One of my FAVORITE parts of Taiwan was Jiu Fen (九份), which used to be a mining town up in the mountains. The name means 9 portions and comes from the fact that there used to be 9 main families and so when shipments would come to their port people would always ask for 9 portions of items, and voila! their name was born.

Aside from this place having absolutely amazing scenery, it’s actually the inspiration for Spirited away!

I went during the day time, and my little old iPhone camera would not have been able to do the town justice anyways.

So here is a stolen picture off google images [] that displays the true magnificence - and may perhaps show you just how spirited away could have been inspired by this humble town.

You can read more about a lot of the similarities between spirited away and Jiu fen as well as some history at this kids blog.


Jiu Fen has an “old street”, which is basically a market, and they serve more iconic sticky gooey goodies. My favorite was definitely this shaved ice mochi red bean concoction. I bought two that day, and bought another later in another market. I was in love.

Here are some picss:

My picture of this delectable treat was not cute, so I borrowed this one from AreYuTravelling


So we also made a pit stop in Kenting. According to Trip Advisor folklore, Kenting was supposed to be poppin. But Taiwan is just a little too north of the equator and it has more seasons than Thailand. Thus the Taiwan winter meant lots of big Chinese Tour Buses with lots of Chinese families, no party people, and cold beaches.

We actually drove by a bus crash, which looked pretty frightening!

But it was still pretty and my first taste of one of those “Taiwan Night Markets”. Thus we ended up changing our plans and left a day early to Taipei!

Tam Sui - 淡水

It’s like a day market that lines a port, they literally call it Fisherman’s Wharf for the SF inclined. We got sugar cane juice, ice cream burritos, these weird tofu bricks, giant ice cream cones, these really gelationous jelly fish looking things that are basically boiled chinese bbq pork encased by rice flour. You know what, let me just show you pictures.

But before I do, here’s the infamous turkish ice cream guy. I literally had a BALL just watching him. He is a true performer, and you can tell that he genuinely enjoys his job. Apologies for the vertical iPhone footage.

Picture time:

Taroko Gorge is Gorgeous! The view throughout is relatively the same however (sort of like how the Grand Canyon looks pretty much the same)

But it was still very beautiful with many sights/trails to see.

We went straight from the airport to the Taipei train station down to Xin Cheng where our very expensive Airbnb was located.

Our Airbnb hosts were amazing though. They built their Airbnb by hand themselves, and they took us everywhere. They picked us up from the train station, sent us to food, sent us to rent bikes/scooters, taught us to ride scooters, helped us buy fireworks, and made us a chicken in a tin box over a fire.

We were advised by our Airbnb hosts to rent a scooter and go through the gorge, we originally were going to walk. That would have taken us 3 hours which means we probably would have only been able to see a couple of the trails per day.

With a scooter we were basically able to knock out all of the trails from the Gorge entrance to Tian Xiang. There were a couple of trails that were closed down for construction. Taroko Gorge is known to have a lot of rock falls, you can even see a lot of the past ones that have occurred.

It’s a pretty straight forward park, so I’ll just include a map and some of the pictures from the park. I really enjoyed Swallow Grotto, Tian Xiang, Baiyang Waterfall, and Sha Ka Dang trail.


In Chiang Mai we met up with Eileen and Ivan <3 !

The first night we went into Old Chiang Mai, and the flower festival happened to be going on! It apparently only occurs like 3 times in February, so we were quite lucky!

We then to visit the Sunday Market which is right behind Tapthae Gate. It was a lively market, with lots of food, similar to the many other night markets we had visited previously. BUT, everything was much cheaper. The selection may have been smaller, but if you are looking for any of those famous “Thai Tourist” pants/shorts or some pashminas, wait until you get to Chiang Mai before purchasing.

We also all got 1 hour Thai Massages for 180 Baht, which is an insane deal. And it felt sooo good. Eileen said these massages were far better than the ones she experienced in Cambodia.

Skyline Adventures

The next day we signed up for a Skyline Adventures package where you pay 1,800 baht per person, and they pick you up from the hotel and take you on adventures lol.


First the bus took us to ride elephants. I know, I know, riding elephants is bad. And we saw them use the bow hook tool to hit the elephants as well as tug on their ear to direct them. Eileen and Ivan also went to an elephant conservatory in Cambodia, and Thomas and I also read online a lot of the horrors that come along with elephant/tiger exhibition. But it was part of the package deal and we decided to just do it :/.

Anyways, we got to see one of the elephants poo in the river, and these majestic creatures have equally majestic excrements. They were the size of bowling balls, and they just kept going! As we were traversing the river, our elephant decided to suck in some mixture of water and sand to spray upon itself to cool itself down. However, we were riding upon said elephant, so Thomas and I got sprayed with these small rocks and water. It was surprising, hilarious, and a little gross. Thomas had this big piece of elephant snot on his cheek lol.

