I expected this to be a pricey dining experience, but everything was very reasonably priced. When you stop to consider how much love and effort has gone into making this food, it doesn’t seem expensive at all. They use only the freshest ingredients and produce. Everything is hand-made, They select their produce carefully and use a variety of organic and market-fresh ingredients.

NAKEDFOOD’s cultured tree-nut cheeses are made from nuts, like cashews and macadamias, for example. This cheese is really yummy and its extremely good for you. (I ordered a jar. I am sure it will be gone within a week.)

The menu has enough items on it for all budgets. I felt that the value I received with my meal at NAKEDFOOD was very reasonably priced. I loved learning about my food and knowing that every delicious bite was good for me. In fact, it was so reasonably priced, I had money left over and I ended up taking some treats home.

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Raw banana cream and chocolate pie

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Chocolate macaroons are a specialty here, but my favorite are the chocolate and oat berry squares to the right of the photo. They give you tons of energy!

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There is no better person to check out new restaurants with than Jenna Robinette.

 RAW FOOD WORKSHOPS IN TAIPEI

NAKEDFOOD offers raw vegan culinary workshops regularly. They also host private events and they cater for special events. They have a massive stainless steel kitchen that looks perfect for these types of workshops. I had hoped to attend their special Coconut and Spice Workshop with Emily Quah this weekend, but it wasn’t in the cards for this weekend.

I’ve only taken one cooking class in my life and that was in Bali, Indonesia. I can’t even remember what we cooked, but I remember being terribly embarrassed at how badly I use knives. Ha. Anyways, hopefully I can hone my skills and participate in one of their workshops coming up later this year.

Doesn’t this look like a lovely place to have a class in?

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DETAILS:

NAKEDFOOD

No. 22-1, Lane 160

Xīnshēng South Road Section 1

Zhōngzhèng District, Taipei, Taiwan

Phone: (02) 2396-2202
Website: http://nkdfood.delicioustaipei.com/

Nearest MRT: Dōngmén Station 

Tom Rook’s Hao Haus Gallery Exhibit in Taiwan

April 15, 2016 by  

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In late March, we visited our friend Tom Rook at his art exhibit at HaoHaus in Taipei.  His original series of hand-drawn maps of cities in Taiwan are gaining a lot of attention from art lovers all over Taiwan, but his newest series of insect and city drawings have created a real buzz in the city lately. In fact, his “Dragonflies” illustration is being exhibited at Art Revolution Taipei between April 21st and 25th. It has been chosen as a finalist for the International Artist Grand Prize at Art Revolution Taipei!

This is the second show we have attended to see Tom’s work. Both exhibits have been a wonderful way for us to learn about someone who has been in our lives for a long time. I have written about Tom before. He was one of the very first teachers I worked with in 2010 when I joined Reach To Teach and we have become good friends over the years.

Tom is a British cartographer and self-taught artist who creates mostly in pencil, pen, and ink. His drawings of cities and urban changes in Taiwan and from his homeland are incredibly detailed. You can get lost in his artwork. Every time I look at his maps, I see something new and I am filled with wonder once again at how much talent Tom has and how far he has come with his artwork in the past six years that I’ve known him. His Taiwan city maps, for example, are drawn to scale and are very accurate, while his insect series feature both real and abstract places.

His detailed hand-drawn map of Taipei is a labour of love printed on high quality photo paper with a protective coating. It’s also a one-of-a-kind souvenir for map lovers and for anyone who has been to Taiwan or plans on visiting Taiwan.

Tom Rook HaoHaus Exhibit

The original drawing of ‘Dragonflies’ will be exhibited at Art Revolution Taipei between April 21st and 25th 2016. This piece of work has been chosen as a finalist for the International Artist Grand Price at Art Revolution Taipei.

