Ride Around on a YouBike in Taipei: Eco-Friendly Transportation
The more I travel, the more I realize my likes and dislikes that I didn’t know before when it comes to my standard and style of travel. I’m all for backpacking, budget travel, authentic travel and adventure, but there have been a few times on our Asia trip where I wish we had a car. Or a driver. Or something with wheels that will let me get around faster. Call me lazy but either way it’d be nice to not have to take the subway all the time. Imagine my glee when I discovered Taiwan has something called “YouBike.” I know many other cities have a similar system but in the States it’s not very common and nonexistent in Costa Rica. It’s basically a system where you rent a bike and return it at your leisure. Awesome idea for both locals and visitors! YouBike in Taipei The Department of Transportation established YouBIke to encourage locals to use bikes as a low-consumption and low-pollution way of getting around short distances. Many of the roads in Taipei have a designated bike lane and we saw a ton of locals riding them, using it to go grocery shopping or just to get around. I think it’s such a smart idea because there is a ton of traffic in Taiwan. Everywhere you look are a bunch of cars and scooters on the road all the time. The amount of scooters here is mind blowing! To help reduce environmental pollution, congestion and energy loss, they implemented the YouBike system. What a great way to promote not only an eco-friendly transportation method but also exercise! For visitors, it’s such a great and convenient way to get around the city. Yeison and I rode our bikes around Taipei all the way to Taipei 101. Even though the subway is incredibly efficient and equally as cheap, it’s so different when you’re traveling on the surface as opposed to underground. I always feel a bit suffocated on the subway so this way, we get to see a lot more of the city! How it works 1. Get an Easycard In order to rent a bike, you first need an Easycard. If you’re planning on being in Taiwan for a long period of time, you should get one nonetheless. This card is like magic – it works for the MRT, HSR, TRA, the public bus and even department/convenience stores. It is the key to renting a YouBike as well. 2. Register your EasyCard At each YouBike station, there is a kiosk where you have to register your card before you use it. Enter the card ID number, your phone number and ta-da! You are officially allowed to rent a bike. 3. Scan the card to rent At the bike racks, each one has a scanner where you can place your card to rent a bike. If there’s a problem, it’ll blink a light to a corresponding number where you can read what’s wrong (it’s also in English). 4. Take a bike Take your bike when it blinks green and beeps and there you go! You’re free now to bike wherever you want. 5. Return the bike You can return the bike at any YouBike station, just pop the bike into the stand again and you should hear a locking sound and see a blue light. Scan your card again to pay the rest of the rental fee (you must use the same card). Rates For EasyCard members, the first 30 minutes are free and then it’s 10NT for every 30 minutes for the first 4 hours, 20 NT for every 30 minutes 4-8 hours and 40NT every 30 minutes for longer than 8 hours. Stations There are stations all over Taipei in the various districts and they’re planning on expanding it even more. You can easily tell which bikes are the YouBike since they’re bright orange and have a cute :)Bike logo on the side. You can find all the information about YouBike in Taiwan on the official website. Just make sure you don’t lose the bike because the fine is 9000NT (~$300). It’s a really fun way to see the city and travel like a local in Taipei! Like this post? Click here to get more like this straight to your inbox!
