In the past month I’ve been inspired by success stories from publishing e-kindle books on sites like Patt Flynn’s blog and Meron Bareket’s blog . These sites are right up my alley providing free inspiring podcast’s with real stories from people that are making a good living using passive income methods. I even saw a success story on BBC new’s with someone making a six figure income writing their book over the weekend. The roadblock from getting started by what to write about and the motivation to actually get started and complete the process.
In the past several months I have seen a growing passive income from my stock footage on Pond 5 and Shutterstock. I’ve even recently discovered two on-line teaching platforms that let you create your own course and sell them. The first was Udemy, where I’ve created 2 travel video related courses that have generated some sales, and I have my Gopro video course being made for sale tomorrow. During this process I discovered another teaching platform owned by Shutterstock called Skillfeed. As these teaching platforms are non-exclusive I was able to leverage the same video content to create a course on Skillfeed without too much additional effort. I’ve made at least made a 3 figure US income in 1 month with 2 courses. With several revenue streams I was eager to find the next area on the Internet I could look at building some business.
With some E-book momentum I decided to start on the second title based on my two separate trips to New Zealand. During the first trip I made a series of blog posts I made from my trip in 2010 to the North and South Islands long before Chicvoyage. I’m lucky that it is still on-line as I’ve misplaced some of those pictures and wrote the blog post during that actual trip. The first 18 day trip takes us to such places as the Coromendel, Rotorura, the popular Tongariro Alphine Crossing, Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound, and Auckland.
The second trip took placed under completely different circumstances. I sold my possessions, sold my Acura TL, and my luggage in tow said goodbye to friends and family and left for my second solo filming journey to Auckland for 5 days. I stayed at a Airbnb paradise at the Te Atatu Peninsula with locals to experience life as a local and tap into their knowledge and explore local destinations such as Muriwai beach, Piha, and Waiheke Island.
If you’re curious on the adventure and experiences I went through and like great images and in depth detail on travel details like restaurant menu’s, flight airlines, places I’ve stayed, and revealing popular local destinations like Muriwai beach and Waiheke Island then this book may be for you.
Now onto the Kindle Process. I found there was a lack of information as the sites I Googled for their experience ended up trying to sell me something to help me become a master at this. I decided to just try it out. What did I have to lose?
The Kindle Process
1. The first step was to get the content together into a word document. In my case the raw content was already, but I had to get the content from several sources into one document.
2. Next go straight to the source and download the building your kindle guide from Amazon. This guide covers in great detail the paragraph settings and spacing, formatting for the title, picture standards and more things along those lines. I actually went ahead and created the e-book for New Zealand before looking at this guide. A mistakes as I ended up having to re-insert all my images, remove headers and footers, and many other changes to put my book in a Kindle friendly format.
3. Next I had I got some feedback on the book and cover from Pat Flynn’s Kindle Facebook group. I also emailed family and reached out to friends on Facebook. I got some responses and made some adjustments
4. Next I created a Kindle account on Amazon to provide my information, fill out a tax form, and start providing information on my title. I also downloaded a Kindle Viewer that mimics what your book will look like on different Kindle formats. I heard that this is a must if you don’t have a Kindle.
5. After the word document was in the Kindle format the guide will instruct you to save your document as an HTM file and zip the output. You will then upload this to Amazon
6. Once the upload is finished you have the option to view it with an on-line viewer. Once you click this you can go back and download a file that you can open on your kindle viewer. Note that you may have to download an add-on to get the viewer to work.
7. View your book using the kindle using different formats like Kindle Fire (color) and the black and white formats as well
8. You may find things you need to change. I had to change the table of contents as it looked like garbage on the kindle.
9. After I made the adjustments I had to go through step 5 again. Once this was done on the Amazon site I selected the pricing and whether I wanted to be part of their exclusive program.
10. Next I had to publish the course and then wait. I published it at around 3pm today and checked it at about midnight at it was live!
Whew, the process involved a lot of small steps, but the actual process of getting your files on-line to them publishing it was the same day in my experience. From here I wait to see how it does. If you’re interested in seeing the book there is a link on the picture below.
