Ending our Selfishness in Korea

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Ahn-yong haseyo – Mrs. Selfish and I are once again in South Korea! It feels like we haven’t been here in a long time, but when I check the calendar we were just in Seoul 1.5 years ago.

Of course, a lot has happened since then – we visited 14 countries, drove cross country with all of our worldly positions to San Francisco, and generally tried to find a new normal that doesn’t involve packing our bags every few days.

So why are we back in Korea? Many reasons.

For one, Mrs. Selfish and I love Korean food. We’re also interested in exploring South Korea more since we’ve only been to Seoul, and only for 5 days at that. I have a decent idea of what China, Japan, and Taiwan are like, but South Korea is still somewhat of a mystery though.

Here’s the biggest reason though:

Mrs. Selfish is 5 months pregnant!

Continue reading

About these ads

Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 2

Tags

, , , ,

This is the final post on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

While the Eternal Sunshine Spring was my favorite walk in Taroko Gorge, there was still tons to see in the area. Unfortunately, many of the walks, including the popular Swallow’s Grotto, were closed due to recent rock slides. Still, there was plenty to see.

The Baiyang Waterfall Trail

The Baiyang Waterfall Trail was one of the longer trails we hiked in Taroko Gorge, and took roughly an hour and a half to complete. The walk is very easy, and affords you some nice views along the way.

The entrance to the park is located by the road, and starts with a very long walk through a man-made tunnel.

Continue reading

Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 1

Tags

, , , ,

This is the tenth of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

Mrs. Selfish and I departed Green Island, heading North to the Taroko Gorge National Park.

One of Taiwan’s premiere natural tourist attractions, the park is named after it’s magnificently large gorge. While the gorge itself is quite beautiful, it is also quite dangerous. When we were there several of the trails were closed due to rock slides, which is apparently a fairly common occurrence.

Totally worth the (slight) risk, however. Check out the views!

Continue reading

Green Island’s Sites

Tags

, , , , , ,

This is the ninth of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Green Island is a beautiful, if strange tourist trap. While there are tons of things to do, there are a lot of “pre-packaged” activities that you gain access to by booking virtually any hotel on the island.

Case in point, thanks to our stay at Jack’s Inn, we had the choice of getting around on a scooter or electric bike (both of which we flubbed). We also had access to a snorkeling excursion or the hot springs.

While I’m normally a huge fan of water sports, the snorkeling on Green Island was weird. Really weird.

What was going on wasn’t apparent to us at first, but we later determined that snorkeling is a led expedition. And by led, I mean you’re basically given snorkel gear and a mandatory life ring and you swim very closely to a other dozen people. Say what?!

Perhaps there were better snorkeling expeditions, but the free one certainly wasn’t for us. Fortunately, there are other things to do on Green Island.

Continue reading

Heading to Green Island

Tags

, , , ,

This is the eighth of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

After 4 days in Taipei, Mrs. Selfish and I packed our things and boarded a train bound for Taiwan’s Green Island. Located 21 miles off of the South Eastern coast of Taiwan, Green Island is a tiny island with a driving circumference of roughly 19 kilometers.

It’s a remote, beautiful island that’s pretty difficult to get to. Green Island has an airstrip with a few daily flights and a ferry which leaves from the main island a few times a day depending on the season.

It’s also a huge tourist trap, with few businesses, save those that cater to Taiwanese tourists. Despite these problems, however, it is beautiful and well worth a visit if just for a day trip.

Continue reading

Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Sweet Edition

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

This is the seventh of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

It turns out we did so much eating in Taipei that I couldn’t fit all of the restaurants into one post. If you missed it, yesterday’s post talked about our favorite savory restaurants in Taipei. Today’s will focus on the sweet side.

Boba Tea at the Chun Shui Tang Teahouse

One of Taiwan’s most famous exports, boba milk tea (or pearled milk tea) has swept the States in popularity. If you are Asian or have Asian friends, chances are you’ve tried this dish.

Continue reading

Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Savory Edition

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

This is the sixth of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

Taipei is known as a mecca for cheap, delicious food. While I touched on some of the Night Market eats on Thursday, in today’s post I’ll talk about some of the better brick-and-mortar restaurants we visited.

