I’m going to India – Incredible India!

I’m going to India!

I’m off to India!

Indiaaaaaa!

OMG!

INCREDIBLE INDIA!

The Taj Mahal in India.

I’m betting that most of my readers have never been to India, and probably have no plans to either.

But.

For the next few months weeks, I’ll be showing you that if you’re interested in visiting India.

I mean, reaaaaaaally interested.

You can.

Victoria outside the Amer Fort in Jaipur – India ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my about me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a corporate job in Germany, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

What I mean to say is that I live a normal life. Just like you.

I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

I have a full-time job. Just like you.

And by god.

I have a daily budget.

Absolutely.

Just like you.

And for those of you who are over 30 (ahem!).

This blog and the next couple of months weeks, is for you.

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to do anything drastic if you want to afford a life of travel.

You don’t have to choose between having it all and having nothing at all, and you definitely don’t have to quit your lifestyle!

India isn’t easy, but if you want to go there.

You can!

Two hours later, my hotel room in India suddenly appeared!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

For the next couple of months weeks, I’ll be breaking down posts into simple categories such as:

  • How you don’t have to backpack around India if you don’t want to
  • India for first-timers
  • What to pack for India
  • How to book trains and cars in India
  • How to arrange hotels in India. By yourself!
  • What to eat / what not to eat
  • How to get a travel phone / sim card, in India
  • Family travel for India
  • How to be safe and healthy in India
  • Travel scams in India
  • A break-down of the best Indian cities to travel to

Mit wem, man auf Deutsch, sprechen kann – mein Mann – Frank Böster – Bitte klicken Sie hier!

And of course, if you’re really nervous, I offer a consultancy, and can help you organise or advice you on many parts of your trip to India! For more info, click here!

WHY IS VICTORIA GOING TO INDIA?

India

Funny you should ask ‘cos I’ve been to India before.

Thirteen (13) years ago!

And I have to tell you.

I’ve got mixed feelings about it!

I travelled solo and I was there for a month.

I went to North India and I really liked it and enjoyed it enormously.

But I didn’t love it!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

And if I don’t like a place, I’m certainly going to tell you!!

I went to Rajasthan and saw tigers on safari at the Ranthambore National Park, adored the beautiful lakes at Udaipur, chuckled at the wedding cake cinema at Jaipur, licked and tasted camel ice-cream in Pushkar, rode elephants in Jodhpur, went camel-riding in the sandy desert of Jaisalmer, danced to the music of Bollywood, delighted in the openness of the local people, licked my fingers at authentic Indian food, and marvelled at the wonderful amazing-ness of the Taj Mahal.

India is awesome!

It was awesome!

However, road traffic was mad and over-whelming, the noise was deafening, the dirt and grime was disgusting, the River Ganges at Varanasi was not only filthy, but I actually saw a bloated dead body being dragged across the water by a dog!

The beggar children were heart-breaking, the overnight train was horrific that I couldn’t sleep a wink, and the food-poisoning that I caught from stale / under-cooked eggs at a 5-star hotel restaurant was so awful, that my skin colour actually turned grey!

That wasn’t good news!

I’m sorry, but India’s Holy River Ganges in Varanasi is utterly filthy!

In fact, I was so exhausted by the shopkeepers and city of Delhi that for the only time in my life, I actually wanted to go home!

I stuck it out though, but was thrilled to be able to fly away, and leave it all behind me.

Eek!

WHERE IS VICTORIA GOING?

In my eyes, the best of India means Rajasthan!

Well, I wanted to show my family, otherwise known as – The Music Producer and The Tall Young Gentleman, the best of India.

In my eyes that means Rajasthan.

RAJASTHAN

Rajasthan – Land of Kings

Rajasthan literally means “Land of Kings” and is a state in the north-western part of India.

Rajasthan is 342,239 square kilometres or 132,139 square miles and is the largest state in India and the seventh largest by population!

Rajasthan is famous for the Thar Desert, otherwise known as the Rajasthan Desert and the Great Indian Desert, and shares a controversial border with Pakistan!