I’ve decided to spend some time to put together my first Travel Ebook based in Bondi Beach and Sydney Australia documenting my filming adventures.
For the past 4 years I have put out a lot of travel content from videos, blog posts, tweets, and facebook posts. Since making the decision to start my business and making the decision to follow my heart I have been on an interesting journey with many lessons. This journey has taken me to many countries and even as you read this I’m sitting in a café in Taipei, Taiwan putting together this e-book. I wanted to create a series of e-books to share some of these adventures and along the way inform and inspire you explore and travel. I’ve taken many risks such as leaving good corporate jobs twice in Vancouver to selling my apartment and by car. As this is the first e-book I’m sure the books will evolve so I thank you for your patience. We will start in Sydney, Australia and I can tell you I have enough stories and great footage for many more books in countries such as New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan and more. Let’s begin.
See great pictures of the popular Bondi beach and Sydney
See the surf cave where I based myself on airbnb and a direct link to the airbnb listing
Learn about the shocking prices and some survival tips
I provide some of the best spots to enjoy a beer with a view of the Opera House and Harbour bridge and take awesome footage
I share some of the Sydney nightlife
I share my story of how I made some new friends in Sydney
If you interested in a free copy enter in your email and you will be sent a free link to the e-book.
I had lived in Taipei, Taiwan almost a year and during this time I heard lots of positive things from locals about Kenting’s beaches and great weather. It was a 2-hour high-speed train ride and a 2-hour drive south of Taipei. I decided to travel there and see for myself. Kenting is located in the far South of Taiwan. We took the HSR from Taipei to the closest station in Kaosiung called Zuoying左營站. From there we rented a car and took a 2-hour drive down south to Kenting .
Tip: if you have internet on your phone use google maps for audio navigation
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We would have gotten lost if it wasn’t for google maps. The driver’s in Kaoshiung are terrible and you can expect cars to change lanes without signaling, tail-gating, and if you leave a car space in front of you some idiot will attempt to overtake you (by weaving in and out) by using that space.
We stayed at the Kenting Culture Resort, which provided a good value, free breakfast, internet, free water, free parking, and great customer service for about 2000nt a night. It wasn’t right by the beach, but it was quiet and a close drive to all the places we wanted to go.
Our first night we decided to take a 15 minute drive to a seaside hill called Guanshan 關山. I discovered it by accident while searching for the sunset time. I clicked on one of the pictures and found that CNN actually rated this viewpoint for one of he world’s best sunset views. Interesting.
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We drove to Guanshan shortly before sunset with my camera gear and drone. It was packed with people and mosquitos. The views are spectacular to say the least. I also discovered a viewpoint that wasn’t as crowded just a 5 minute walk west of the main viewpoint. We woke up early the next morning just after sunrise for a filming session at that secret viewpoint with no other tourists to compete with.
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After that we decided it was a good time to film the main street, which happens to be Pingtung night market墾丁大街 . I’ve seen a lot of night markets in my one year here. You will see your typical night market fare here as well. What is unique about this night market is that the night market is just on one large street that transforms from a regular street to a night market that you can easily cover in an hour. I could see some interesting accommodation on the second floors of this street and around the area, but could imagine how noisy it could get on most nights. The gem my friend introduced me to was the Mambo Thai restaurant near the end of the strip. It was probably the most authentic and best tasting Pad Thai I’ve had in my life for about 200nt. I’ll just let the picture speak for itself.
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Our hotel was conveniently located across from a famous baozi shop. A baozi is a steamed bun with some filling. This shop was serious about their baozi’s. They had a large selection on their menu and everyday you could watch the staff make them fresh from making the dough to preparing the filling wearing their surgical masks.
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After we decided to check out the lighthouse area and the most Southern point in Taiwan, which was about a 20-minute drive. We parked and walked down to what looked like a teashop for a break and drink. I must mention that the summer down here is blistering hot. The temperatures hover around the mid to high 30’s and the sun is intense. Expect to leave the car air conditioner on “full blast” and it’s a good idea to take regular cold drink breaks. They had an observatory platform to view the ocean. It was special to imagine being at the most southern point of Taiwan. There was still a short distance to walk to the shore, but we could see many tired people coming back that deterred us. We decided to get a coconut milk drink. This was no coconut drink from 7-11. This was the real deal with a straw right into the coconut with pure natural coconut milk. Delicious! We were lucky to get special access to see how he prepared the coconuts, which you may see on our video.