Traveler Interview with Don’t Forget to Move
Want to travel the world but don’t have the $$ to do it luxury? Or perhaps luxury isn’t your cup of tea and you prefer a more original experience. Meet Jules and Christine from Don’t Forget to Move, where they talk all about authentic travel on a tight budget. If you dream of getting to know the world through local experiences, they teach you exactly how without breaking the bank. Read more about them in our interview! Meet Jules and Christine from Don’t Forget to Move Please introduce yourselves. Who are you and tell us a bit about your blog Hi! We’re Christine & Jules from Don’t Forget To Move! We met in 2012 while volunteering in Peru and have been traveling together ever since! We spent the last couple years roaming around Latin America and are currently living in Australia saving up money before we hit the road to Asia next year! Our blog is all about traveling on a super tight budget, but most importantly having authentic experiences. Hanging out with other backpackers is fun and all, but there’s nothing like spending the day playing a friendly game of futbol or sharing a traditional dish with some locals. Tell us about your very first backpacking trip (together or individual). What were some highlights and how did you go about planning it? Christine took her first backpacking trip in 2010. She started in Mexico and had planned to spend the majority of her time in Guatemala, but as she met other backpackers her plans changed to include most of Central America. Her trip was full of highlights but the best part was discovering she was capable of international travel on her own! Jules took his first backpacking trip with a friend in 2010. He didn’t plan much except to start in Canada and work his way down. He ended up living in Vancouver for a bit before heading down to South America. His highlight was volunteering at a disaster relief organization in Peru! How do you find the best deals? We travel on a super tight budget which allows us to take longer trips. Our absolutely best tip for traveling cheap is to try and live like a local! Stay in local hostels, eat at local restaurants, befriend locals who can give you the best budget tips. We also love Groupon! Which country surprised you the most and which country did you fall in love with? I think the country we fell the most in love with was the one that surprised us the most- Cuba! We really had read mixed things on Cuba and weren’t sure what to expect! There is so much misinformation and its difficult to determine what’s true or not. When we arrived in Havana, though, we were immediately excited to explore the country. There is so much vibrancy- music, dance, people on the corners shouting and laughing. We’ve never experienced such a dynamic energy! What are some stereotypes of backpackers that you hear often? The stereotype is that backpackers are grungy dread-locked hippies who just bum around, selling bracelets on the beach. And although these types of travelers definitely exist, there are a lot of very ambitious, driven travelers who are working, volunteering, researching, etc and doing important work connecting to different cultures. It’s very inspiring! How do you fund your travels? We save up money by working at home and then travel realllly cheap. I think a lot of the time people want to hear some unknown secret to finding money for traveling, but its really as simple as saving up money. We give up a lot of nights out, music festivals and big expenses to save up for traveling. Its our first priority! What’s next for Don’t Forget to Move for the rest of 2014? The rest of 2014 we’ll be exploring Melbourne and amping up the blog for our trip next year! We’ve been enjoying having some downtime in Jules’ home country before heading to Southeast Asia in 2015! Wohooo! You can connect with Jules and Christine through Facebook, Twitter and Google+. And of course through their blog, Don’t Forget To Move.
1 Week Malaysia Travel Expenses Wrap Up
When we were buying tickets for Asia, I had my heart set on Japan after South Korea. Unfortunately, it was not written in the stars for us to go there for several reasons but that meant we still had one week in our itinerary to fill. I would have loved to visited more but we needed to be back in Taiwan before October 5th so the question was… which awesome country in Asia should we visit? Vietnam? Cambodia? Thailand? They were all great choices but we wanted to spend much more than one week in those countries. On AirAsia there were flights to Malaysia for reasonable prices and although I knew nothing about Malaysia, I heard it was a fun country to travel in. It’s also one of the most visited countries in the world so I knew I had to find out why Malaysia was so popular. So on pure whim and a stroke of spontaneity I booked our tickets and off to Malaysia we went! One week Malaysia Travel Expenses