Rajasthan is surrounded by five Indian states such as the Punjab in the north, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the northeast, Madhya Pradesh in the southeast, and Gujarat in the southwest. It is also very famous for the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilisation, the Dilwara Temples, Rajasthan’s only hill station – Mount Abu, the Keoladeo National Park, three (3) national tiger reserves – the world-famous Ranthambore National Park, the Sariska Tiger Reserve, and the Mukundra Hill Tiger Reserve!

The capital and largest city is Jaipur.

We’ll not only be going to Rajasthan, but also the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), otherwise known as Delhi, the northern state of Uttar PradeshAgra – and the capital city of the state of MaharashtraMumbai – otherwise known (up till 1995) as Bombay!

So let’s see where I’ll be going.

I feel like making dreams come true – Hello India!

We’ve only got two (2) weeks so we’ll be going to:

  • Delhi
  • Agra
  • Jaipur
  • Pushkar
  • Udaipur
  • Mumbai

Phew!

IF INDIA DOESN’T BREAK YOU, IT’LL MAKE YOU STRONGER ‘COS INDIA IS HARD!

You can’t keep me away from India’s beautiful Taj Mahal!

So how is it that I’m going back to India?

Again?

And to some of the very same places too!

?!!!?!

Ha! Ha! Ha!

I’m totally mad!

But I’m doing it anyway LOL!

Perhaps India has changed!

Well, thirteen (13) years ago is a long time, and perhaps India has changed.

I know I have.

I’ll be going to Rajasthan again but as I said above, I’ll only be focusing on Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur and Mumbai.

I’ll also personally be doing all the planning and organising.

Gulp!

And this time I won’t be backpacking.

I won’t be taking any bumpy chicken-buses.

I won’t be going as cheap as chips.

I won’t be visiting Varanasi.

And I won’t be taking the over-night Indian train!

Who doesn’t like an exciting adventure?

Well, follow me over the next few months, and find out!

And if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see all the daily details, the lost luggage, the Delhi-Belly story, and others!

So  what are you waiting for?

‘Rah! ‘Rah!

I’M GOING TO INDIA – INCREDIBLE INDIA!

At the Ranthambore National Park, India.

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the incredible time in India that I’m hoping to have, are my very own!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

A street food snack in Delhi – India ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

I’m going to India – Incredible India!

Have you ever been to India? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part II

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience - Part II
Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part II

So last week, I introduced you to a little bit of why I went to visit Taiwan.

And this is why I did so:

Taiwan is all in the news at the moment, so visit sooner rather than later, before it gets all complicated! 

ANY IDEAS OF WHAT I SHOULD DO WHEN I GET TO TAIWAN?

Being in Taiwan was a slow cultural solo trip!
Being in Taiwan was a slow cultural solo trip!

I only went for five (5) days and based myself in Taipei, so this was a sloooooow cultural solo trip.

Taipei is home to various world-famous architectural or cultural landmarks which include:

Taipei 101 Observatory - The world's tallest building in 2004!
Taipei 101 Observatory – The world’s tallest building in 2004!
The 228 Peace Memorial Park ©Ryan G
The 228 Peace Memorial Park ©Ryan G
Making new friends under the glowing lanterns of the Mengjia Longshan Temple, in Taipei!
Making new friends under the glowing lanterns of the Mengjia Longshan Temple, in Taipei!
Tea culture in Taiwan!
Tea culture in Taiwan!
Yangmingshan National Park ©taiwan.net.tw
Yangmingshan National Park ©taiwan.net.tw
Paintbrushes, stencils, and ink, ready for the Pingxi Sky Lantern experience, in Taiwan!
Paintbrushes, stencils, and ink, ready for the Pingxi Sky Lantern experience, in Taiwan!
  • Pingxi

There really is plenty to do, and I wrote 16 brilliant reasons all about it! 

Schoolgirls in Taiwan for the Pingxi Sky Lantern experience!
Schoolgirls in Taiwan for the Pingxi Sky Lantern experience!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Taipei is easy to navigate using public transport.
Taipei is easy to navigate using public transport.

