Kaohsiung has a lot of parks. Which is fantastic. Living in a city, both Emily and I love them and the convenient outdoors green spaces they bring. Lucky for us, Anja and Kevin were able to point us in the direction of many of the best during our stay in the south of Taiwan. Whether wandering around the Lotus Pond or ambling our way around Weiwuying park, we were never too far from nature despite the high rise environment we were based in. With plenty of amazing local delicacies just waiting for us to walk enough to gain an appetite (from savoury beef noodle to peanut butter mochi stuffed waffles) we made sure we got out and about as often as we could!
If you go in through the dragon and out through the tiger you get good luck 🤷
During our stay in Taiwan Liam and I were based in Kaohsiung where Anja, my best friend from university, is currently living. Since she was working during the weekdays while we were over, we decided that we should take a few days and go check out the capital city of Taipei. This island nation has an impressive rail network and we were able to take the high speed rail from Kaohsiung to Taipei in two hours! Mind you, we only took it the one way. The 4-6 hour journey regular train is far more friendly on the wallet.
We didn’t manage to get a picture of the trains in action but here’s what Taiwan’s HSR looks like
BBQ, dim sum, noodles, drinks, board games and catching up. A ferry to Cijin Island, mooching around local markets trying different street food, walking stretches of black sand beaches and climbing to a lighthouse viewpoint. Our first 24 hours in Taiwan was everything me and Emily wanted. Seeing Anja and meeting her boyfriend Kevin was of course top of the agenda for Emily on this trip through Asia and luckily for us it meant we got the inside scoop on all the best places to eat and things to do in Kaohsiung and beyond.
Our final destination on this fabulous change of plan trip to Korea was the capital city, Seoul. We hopped off of the budget bus we took from Jeonju (which was still such a remarkably nice bus compared to the ones we’ve been taking recently) and headed straight to the Dongdaemun design plaza. A remarkable space located right on a metro line. The sleek and futuristic metal sheeted buildings and surrounding sculptures make a perfect playground for any photographer. So many different angles and lights to capture! There are places to eat and shop both inside and out of the buildings making it even more enticing to stick around this area for a while. A space also exists inside one of the buildings where designers can display their projects or set up shops to sell their goods. It’s an amazing place to find something unique and special. A center for arts and culture is one of the best things to have at the heart of any city and I’m glad we got to see this one in Seoul.
After arriving in Jeonju and dropping off our bags at our guesthouse, Emily and I decided to enjoy the last few hours of the day and headed out to see the famous lotus lake at Deokjin Park. A spot for romantic walks with your partner, there were loads of Korean couple enjoying the evening. We strolled around the lake, looking at the mass of brown in the middle. It is of course nearing the end of autumn and all of the flowers are gone! Still, it was a lovely stroll and we got to see loads of lotus pods…
We decided to come to Gwangju because it was a spot between Busan in the south where we had already been and Jeongju further north where we were heading next. Plus the flight from Jeju to Gwangju was £34 for the two of us. It was a no brainer. We weren’t expecting anything special really, but still did a quick search to find out what to see and do while we were here.
Jeju is a beautiful, but surprisingly big island. As with all islands, the coastal beauty is scattered in every direction, meaning that wherever you stay you are likely to end up doing a fair amount of transit if you want to see everything! With the price of renting a car vs the low cost of public transit, Emily and I decided to use the many bus routes to visit everything we wanted to. We did learn on our first morning however, that when trying to work out transfers on country buses (which often run late) you need to be prepared to be flexible with your itinerary!
The first day in a new country is usually a tad hectic. You have to get through immigration, buy a new SIM card, figure out transit, find your accommodation, etc. It can be a challenge. Despite this and feeling pretty exhausted on our 1am flight, Liam and I took one look at the sunrise over Busan as we descended and were ready for it.
Our last stop in Vietnam was all about getting away from the city of Hanoi and resetting ourselves ready for the chaos we imagined super industrialised Korea would bring! Emily and I headed to the mountains and a homestay 8km outside of Sa Pa for fresh air, trekking, altitude and a much slower pace of life for 3 nights.
Planning out trekking routes with a mountain doggo
Our first day in Hanoi we hit the ground running. The bus dropped us off near our hostel around midday and after checking in we headed out to discover the old quarter! Liam took over navigating duties for this busy city after I almost had a bit of a panic attack trying to get us around Saigon, and I’m so glad he did because we were both able to enjoy the city so much more. Train Street is a famous stop amongst those who travel to this city. In the alleys lining the train tracks are various cafes and shops tourists can wander around until a train comes by. Shop owners fold up tables and chairs while tourists line against the wall to feel the rush of the train whizz by. Pretty exciting stuff! So when we arrived and found railings and guards informing us that it was closed we were pretty bummed. We still managed to get one picture at this famed spot before moving on.
Without the cafes it could just be any old train street