wrap up We fell in love with Malaysia the moment we got there. After 17 days in South Korea where food prices were high and people were pushy, Malaysia was a breath of fresh air. People were incredibly friendly, food was cheap and we could ride the subway in peace. We did fairly well in Malaysia expenses wise. The only thing that cost us a bit extra was changing our itinerary. We originally planned to stay in Georgetown for only two days but we liked it so much better than Kuala Lumpur that we decided to stay there for 5. That meant we had to cancel our train tickets, pay for 3 more hotel nights and buy plane tickets from Georgetown to Kuala Lumpur. Even so, things worked out well and we were extremely happy that we stayed in Georgetown longer. Spontaneity costs money but it was absolutely worth it! So let’s see how much we spent total for that week. (1 USD equals roughly 3 RM) Our itinerary Kuala Lumpur: 2 days Georgetown: 5 days Airfare We flew from Busan, South Korea to Kuala Lumpur on AirAsia for $309.66 one way, two people. Flight was fairly long at about 6 hours and AirAsia seats aren’t exactly the biggest but hey, it’s a budget airline so we didn’t complain. We traveled with just carry on luggage so we didn’t have to pay extra for that but we bought a few snacks on the plane. Kuala Lumpur Accommodation I booked a super cheap hotel in Chinatown for our time in Kuala Lumpur, Hotel Petaling. It’s in a great location, just a few steps from Chinatown and a couple minutes away from the Pasar Seni train station which is one stop away from KL Sentral (the main transportation hub in KL). For two nights, this was a good option because it was incredibly cheap, they had strong free Wi-Fi in the room, good location and the staff was so nice. However, I wouldn’t have stayed here for longer since the rooms are in need of an upgrade. I recommend this hotel if you’re on a budget, passing through Kuala Lumpur or want to stay near Chinatown. For two nights, we paid $37.65 taxes included. Transportation Since we landed in Kuala Lumpur late at night, we had to take the shuttle bus and taxi since the subway stopped running by the time we got there. From the airport, we took a shuttle bus for 30 RM (~$10 for 2 people) to KL Sentral and then took a taxi to our hotel for 15 RM (~$5). Transportation is cheap in Malaysia and they have a very good system. It’s just a couple RM to take the Rapid KL which can take you all over. The US really needs to take a look at the transportation systems in Asia because it is a thousand times better… and cleaner! Food Food is so cheap in Malaysia and in Chinatown, you can find all sorts of yummy Chinese food around. For our two days in Kuala Lumpur, we spent about $20 a day for two people. I couldn’t believe it sometimes, I could order a plate of chicken rice and a drink for just 6 RM. That’s roughly $2! Activities We went to the Petronas Towers one day since that was pretty much the only thing we wanted to do at KL. Though it’s obviously a huge tourist attraction, it’s just one of those places you gotta see! It was the tallest building right before the Taipei 101 was built and I love the architecture of the towers. To get to the Petronus Towers, we took the Rapid KL to KL Sentral from Pasar Seni and then took the Rapid KL Kelana Jaya Line to KLCC. We didn’t feel a need to go to the top of the Towers so we spent time in the park nearby and walked around the mall. The towers are really an astonishing sight to see and I imagine it has a pretty good view at the top. The other day we went to the Batu Caves. To get to the Batu Caves, we went to KL Sentral then took the KTM Komuter Train to the caves for 4 RM (a little over $1) there and back for two people. We definitely recommend visiting the caves if you get a chance, it’s a remarkable experience and the statue in the front is spectacular. The rest of the time we spent exploring Chinatown and checking out all the crazy food stalls and souvenir shops. It is shocking to see it during the day when it’s empty and when nighttime rolls around, it’s a completely different world! Georgetown Getting to Georgetown To get from Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown (in Penang), we decided to take the train. I was pretty excited about it since I haven’t traveled by train in years and have never experienced a sleeper train. We booked the night train saving us a night of hotel from KL Sentral to Butterworth, paying 80 RM (~$24) for two superior class upper bunk sleeper seats. From Butterworth, we took a ferry to Georgetown which cost 1.20 RM per passenger and it is free on the way back. From the ferry station in Georgetown, we took a public bus to our hotel. Accommodation We initially booked just two nights in Georgetown at a hotel called Hotel 118 but I mentioned earlier that we ended up staying in Georgetown for the rest of our trip so we booked 3 more nights. This