Taipei is easy to navigate.

Taxis are cheap and so is public transport.

The trains were easy to navigate and use, and were cheap, costing just NT$20 (Taiwanese dollars) or €0.60 cents per short hop journey!

Single journeys in Taipei cost just NT$20 (Taiwanese dollars) or €0.60 cents per short hop journey. Plenty of room to take your cello with you!
Single journeys in Taipei cost just NT$20 (Taiwanese dollars) or €0.60 cents per short hop journey. Plenty of room to take your cello with you!

The trains weren’t crammed or packed, and the floors were clean. I used my finger, and checked lol! There were plants and mobile-phone chargers everywhere, and even boxes for you to take a free umbrella!

If that isn’t service, I really don’t know what is!

There are underground trains, mainline trains, high-speed rail, and bus lines connect Taipei with other parts of the Taiwanese island!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Taiwan’s famous xiao chi (small bites)!
Taiwan’s famous xiao chi (small bites)!

One of the biggest pulls to Taiwan is the food that you can find there at Taiwan’s famous xiao chi (small bites), at the many department stores, kerbside restaurants, hawker carts, bubble tea stalls, and the famous daytime and night markets, so here we go.

Enjoy!

THE TAIPEI HUAXI STREET NIGHT MARKET

The Taipei Huaxi Street Night Market in Taipei.
The Taipei Huaxi Street Night Market in Taipei.

Located near the Longshan Temple, the Huaxi Street Night Market is the most well-known international tourist night markets in Taipei, and has been in business for more than 60 years! Traders sell Chinese herbal food, crafts, commodities, gourmet snacks, Chinese herbal cuisine cooked with snake and other exotic meat, foot massage shops, spas, and seafood!

Fish head soup!
Fish head soup!
Squid on a stick!
Squid on a stick!
Deep-fried squid!
Deep-fried squid!

Specialities include such delights as fish head soup, and deep-fried squid, with a variety of sauces such as spicy pepper and mind-blowing wasabi!

  • Cost of fried squid: NT$10 or €0.30!
Me drinking bubble tea in Taiwan!
Me drinking bubble tea in Taiwan!

And now for something completely different…chewy balls of tapioca bubble tea at the street market. A boon for me as bubble tea is actually banned in Germany!

  • Cost: NT$10 or €0.30!

Nearest station: Longshan Temple

Opening Times : 16:00-24:00

RAOHE STREET NIGHT MARKET

Roast pig! ©House of Hao's
Roast pig! ©House of Hao’s

The Raohe Street Night Market is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei, and just across the street from my amba Taipei Songshan hotel! It’s also quite traditional, packed with snacks, quaint shops and stalls, and carnival games with prizes, and is considered to be the largest garment wholesale market place in Taiwan!

Getting lost in the Wufenpu Fashion Area of Taipei!
Getting lost in the Wufenpu Fashion Area of Taipei!

In order to get there, I found myself getting lost among the maze and alleys full of racks of clothing, and discounted fashion shops at the Wufenpu Fashion Area!

Book your hotel here!

Snails in sauce!
Snails in sauce!
Noodle soup. I did have dumplings too, but I have no idea where I put them!
Noodle soup. I did have dumplings too, but I have no idea where I put them!
  • Cost of noodles: NT$8 or €0.25 per piece
  • Cost of soup: NT$15 or €0.45 per bowl

Nearest station: Songshan

Opening Times : 17:00-24:00

SHILIN NIGHT MARKET

A local tradesman at the Shilin Night Market, in Taipei!
A local tradesman at the Shilin Night Market, in Taipei!

The Shilin Night Market is one of the largest and most popular night markets in Taiwan! It was built in 1899 and is famous for great food!

