Queenstown New Zealand is a beautiful little city tucked along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. it is surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range and known for adventure sports of all kinds. we didn't go bungee jumping or skiing or skydiving or even parasailing during our visit there. but we did ride the Queenstown Gondola up to the top for an incredible view.
which, of course, turned out to be quite an adventure.
we arrived shortly before sunset. words like "stunning" and "incredible" and "gorgeous" started spilling out of our mouths. the sun was throwing beams across Lake Wakatipu below, but it was chilly up top. so we bundled up and wandered, content to have the trails mostly to ourselves.
despite the chill, we were all smiles. with gorgeous views like this - how could we not be? [obviously we had no premonition that we'd be getting stuck in the gondola on the way down for over 2 hours.] the fluffy clouds, the shifting light, the remarkable mountains that truly live up to their name... it felt like we were on top of the world.
some people might be disappointed to visit the "adventure capital of the world" and have their biggest excitement be getting stuck in a gondola. they might want to take advantage of all the adventuresome options there are to experience in Queenstown.
but. willingly jumping out of a plane isn't my idea of a good time. I'm just not that kind of person. and you know what? that's ok. a sight like this is all the thrill I need.
Beitou is one of the northernmost neighborhoods of Taipei, nestled into the base of Yangmingshan National Park. most visitors come to Beitou for a soak in their famous hot springs. but if you aren't into relaxing in near-boiling sulfuric water, there are still plenty of other sights to see in the area.
a few weeks ago I met up with a friend to go and explore Beitou for an afternoon. we had a long list of things to see in Beitou that didn't include a dip in a hot spring [though we did try to put our feet in the river- and were foiled since it is currently closed off to the public.]
the Beitou Public libraryeven if you've never heard of Beitou, this building might look familiar. it's been featured and celebrated all over the internet for it's green design. we went inside to explore, though there were giant signs up banning photography. I loved that they had balconies and outdoor seating - something I've never seen in a library before. but my favorite part was how amazing it smelled. everything inside is made from wood - from managed, renewable sources. it feels more like a treehouse than a library.
the thermal valleythis hot spring pool is the source for many of the hot spring hotels nearby where you can take a dip. the water here is too hot for soaking [around 80-100 C] though apparently, visitors used to boil eggs in the water. the day we visited, the steam was so thick we could hardly see across. it was a bit like walking through a sulfur-scented steam room. this area is also known as Jade Spring Valley [due to the color of the water] and Hell Valley [ because of all the steam?]
the hot spring museumright across from the library, you can find the Beitou hot spring museum. this building dates back to the Japanese occupation, when Beitou was first developed as a kind of resort town north of the city. water from the nearby springs were piped down and into the bathhouse. now, there are several nearby establishments where you can visit instead - ranging from open pools to small tubs in private rooms. the museum lets you tour its no-longer-used facilities, and has an interesting exhibit about the Hokutolite rocks that are naturally occurring in the area. these rocks emit low levels of radiation which are said to aid in the healing properties of the waters.
Japanese Puji Templethe Japanese influence of Beitou continues here at this Buddhist Temple. it was a little difficult to find - you follow some stone steps off the side of a narrow road and go through a wooden gate to get here. but the Puji Temple is an interesting sight. the white walls seem so minimalistic compared to most of the brightly colored and dragon-topped temples we normally see in Taiwan.
Liuhuangku and Longfenggu [Longfong] Geothermal Areasconfession: there's going to be another full post on these areas because I have too many pictures. but I thought I would share them here because they are just a short bus ride up the mountain from Beitou. but if you're looking for things to see in the Beitou area, these geothermal valleys are interesting and also less crowded than the central area.
getting to beitouto get to Beitou, take the red MRT line [line 2] north towards Tamsui. transfer at the Beitou station for a short ride on the hot-spring themed train to Xinbeitou station. everything on this list [with the exclusion of the geothermal areas above] is easily walkable from the MRT station.
ps - you might have noticed I have blog design ADD and things are looking a bit different around here. I know I made a huge deal about my last redesign but something about it just wasn't sitting right. I loved the painted/watercolor element thing but the coral and black was too harsh. or messy. or something. this feels better, so hopefully it will last longer than 2 months! I still have a few small tweaks to make, but let me know if you run into any broken links or issues.
before I get to the giveaway, it's time for a life update. because I have a stash of 5-almost-ready posts hanging out in my draft folder and I'm just not feeling any of them today. in fact, it's dark and rainy out and I feel a bit of a ramble coming on. so grab a cup of coffee [or wine] and let's have a chat, shall we? here's what's been happening around these parts lately...