Tom Rook HaoHaus Exhibit
Tom Rook HaoHaus Exhibit

Tom Rook HaoHaus Exhibit

Tom Rook HaoHaus Exhibit

Tom Rook HaoHaus Exhibit

 

 

Taiwan’s Yilan, an Awe-Inspiring Gem for Your Bucket List

November 17, 2015 by  

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Yilan is magic, and unlike many other Taiwan travel hot spots, Yilan is off the tourist map…most of it, anyway, except for Jiaoxi, A.K.A. the only place in Yilan that most westerners in Taiwan know about. Jiaoxi’s been on the tourist map since Japanese was Formosa’s lingua franca.

Famous for its healing waters, Jiaoxi isn’t just trammeled, it’s downright overbuilt. But hardly without reason. After all, where else can you soak your feet in hot mineral water while waiting for your train? And where else will you find a place like , a semi-enclosed hot spring hotel featuring a fully equipped aquatic massage-pool, a nautical jungle gym, and a three story high hot spring fed water slide?
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Hot Springs in Yilan

So despite the crowds (which are still mild compared to other tourist spots in Taiwan), Jiaoxi is a good place to start your Yilan explorations. And thanks to the soothing hot-springs, it’s a great place to end, especially if your explorations are of the high exertion type. But there is more than just hot springs in Yilan.

It also has cold springs.

Though mid-winter isn’t the ideal time to visit the famed cold springs of Suao, summer is the dominant season in our little Tropical-of-Cancer paradise. The springs of Suao – and others in the county – bubble up from underground aquifers and are a great place to cool off after a lengthy hike or a bicycle ride.

On the subject of cycling Yilan – like the rest of Taiwan – has jumped on the bicycle bandwagon, and the county offers more than just a lovely (and in some places slightly harrowing) stretch of Route 11 on the way to Hualien. The county has 77 kilometers of dedicated cycling paths stretching between the mountains to the west and the sea to the east.

Cyclists looking to chase the ocean breezes should hit the 13.5KM Seaside Cycling Road between Zhulan Bird Watching Area and the Dingliao Ecological Park. Other Yilan cycling paths include the 10K Dezikou River path, which passes through fish farms and protected wetland and the 10.5K Lanyang River path, which goes through the Lanyang River Bird Sanctuary and offers great views of nearby Guishan Dao (Turtle Island).

Seasoned cyclists who don’t mind sharing the road will find in Yilan thousands of kilometers of beautiful roads, most all offering beautiful views and some with relatively light traffic. Though on bigger roads you’ll ride beside the usual assortment of scooters, cars and the occasional tour bus (especially on the coastal highway, which is still a must-ride), on smaller inland roads expect to pass many a slow-moving farming vehicle on your ride.

Yilan’s The county’s agricultural roots run deep, and over the last several years Yilan has morphed agriculture with tourism, leading to the creation of several leisure farm, areas consisting of several – in some cases, dozens – farms and agricultural areas that supplement their agriculture output with tourism. In some cases, tourism seems to have overshadowed agricultural output entirely.

One such leisure farm is the Jhentoushan Agricultural Leisure Area, a collection of attractions spread out over several kilometers rice paddies and former farmland east of Yilan city. Jung Lung Jai is a a traditional Taiwanese farmhouse that’s been renovated and brought back to life as as a café serving coffee, kumquat tea and homemade pizza. The café sits next to Wang Long Tang (Dragon watching Pond), an artificial lake that’s home to a multitude of water-birds multi-angled bridge shaped like a lightning bolt leads to an island with a pavilion, as good a spot for dragon watching as any you’re likely to come across.

 

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The author in a giant pitcher plant at Bo’s Farm – the Living Zen college

Other parts of the Jhentoushan Agricultural Leisure Area include quirky spots like Bo’s Farm – the Living Zen college. Even if you’re not in the market to buy carnivorous flora, its still worth a visit to see the thousands of  pitcher plants and Venus flytraps that are Bo’s agricultural output. There ‘s even one you can sit inside, if you’re in the mood to feel like a mosquito. Somewhat more straightforward in nature is the Agrioz museum of Candied Fruits. Part factory, part store, Agrioz earns the right to call itself a museum thanks to the educational tours, complete with courses in DIY candied fruit-making. The museum is run by second-generation candied fruit maker Lin Ding-gang, who enjoys regaling visitors with Taiwanese opera songs about – what else – candied fruit.

