Dancing grass – Yilan, Taiwan

yilan taiwan dancing grass
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur originally from Vancouver, Canada

The day after my birthday celebration my local friend and I met at the Taipei Mrt station of Guting at 8:30am. From there we caught our hour and half train ride out to Yilan. Prior to this trip a couple of locals mentioned that Yilan had natural beauty.

I did’t have time to plan as I usually do, but my friend had a chance to speak to my other local friends to give us some guidance. (Thanks Tina and Riwen).

We decided to get some brunch at a vegetarian buffet near the train station. For 100nt we had a delicious veggie buffet. All the good dishes started to come out at lunch. After we decided to rent a car nearby for about 1300nt for the day. Public transport is not as extensive as Taipei and we were there just for day for heavy camera gear so we thought the car would be handy. We rented a 4 door mini automatic car with a 1.3 liter engine that was capable of 100km/hr. Good enough. Armed with my iPhone, google maps, and a 3g internet connection from taiwan mobile we eventually settled on our next stop at plum blossom lake.

On our ride we passed by western style houses with green dancing grass that reminded me of areas in Bali. It was nice just to see western houses in Taiwan, which I haven’t seen in a year. Plum blossom lake has a flower shaped lake. It started raining hard so we took shelter by a food stand with a delicious lean pork grass wrap. Look at the pics they so more than I can do than words.

After we went drove up to the Sancing temple which took 15 minutes. I drove as close as I could to the temple and was happy to get free parking. It featured an awesome view of the lake and city. The temple itself was impressive and reminded me of the Forbidden city architecture especially with the animals on the roof. With my friend Serena sheltering me and my camera I managed to get some footage. the rain quickly stopped and cleared up. The weather in Taipei and Yilan changes very frequently throughout the day in May.

We had already used up most of our day and had just enough time to make it to the Su-ao area. We managed to take some pics of the Su-ao cold springs and the Su-ao port for some great shots. We rushed back to the car rental to catch our train and passed by the Luodong Night Market.

As I wrap up this blog I realized that Yilan will require more time to fully appreciate its beauty and what it has to offer. Special thanks to Serena for making the trip happen.!

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Bali Indonesia – an experience in words and media

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur originally from Vancouver, Canada

May 12 2014

Bali is a good travel destination if you’re in search of tropical vacation and are already in Asia. The prices aren’t too expensive, food is good, and there are interesting cultural experiences. Beyond Bali there are many other destinations in Indonesia. For example, the Komodo islands are home to good diving and the komodo dragons.

Our plan was to visit Bali Indonesia and head over to the Komodo Islands to visit the mythic Komodo dragons.
We stationed ourselves in the proclaimed upscale area of seminyak, bali. My friend and I were happy with the the modern spacious loft from Clio . It is a great value and great location. I spent many hours and days researching  accommodation in Seminyak so you can take my recommendation and save yourself the time if you like.
The area of Seminyak was not as luxurious as I had imagined in my mind. True there were upscale and trendy shops, but compared to Yaletown Vancouver Seminyak is still undeveloped. It is an experience dealing with the high figures like 100,000 rp for a massage, 20,000rp for Bintang bear, 80,000rp for sun beds by the beach for 2 people all day.

If you are in Seminyak the Seminyak square was the central landmark in town and where most of the restaurants, shops, and bars were. I recommend trying out a massage as they are a good value compare to  North america.

The trendy Ku de Tah bar that I had heard so much about was not that much further away from Seminyak Square. First we decided to walk to the beachfront. We decided to detour in a hotel resort, which was pretty luxurious and gave us access to the beach. After we went to the Ku De Tah. It had no cover and it was surprisingly trendy, family friendly, and hip at the same time. A DJ played music in the background as my friend and I ordered an overpriced weak cocktail and sat by the beach.

To get around it is a good idea to hire a driver. Our car broke down after getting our sim car and had to get another taxi back to the hotel. Make sure you negotiate your cab fare first as we made the mistake of getting in and finding out we were overcharged once we arrived at the hotel. There was a huge argument between us, the driver, and the hotel who had organized the driver. In the end the hotel covered the fare, which I think is fare. Anyhow, lesson learned take only bluebird taxis and negotiate the fare before you get in. Getting a sim card for my unlocked phone was also super difficult, and almost not worth the trouble to get connected. The day after I got my sim card it ran out of data. The sim card vendors don’t speak english and we had to rely on our driver for translation. Even then something obviously got lost in translation.

We salvaged the day by checking out the Legian beach, which is between Seminyak and Kuta. The beach sand is not that great, but it is bearable and the waves were decent enough for surfing. There are some good choices for lunch near the beach and the sunset was spectacular.

Later that night we decided to sample the Kuta night life. We saw the memorial dedicated to the tourists who were killed during the terrorist bombing incident. This is the central part of the strip where you will be see rows of bars all down the street. We found all the bars pretty tacky with watered down drinks. The most interesting bar was the Reggae themed Apache Reggae bar which had live reggae music where the crowd could dance and have a seat.

The next day our driver picked us up. We asked to go to the cultural town of Ubud, see some rice terraces, and go to the Mother Temple of Besakih. This took up our entire day. The highlight for me was the a coffee tour we got to see the kopi luwak coffee. It is the boutique coffee that is made from the poop of a cat. We got to see how the coffee was made and sample it after. In the same area we got to see some rice terraces.

Many hours later we arrived at the mother temple. We had to purchase a sarong, which I later found out was a rental fee as they take it back. The sarongs were 300,000rp I believe so try bring your own. We got a good guide who took us right to the top. The weather wasn’t too great but we made it to the mother of all temples in Bali!

Next: I talk about our journey from Bali to the town of Labuan Bajo where I’ll do some scuba diving and we go in search of the Komodo dragons.