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It was a couple hours before sunshine and it was time for the secret beach known as Baisha (White sand beach). If you want to put it on goggle maps you need the chinese words for it (白沙彎) I had heard so much about. The sign into the beach was discreet and easy to miss. We drove down the driveway as we saw people coming out. We scored a free parking near the ocean and got our stuff. Before you enter the beach there were a couple of older looking Taiwanese women that you had to speak to if you wanted an umbrella and seats. I think it cost 200nt for the package. The beach was busy lined with umbrellas, Taiwanese girls in bikini’s, and local guys trying to dare each other to see who could walk closest to the ocean. I didn’t see any sign of any foreigners or anyone swimming. The sand was awesome, but the waves were really rough. We stayed until sunset. I wish I had a couple more days to enjoy that beach and just decompress.
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Our final stop was at the Houbihu Fishing Port to sample some of the fresh seafood. We had some trouble finding the right place, but there was a large building by the ocean near the wind turbines. We went to the second floor to skip the crowded uncomfortable seating area. I got a small order a sashimi for about 200nt, which is enough for one hungry person. The same amount would probably cost about 100-150nt more in Taipei. I had 3 different types. It was a delicious and inexpensive way to end our Kenting trip.
Next month will be my first year spent year living in Taipei, Taiwan. I think it’s a good time to reflect and share some of my experiences for those that are interested. In this article I’ll share the experience of learning chinese in Taiwan after 1 year and some useful tips.
I had a great experience in my second semester at Shida (aka Taiwan Normal University Mandarin Training Center MTC). The most important factor for me was I had a great teacher. Having spoken to numerous former Shida students this is a common explanation. To cut to the chase what are my thoughts on studying at Shida for 6 months:
As much as I hated the beginning it gave me a strong foundation in chinese
It was a good chance to make international friends and meet new people
It was a chance to revisit the college atmosphere
The program is time intensive
The teaching style is traditional old school in contrast to the western style which is more facilitative
The program at Shida provided provided a good foundation. A foundation that consisted of learning to read, write (pinyin, mps, chinese characters), and speak. Our classes were scheduled everyday for 2 hours with a chinese teacher with international students 8-10 students. The teacher spoke chinese about 70 percent of the time and English 30 percent of the time. The school in general attracted a diverse international student population. My first class had students from Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, England, and Italy. My second class had students from the US, Tibet, Germany, Indonesia, and Vietnam. This offers an interesting learning environment in the classroom as some students like those from Japan don’t speak much English, but are good at Chinese writing. Like my American and English classmates I found the most difficulty writing the Chinese characters.
The school uses the Practical Audio-Visual Chinese Second edition book. We started learning the Mandarin Phonetic Symbols (MPS) system, which are used to learn how to pronounce a word. We also learned the 5 tones, our introduction to Chinese characters, and the pinyin. I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Every lesson would introduce about 20 to 30 new vocabulary words. To learn a new word you would have to have knowledge of Chinese characters, MPS or pinyin. The Chinese that was taught was called traditional, which are the more complex characters taught in Taiwan. Mainland China uses mostly simplified characters.
When I say knowledge you need to know how to speak it, write it, and understand listening to it. I consider these different skills. After we learned the vocabulary we would get into the syntax and grammar patterns. We would receive a dictation test every week, which would test our knowledge or the vocabulary, how to write, as well as the tones of each word. Following the dictation we would receive a test of the chapter, which would require understanding Chinese by listening or reading it and responding to it the appropriate patterns.
I have to admit I was overwhelmed the first several weeks figuring out how to cope with the overwhelming information. The largest barrier for me was the Chinese writing, the syntax, and remembering the tones.
The style of teaching is more traditional and dependent on the teacher you received. My teacher in the first semester was a bit older and traditional. She encouraged a lecturing style that left little time for questions. The school in general heavily emphasized Chinese writing and grammar syntax.