Though not in the Jhentoushan Agricultural Leisure proper, the Fang Yue Tea Garden holds its own in the quirky-cool-agricultural department, offering lessons in the finer points of of traditional tea-cake preparation under the careful instruction proprietress Hong Hsou Ing. Though the ingredients are deceptively simple – Green Tea Powder, Green Bean flower, and various fillings made of pomelo & mulberry (with a hint of orange peel) – making the cakes takes a bit of practice.  Mrs. Hong promises that all her charges will leave not merely knowing how to make green-tea cakes, but but with a box filled with 15 cakes presentable enough for gifting or eating on the train back home.
If DIY tea-cake making doesn’t bring out your inner child, than a visit to the San Fu Leisure Farm just might – more jungle tour than farm, San Fu’s chief ranger is a jovial, hyper passionate man nicknamed Elephant, who leads tours through the extensive jungle paths while teaching about both the flora and fauna of the area, which include an endless variety of butterflies, spiders and frogs, some of which Elephant (given name Chen Han Ching) will hypnotize for your amusement.

Finally, Yilan offers more adult pursuits, and those with a taste for fine spirits will want to hit the Kavalan Distillery, Taiwan’s first and only whiskey distillery, the Kavalan Distillery is said by some in the high-price booze know to produce the world’s finest single-malt scotch. Tour the factory and learn how Whisky is made from start to finish. If you’re of drinking age you can sample various blends in Kavalan’s tasting room. Underage visitors and teetotalers will have to content themselves with the angels share, the fumes given off by the evaporating whisky that permeate the factory.

And if that isn’t enough to relax you, there’s always The Art Spa.

Contributed by Joshua Samuel Brown, the author of Vignettes of Taiwan and 13 Lonely Planet Guides. Li Cheng-Shu is a Photographer and tour guide based in Yilan..

Foodie Alert: Top 10 French Mouth-Watering List

October 28, 2015 by  

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Long associated with Michelin Stars, high quality local ingredients and some of the best red wines in the world, France’s dining scene is legendary. From simple provincial cooking to indulgent gourmet meals, every visitor on any budget can sample its culinary offerings to get a taste of this scrumptious European country.

Here are ten foods and drinks that you really should try during a stay in France.

Crepes & Cider
Crepes (sweet) and galettes (savoury) are France’s answer to the English sandwich or the American burger. Originally from Brittany, they are now served in creperie stands on many corners of the biggest cities. Fill it with cheese and tomatoes or simply with a shake of sugar. Eat yours with a drink of Brittany cider for a traditional lunch.

Image credit: punchbowl

Onion soup
You might have previously overlooked this soup as a starter but nowhere does it like France does. The sweet, almost caramelised onion mixture is topped with an oozing cheese like a rich Gruyere. Chunky bread is then served with it for you to dunk to your heart’s content.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille is a traditional vegetable dish that is prepared and made differently depending on the cook! Some prefer it to have a crunch whereas others like an almost stew-like consistency. However it is served, you will feel full of nutritious, tasty homemade goodness.

Mussels
Popular in Normandy, mussels are available quite cheaply in coastal eateries. You can normally order moules with the classic white wine sauce or with something a bit different like curry! For a fancy take on fish n chips, get yours with fries. A famous Normandy dessert to finish the meal with is apple tart. Moules-frites is another popular way to eat mussels.

Pizza
The Italian influences on France’s south-east means that you can get an absolutely delicious pizza in Nice. Always freshly made, with a mixture of cheeses to pick from (Emmantal is a good choice), they give the Italians a run for their money.

