Welcome to the first posting of Travel Babble— My daily/weekly travel tips and tricks for your reading pleasure. Many of these babbles are based on true stories of my travel adventures.
Friday, September 7 travel tip: In a foreign country, if you’ve ordered take away and then decide to dine in, make sure to be clear you’re not going anywhere.
Two Girls and One Soup
Language barriers can present very frustrating yet humorous moments. At an outdoor Malaysian restaurant, I ordered soup to go. My friend who was not initially hungry changed her mind when the idea of soup sounded quite nice. With both of us now eating, we decided to dine in. She ordered herself a soup and we eagerly awaited the deliciousness in store.
Ten minutes later, one bowl of soup was placed on the table. We asked for the other bowl of soup and instead were given a tea cup to pour some of the soup into. Assuming they had just misunderstood our order for two soups, we happily shared the one.
When finished, we went to pay for the shared soup and were handed the original “soup-to-go” tied up in a plastic bag. We nicely declined the soup explaining our confusion (because we were quite full from sharing). They were very sweet about it and continued a friendly chat with us about our lives.
From intricately decorated temples to gorgeous seaside sunsets, Taipei, Taiwan offers a plethora of tourist attractions. But it’s when the sun goes down that Taipei comes to life. With the blazing hot and humid climate, the 7pm sunset makes the heat a bit more bearable thus creating the perfect environment for Night Markets found all over the city.
Traditional Taiwanese foods such as steamed buns, shaved ice with fruits, and the infamous pig’s blood cake and stinky tofu (yes, it’s as smelly as it sounds) are sold from stall carts lining the streets of the market along with clothing items, jewelry, and colorful knick knacks. (Note**– Those wishing to buy clothing from the night markets are required to be hipless and bootyless).
If you have the opportunity to go with locals, do it! They will show you the Night Market experience done right! Around every corner, a new mysterious food was purchased and placed into our hands. We tried foods such as an oyster omelette, soup dumplings, and of course the stinky tofu. We never would have thought to purchase these fine delicacies on our own and we are more cultured because of it! The Taiwanese love to meet and entertain foreigners in their city and show them the true Taiwan so don’t hesitate to make friends. They will love you!
The most popular yet overly crowded night market is the Shilin Night Market. Though it is a must visit for all tourists, test out others on different nights for a more local and relaxed experience. Great locations include Tong Hua Street and the Shida Night Market. The Danshui Night Market in New Taipei City and the Taoyuan Night Market located just outside Taipei are great local spots as well.
(FYI- This is a blog from July 9. I have had no Internet access so haven’t been able to post this until now! Enjoy!)
Aww 2 local train rides and a 2 hour wait in the Napoli train station later I am now comfortably chilling out to the relaxing tunes of Jack Johnson on my way to beautiful Flroence. But getting to this point wasn’t all that easy. If you had seen me just 10 minutes prior to departure, you would have seen a very obviously American girl hauling her hot mess of a life onto the train drenched in sweat and angering every Italian trying to pass her as she blocked the aisle with a massive amount of luggage.
As ridiculous as it sounds, I find the issues I face every time I travel to a new place to be quite humorous and I entertain myself with my lack of travel grace. I do wish there was someone here to laugh with me when I’m dragging my 50 lb broken bags behind me or struggling up the stairs, the handle of my bag gets caught in my shorts as I’m pulling it down the stairs, getting evil stares from passengers as I bump into every chair on the train, my knee brace un-velcros as I’m walking through the train station with a look of confusion, oh the craziness is endless.
Needless to say, I’ve been taking note of travel do’s and dont’s in Italy (some are from personal experience and others from observation):
DO- Purchase a backpack over a suitcase if you plan to travel many places at once. If I wasn’t traveling for an entire year a backpack would’ve been the most efficient form of travel. But for the sake of extra storage space, I’m now stuck with a duffle that has a jammed handle, a carry-on with a zipper that keeps malfunctioning, a purse with a broken handle, and an ACLE bag filled with lesson plans. It works.
DON’T- Wear jeans or shirts with sleeves. Ever seen a dog after it gets out of the pool? Well that’s how ya look after carrying your luggage in the heat with shorts and a tank…imagine the disgust if ya wore anythng thicker.
DO- Carry tissues and hand sanitizer with you at ALL times. The last thing you want is to end up in a train’s bathroom only to discover a lack of t.p. and/or soap.
DON’T- Make eye contact with strangers. More times than not they are trying to sell you socks or ask for money.
DO- Say “Non capito Italiano” if the above situation happens to you.
DON’T- Tell people you are American even if they ask and you obviously look it.
DO-Make up some nationality and pretend you know the language.
DON’T- Get on the wrong train. Enough said.
DO- Fill a water bottle prior to leaving the hostel/hotel cause you won’t find fresh water for a while.
DON’T- Drink the water on the train…CHE SCHIFFO.
DO- LAUGH about every crazy thing that happens to you while travelling.
DON’T- STRESS. Look at every situation as a funny story to blog about or retell later : )
“Don’t sweat the small stuff, just sweat when you’re hot.”—me