Cool Shirt

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Where do people even get shirts like this?

The Tales of Hoffmann (Les contes d'Hoffmann)

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The Tales of Hoffmann (Les contes d'Hoffmann) is an opéra fantastique by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was written by Jules Barbier, based on three short stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann, who is the protagonist of the story.

I’m pretty sure this was my first opera and probably my last. I was really confused the entire time and had a hard time understanding the translated subtitles. I was impressed that the actors/singers were able to memorize 3.5 hours of dialogue/songs and the set design was incredible. However, pretty sure opera isn’t my thing.

However, I was pretty excited to go inside the National Centre for the Performing Arts, which is super cool looking building surrounded by water.

Broken Bikes

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Scenes from Beijing

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Yonghegong - Llama Temple

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Taiwan Thoughts

Taiwan was great. The food, the people, the weather, the public transportation - everything was just so nice. Maybe I’m easy to win over having come from Beijing where things are loud, noisy, and not so clean, but having spent a week in Taipei, I was really impressed with the city

As everyone kept telling me, the food was amazing. The city has a large Japanese and southeast Asian influence, especially on the food. There were a ton of Japanese restaurants, as well as curry places, fried chicken, and tons of street vendors selling an assortment of both sweet and salty snacks.

In addition to Taipei, I also took a day trip to Jiufen, a small village situated in the green hills of Northern Taiwan, overlooking the ocean. It’s especially popular with tourists as it resembles the village from the anime Spirited Away. There are lanterns, tall staircases, and shops packed together selling tasty treats to the throngs of tourists. It was windy, beautiful, and somewhat serene when imagining where exactly I was.

Whatever preconceived notion I had about Taiwan before I went there was shattered as soon as I landed. When walking through the streets, I imagined my life living there and of all the places I’ve traveled in Asia, I could see myself starting a life there. Lots of people speak English, there is a good mix of cultures, there’s no need for a VPN, and it’s an island, which ticks off my “close to the ocean” box for potential places to settle down

As expected, the controversy or “sensitivity” concerning China and Taiwan is alive and well. Both Taiwanese and Chinese have opinions about the island, as do I. However, since I work for Xinhua and was told to keep my blog “appropriate” and refrain from controversial opinions, I’ll keep it to myself. Regardless of the political nature concerning Taiwan, I can’t recommend it enough. I spent a week doing the sightseeing thing and there was plenty to do, including memorials, temples, night markets, and food/bars.

Now I understand that Taiwan is unique, but here’s how I would describe it: a cleaner Hong Kong, a less busy Tokyo, a more fun Singapore, and a more polite mainland. There are less people than the aforementioned places, which obviously makes things easier, but the combination of culture, unique architecture, and the people make Taiwan a must-see travel destination.

Forbidden City 1

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I know it took me close to 4 years to get to Forbidden City, but it finally happened. It was huge, way bigger than I could have imagined from pictures. Basically there was so many palaces inside because all of the emperor's 'ladies' needed their own place to stay. One emperor had upwards of a hundred mistresses, so keeping them separated was probably the smart move

Shoutout today goes to Kro’s Nest. First pizza in almost 6 months and it did not disappoint

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