In my first semester I met friends from my class and other friends that I met from friends. The age group tended to be mostly in the early to mid twenties. As someone in my mid thirties I was on the older side of the demographic, but there were a few that were my age group or older. Socially it wasn’t too difficult to make friends with English speakers.
Some students traveled to Taiwan alone to study and were interested to meet new people and local language exchange partners. Some students were interested from the Asian countries like Japan and Vietnam were studying together and tended to be very tight knitted. It was difficult to communicate with some students from Japan. I was fortunate that I met a good group form my first class and we get together occasionally to hang out.
I hated writing. I’m not to fond of handwriting in english to begin with. In the real world I do it to sign signatures, fill out the occasional forms, and make entries in my diary. In the real world we are mostly typing. Perhaps for some people you may learn to read characters by writing them out 10 times every day. I prefer to use flashcards on my iPhone Place to learn new characters. Anyhow I left Shida knowing the main characters, which I see in most words. For example: 大 (da) ，人 ，的 (de)，小 (xiao)，中 (zhong) , 個 (ge) 。In the real world if you remember the pinyin for these words you can type chinese on your phone.
Reading a paragraph or dialogue is intimidating when put on the spot. In my first class the Japanese students had an advantage and it showed. There were many times I felt helpless as I realized I was illiterate for some words. I wish the school wouldn’t do this to students. It’s cruel especially when students have different levels to begin of with. My preferred method of reading was to use flash cards and then see the words in different contexts like in the dialogue. Reading and pronouncing eventually helped the characters sink in.
We got to do some individual practice for patterns in class, and some individual practice with other students. There is not however a lot of rail conversation practice in the program and unfortunately not many students practice outside of class. You will find most of the english speaking students reverting back to english. I made an effort to speak even though I would make many mistakes and still do. I believe you have to make these mistakes to learn and practice speaking.
What Shida gave me
I left with some english speaking friends that live in Taipei
I got a foundation in chinese – tones, numbers, dates, greetings, pronouns, and most importantly some food.
Learned about good learning tools like Pleco
Learning Chinese since Shida
Continuing to study the Shida way
Since leaving Shida I have made an effort to learn Chinese experimenting with different methods. I continued to study Practical Audio-Visual Chinese Second edition book 2 (the orange one) from book 2 chapter 3 by myself. I would study the vocabulary with the pinyin and chinese characters and listen to the mp3 sometimes. I found after doing this from March – July I have picked up most of the vocabulary from book 2.
Watching Chinese Tv and Movies.
I tried watching American movies with chinese sub-titles. This didn’t work too well as the words appear to quickly. There is a lack of chinese movies with english sub-titles, which would be a better way to learn. I also took advantage of having access to local Taiwan cable tv and a satellite box that I won in a draw. I found that the disney channel on channel 23 in the mornings or the teenage shows at midnight to be the right level for me. I’m a big kid at heart so I still enjoy watching cartoons so and I found they talk slower and I’m able to pick up more. I managed to pick up some expressions by doing this.
Eavesdropping on conversations
I spend a lot of time at local cafe’s. This is a great environment to listen to natural social conversations from locals. You pick up some of the slang that they use. Eventually you begin to hear some of the same expressions being said that sticks. “對 啊“ (dui a = yeah!) ”不 可能“ (bu keneng = impossible). The beauty about Taipei is during your commute on the mrt or wherever you spend time you will be exposed to local conversation. If you pay attention you will soak in some mandarin.
Ordering food, shopping, getting a service
For myself this is probably that most effective method of learning. Live in Taipei long enough and you’re going to need to interact with locals out of necessity. Whether it’s making a reservation, a hair appointment, ordering coffee, taxi, or a dentist appoint you’ll need to figure out a way to communicate. Many times I would ask if you speak english 你 可以 說 英文 嗎？ ni keyi shuo yingwen ma? If they understand I would here (yi dian dian= a little). This would set myself up to speak chinese with some understanding from the speaker.
Lately I’ll just speak the chinese and see if they understand me. If they do I know they understand and give myself a pat on the back. If they don’t I’ll ask how to say this in chinese 中文怎么说？zhōngwén zěnme shuō.