was a fabulous budget hotel right in the heart of Georgetown and the staff was wonderful. Here’s the complete review if you’re interested and we highly recommend this hotel. For four nights, we paid $109.74. Transportation For the first two days we walked and took the bus around Georgetown which was still incredibly cheap. But then we ended up renting a Vespa which was the second best idea we had in Malaysia. We paid 90 RM (~$30) for 72 hours and spent an additional 6 RM for gas. Since we weren’t taking the train back to Kuala Lumpur anymore, I booked two tickets on AirAsia from Georgetown to Kuala Lumpur for $53.27. Unfortunately for some reason I wasn’t allowed to carry on my luggage and had to pay an additional 75 RM (~$25) which irritated me a bit. I was able to bring it as a carry on flying there but what can you do? Food Oh the glorious food of Malaysia captured my heart and stomach the first bite. Not only is food cheap but it is so tasty! I had a ball trying out all the new dishes, the Indian food, Chinese food and of course Malaysian food. We still hovered around $20 a day for food which was awesome. I definitely treated myself to dishes I wouldn’t normally order back at home since Indian food is kind of expensive in the States. In Little India I had garlic naan, tandoori chicken, chicken masala and mango lassi for 12 RM. That is around $4! Activities Unfortunately for the last 3 days we were in Malaysia, the weather was awful: storming, raining like crazy and high winds. The restaurant we were having dinner at one night actually got flooded, it was crazy how much it was raining! Still, we had a fabulous time visiting temples and exploring on our Vespa. We visited Penang Hill one day by bus, rode to Batu Ferringi beach, ate a LOT, visited Kek Lok Si temple and scoped out some cool street art. If it wasn’t for the rain, we were going to ride our Vespa around the whole island but we’ll save that for next time! Souvenirs We didn’t spend a lot of souvenirs although looking back I wish we did. The clothing there is so beautiful! We got a nice collection of cute scarves, shirts and sarongs for $30. Total Expenses Our total expenses came out to be $700 for the week we were in Malaysia. Not too shabby! This also included airfare from South Korea, hotel, the airfare from Georgetown to Kuala Lumpur and the unfortunate extra check in baggage fee. Without airfare and baggage fee, it came out to be $313 which is $44 a day for two people. What we loved about Malaysia The people. We were both blown away by how friendly and helpful the people were. The staff at the hotels we stayed at were incredibly helpful and went beyond my expectations. All the people we talked to during our trip were so kind and were super friendly. Some of them would just come up to us and start talking, asking us what we were doing and where we were from. Nicest people ever. Ease of transportation. Like South Korea, Malaysia also had an excellent transportation system. Buses ran frequently and on time, subways were cheap and accessible and it never got insanely crowded. Nearly everyone speaks English. I really hate to sound like that typical tourist but first of all, I don’t expect everyone to speak English nor do I think everyone should. However, it was extremely nice that nearly every person spoke some degree of English so it made asking for directions a whole lot easier. I couldn’t believe how many languages and dialects people spoke, I felt stupid for knowing only two and a half! What we didn’t like Some of the street food stalls looked pretty dirty and we saw guys wipe the sweat off their forehead and continue cooking with their bare hands. Yick! The streets in Georgetown were a bit confusing since they were mostly one way streets and if we accidentally took a wrong turn, it took us an extra 20 minutes just to get back. It wasn’t easy to navigate especially during rush hour. Kuala Lumpur. We liked visiting the towers but that was about the extent of it. However Yeison and I are so NOT city people so it was kind of obvious we wouldn’t enjoy it as much. I probably should have taken that into account when I was planning the trip… Wrap up Would we go to Malaysia again? YES! Absolutely. We would love to live there for 6 months or slow travel through the country. I know that there’s so much we didn’t see and do and I’ve heard the nature and wildlife there is amazing. If you’re on the fence about visiting Malaysia, hop off and book the ticket! There is so much to discover in terms of culture, history, food, the local life and nature in the country. During that one week we just got a small taste of what Malaysia has to offer and left us wanting more. It really was just barely enough time for us to get to know the country so now I know to stay longer next time and I encourage you to do the same! Like this post? Click here to get more like this straight to your inbox!