Taiwanese students and young people, outside the Cicheng Temple, having a good time!
Taiwanese students and young people, outside the Cicheng Temple, having a good time!
Fishing for live shrimps at the night market, in Taiwan!
Fishing for live shrimps at the night market, in Taiwan!
Having a meal at a kerbside restaurants, with mates in Taiwan!
Having a meal at a kerbside restaurants, with mates in Taiwan!
The Shilin Night Market is popular with Taiwanese students because of it's cheap, attractive prices!
The Shilin Night Market is popular with Taiwanese students because of it’s cheap, attractive prices!

The Shilin Night Market is famous for local Taiwanese cuisine, and spills out into several bustling streets with more than 500 stores and vendors! The night market is divided into two parts. One part is in the Shilin Market building with a food court on the underground floor. The second part centers on the Yangming Cinema and the Cicheng Temple, and consists of a cluster of shops and stores popular with Taiwanese students and young people.

Exotic vegetables for the hotpot inTaiwan!
Exotic vegetables for the hotpot inTaiwan!
Exotic Taiwanese meatballs at the night market in Taipei!
Exotic Taiwanese meatballs at the night market in Taipei!
A hotpot for me, and a hotpot for you, at the Shillin Night Market in Taiwan!
A hotpot for me, and a hotpot for you, at the Shillin Night Market in Taiwan!
Shanghai Buns at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei!
Shanghai Buns at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei!

Not to be outdone – Taiwanese Afters and desserts!

Some sort of shaved ice!
Some sort of shaved ice!
I've no idea what it is exactly, but it looked pretty! Any ideas? Aha! I've been told that the string of red balls are 糖葫蘆 or sugar gourd strawberries or tomatoes, covered with sugar!
I’ve no idea what it is exactly, but it looked pretty! Any ideas? Aha! I’ve been told that the string of red balls are 糖葫蘆 or sugar gourd strawberries or tomatoes, covered with sugar!
I had this really nice fresh cherry drink, but due to brain freeze, I had to throw it away!
I had this really nice fresh cherry drink, but due to brain freeze, I had to throw it away!

Ha! Ha! Stinky tofu!!

Ha! Ha! Stinky tofu in Taiwan!!
Ha! Ha! Stinky tofu in Taiwan!!

No thanks!

Nearest station: Shilin, but get out at Jiantan train station instead!

Opening Times : 17:00-24:00

LOCAL FOOD AT TAIWANESE RESTAURANTS

Vegetables and mountains of tofu in Taiwan!
Vegetables and mountains of tofu in Taiwan
A selection of sauces, condiments, and spices. In Taiwan!
A selection of sauces, condiments, and spices. In Taiwan!
Rice and noodles with the steaming hot pot in the background!
Rice and noodles with the steaming hot pot in the background!

I went to a local restaurant late one night and had a hotpot of noodles, beef, and tofu. I went with two Americans and we didn’t really know what to do with all the stuff, so I asked two visitors from Malaysia!

You put all the stuff in the steaming hotpot, and eat with rice, noodles, or both!
You put all the stuff in the steaming hotpot, and eat with rice, noodles, or both!

You put all the stuff in the steaming hotpot, and eat with rice, noodles, or both!

Wash it all down with cider or beer!
Wash it all down with cider or beer!
Ice cold German imported beer!
Ice cold German imported beer!

German imported Blue Girl beer!

‘Nuff said!

ORGANIC TAIWANESE FOOD & DRINK

Enhanced fresh juice
Enhanced fresh juice
Sweet potato fries with spicy chipotle mayo dipping
Sweet potato fries with spicy chipotle mayo dipping
House caesar salad
House caesar salad

I wasn’t feeling at all well when I arrived in Taiwan, so I started my day at the amba Taipei Ximending with fresh organic food, a salad, and some chips, to make me feel at home! All the nore to get that boutique feeling which you can do, if you book your hotel here!

  • Cost of fruit juice: NT$170 or €5.70!
  • Cost of potato fries: NT$160 or €4.80!
  • Cost of salad: NT$220 or €6.50!

MY VERDICT:

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience - Part II
Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part II

I really liked Taipei.