If I don’t know a word I’ll use my handy app pleco to look up the words I need. I’ll listen to how to pronounce it and then try to say it with a local. I must admit it is frustrating when they don’t understand me, but I know this is part of the process.
Adding vocabulary through OCR
I add vocabulary whenever I see characters I’m curious about and see often where I hangout. If there is signage with english and chinese my pet peeve is that there is no pinyin, so I’lll use my app’s OCR to add the pinyin to my flashcard word bank.
This is very effective for practicing. The key to finding someone to practice with is that you need to have similar goals and that usually means the other person wants to practice english. It also works if you are at similar levels. It is ok if someone speaks a bit better english than your mandarin, but you will have a middle ground where you can both communicate. You also should enjoy hanging out so it feels natural. you should meet on a regular basis and obviously you should both practice speaking.
Hess pocket book
I recently started teaching engish at Hess. They give a pocketbook with provides english, pinyin, and chinese for teachers as a survival guide. They cover practical topics like bars, banking, hair salon, directions etc. It also comes with an MP3. I haven’t found a more practical educational resource to be honest. I’ve been listening to the mp3 on my commutes to work or look at the book when I eat by myself.
Technology to the rescue
I discovered some essential technology to help here. I downloaded the current version of google app. It still needs much improvement, but the technology is useful if you need some vocabulary on the go or if you receive a message in chinese characters and need some instance translation. Some usage scenario’s
Example 1: If I knew I going to rent a DVD or want to order a certain dish I didn’t have the vocabulary for I would look up the word in advance, the tones, pinyin, and listen to the pronunciation. I would then use the word with the storeowner to see if they understood.
Example 2: You receive a SMS message in chinese that you can’t read. Simply copy and paste into google translate to convert to English.
Another good app is called pleco, which has an chinese English dictionary and a really neat feature called OCR that lets you convert chinese characters to English with your smartphone’s camera.
These tools are useful as aids, but have not yet evolved to the point to eliminate the need to learn the language
At the one year mark I feel like I’m slowly making the climb from beginner-intermediate to intermediate. I can ask for things that I need independently most of the time.The most important being understanding a chinese menu, ordering, and understanding numbers. I can string together sentences and have basic conversations. Although I haven’t reached a level I’m happy with I’ve learned a lot more than I would being in Vancouver. Being immersed in the language in Taiwan has definately helped accelerate my chinese level. It is an empowering feeling when you are able to make an hair appointment or reservation in another language. At the moment I have started working so I’m struggling to find time. I get frustrated when a fluent english speaking Taiwanese person tells me my “chinese sucks”, but I’ll speak to a local that doesn’t speak much english telling my chinese is not bad for 11 months. So I think it’s relative to the person you are speaking with. There are some limitations to your social and professional opportunities because of the language, but this keeps me motivated.
My goal for the next 3 months is to improve my speaking and reading ability in common situations: asking for directions, applying for jobs, and social conversations. I’ve recently purchased a new book series recently published by the MTC so will add that to my learning approach. I try to remind myself this is a journey and to enjoy the experience here in Taiwan. From here I only move forward and opportunities open up the better my chinese gets. 加油！
Would you like to share your experience learning chinese in Taiwan?
Next time I’ll talk about these topics
Could I build a life and friends in Taipei and what adventures did I have ?
How did I survive and figure out the basics such as how to eat and find a place to live ?
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.!
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.
My local Taiwanese friend Serena told me about the Chinese New Year lantern festival. I looked at the official page and saw that it was held in Pingxi district on Valentines Day. I was debating for days whether to go or not due to the weather. I wasn’t even sure the lanterns would still be able to fly with the rain. I posted a message on their facebook page, and got a response that the lanterns would be able to fly! After watching some of the past pingxi videos I thought I could produce a quality video that was different from the ones in the past.
The weather websites forecasted heavy rain so I packed a large umbrella and our camera gear. We took the train from Taipei Main station to Ruifang and from there we transferred to Pingxi. I’m glad that Serena helped me because catching the trains to Pingxi was a confusing process due to train delays, mostly schedules in chinese, and misinformation. We met some people that were going there as well and pretty much followed them there.