Dauphinois potatoes
Forget the roasties or a pile of mash – eat your potatoes the French way with this creamy and cheesy recipe. Spices like nutmeg and flavourings like vanilla are often added to the mix for extra yum factor. Definitely order this if you are lucky enough to go to a highly rated restaurant.

Escargots
It is no myth – you’ll find snails on a lot of authentic restaurant menus. They are often doused in garlic, which makes them taste just like a piece of garlicy chicken! How many will you manage to eat?

Brioches Cafiero

Brioche

In fact, this sub heading should say ‘pretty much everything you can get your hands on at the boulangerie’. You really are spoilt for choice with Paris Brests, Millefleurs and flan abricots. The brioche is a simple, sweet bread bun with a sugary topping that brightens up any morning alongside a cafe au lait.

Beef

If you like your meat bloody, you are in the right place. The French like their steaks red, so if you prefer it medium, ask for it to be well done. If you like it well done, you should probably order something else. The steak tartare is served completely uncooked with a raw egg on top, a total classic for those who like their beef walking off the plate.

Cheese and wine
You’re in France so indulge in its very best produce. Finish off an evening (or lazy afternoon!) a good wine like a Chateauneuf du pape wine or a Bordeaux. Popular cheese choices include Camembert, Gouda, a smelly blue and a garlic roulette. Dare yourself to try the smelliest cheese, like a bonafide French citizen.

Et voila, you’ll return from France probably a stone heavier but still hungry for more.

Images by Vanilla and lace and fugzu used under Creative Commons License. 

Istanbul, Great For the Soul, Great for the Stomach

September 12, 2015 by  

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Let’s go where east meets west, shall we? Turkey is the meeting point of two continents where you can indulge in the best of Asian and European lifestyle, culture and food!

1. Foodies can immerse themselves into the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of one of the oldest spice markets in the world, Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar. Peruse the myriad spices, herbs, nuts, vegetables and dried fruits. There are also herbal remedy stalls for the mind, body and soul.

2. It’s not a holiday without a visit to the beach, so head to Turkey’s shores for Mediterranean sun and beautiful waters. Reputable resorts include Alanya, Kalkan, Kaş, Fethiye, Çıralı and Patara. You can even spot turtles on Iztuzu beach! These resorts offer plenty of water sports, diving excursions, beach sports like volleyball and cafes for refreshment.

3. A lot of Istanbul’s museums and galleries are free of charge to enter and they are a great way of learning more about the surrounding culture. The Istanbul Modern is the city’s first modern art museum, Museum of Painting and Sculpture exhibits fine art from the 19th and 20th-century and the Santralistanbul culture complex has an Energy Play Zone!

4. Dare yourself to visit the largest of Istanbul’s ancient underground cisterns, the Basilica Cistern in Sultanahmet Square. Entering the columns that are decorated with Medusa heads, you will be transported back to the 6th-century during Byzantine Emperor Justinian I’s reign. James Bond fans might recognize this from the 1963 film From Russia With Love.

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5. If you visit during April, witness the three million colorful tulips that bloom across the parks and gardens of the city. This is to celebrate the International Istanbul Tulip Festival. This particular flower is representative of Turkey’s history because the reign of Sultan Ahmed III was also known as the “Tulip Era”. A free festival of music, art exhibitions and live performances also takes place in Emirgan Park.

Along the way you should also fill up on culinary treats that are influenced by Aegean and Mediterranean diets — you must try a kebab and some Turkish delight! There are plenty of great things to do in Istanbul, so all you need to do is get there.

Images by Moyan Brenn and Brian Jeffery Beggerly used under the Creative Commons License. 

It’s the Chinese Year of the Goat

March 20, 2015 by  

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It’s the Year of the Goat. 

We are celebrating our ninth Chinese New Year in Taiwan. Well, technically it’s our sixth if you count the times we left Taiwan for a beach vacation, but you know what I mean!