apartment huntingwe found an apartment in Taipei! during our first trip we looked at several apartments. none of them had exactly the situation we wanted, but one we had designated as a "this will work/backup plan/if nothing better appears" option.
when we went for our second day of viewing, last weekend, I almost died of panic. the first thing the realtor told us was that the place we were interested in from our last trip was, as he spoke, being signed over to someone else. 5 minutes later, he received a phone call from someone else who was curious about the apartment we were about to view. as we were looking through and trying to see if it would work for us, he was taking photos to send to someone else. we then went to a second apartment, after which we were told that was all there was available to view.
so we had to decide between the 2 places we had seen that day, and if we wanted to be sure to have an apartment at all, we had to make our decision pretty much right that moment. not the ideal situation, but the place we ended up with is actually a great space. it's further from the MRT [Taipei's subway] but literally across the street from a giant park and just at the foot of the mountains. I feel like I have whiplash from the whole experience, but I'm looking forward to moving in at the end of July and setting up our new home.
packing thingsright, so we know where our stuff is going now. that means it has to be sorted and ready to go there. you guys know my feelings about packing for vacation. so just multiply that by a thousand and you have my feelings on packing for a move.
add to this a few things: our stuff is actually being moved in a few weeks, even though we won't be in that apartment until we return to Taiwan at the end of July. and two days after our stuff is moved, I am flying back to the states for summer. [let's not even talk about the bridesmaid dress that is waiting at my parent's house which may or may not fit that will have to be worn just a few days after that.]
watching thingsif you are a fan of Penny Dreadful, you might have found the end of this week's episode a bit disturbing. if you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then you definitely found the end of that episode cringe-worthy. I made the poor choice of watching these shows back to back. I thought GoT would cheer me up or at least give me something other than torture and murder to think about. oh, be careful what you wish for. no spoilers here, but that is the first departure from the books that I've really hated.
in an effort to get something else into my brain, I flipped through our DVD collection and re-discovered the Planet Earth series. it feels like it aired forever ago, but I can tell you it is still stunning. I haven't seen it since moving abroad and it was really interesting because I actually knew where these places were and had even been to some of them. it gave me serious wanderlust itches.
creating thingsspeaking of. I've recently discovered Creative Market. have you ever heard of this place? [warning: you will become obsessed.] I've downloaded some new fonts and textures and can't stop myself from playing around with them. since right now most of my creations are just hanging out on my hard drive, I thought I'd share a desktop wallpaper for your guys to download. [if you guys are into this kind of stuff let me know, and I might make it a regular-ish occurrence.]
the world is crazy beautiful desktop wallpaper << click there to access the full-size image
and that giveawayif looking at new fonts and artwork gives you the itch to find a new blog design [like it does me] then you are in luck! Kelly over at The Lady Errant has just opened up a blog design service. and because she's awesome, she's offering up a customized Wordpress theme [and some other goodies] to one lucky reader.
several lovely blogging ladies and I have teamed up to help spread the word about The Lady Errant Design Shop grand opening. it's always so exciting to see the efforts of someone's creativity and determination come to fruition. but- I'll let Kelly tell you more in her own words. read what she has to say about the shop and the giveaway below, then go check out her work!
Celebrate the opening of The Lady Errant Design Shop!
I'm excited to announce that The Lady Errant Design Shop is now open! Coding, figuring out small business legalities, and taxes have been occupying my waking hours for the past 2.5 months, and now it's all coming together. A bunch of my blog friends have been kind enough to support me and help out with a few giveaways to celebrate the opening. We have several prizes for one lucky winner today - and stay tuned for the next giveaway in June! Interested in a new design for your self-hosted WordPress site? Then check out the design site and the Etsy shop, or explore the demo of the most popular theme. Don't forget to sign up for the mailing list to get a 20% off coupon code - the next newsletter goes out in mid-June!
The Prizes1. 1 free customized theme for self-hosted WP sites from the shop (up to $80 value). Includes favicon, pin it button, custom fonts/colors/formatting, and 1 coding add-on (such as a custom page template). 2. A custom blog button designed by Lix Hewett ($25 value) 3. 1 large ad space on The So-Called Homemaker ($10 value) 4. 1 large ad space on Belle Brita ($10 value) 5. 1 hand-embroidered bag from The Hemborg Wife (priceless!)
TLE Giveaway brought to you by:
Kelly - The Lady Errant | Amanda - Rhyme & Ribbons |Rachael - The Rachael Way | Christine - The So-Called Homemaker | Daisy - Simplicity Relished | Bailie - The Hemborg Wife | Jaime - Ink + Adventure | Amanda - musicalpoem | Brita - Belle Brita | Kiersten - She Is Fierce | Lix - A Classic Notion | Anna - Slightly Astray