It’s lovely. It’s old. It’s got history, art and culture, and looks really modern. It’s not as cheap as South East Asian (SEA) countries, but is certainly reasonably priced.

If you’re looking for the next best East Asian city that’s safe, quiet, and away from the tourist throngs, you’ve found it.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Utterly!

Because Taiwan has the feel of being Chinese, but itsn’t!

Let’s do it!

Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending 16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the steaming hotpots that I plunged into, are my very own!

Next week I’ll be writing about Christmas, and then returning to the Philippines later!

I’ll be joining the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, to celebrate Christmas on December 12th! I know! I’ve totally made it!!

In January, I’ll be going to Holland.

The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.

At the end of January, I’ll be skiing in the Czech Republic.

Save the Date!

December is going to be sharp!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience - Part II
Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part II

Have you ever been to a night market? What do you think of bubble tea? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part I

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience - Part I
Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part I

So last week, I wrote all about why I went to Taiwan, and as I previously told you, one of the main reasons that I did so was because quite frankly, nobody knows where it is!

I’m going to change all that!

If you missed my post last week, not to worry, here it is:

If you ever want to search various destinations all over the world, all you need to do is to go to the countries that I have recently travelled to tab on top of this page or go to the link here!

16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

I really like Taiwan.

I might even return sooner than you think…!

I went to Taiwan for the first time and truth be told, there’s not a lot of information out there. In fact, I went searching for British bloggers living there, and ended up with just one fellow, from whom I heard of Taiwan in the first place, but sadly, he recently  deleted his blog, and now there are none!

As a result, it’s left to me to take over the baton!

Oh, by the way, I went to Taipei!

TAIPEI

Taipei, otherwise known as Taipei City
Taipei, otherwise known as Taipei City

Taipei, otherwise known as Taipei City, is the capital city and a special municipality of Taiwan.

It’s 25 km (16 miles) southwest of the northern port city Keelung and located on the Taipei Basin. Taipei has been the capital of the Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC), since 1949!

Taipei has a population of about 2.7 million people and is and one of the major hubs of the Chinese-speaking world!

It’s considered to be a global city and is part of a major high-tech industrial region in conjunction with Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Taipei is a bustling city with a unique cultural landscape & jelly-like bubble tea!
Taipei is a bustling city with a unique cultural landscape & jelly-like bubble tea!

And let me tell you, I found Taipei to be a bustling city with a unique cultural landscape, splendid creativity, designs and aesthetics, coupled with hidden lanes and exotic alleyways. A city with local markets of varying character offering handicrafts, clothing, tattoos, music, entertainment, people-watching opportunities, and food!

Smashing!

HOW DO I GET THERE?

How do I get to Taiwan?
How do I get to Taiwan?

As you know, the only reason why Taiwan even came up in the first instance, was because I was in the Philippines, and thus in the region! And you know me, if an opportunity strikes up, I’m bound to choose it, and it did!

If you’re coming from Europe or the Americas, then of course you’ll be flying. Since I was already in the Philippines, I decided to fly from Manila after the TBEX jollifications, and then fly back to Manila again, before returning to Germany.

I flew with EVA Air!
I flew with EVA Air!

I flew with EVA Air!

I had heard good things about the airline especially about it’s Hello Kitty jet airlines, and I wasn’t disappointed!

The flight took just 2 hours and 20 minutes and cost a mere $102.37, making it a little over $50 USD each way!

A pretty decent airline meal on EVA Air. If only I hadn't had diarhhea, picked up in the Philippines...!
A pretty decent airline meal on EVA Air. If only I hadn’t had diarrhea, picked up in the Philippines…!

We were even given a full meal of rice and pork, some fruit, dessert, and a box of orange juice! I wasn’t feeling well, and I had the trots, so I nibbled at the rice and veg, and drank the juice!

My flight left at 04:00 and arrived at 06:20! I’m not a lover of wandering around strange cities in the early hours, so I booked a hotel car! It might be pricier than a conventional taxi but when you’re arriving in the early hours, you still need to get money out, get a sim card, or whatever, but you don’t feel the pressure of the clock ticking, when you’ve already paid a fixed fee! However, do tell your hotel that you would prefer a non-smoking driver.