Additionally, I’m two years into my first full zodiac cycle in Asia. I moved here in 2003 and saw the completion of my first 12-year zodiac cycle last year. 13 years ago, SARS was just getting started in China when I moved there, and 12 years ago, it was drawing to an end.

Interesting, huh?

Anyways, today is Chinese New Year’s Day. The Year of the Goat officially began last night at midnight. This year, we are staying in Taipei. John’s mom has been with us since early January, and we are going to enjoy her last few days here with some peace and quiet – until the fireworks start, that is.

The Year of the Goat, also referred to as the Year of the Sheep or Ram. Last year was the Horse’s year to speed off and accomplish things, but this year, the goat reminds us to contemplate over what we have succeeded at and to appreciate what we have accomplished. The goat also reminds us to keep looking ahead, remain on a steady path, be generous, and keep the peace.

I like that!

My birthday horoscope is a goat – I’m a Cappie – so I’m hoping that some of this year’s good goat luck rubs off on me.

Given that this is supposed to be a year of contemplation and reflection, I thought I’d reflect on some of my past holidays celebrating Chinese New Year in Taiwan.

The Motorcycle DiariesWe spent our first Chinese New Year holiday here in 2007 after arriving in Taiwan in February 2006. We spent six days traversing Taiwan’s Central Cross Island Highway by motorcycle. We were still recovering financially from a three month backpacking excursion around Southeast Asia, but we have never been ones to miss a travel opportunity.

Our first day out on the bike was just beautiful. It was sunny with clear blue skies. That first half-day was bliss, but things got much colder when we hit Hehuan Mountain at 4pm. We were warned at the base of the mountain that cold weather was closing in fast, and boy, did it ever!

Hehuan Mountain, TaiwanIt was slippery going up the mountain, and it was great to reach the peak – Wuling Peak, which is the highest road in Asia.

But it was COLD coming down and by the time we hit Cingjing, all we wanted was some hot tea and a bed. Our journey that year took us into Sun Moon Lake, and across Toroko Gorge for the first time. We traveled back to Taipei along the Eastern Coast Highway.

This was the trip that convinced us that we needed to stay longer in Taiwan.

Rich Matheson: Southern Cross-Island HighwayWe enjoyed our 2007 motorcycle excursion so much, we decided to do it again for Chinese New Year 2008. That year we traversed the Southern Cross Island Highway from west to east. Since we had a limited amount of time off, we decided to put the motorcycle on the train to Tainan.

We arrived in Taiwan at 10:30am, and John had the bike packed and ready to go by noon. We were lucky once again to be blessed with gorgeous weather and our journey took us high up into the mountains. We spent a night at Baolai Hot Springs and headed out the next day for the peak of Meishan in Yushan National Park. From there, we traveled down into the East Rift Valley, famous for its lush, green rice paddies and haunting scenery. We stopped and spent Chinese New Year’s Eve in Hualien.

In 2009, we were still recovered financially from our wedding in Mexico. This was the first year we choose to spend Chinese New Year at home in Taipei.Kota Kinabalu Chinese New Year Dragon Dance

Chinese New Year 2010 was the Year of the Tiger, which is my animal zodiac sign. We headed to the Philippines for a delightful beach vacation in Puerto Princesa that year. This was one of my first official trips as a freelancer travel writer.

We spent our 2011 Lunar New Year in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. 
The Lunar New Year is the most important festival in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, luring thousands of friends and families to participate in games and watch Lion and Dragon dances, martial arts demonstrations and other fun events. We witnessed no less than three lion dances in various areas throughout Kota Kinabalu.Carrie at Kota Kinabalu Beach

Our 2012 Chinese New Year celebration was spent in Seoul, South Korea. Seoul is an interesting city, and although I’m not big on Korean food, I really do love the architecture there.

