Solas Silver Award – Legend of the Betelnut Princess

Last week, Travelers' Tales press announced the winners of the 2013 SOLAS Best Travel Writing awards, and to my delight, one of my essays took home the silver in the Travel and Food category. Of course, I'm most humbled to be included among a number of other excellent travel writers, some of whom  I've had the immense pleasure of interviewing on … [Read more...]

Text-Speaking in Taiwan at the Lulu Spa

Nina has the cutest pair of dimples I’ve ever seen on a teenage girl, and she’s got her black hair with red streaks pulled loosely into an adorable ponytail. She gestures toward the seat in front of her desk, pours me a warm cup of oolong tea, and points to the dressing room. Together, we look at the pictures in the catalogue of women getting hot … [Read more...]

Finance Lessons and Taiwanese Dollars

While I’m more or less getting used to the conversion between the New Taiwanese Dollar and the U.S. dollar, I do have my moments. One moment was this morning. Generally, the standard conversion rate is 1 USD to every 32 New Taiwanese Dollar. Therefore, something that should cost one dollar—a bottle of water, a bowl of noodles, something from a … [Read more...]

The Emperors Are a Strange Breed, Indeed

I have recently come to the conclusion that a prerequisite to being an emperor in China is that you must have a weird quirk. The type of quirk is quite open for interpretation, but there must be something that makes you odd, unusual, and at least a little bit eccentric. Otherwise, and I say this very seriously, you will not be fit to run one of the … [Read more...]

Xiao Liuqiu and a Seafood Medley

If you ever find yourself traveling in rural Taiwan, you might want to bring someone who can tell you what you're eating. Let me clarify: if you ever find yourself on the lovely little tropical island of Xiao Liuqiu (off the coast of Donngang), and you'd like to know what you're eating, you'll NEED to bring someone who can tell you what you're … [Read more...]

The Mona Lisa of the East

As our English-speaking tour guide at the National Palace Museum, a nice docent who introduced herself as Rosalyn, walked our motley crew of 12 I-have-no-idea-how-to-read-Chinese tourists up three flights of stairs, she warned us that the lines to the museum's most prized possession could be long, so if we could please cultivate a sense of … [Read more...]

Learning Mandarin…And A Slip of the Tongue

I have just discovered, after a full day of being so proud of myself for jumping in and attempting to speak Chinese from the very first moment I arrived in Taiwan, that I have actually been telling everyone I meet, everywhere, that I have to urinate. You can imagine my mortification, especially since I didn't realize this until I'd already … [Read more...]

28 Hours Later….and Dumplings!

My watch is telling me it's 8:15 a.m. My cell phone, however, which just performed its automatic update, is telling me it's 11:14 p.m. This means, if I'm calculating correctly, that except for an accidental twenty minute nap while watching a hopefully pointless romantic comedy on the airplane, I have now been awake for 28 hours. I can't remember … [Read more...]

Planning a Trip to Taiwan: Tips From the Girl Who Hasn’t Been There Yet

Starting tomorrow, I will be in Taiwan for one week on a special FAM trip. I am being sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau and will be traveling, blogging, and writing about my experiences in an effort to promote Taiwan to twenty-and-thirty-something travelers who are less familiar with Taiwan and its culture, cuisine, landscape, and outdoor … [Read more...]