Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. Here are the suggested things to do:

  1. Old town square – it has remained relatively untouched since the 10th century and here you will find on the best preserved medieval mechanical clock in the world.
  2. Prague Castle – Entry to the grounds of the castle are free although many buildings such as the St Vitus cathedral, Basillica of St George and Golden Lane can be visited with a combined entry ticket.
  3. Stroll across Charles Bridge.  The bridge was commissioned in 1357 by Charles IV to replace an older bridge that had been washed away by floods. Although completed in 1390, with the striking statues added in the 17th century, the bridge did not take Charles’ name until the 19th century. You will enjoy the musical performances by buskers, paintings by artists and other vendors.
  4. Admire the Lenon wall – Although Prague is a long way from Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles, fans should certainly check out this shrine to one of the most famous bands of all time. The wall has been covered in John Lennon and The Beatles graffiti, lyrics and quotations since the 1980s and is very popular among tourists and young fans wishing to pay homage to the group.
  5. Petrin Hill – For its gardens, views of the city from the miniature Eiffel Tower, unusual church of St Michael and mirror maze. You can walk up or ride the funicular railway to the top.
  6. The narrowest street in Prague – you actually do have to follow the pedestrian traffic light! 19.6inch wide gap nestled in Prague’s oldest neighbourhood, Mala Strana. IMG_9749
  7. Wanceslas Square – one of the main city squares and the centre of the business and cultural communities in the New Town of Prague, Czech Republic. Many historical events occurred there, and it is a traditional setting for demonstrations, celebrations, and other public gatherings.
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  8. Kampa park – you will find the random row of yellow penguins and other art sculptures. If you keep on going across the park, it eventually links to island in the middle of the river where you enjoy the views of Charles bridge and the town.
  9. Dancing houseIMG_7994
  10. Spotting art all across the city – some stranger than others. King Kong Balls is what they call this one.
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  11. Chimney Cake – Good food coffee and bakery was highly rated so that’s what I tried but you can find this everywhere! IMG_9791
  12. Prague hotdog – I wasn’t a fan but again you can find it everywhere as a convenient on the go food
  13. Key specialities – Roast pork knuckle and roast duck with cabbage and dumplings.IMG_9726

Day trips from Taipei

Having been to Taipei several times now, I decided to explore the countryside a little bit more. Here are some day trip options even though I chose to stay over night at Jiu Fen to make the trip a bit more relaxing and to avoid large groups of tourists:

  1. Jiu Fen and Jing Gua Shi – Jiufen is a mountain town east of Taipei. It’s known for the narrow alleyways of its old town, packed with teahouses, street-food shacks and souvenir shops. It is also known as the back drop for the movie Spirited Away! Don’t forget to try Grandma Lai’s famous mochi type dessert opposite the post office along the old street.Close by, the Gold Mine Museum in Jing Gua Shi traces the town’s history as a mining hub during the Japanese-era gold rush. Be sure to check out the golden waterfall too which you will surprisingly find just by the main road.

    You can easily take a public bus from Rui Fang station to Jiu Fen and from Jiu Fen to Jing Gua Shi.

  2. Jing Tong to Ping Xi to Shi Fen to Rui Fang – Buy a day pass or use your easy card to access the Ping Xi line train that connects all these must see villages. This area is rich in history and is famous for the sky lantern experience. I chose to do the sky lantern at Ping Xi station instead of the famous Shi Fen one because of the number of tourists! Releasing a sky lantern starts from 150NT depending on the number of colours you want on your latern as each color represents a different meaning (this matters to some people). Shifen is also known for it’s waterfall so be sure to check that out (closes at 4:30pm) – photo in my Taipei blog post.
  3. Ying Ge is famous for the production of porcelain and an abundance of art studios and shops. It was good fun learning to make pottery! Note that it take’s about a month for it to be fired and colored so it might be useful to have a Taiwan friend help you pick this up as I’m not sure that they do international deliveries. It cost 150NT to make and an additional 150NT for the firing process etc.