Tell your hotel if you prefer a non-smoking taxi driver!
Tell your hotel if you prefer a non-smoking taxi driver!

My taxi smelt like a chimney, and didn’t make the illness that I had picked up in Manila, any better….!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending 16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

Not really!

It’s not China you know!

Truth be told, I was there at the tail-end of their typhoon season, and you could pick out the Westerners who were visiting. In fact, you could hear them…!

Everywhere was pretty OK except for the markets.

They were packed!

With everybody! And so after about an hour, I felt it was more than enough, as I didn’t have the energy for it, and I left!

WHAT IS TAIWAN LIKE?

Making new friends in Taiwan!
Making new friends in Taiwan!

It’s nice!

I was there for five (5) days and had to use two (2) of them to recover as I was starting a new job once I got back…! However, Taiwan definitely made an impression on me.

I knew that Taiwan would be modern but I wasn’t expecting it be squeaky clean! Not in the way that Singapore is bland clean, but surprisingly, it could give many Western cities a run for it’s money.

It isn’t as cheap-as-chips Thailand, but neither is it let’s-sell-our-children-cos-we-can’t-afford-it Korea or Japan!

Signs and instructions were in both English and Chinese, pretty much everywhere!
Signs and instructions were in both English and Chinese, pretty much everywhere!

Signs and instructions were in both English and Chinese. The trains were easy to navigate and use, and were cheap, costing just NT$20 (Taiwanese dollars) or €0.60 cents per short hop journey!

The trains weren’t crammed or packed, and the floors were clean. I used my finger, and checked lol! There were plants and mobile-phone chargers everywhere, and even boxes for you to take a free umbrella!

If that isn’t service, I really don’t know what is!

Making new friends with the locals in Taiwan!
Making new friends with the locals in Taiwan!

The people were great. Nobody stared at a darker-skinned visitor (me!) in fact, it was quite the opposite. Everybody was helpful and cheerful, some high-school kids came with me to the Taipei 101 building, and one local shop-keeper actually ran after me ‘cos I was walking in the wrong direction!

Taipei is sort of Chinese, but it isn’t.

Everyone went about minding their own business either reading, fiddling on their phone, listening to music, or eating!
Everyone went about minding their own business either reading, fiddling on their phone, listening to music, or eating!

It’s a country eager to welcome tourists, and there were heaps of them from neighbouring Japan and other Asian nations.  Having said that, it’s also quieter than expected, which I equally noticed in Manila. There was no honking of cars, or the shouting of tradesmen and pedlars, in fact, everyone went about minding their own business either reading, fiddling on their phone, listening to music, or eating!

I DON’T SPEAK CHINESE.

If you can speak a little Chinese (of any kind), it certainly helps!
If you can speak a little Chinese (of any kind), it certainly helps!

If you can speak a little Chinese (of any kind), it certainly  helps!

But if you can’t, don’t panic! If you can speak English, people tend to be able to understand you, even if they can’t respond back. My fail-safe was my iPhone iTranslate app. It came out very useful, if people couldn’t understand what I was referring to.

And if you’re really lost for words, go to the nearest train station which has an information window. They’re able, and happy to help.

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Taiwan might be from a developing nation, but as one of the Four Asian Tigers, you're definitely not going to be living in a cave!
Taiwan might be from a developing nation, but as one of the Four Asian Tigers, you’re definitely not going to be living in a cave!

Of course not!

Taiwan might be from a developing country referred to as the Republic of China (ROC), but as one of the Four Asian Tigers, you’re definitely not going to be living in a cave!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

A kitchenette is necessary if you're on a budget, so that you can have.....noodles!
A kitchenette is necessary if you’re on a budget, so that you can have…..noodles!

Hostels are not well-known in Taiwan, but there are plenty of cheap hotels to be had.