High Sierra Carry On Backpack Review – Our New Travel Mate
Samantha and I have been traveling to different places for the last 2 years and something we have learned along the way is to buy high quality travel gear that will make your life easy. You’ve probably been on the road as well and you know that when you travel your backpack becomes your portable house and sometimes your best friend, pillow, dinning table, you name it My new high sierra carry on backpack Around 5 months ago I needed a new carry on and after looking around, I decided to buy a carry on backpack. Back then we were planning our trip to the USA and Asia and we wanted to travel extremely light. Like many other travelers we travel on a budget and paying for a check in bag was not in our plans, so I started to look for a backpack that will fit the carry-on requirements. I’ve never liked the square hard shell rolling carry-on cases plus I didn’t think it would work very well for us and our plans. We are always exploring new places and most of the time there are not nice roads or paths where you can roll your fancy carry-on and just carrying it by the handle will be very uncomfortable and gets tiring. I was trying to find an item that will give me all the nice features from my old High Sierra 55 liters backpack and a carry-on at the same time. After a few hours of researching I found the perfect one for me, the “High Sierra A.T. Ultimate Access Carry On Wheeled Backpack” This backpack is like 3 in one. You can remove the front and have a day backpack, you can roll it or you can carry it as a back pack. I made a video review so you can see all the great features about this carry on, how I personally use it and why I love it. In case you don’t like videos here’s the rundown: The good: High Sierra is a high quality brand, my other backpack is also High Sierra and it is great. The size – it fits perfectly for most airplanes as a carry on (see info below) The versatility – Since the front backpack detaches you can use it in many ways. You can use it as a carry on, you can use the whole thing as a backpack, you can use just the carry on part as a backpack and you can detach the outer backpack and use that as a daypack Incredibly spacious. The outer daypack fits my 15 inch laptop and all my cords perfectly. The carry on fit all the stuff Samantha and I brought including shoes, clothes and toiletries The carry on has several tie down straps so you can make it more compact It’s super easy and light to pull. I wheeled it all over New York City and had no problem The bad Haven’t run into anything bad yet. If you put a bunch of stuff in it and fill up both the backpack and carry on, you might not be able to pass it as a carry on. Check the rundown below of the planes I’ve brought it on as a carry on. It would be nice if it was waterproof or water resistant I guess is my only thought. Airplanes that I have flown with my High Sierra Carry on backpack As you guys saw in the video you can remove the front of the backpack in order to make it fit in the carry on compartments inside the airplanes. But I have only had to remove the front part once so far in all the planes I’ve taken. Here is the list of airplane model: Had to Remove the front: The Embraer 190 model. Below is a picture of how it looks in the compartment without the front backpack Fits perfectly with the front part: Boeing 737, Boeing 787 Dreamliner (biggest compartments I have seen), Boeing 777-200, Airbus 320 and Airbus 340 If you want more detailed information about this carry on backpack you can see the item specifications and price, or you can leave a comment at the end of this article. Here are some pictures of this amazing backpack in the various plane compartments. Embraer 190 Wheels after 4 months of almost daily use Great backpack Overall Thoughts Two words: Awesome backpack. I couldn’t have found a better one to fit all my needs and now it’s been with us all throughout Asia including South Korea, Malaysia and the whole country of Taiwan. It’s much lighter and way easier to pull than Samantha’s carry on that she bought at Target. She’s actually going to get her own after seeing how much better quality the High Sierra is. After 6 months of use, it’s still as good as new! If you’re looking for a solid, high quality and durable carry on this is one of the best. It’s incredibly versatile as you can see (it’s like a transformer in a carry on) and you can use it for all kinds of trips: business trips, day trips, long vacations, road trips, etc. You can get more info or buy your own bag below! *Links above go through affiliate which help us keep the blog running. If you have any questions about the backpack, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll do our best to answer you. Thank you!*