These restaurants were more expensive than night market stalls, but they were still insanely cheap: $195 TWD (~$6.50 USD) for the cheapest meal, and $506 TWD (~$16.60) for the most expensive.

Keep in mind this was for two people and you get a sense of just how cheap good dining can be in Taiwan. Now on to the eats!

Beef Noodle Soup

A well known Taiwanese dish – braised beef is served with noodles in a slowly cooked broth with thinly sliced green onions. On the surface it sounds very similar to Japanese ramen, but Beef Noodles are a horse of a different color.

We tried this at two different restaurants: Yong Kang Beef noodle, and Tao Yuan Street Beef Noodle.

Yong Kang Beef Noodle

About a 5 minute walk from the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Yong Kang Beef is a simple little sit down joint that offers a variety of different soups.

Continue reading

Hiking Elephant Mountain

Tags

, , , , , ,

This is the fifth of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

Since our Selfish Year abroad, Mrs. Selfish and I have become bigger and bigger hikers. Not the kind that will strap on a backpack and spend a week in the great outdoors, however.

Typically we quantify a walk by the time spent walking vs. the payoff. Oftentimes this means we’ll end up walking for hours at a time, with nothing to see. Other times, we’ll find that a mere 15 minutes off the beaten path thins out the crowds and gets you some amazing views.

This is the case with Elephant Mountain, where a 15 minute up-hill hike yields the quintessential view of Taipei.

Aw yeah.

Continue reading

Taking it to the Streets: Taipei’s Night Markets

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

This is the fourth of eleven  posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

I’ve heard a lot of city food scenes described as high end, middle ranged, or low-end. One of the reasons Mrs. Selfish and I love to travel is for the food. Unfortunately, my tastes are rooted firmly in the low-end to mid-range side of the food spectrum, so cities are often hit or miss.

Paris, as great as it is, doesn’t do a lot for me food wise. Most of the best options are Michelin starred type deals, with $40+ entrees and a dress code to match. The first time Mrs. Selfish and I traveled there we largely got by on Paninis, crepes, baguettes, and croissants.

So I was very excited to come to Taipei, home of the humble night market. While we marked more than 6 night markets on our map, we only hit up two of them due to time constraints.

Tong Hua Night Market

Just a 10 minute walk from the Grand Hyatt Taipei and Taipei 101, Tong Hua Night Market is a small, intimate night market specializing mostly in food stands.

The eats here are seriously cheap, and start for as little as $20 TWD (~$.66 USD). You can literally find a delicious, hot meal for 2 people for less than $6 USD. Plus, it’s good. Really good.

Continue reading

Sweating to Taipei’s National Sites

Tags

, , , , , , ,

This is the third of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

  • Time for Taiwan: An Introduction
  • 5 Nights at the Haunted Grand Hyatt Taipei
  • Sweating to Taipei’s National Sites
  • Taking it to the Streets: Taipei’s Night Markets
  • Hiking Elephant Mountain
  • Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Savory Edition
  • Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Sweets Edition
  • Heading to Green Island
  • Green Island’s Sites
  • Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 1
  • Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 2

Taiwan is a tropical Asian country, which means it is often hot and rainy – especially in the summer. I knew this before we planned the trip, but somehow managed to repress that knowledge in light of great award availability. Somehow, in my mind the fact that May wasn’t *quite* the Summer meant that it would be cool and dry.

Unfortunately, I was totally wrong. While the temperature only hit the lower 80’s during our stay in Taipei, it managed to rain nearly the whole time.

Despite the less-than-perfect weather, however, I would highly recommend walking around Taipei. There are tons of free sights, and they are all worth visiting.

The National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

A memorial hall formed to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, one of modern China’s greatest leaders. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was China’s first president, and played a key role in overthrowing the Qing dynasty.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is pretty unique in Chinese history in that he is revered by both Communist Chinese and the more democratic Chinese who fled to Taiwan after the Communist party came into power.

The main part of the hall was packed with Chinese & Taiwanese tourists who were there to pay their respects (or perhaps to escape the rain).