Side note, they were using a car battery to power a printer for pictures! How cool is that

Bamboo Rafting

This was awesome! It’s exactly what it sounds like, but the river they take you around is so peaceful and beautiful. We also had really playful tour guides who managed to get us all soaking wet, and a very funny mishap happened with Thomas where the guide jumped over a tree branch and convinced Thomas to do the same when you were in fact supposed to go under the branch. What ensued was a confused Thomas falling into the river as the bamboo raft glided away.

It was sort of like extreme scenic paddleboarding.


So… we got robbed. Not sure when, where, or how. Thomas’ guess is the hostel where about 20 people shared a room, and it was basically a free for all during the Full Moon Party or when everyone was asleep. My guess is there was someone going through our belongings on the bus from Surat Thani to Phuket.

Baiscally, we both thought we were clever, and surreptitiously stashed about $300 in our socks, glasses case, retainer boxes.. etc. ALL GONE. And, we’re carrying giant backpacking backpacks, so our stuff isn’t on the surface, this stuff is lodged in the abyss of mushed items in our bag.

Lesson Learned: Don’t bring much cash with you, and just use the ATM, or just make sure you bring it with you at all times (and don’t get pickpocketed)


Because of this recent loss of money, we tried to be very cheap in Phuket, and therefore didn’t do much.

We stayed in D’s Corner and Guestroom which we found on Airbnb, though she was an AMAZING host, I recommend staying IN Patong, as Phuket is very expensive having been overrun with old tourists with money.


Here was where we had intended to go jet skiing, but again, due to money issues, we decided not to.

The beach was really nice though! Warm calm waters, as the beach is more in a bay. The bad thing about this beach however is that it is extremely touristy. It’s impossible to just chill on the beach, as every 3-5 minutes someone is coming up to you, trying to sell you parasailing, jet skiing, juice, beer, mats, necklaces, sunglasses… you get the point.

We then walked around Patong, and eventually found a really cheap fish spa thing. I’m sure you have all heard or seen one of these before, they have these little fish, which I’m sure they starve (we saw one fish eating another dead fellow fish at one spa) that will come and supposedly suck the dead skin off your feet. It was only 100 Baht for 30 minutes, so we decided to try it. It was SO TICKLISH. I don’t think I had much dead skin hanging off my feet, so I couldn’t tell much of a difference, but my skin did feel raw which I’m sure 30 minutes of sucking will do to you.

We took a bus from Surat Thani to Donsak and then a ferry from Donsak to Koh Phangan. (I also suggest you buy everything as a package deal from Hualamphong Station or other travel agencies). We tried planning ahead for too many things, and it may have bit us in the butt, as we ended up paying for each leg of the trip individually.

We stayed at Bed n’ Bar right next to Haadrin Beach. I definitely recommend you look for a hostel right near the beach if you plan on attending Full Moon Party (FMP). And also suggest you try to book in advance as the rooms fill up quickly. Using Hostel World should be pretty sufficient.

We made quite a few new friends from the hostel, there’s Ruben, Tomas, Maya, and Sigort. Ruben is from Portugal, Tomas from the Czech Republic, and Maya and Sigort from Denmark. We mainly hung out on the beaches and walked around the shops near Haadrin Beach until the second night, when FMP occurred.

It’s insane. Everyone gets painted in neon paint, and is decked out in flower head wreaths and neon tanks.

Some designs you can get painted on you:

The entire beach was covered with human beings. Everyone wasted drunk from sketchy vodka buckets. By 3 AM everyone seemed to be making out with someone. I have many videos, but you can do a quick google images search to see just how crazy this party is. The party kept going on all the way until 9 AM. There were people from all over the world (mainly europe), and of all ages. We saw an old man pull out coke and another old man yell “ YOU CHEEKY BASTARD! ”. There was mushroom mountain, and there were ropes of fire. An epic party to say the least.

An update on our “illnesses”, we proceeded henceforth to eat plenty of yogurt each day and tried our best to eat more fiber. We believe that the initial cause for intestinal unrest was due to this weird porridge we had decided to try the morning of day 2. We hanve since then been much more consistent in our daily BM’s. lol. Bring probiotic pills friends.

Day 3

There really isn’t that much to do in Bangkok, and with the pollution, it makes it somewhat uncomfortable to breathe. I heard that this is standard across most Asian cities though.

We started Day 3 off by going to JJ Market which is only open on weekends, and it was a blast! It’s like MBK on steroids and outdoors. There are alleyways and endless opportunities to buy insanely cheap goods, and also counterfeit designer thingamajigs.

I bought myself a pair of fake white Birkenstocks, which later get stolen at a hostel. They were of terrible quality, and I hope that the loss of these short live $8 Birkenstocks was a blessing in disguise.

Thomas bought 3 pairs of uniqlo type shorts for 300 baht, a 69 baht belt, and a bunch of socks. We also ate lots of food at the market, and saw some cool street food tricks. Unfortunately, I will not upload these videos right now.

Day Two

This day is not nearly as exciting. Thomas and I on top of still being jet lagged both came down with uhh.. GI issues. It’s amazing how much spontaneous fluids exiting your body can really ruin an outing. We both had some diarrhea issues, and I just got my period. Thomas on the other hand, felt like he was going to vomit. Just, not a good combination.