It was heavy rain as predicted when we arrived about 20 minutes before 9pm. We purchased the rain suits to wear over our clothes. The show ended early around 9pm and we rushed to catch the last show. As we were nearing the site, we saw the last batch of lanterns go up without warning. We manage to catch some footage of them, but the wet conditions slowed me down. I had to use some past footage of the lanterns to keep the flow of the video
We were disappointed, but manage to find a tent where they were letting lanterns off individually. This was a blessing in disguise because it gave us an opportunity to talk to some people who were kind enough to talk about their lanterns. As you can see in the video the lanterns go up very quickly. The people we spoke to were genuine, and it was great to people to connect with them on a more intimate level.
It was miserable weather and with the weather it was very difficult conditions to film. However, the genuine happiness from the people we spoke to from the people we spoke to helped to lift our spirits.
We hope you enjoy this video that gives you a different perspective into the pingxi lantern festival than some of the videos in the past have.
– I have traveled to such cities in Asia such as Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Guangzhou. Of these cities in general I prefer the Taiwanese people. They are generally honest, trustworthy, respectful, and friendly. Coming from a western background I really appreciate these qualities that you cannot expect throughout Asia. I knew I was going to deal with a large language barrier gap, and with it a vulnerability that the Taiwanese wouldn’t try to take advantage of. Well at least I hoped.
Safe & clean
Generally Taipei is a very clean city. The upscale areas such as Xinyi tend to be the cleanest with some local suburbs still being clean, but not to the same extent. Public transport stations on their underground train (the MRT) are very clean. Coming from Vancouver and Singapore it is easy to take this for granted. The only danger I have experienced is while crossing the street looking out for crazy scooter and bus drivers, but generally you can walk in Taipei even until late at night without worrying about being in danger. After traveling to South Africa I appreciate the peace of mind and countries where I can look at my smartphone without being worried about being robbed.
The MRT system and facilities here are top notch. They use the contactless card for payment entry and the service is fast, extensive and reliable. Taipei is the only city I know that offers designated plug and usb outlets for charging phones and devices at their stations. Almost every station has a clean bathroom and well-labeled exits. Taipei also offers an easy to use bike rental program with quality equipment, plenty of bike stations for free 30 minute use.
– I knew Taipei was a modern developed city in Asia that offered a good standard of living, good transportation, and was an Internet friendly city.
– Geographically I like to think of Taiwan as the heart of Asia. It is nearby to Hong Kong, Shanghai, South Korea and not too far away from Malaysia, Japan, Phillipines, and In Indonesia.
Under 2 hours to Hong Kong
About 2 hours to Shanghai
Under 3 hours to Seoul, Korea
Low cost of living
compared to Western standards things like food, transport, and accommodation cost less. My private studio in Jingan apartment was small, but it was private and cost me close to $440 US dollars a month and included internet, washing machine, and furniture. I was also prepared to pay 21,000nt or $700US for my very first apartment in Jingan, but I quickly found out after arriving that this was too expensive. (太 贵 了！）
Home to Taiwanese beef noodles, Xiao long bao, bubble tea, and many other great foods. A good bowl of Beef noodles can be found for 90NT or $3US.
Canada had an arrangement with Taiwan called a working holiday visa. This was was relatively straightforward to obtain and allowed me to legally live, work, and study in Taiwan for up to a year. This isn’t available in every country and there are some age limit restrictions ranging from 35 to 30 depending on the country. The working holiday visa option was an amazing opportunity to gain a rich cultural experience. Read more about working holidays here.
Now that you know why I moved to Taiwan. In my next article I’ll share some experiences and what I have actually observed and learned from living and studying here in my first 3 months. Some things I’ll discuss:
How was the experience of learning chinese in Taipei at the MTC ?
Could I build a life and friends in Taipei and what adventures did I have ?
How did I survive and figure out the basics such as how to eat and find a place to live ?