I can’t give you any details, but catering to the more budget conscious traveller is certainly available. But remember, you’re not going to find anything going for under €20.00! If you’re really stuck on a low budget, you’re either going to have to fly to Bangkok or travel to Lithuania instead!

I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?

Introducing amba Hotels & Resorts, in Taiwan!
Introducing amba Hotels & Resorts, in Taiwan!

Hell yeah!

I stayed at a rather intriguing 4-star art design hipster-style boutique hotel called amba Hotels & Resorts.

In fact, I stayed at two of them!

The first one was called amba Taipei Ximending!

amba Taipei Ximending, in Taiwan!
amba Taipei Ximending, in Taiwan!

Amba Taipei Ximending is Taiwan’s first homegrown international-standard art design boutique hotel, created by some of Taiwan’s hottest architects, artists, music stylists, and mixologists! The hotel has a sleek, artistic, industrial-steel, loft-style look. It’s located in the young, trendy Ximending location, and is slap-bang in the middle of the Asian hipster shopping and cool entertainment district!

If you’re young or like happening vibes being in the centre of everything, you’ll love it.

In fact, not only is the Ximending district a bit like London’s Trafalgar Square, it’s also the movie-film district, and indeed, there was the Taipei Golden Horse film festival actually taking place on the ground floor of the hotel building!

The amba Taipei Ximending hotel is within walking distance of Taiwan's youth culture!
The amba Taipei Ximending hotel is within walking distance of Taiwan’s youth culture!

The amba Taipei Ximending is within walking distance of Taiwan’s youth cultures, combining cultural heritage, with an emerging design and lifestyle scene.

Merely steps away were atmospheric streets and alleys, curbside restaurants, hawker carts and bubble tea stalls, department stores on the pedestrianized Wuchang Street offering Western designer brands, and night markets. In fact, I almost fell on top of a British guy who was conducting some sort of street theatre performance!

The local Taiwanese kids seemed to be impressed!

This is where the cool kids hang out in the Music Lounge of the amba Taipei Ximending Hotel!
This is where the cool kids hang out in the Music Lounge of the amba Taipei Ximending Hotel!

The amba Taipei Ximending Hotel had 160 contemporary rooms and I was put in the Loft Room, which was pretty marvellous.

My loft was huge and consisted of two sofas, a large king-sized bed, a trunk (the type which my grandmother used to have to store clothes) in the middle of the room, an open closet, a writing table, a large-screen TV, a huge American-style sink section, free coffee, free Taiwanese tea, free daily bottled water, a kettle, a mini-fridge, a separate toilet, a separate rain-forest type power shower, fluffy towels, lots of power outlets (thank goodness), and free high-speed WiFi!

I was put in the Loft Room, which was pretty marvellous.
I was put in the Loft Room, which was pretty marvellous.

Included were amba-inscribed flip-flops (which were yours to keep), and a wonderful selection of ginger bath toiletries.

I usually bring my own shampoo and conditioner for my hair, but for the first time ever, I could use theirs, and feel the difference!

Marvellous stuff!

Breakfast at the amba Taipei Ximending Hotel!
Breakfast at the amba Taipei Ximending Hotel!

Breakfast was also included, on the 5th floor, in a loft-like space that had pop-culture album sleeves on bookshelves, as well as marvel comic memorabilia, and stuff like Harry Potter, & Star Wars dolls! And not to be outdone, there were loads of box games and manga books that customers could read.

Teenage heaven!

Cost: from NT$3,500 or €105.00 per night. For two people that’s easily €52.50, a pop!

Glitz & glamour of the amba art-design-boutique-hotel brand!
Glitz & glamour of the amba art-design-boutique-hotel brand!

After two nights I transferred to the second hotel.

This hotel was called amba Taipei Songshan!

Welcome to the amba Taipei Songshan Hotel, in Taiwan!
Welcome to the amba Taipei Songshan Hotel, in Taiwan!

The amba Taipei Songshan hotel, is an urban oasis in eastern Taipei. In comparison to amba Taipei Ximending, this 189 roomed hotel was situated in the financial districts of Xinyi, Songshan, and Nangang, with direct access via a private walkway bridge, to the Songshan underground and mainline train station!