Traveler Interview with Jonny from Don’t Stop Living
Visiting all seven continents is no easy feat and is something only a small percent of people achieve and more people dream of. One of those achievers is Jonny from Don’t Stop Living. He’s lived, traveled and worked in some of the most remote places in the world and has fascinating stories to tell. Read more about Jonny in our interview! Meet Jonny from don’t stop living Please introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about you and your blog. backpacking in Kaesong – North Korea I’m Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. I have a passion for travel, football, people, places and beer. Sometimes all at the same time. I left my hometown over a decade ago now and have ended up on a journey round the globe. I was backpacking in Canada back in 2007 and met a few other travel bloggers, so I decided to start my blog, Don’t Stop Living. Things developed from there and it became a passion to travel and write, and travel and write. The site now has almost 2,000 travel articles on it, all hopefully useful resources for others wishing to pursue a life of travel. being interviewed in Azerbaijan You’ve been working and traveling for the past decade. Tell us some of your favorite jobs you’ve worked in abroad It’s hard to pick a favourite job as I’ve loved most of them. I worked in an amazing Irish pub in Parramatta in Australia and loved that job, there was also the time I sold ice cream on the beaches of Bournemouth in England and the time I worked in PR for Apple in London. My most rewarding job though was cutting broccoli on farms in Tasmania. Loved it and saved a lot of money to travel. What are some tips for someone who is thinking about traveling and working abroad? How to start looking? Pick a country first, then get a visa, then get a job, then get somewhere to live. That’s always been my order. Just be eager, enthusiastic, hard working and always ready and you’ll be fine. Plus don’t be fussy – take any job you can and work hard at it. After visiting so many countries), do you still experience culture shock? Can you share with us one of your most intense culture shock experiences? feeding a hyena in Harar Ethiopia Yes, I still experience culture shock every single day on my travels! I love it and buzz off it. Town to town can be different, country to country can be different. Some of my culture shocks are: Hong Kong’s crazy “umbrella culture”, still don’t really understand it No pork or alcohol in Iran Militant dictatorship evident in North Korea the joys of backpacking in non descript towns and cities in outback China Is there any place you’d never go back to? Why? Venezuela – it was just a horrible experience I had there back in 2011. I crossed the border from Colombia the day of the black market crash and things just went wrong. Guns held to me, constant bag checks, muggings, dishonesty, drug dealings, visa refusals. It was just a big nightmare. Do you prefer fast or slow travel? at Neko Harbour in Antarctica There’s no rule with me, but life is short so I move pretty fast. I get bored of the same place too quickly, so a few days in each city and I’m usually done with it. There’s a big world to see and there’s a certain fear within me that if I get stuck somewhere for too long, I’ll not progress and not diversify myself. That said, I’ve been a slow traveller plenty of times too – I spent a full year in Australia without getting a flight and moving pretty slow, I also travelled slowly in Iran and Guatemala, but it’s rare for me to want to stay in the same hostel or town for longer than a week. at the ruins of Xunantunich in Belize Where are you now? I’m touring the north coast of Northern Ireland, which is my home country! It’s extremely rare for me to be interviewed when I’m here as I’ve spent about 3 weeks in 5 years here. But it’s nice to be back. Northern Ireland is by far the best part of the UK for tourists and Belfast sure kicks Dublin into touch in terms of culture, local spirit and sightseeing. Next I’m off to England, then Romania. What’s on the agenda for the rest of 2014? I’ve been moving pretty fast recently through Central America so I intend to slow down a notch now I’m back in Europe. After Romania and Moldova, I’ll be getting a lot of online work done and slowing down travel for a while. By the end of the year I’ll probably still be in Europe, but may head to Hong Kong again pretty soon – I’ve used the Kong as my base on and off for about 3 years now. Follow Jonny on his journey here! Don’t Stop Living – A Lifestyle of Travel Twitter Facebook Youtube