Welcome to a series of posts where I’m going to share some of my experiences and what I’ve learned in my 4 months of living in Taiwan. Before we get started I’ll provide a little background and explain my reasons for relocating. You may be interested in this article if you are:
Interested in learning Chinese abroad
You are thinking of pursuing a working holiday and want to learn useful information on Taipei, Taiwan
Lifestyle redesign – You are tired of working a 9am to 5pm job and are curious if there is an alternative life you can create for yourself
You are a travel enthusiast and are curious about new travel experiences
Travel can be a life changing experience. My first trip to Europe led me to finally move out of my parents place in Vancouver, BC Canada at 29 years old and started me down a path of independence. 6 years and many trips later I sit in a cozy modern café near downtown Taipei listening to jazz music while I type this blog out. Travel opens your eyes and mind to the way that other people on this planet live. Sometimes we get stuck in the world that we live in and we forget that there are alternatives to what we know.
What I’ve found in the past two years of frequent travel is that visiting a place for 3 days to a week to visit and take pictures of tourist attractions was just scratching the surface. It was too rushed. It wasn’t as gratifying anymore. I felt that I was trying to cram everything in a short period to make the best use of the time. I felt that that I wasn’t really getting to know the city like a local. When you are working as an employee you think of travel as a vacation. Perhaps a 5 day trip to take a break from the 9 to 5pm before returning with tons of pictures and stories to share with friends and colleagues. I think this is the most common travel experience.
What if there was something else? Another way to experience travel other than visiting tourist attractions, hotels, tours and cramming in some parties for the weekend? What about relocating your life to learn the language of a foreign country for 3 months or longer? Perhaps you can even work a little and make some friends. If you’re interested to hear more then keep reading!
A little background
I arrived in Taoyuan airport Taipei on August 23 2013. To make my life a little easier I had arranged for a driver to take me to the apartment where I would be staying for a short while. I was driven to the suburb of Jingan in the district of Zhonghe, New Taipei City. The rain was coming down like a flood putting my electronic gear at risk. We pulled into an alley with older apartments and bar lined windows. We opened the metallic doors that led to a dark staircase. I was fortunate to have some help carrying my heaving luggage up those 5 flights of stairs. Finally we reached my apartment. I sank down on my bed and set my alarm for a short nap
It has been just over 3 months since I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan to study, live, and attempt to build a new life. I essentially traded a comfortable lifestyle in my home of Vancouver, BC Canada for some 2013 travel film adventures and this opportunity. I started off in Taipei with some suitcases, my dreams, a few contacts, and film content and gear.
This is one of the most popular questions that I am asked by people in Taipei and there are many reasons for my decision.
I will list my reasons for selecting Taiwan and what I have actually experienced in my 3 months here.
Learn Mandarin (chinese)
This was the probably the most important reason for me coming here. It was a long-term goal I’ve had for myself. I’ve tried to tackle learning mandarin through classes in Vancouver, Rosetta stone, podcasts, and spending time with my Taiwanese friends. My progress was dismal and I got my butt kicked by Mandarin. I’m a self-motivated person, but If I was to tackle this challenging goal I wanted to go all in and give myself a better chance. I’m sure there is more than one way to learn the language, but this is the path that I chose.
I also knew from my first visit that Taipei was predominantly a mandarin chinese-speaking city, which offered an opportunity to practice chinese daily.
My original plan was to live in a local area not to far away from school to force myself to interact with Chinese speaking locals.
Great school to learn Mandarin
Taipei was also home to the Mandarin Training Center run by the National Taiwan Normal University Mandarin Training Center. Wikipedia claims that MTC is one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished programs for Chinese as a second language. I had a friend that had lived and learned mandarin at the MTC better known locally as “Shida”, which is how I found out about the school
Taiwanese friends and previous exposure to Taiwan and culture
– One of my best friends Allen, is Taiwanese. We met in Vancouver and I eventually became more immersed in the Taiwanese culture there. He had introduced me to some local friends of his, which would definitely help get my start in a new country.
Prior Visit This is a continuation from the previous point. In January 2012 Allen invited friends and myself for his wedding in Taipei. Prior to my visit I really didn’t know what Taiwan was like. I think this visit was influential to my decision and minimize the uncertainty I had about Taiwan. As I know not everyone will have this opportunity hopefully I can remove some of that uncertainty for you through my blog and I also shot a modern travel adventure documentary on Asia entitled ChicVoyage in Asia for sale.