TaoLin Chan Floating Market

We bussed all the way here, only to find that it was closed contrary to what all the websites said :(. We almost got scammed from a laady trying to get us to take a boat, but argued and then ran away from the angry thai lady. We met other fellow wanderers who made the same mistake, we ultimately decided to bus back and check out Central World and EatThai at the bottom floor of Central Embassy. Central World was again, super high end stuff, but nice to see. The Eatthai food court was really cool, it had little stations, each representing a region of Thailand. We tried two fried rice dishes from Northern Thailand, a Curry dish from Southern Thailand, and some coconut shaved ice as well as a watermelon slushie.

Because of our “illness”, we then went back to our hostel/hotel and accidentally napped for 3 hours. oops.


I’d like to say sorry that the only pictures we seem to have are selfies, a lot of the go pro pictures didn’t turn out well, BUT we have hella videos, they just take ages to upload, so I’ll do that after the trip. And I’d also like to apologize for just how word vomitty these posts are. They’re very much, we did this, then this, and then that, then some of this and then that. Too tired to write well!

Day One

Grand Palace

The entry fee was 500 Baht!! It was pretty, but not worth 500. I’d say go to Wat Arun and just pay 50 Baht for their fee or go to the the National Museum right next door for also less baht and more knowledge, as it is a museum and not just pretty buildings. There was a long road littered with stands; herb stands, food stands, keychain stands, etc. This road connected you from the Grand Palace to the neighboring National Museum and one of the best Universities in Thailand, Chulangkorn University. At this point we were extremely jet lagged, and had spent quite some baht cabbing to the Grand Palace. We decided to check in to our AirBnb.

Lee Travel Inn

We totally made a mistake in planning (almost) everything. Prices seem a lot cheaper here than on AirBnb, but I guess planning allows us for peace of mind, and regardless everything is pretty cheap. We like this place! However we chose a room with no A/C, just a fan, which means we’ve been sleeping with as little clothing as possible. Luckily there seem to be no mosquitos in this fine establishment, so we’re good. It’s very clean, and sort of hostel-y, everyone has their own independent rooms, and there are shared bathrooms and showers. We have our own shower/bathroom which is nice. The shower water is not heated, but that’s no big deal, and flushing is done manually. Furthermore, *Bring Toilet Paper!! everywhere you go, this place doesn’t have any, and so do a lot of public restrooms. Wifi is only available in the lobby, which is sort of nice, you get to meet other people this way.

On the Plane

I finished gone girl. Even though I had read through the Wikipedia entries for both the novel and the film, I was entraced. (Like a mosquito flying with UV light in sight) It’s been a while since I’ve read a book - almost a year actually haha. It’s such a great feeling when you’re immersed in a good book and half of you wants to read slowly; absorbing the metaphors that test your imagination and witty prose that makes you feel sharp, whilst the other half wishes you could read 600 wpm because the plot is so thick with excitement. I struggled between the two and often found myself impatient, skipping and reading every other paragraph near the end only to feel guilty as well as confused and go back to re-read correctly. After finishing, all I could do was think about wanting to watch the movie.

I started “Bossypants” by Tina fey and listened to a bit of “Yes, Please!”“ from Amy Poehler but after Gone Girl their sarcastic memoirs seemed superficial. I know them to be not, these bombastic besties are buzzfeed/tumblr idols of mine but alas I did the opposite of what they probably would do. Gorge myself on airplane food. No, I was not hungry at all at any point on this journey, however my curiosity is stronger than the seam of my high waisted skinny jeans I decided to dawn on my 22 hour transportation fiasco, I don’t know the definition of “traveling comfortably”.

All the flights went smoothly, and I was finally reunited with Thomas in Japan. We meandered like fools, looking at every flavor of kit kat bar, and finding all the similarities between Daiso and the real deal. On our flight from Narita to Bangkok we watched Life is Beautiful, it takes some getting used to at first, but once you’re in, you’re in. A comical yet very poignant movie that follows a life of a vivacious Italian Jew during the times of World War II.

In Thailand

We made it! But we’ve already been scammed. Our taxi from the airport, charged us per person… so our fee on the meter said 75 bhat (this is was also after he drove us to the wrong place and we henceforth decided to just walk instead). He charged us 150 bhat. Sure this translates to about 5 dollars, but I am a very broke person right now. We finally get to our hotel which we’re only staying in for one night as we thought it’d be easiest to deal with because of our late flight. The hotel had a 4 star rating on Kayak, but idk. We walked in and our room is like a haven for mosquitos. There is this fun little master trap thing that’s supposed to zap em, but it’s not doing the best job possible.

Tomorrow is going to be a touristy day, visiting the Grand Palace and National Museum. I hope it will be filled with lots of walking and pad thai. We have also only learned one phrase in Thai, and that is “pom pae thaw li sung” (only phonetically spelled) which means “I am allergic to peanuts”. This is because Thomas is allergic to almost every nut, Thailand should be fun. Oh - and yes, we bought a selfie stick - we’re still trying to figure out how to use it.