In 2013, we spent our Chinese New Year holiday with friends in Kenting National Park in Southern Taiwan. John and I took off on our own in the car. We met up with my friend Leanne McNulty in Kaoshiung, and from there we traveled to Kenting, where we met up with Rachel and Tamin Wang.

2014 was a quiet year for us. We stayed in Taipei again this year. Having spent close to three months in North America because of trips and family obligations, it was nice to spend our Chinese New Year at home with our Taiwan-family.

Cultural Look at Ibiza Spain For Clubbing & Electronic Music

March 16, 2015 by  

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Over the years, Ibiza has earned a reputation as the clubbing capital of the world. During the busy summer months, the very best of Europe’s DJs congregate on this gloriously sun-kissed island in the Balearics, drawing revelers from around the world. The destination even attracts celebrities including the likes of P Diddy, Kate Moss and Dizzee Rascal.

The birth of a phenomenon

A premier spot for party holidays on the island is the town of San Antonio, or Sant Antoni de Portmany. It is home to the now world-renowned Café Del Mar, which gave birth to the genre of chill out tunes and set in motion the emergence of Ibizan clubbing. Situated in the beautiful Sant Antoni Bay, this formally quiet cafe quickly became known as the perfect place to listen to music while watching the sun go down. Now, hoards of visitors head to this part of Ibiza to mark the end of the day and the beginning of the night.

With its impressive new boardwalk terrace, Café del Mar is the ideal venue to go for a cocktail to get the evening’s entertainment underway.

The best clubsLa Troya Opening - Amnesia Ibiza

Another top party destination is Amnesia. This legendary club is located inland on the San Antonio Road and it regularly packs in 5,000 people during the high season. You’ll find two huge spaces and a variety of artists. If you can stay on your feet, you can drink and dance there until 6am.

Located in Playa d’en Bossa, Space is a popular club too, attracting some of the world’s top DJs and plenty of partygoers. You can expect a different vibe on each night of the week, and the venue — which modestly describes itself as ‘the best club in the world’ — has a fashionable, fresh look and feel.
Swedish House Mafia closing at Pacha, Ibiza

 Pacha is also well worth checking out. It may be four decades old, but this Ibiza Town venue shows no signs of falling out of favor. With a host of events, it caters to a variety of crowds on different nights. You’re sure to find something you like in its labyrinth of rooms.

Also in Ibiza Town you’ll find La Bodega. This bar, cafe and restaurant may not be as high octane as the clubs, but it’s a great place to enjoy a few drinks and a bite to eat.

Lots more to see and do

Of course, there’s more to Ibiza than just bars and clubs. If you feel as though you’ve had your fill of booze and bars and you want to try something different, there are a host of activities to keep you entertained. You might like to test your skills on two wheels, for instance. Ibiza has 13 all-terrain cycling routes and it’s easy to hire bikes.

Meanwhile, to help your body and mind recover after all that partying, perhaps a yoga lesson on the beach would be perfect. You can also enjoy some retail therapy in the island’s many markets. The biggest take place in San Carlos and Es Caná.

Images by Amnesia Ibiza and David, Bergin, Emmet and Eliott, used under Creative Commons license 

A Useful Guide to Hot Springs in Taiwan

February 17, 2015 by  

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Wulai is an aboriginal village in Northern Taipei about an hour outside of Taipei. It is best known for its natural hot springs and Atayal aboriginal culture, and I consider it to be among the most picturesque towns in Taiwan. The town is named after an Atayal phrase that translates to boiling water or hot and poisonous. This is the Atayal’s term for hot springs, and the natural hot spring water that bubbles up along the riverbanks of the river that divides this gorgeous little area are clear and odorless. Home to the second largest indigenous tribe in Taiwan, Wulai boasts various religious and harvesting events throughout the year. You can learn more about the Atayals at the Atayal Tribal Museum, where you’ll be able to learn about things like local customs, handicrafts, traditional clothing and weaponry.

