Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is also its second largest city.  Unlike its larger cousin, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi seems to be more in touch with its roots and exhibits a more intimate appeal.  Amidst its cultural and historic background, Hanoi seems to be slowly and grudgingly modernizing.  The streets hum, with drones of motorcycles whizzing through, while between them the buildings still show the historic past of colonization; a charming blend of East and West.

Top 7: Taiwan

1. Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial

fo guang shan buddha memorial complex taiwan
Giant Buddha at the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Complex

              Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial easily tops the list as my #1 tourist destination in Taiwan.  This temple complex is the largest in Taiwan and houses, amongst many other things, a Buddha tooth relic.  The whole temple complex is huge and anyone who sets foot in it will find themselves hard pressed not to be amazed and awe inspired by the size and grandeur of it all.  Not only are there numerous temples and statues throughout the complex, but there are also many shows and festivals practiced on a daily basis in the many areas throughout. 

Finishing Up Taiwan

silhouette green island taiwan

              Having finished up our tour of the west coast of Taiwan and getting to see the spectacular Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, it was time to move on eastward to our final piece of Taiwan.  During what we thought would be our final week (it wasn’t) we hiked through the beautiful Taroko Gorge, almost lost my drone a few times, had the worst day of our vacation thus far in the most beautiful place in Taiwan, and got stuck in Taipei for a while due to a visa snafu.

Green Island

rocks ocean green island taiwan

              Green Island might not be a lot of people’s to-do list when visiting Taiwan, but it is certainly deserving of a top spot as one of Taiwan’s most beautiful places.  It’s great for a short get away from Taiwan’s hustle and bustle and offers some great attractions and sights that you will find no where else in the country.  Some strong words seeing that the first day there was possibly the worst experience I’ve had since being in Taiwan (more about that here).

Taroko Gorge

taroko gorge taiwan

              If you enjoy nature, hiking, sightseeing, or just want a way to get out and about, then look no further than Taroko Gorge.  Taroko Gorge is one of those places whose sheer beauty and grandness has caused it to be touted as one of Taiwan’s most beautiful places.  

Finally Leaving Taipei

drinking from teapot fo guang shan buddha memorial kaohsiung taiwan

              My first two weeks in Taiwan having been spent in the capital of Taipei, it was time to leave the big city and start our tour of the country.  Spoiler Alert: This ended up being a huge scheduling mess due to fixed dates for interviews and festivals we had to meet and a tentative date for leaving that we came no where close to meeting.  Our tour of Taiwan was great though and had its highlights, like the largest temple in Taiwan, the most popular festival in the world, and me getting the worst rash ever and having to go to the hospital.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

laterns pingxi sky lantern festival taiwan

              The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival has been ranked highly on global must visit lists by numerous sources like CNN, Discovery Channel, and Foder’s; just to name a few.  This ancient Chinese festival has been reimagined for the modern age with live music and dance shows, coupled with vendors selling all sorts of food and souvenirs.  

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