Continue reading

5 Nights at the Haunted Grand Hyatt Taipei

Tags

, , , , ,

This is the second of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

  • Time for Taiwan: An Introduction
  • 5 Nights at the Haunted Grand Hyatt Taipei
  • Sweating to Taipei’s National Sites
  • Taking it to the Streets: Taipei’s Night Markets
  • Hiking Elephant Mountain
  • Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Savory Edition
  • Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Sweets Edition
  • Heading to Green Island
  • Green Island’s Sites
  • Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 1
  • Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 2

Since achieving Hyatt diamond status, I’ve tried to maximize our travel returns for international trips – booking high quality, low ranked Hyatt properties. We had amazing luck getting the Park Hyatt Istanbul, a category 4 property, for the cash & points rate back in February, so I was excited to see what other properties we could visit.

While Hyatt has a relatively small footprint in Europe (basically just London & Paris, with a few other locations on the continent), it has a HUGE footprint in North Asia. Surprisingly, this doesn’t extend to Taiwan.

While Japan, China, South Korea, and Hong Kong are loaded with Hyatts, Taiwan only has the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Topping several haunted hotel websites, the Grand Hyatt Taipei is rumored by locals to be built on top of a WW2 prison camp, and is said to have wandering spirits.

With 15 hours of jetlag between us and home, a few restless spirits were not going to stop Mrs. Selfish and I from getting a good night’s rest as long as the hotel delivered!

Continue reading

Time for Taiwan: An Introduction

Tags

, , , , ,

This is the first of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:

  • Time for Taiwan: An Introduction
  • 5 Nights at the Haunted Grand Hyatt Taipei
  • Sweating to Taipei’s National Sites
  • Taking it to the Streets: Taipei’s Night Markets
  • Hiking Elephant Mountain
  • Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Savory Edition
  • Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Sweets Edition
  • Heading to Green Island
  • Green Island’s Sites
  • Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 1
  • Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 2

I never thought I’d get that “home” feeling back, but now that all of our stuff is here our tiny SF place finally has that good ol’ home feeling. We have a base. As a nomad, it’s certainly a strange feeling – I both miss here when I’m not here, and want to leave when I’m here for too long.

But we have traveled! After a year of dedicated traveling we have taken nearly a dozen trips since we’ve acquired said home – at least 4 of which were international. First to the Maldives & Okinawa last November, and then to Istanbul & Tanzania this past February.

So now it’s Time for Taiwan and Greece. We went to both countries back in June, and this was perhaps our craziest trip in recent memory. This was the first time we have actually crossed the globe in one trip. It was also the first time I’ve experienced travel fatigue in a long, long time.

I attribute the fatigue to two things: 1) the “hominess” I mentioned above and 2) fast, fast, FAST! travel.

triplethejetlagfor120000miles

Lots of legs of travel. Lots of mistakes. We spent 11 of those 23 days were spent traveling which is a lot of room for error. We changed time zones 3 times over the course of this trip which meant the first 4 days after any long haul were a bit of a blur.

Continue reading

Summer is Coming: Heading to Ireland and Croatia

Tags

, , , ,

Quiz time! I bet you knew that Mr. Selfish was a big nerd, but did you know that MRS. Selfish was a big nerd too?

Yes, she’s taken her fair share of stupid pictures – I should say the lion’s share, actually, but does that really make her nerdy?

In a crazy twist, Mrs. Selfish is actually a HUGE fan of Game of Thrones. As in, she not only watches the show, but she reads the books too!

Game of Thrones!

Continue reading

Hippo Serenade: Sleeping at the Lake Masek Tented Camp

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

This is the last of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

For our last night in Africa, Mrs. Selfish and I stayed at the Lake Masek Tented Camp, a group of permanent tents on the shores of Lake Masek.

Masek Tented Lodge 017

Unlike our accommodations at the Ndutu Under Canvas Safari Camp, the Lake Masek Tented Camp is a permanent lodge – where the “tents” are built on wooden platforms. The main lodge is pretty modern, with modern plumbing, wifi, and unlimited free booze.

Continue reading

Giraffe for Breakfast? Day 2 at the Ngorongo Park

Tags

, , , , , , ,

This is the eleventh of twelve posts on our safari in Tanzania. Check out our other posts here:

After an adrenalin-packed day at the Sergenti, it was back to the Ngorongo National Park. Having watched the lioness showdown with the herd of buffalos, the previous day I was pretty sure it was all downhill from there. Boy was I wrong.

Ngorongoro Park Day 2 041

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175 other followers