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Taipei, Taiwan

2017 June 28
by Stanley Quan

5/20-5/22, 6/2-6/3

First stop (and last stop) of the trip was Taipei, Taiwan.

Taipei was all about the FOOD. First place to go upon landing was a night market, of course. I honestly imagined they would be bigger. But they were fun nonetheless with the large variety of food stalls and vendors. We sampled many foods on sticks, dumplings, and boba.

Over a few days, we seemed to just walk and eat all over the city, dining on some other Taiwanese staples like soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung’s birthplace, green onion pancakes, shave ice, pineapple cakes, and beef noodles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suffice to say, we left with full stomachs.

Besides the food, we checked out:

  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial- beautiful national monument steeped in history.
  • Maokong Gondola Ride- really cool trip up the mountain and above the trees. So green!
  • Elephant Mountain- hike was a lot steeper and strenuous than we anticipated, but had an awesome view of Taipei 101 as a reward at the top.

I also got a foot massage cause everyone seemed to be getting them. Bad idea. It probably has something to do with my feet in particular, but it was one of the most painful experiences of my life haha. Will not do again.

Another interesting experience had to do with language. Based on how I look, most people there tried speaking Mandarin to me. Though I understand and speak Cantonese much better, I did try to use my limited and rusty Mandarin. More often than not, I unfortunately had to end up with a “wo bu dong” (“I don’t understand” in Mandarin). It was a nice challenge in linguistics though.

Leaving Taipei the first time was quite frustrating due to a personal mistake. I’ll just say this: If you ever book a redeye flight, double, triple, quadruple-check the departure date and time!

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Walk, Snorkel, Eat, Repeat

2017 June 9
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Just got back from a two-week trip to Southeast Asia and recovering from jetlag. It was a much needed break from work and the day-to-day. International travel always gives me a spark – I see and do things that are new and different, and have to tap into challenges that aren’t typically available in everyday life, such as navigating new transit systems or communicating in new languages.

We walked, snorkeled, and ate our way through:

  • 5/20-5/22: Taipei, Taiwan
  • 5/23-5/25: Singapore
  • 5/25-5/27: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 5/28: Manila, Philippines
  • 5/29-6/1: Coron, Palawan Islands, Philippines
  • 6/2-6/3: Taipei, Taiwan

More highlights to come!

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Across the Pond

2017 May 19
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by Stanley Quan

I spent last weekend across the pond in London and came away loving the city!

It was a work-sponsored trip and it was cool to meet and hang out with co-workers that I don’t normally work with. Our hotel was in Kensington, a cute nice area with easy access to the tube.

The first thing that struck me was how green the city was. There are tons of trees, which was great and needed cause there were also tons of cigarette smokers everywhere.

I loved London because there was so much to do and it was really easy to get around, whether by foot or by public transport.

On my first day, I strolled around Kensington and Notting Hill and then also visited King’s Cross, which was a gorgeous train station that included the famous Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter, and also checked out Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.

At dusk, I went on a graffiti self-guided walking tour in East End, which might have been my favorite part of the trip. There was amazing graffiti art all over the streets. It just so happened to be happy hour, and we saw tons of people drinking beers on the street outside of pubs. Towards the end of our walk, we stumbled upon a park with a mini zipline and a nomadic community garden that definitely had Burning Man vibes.

Day two I checked out some of the city’s tourist sites with Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, River Thames, and the London Eye. The view from above was awesome.

A trip to London wouldn’t have been complete without Indian food, so we went to a restaurant named Punjab that’s been family run for four generations now! The owner was super friendly and we filled up on delicious food. One of their specialty items was Tandoori chicken brandy flambe which was a sight to see.

On my last full day, I took a tour of the Oxford University grounds, which are sprawling and beautiful, and filled with cool architecture. I saw were Bill Clinton’s first “white house” was, aka where he smoked pot and studied as a college kid.

I ate fish and chips for lunch for the second straight day and that dish is pretty underwhelming. Too much fried stuff!

Later in the day, we visited Stratford upon Avon, which is Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Closed out the trip by grabbing some great Greek food at Hungry Donkey, and grabbing a brew and playing ping pong at the Book Club bar.

All in all, I had a fantastic time exploring the city and hope to come back again soon. Cheers!

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Escape

2017 May 10
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It’s been a little over a year since I last traveled internationally and it’s about time to bring that back. As I leave America for pretty much the rest of the month, this quote I heard recently rings true:

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

England, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines here I come!

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Friendlier Skies

2017 March 23
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by Stanley Quan

In my current job, I have been flying Southwest every week.

After years of frequent travel on the other major airlines, Southwest has been a breath of fresh air.

There’s a very noticeable and palpable difference in the company’s service and personality.

All of the gate agents and flight attendants are friendly, nice, and have a good sense of humor. That tends to rub off on the passengers as well. People aren’t as cranky. People are more understanding and considerate towards their fellow travelers.

This makes the whole travel experience much better than what I was used to elsewhere.

It’s remarkable how a company culture can have such an impact that you can personally feel.

Air travel is still a hassle, but Southwest definitely does their part in making friendlier skies.

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