The amba Taipei Songshan Hotel is smart, sharp, and has an affluent look.
The amba Taipei Songshan Hotel is smart, sharp, and has an affluent look.

In fact, access was so easy and accessible that I soon became a pro. at navigating my way from one sort of train to the next!

I would say that the amba Taipei Songshan hotel is smart, sharper, and has a more affluent look than that of the amba Taipei Ximending. It’s more professional and sleek with fabulous panoramic views of both the Taipei 101 building and the Keelung River.

You know how much I love river destinations in Taiwan, and everywhere else!
You know how much I love river destinations in Taiwan, and everywhere else!

You know how I love river destinations!

I was given one of the extra large rooms.

Yep! My room was gorgeous and can be described as urban living with a twist!

Look at how huge my room was & look at the view. Gorgeous!
Look at how huge my room was & look at the view.
Gorgeous!

The window was floor to ceiling huge, with a stunning view of the Taipei 101 skyscraper! It consisted of a large king-sized bed, a divan with huge comfy cushions which I enjoyed very much, an open closet, a writing table and chair, a wireless bluetooth vintage speaker, a large-screen TV, a huge American-style sink section, free coffee, free Taiwanese tea, free daily bottled water, a kettle, a Nespresso machine, a mini-fridge, a separate toilet, a separate rain-forest type power shower, fluffy towels, lots of power outlets, wooden floors (yes!) and free high-speed WiFi!

My amba-inscribed flip-flops. I don't usually wear flip-flops, but I kept the larger ones as I have huge feet!
My amba-inscribed flip-flops.
I don’t usually wear flip-flops, but I kept the larger ones as I have huge feet!

It included amba-inscribed flip-flops (which were yours to keep), a wonderful selection of ginger bath toiletries, and a free shuttle service to the Taipei 101 and the trendsetting Xinyi shopping and business district, which I should have taken, but didn’t!

I opted to walk to the Taipei 101, went through all the backyard nooks and crannies, and systematically got lost!

I went through all the backyard nooks and crannies, & systematically got lost!
I went through all the backyard nooks and crannies, & systematically got lost!

It took me 3 hours to find my way back again, but I didn’t mind too much as I saw a different part of Taipei, and also chatted to some of the locals while doing so.

I was exhausted when I finally reached the Taipei 101 building though, but it was worth it in the end!

Damper Baby at Tapei 101 - one of the tallest buildings in the world!
Damper Baby at Taipei 101 – one of the tallest buildings in the world!

In both hotels, a generous buffet breakfast of Chinese, Korean, and Continental origin, was included.

Note! Watch out for the sliced duck eggs. I was excited to try them and happily popped them into my mouth. Until I heard this crunch!

Can you see the duck egg? Eeek!
Can you see the duck egg? Eeek!

The shells were still on them! Eeek!

Cost: from NT$4,000 or €120.00 per night. For two people that’s easily €60.00, a pop!

Book your hotel here!

Note! Don’t forget the 15.5% service charge and tax, added to the bill. That really hurt. Ouch!

That’s it for now. Part II coming up next week!

That's it for now. Part II on Taiwan, coming up next week!
That’s it for now. Part II on Taiwan, coming up next week!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a part-complimentary stay at amba Taipei Ximending and amba Taipei Songshan, all opinions and the trendy bubble tea experience that I had, are my very own!

Next week I’ll be writing Part II of what I did in Taiwan, and then returning to the Philippines again later!

I’ll be joining the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, to celebrate Christmas on December 12th! I know! I’ve totally made it!!

In December/January, I’ll be going to Holland.

The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.

At the end of January, I’ll be skiing in the Czech Republic.

Save the Date!

November is going to be wintry!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience - Part I
Taiwan: Food to eat and a place to lay your head: A first-time experience – Part I

What do you think of my first experience in Taiwan. Would you choose the more trendy amba Taipei Ximending or would you choose the smart, sharper amba Taipei Songshan? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com