Once a prime hunting ground for the Atayals, the town is now touted as one of Taiwan’s most beloved hot spring areas.Wulai Hot Springs_7

Wulai Hot Springs

Spend your day hiking, swimming, and visiting waterfalls or sit back and relax in Wulai’s hot springs while taking in the gorgeous river, mountains and dense green jungle. It truly is a gorgeous place to visit any time of year. I like Wulai best in December through February, when the real chill of winter has set in, but you also can’t beat relaxing in a hot spring bath while looking at the cherry blossoms that spring into bloom during late January through early March.

The town of Wulai is easily traversable on foot and there are lots of hiking trails in and around the area. There is a good resource center that offers literature in the area in a number of different languages. From there, you can wander along Wulai Old Street and follow Lover’s Path out to the Wulai waterfalls.

You can also learn a little about the formosan aboriginals in this area by taking in the show, which is located next to the Wulai waterfalls. Ride the gondola up to the top of a nearby mountain for a different view of the waterfalls. The 10-minute ride extends across Nanshi River and costs around NT$220.

Wulai’s waterfalls were named as one of the eight most beautiful attractions in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period.

While you’re in Wulai, be sure to sample some of the many Aboriginal dishes that are from this area. My personal favorite is a dish that consists of bird’s nest fern, known here as shanshu, This delectable green mountain green is quick fried in garlic and bean sauce. Other favorites include wild boar sausage and bamboo rice tubes, which consists of rice and seasoning that has been steamed in a bamboo stalk.

There is a wild boar sausage stand on the right just before you cross over the bridge on Old Wulai Street. (see photo) Try it! It’s pretty yummy.

Wulai_Wild Boar Sausage

Public Hot Spring Etiquette 

Nothing much can beat a long, hot soak in the public hot springs, unless you opt for your own private hot spring experience. I’ll get to that in a minute though. If you choose to bathe at the public hot springs in Taiwan, make sure you thoroughly wash and rinse your body before entering the water.

Swimwear and clothing is not needed as the pools are segregated by gender. Don’t forget to tie up your hair. Finally, if you’ve got heart disease, high blood pressure, or open wounds or sores, don’t enter the baths.

Riverside hot springs

The Nanshih River in Wulai offers several free hot springs along the riverside. Cross the bridge in downtown Wulai, turn right and walk up the road until you see a stairway that takes you down to the river. You’ll see arrive at an outdoor public hot springs area with a changing rooms and several hot spring pools. You can also enter the natural hot springs that are built right into the riverbank when the water is low. Wulai Hot Spring Pools

If you turn left after crossing the bridge, you can wander down the road and find yourself at a riverbank flanked by a parking lot. There are a number of riverside pools available for free in this area as well. You can even make your own hot spring rock pool on the banks of the river.

There are plenty of hot spring hotels and private hot spring rooms to rent in Wulai. We try a different place each time we visit. Private rooms go from as little as NT$200 to NT$1,200 for a two-hour soak. A stay overnight will set you back for as little as NT$2,300 per night.

Pause Landis is one of the more famous hotels in the area. Their public open air baths offer a gorgeous view of the river and jungle. It is known for its zen decor and modern design.

The Full Moon Spa is a favorite of mine. This beautiful hot spring hotel is decorated in gorgeous natural colors and cypress. Even the hot spring bathtubs are made of cypress! You can sit in the very lap of Mother Nature and relax while looking out at the gorgeous mountain scenery and river. Guests may also make full use of the sauna and steam room, as well as the separate hot springs that are divided by sex.

Wulai is accessible from the Taipei MRT Station. Take the MRT to Xindian Station on the red line. From there, it’s a short 40-minute busy ride on Bus 849. Wulai is the last stop on the line and it costs around NT$15 to get there from Xindian Station. You can also get there by taxi from Xindian MRT Station. The trip takes about 30 minutes and it will set you back NT$600.

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