Tokyo, Japan

The last time I visited Tokyo was during a school trip back when I was 12! All I could really remember was sticker photos, Disneyland and Universal Studios. This time I got to do my own research on what to do and had the privilege of having many friends take me around too. Here are my top recommendations in Tokyo/from Tokyo:

  1. Watch a Sumo fight in Ryogkoku. Check when sumo season is on, I was lucky it was tournament season but when I tried to get tickets on the spot, it was sold out! So pre-booking is vital.
  2. Harry’s Hedgehog cafe Harajuku (you can hold em!) 30min or 1h time slots with unlimited free drinks from the machine.
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  3. Takeshita Street Harajuku is my favourite because it has everything. Shops, cool cafes such as the Owl cafe, vintage shopping, and street food (plenty of crepe and unique desserts). Kawaii culture came from there so you will also find maid cafes.5AA4836E-114C-4239-9ADE-6CADE8FC494B
  4. Ichiran Ramen. You will start to realise Japan can be quite anti-social when it comes to amazing food places. Booth and bar stool culture where you just eat and then go. They are so efficient that you pre-pay for what you want from a machine before you enter.
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  5. Enjoy a free city view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku15195ADA-D520-4E43-B21A-2FE95A4F5061
  6. Shibuya Crossing and the view from the Mag building where you pay 300yen to go up and 1000yen extra if you want the drone type shot!C80A2BD4-A26E-460E-A2AB-E9468F263949
  7. Consider trying the Robot restaurant
  8. Visit Sensoji, Asakusa – the older temple with traditional shops all around 

  9. Meiji Shrine in the city forest near Harajuku station 

  10. Tokyo Tower
  11. Rainbow bridge and Giant Robot 

  12. Team Lab – Borderless or Planet exhibition. Pre-buy tickets to avoid lines. E9F8602F-6A66-4475-8822-F2AAA97CD6C5
  13. Hachi statue, a very common meeting spot in Shibuya8863933B-B642-4F49-90C0-4AC38B860117
  14. Dancer’s collection for all your Hip Hop gear
  15. Sky tree885C85C7-709A-403C-9C87-D82398F5943E
  16. Akihabara – all your tech in one place
  17. Don Quijote – 24h shop with everything! They have branches all around
  18. Kura, Genki, Uobei and Sushi Ro for good sushi
  19. Geisha/Samurai show
  20. Bonus if you can catch cherry blossom season
  21. Day trip to Mount Fuji

 

Extra: My food list

  • Melon breadEB7A3296-4469-4CE1-9D27-F94A59FE4B95
  • Katsu Curry
  • Katsu Don
  • Ramen
  • Tsukemen
  • Yakitori
  • Crepe (they are everywhere especially in Takeshita)A071727F-B6A6-4F6E-9C72-468A60ADE22B
  • Rainbow toastie00C7E095-ECAC-490B-A07F-F7D2C8877FDE
  • Anura Soba – my fave! 

  • Cheese hotdog
  • Train Sushi
  • Takoyaki (Originated in Osaka)AF3CF433-AE0C-468B-9066-744CE7A5436F
  • Wagyu beef
  • Chicken Karaage
  • Gyudon (beef bowl rice)
  • Tsukiyaki
  • Okonomiyaki C27D61C9-B0F6-4132-9964-7CB06318270B
  • Monja (only in Tokyo)
  • Gyoza
  • Tamago DE95E859-622E-4C65-BA53-B0A8B69920C8
  • Chawanmushi
  • Daifuku D5E16C6C-10BD-496A-BB1A-0611AFCFD21F
  • Mocha (handmade, red bean inside) A8B91988-68A7-485B-9A32-E39617A3E0B9
  • Dango (plain mocha on skewer)
  • Taiyoki (fish shape waffle)
  • Piyanee Thai Milk Bubble tea (amazing bubble tea in Shibuya near H&M) 540A9E0C-2127-4E00-81BF-CA3A2D15C6BB

Singapore

Singapore is a global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population. If I were to ask my Singaporean friends what they would recommend, they are all very proud of their food and hawker food centres! Hawker centres (also known as food courts) are down-to-earth culinary destinations where you can find a wide variety of local dishes, from Chicken Rice, Fried Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, Bak Kut Teh, Satay, Laksa, and Chilli Crab to the vegetarian Yong Tau Fu dish. So be ready to eat a lot when you visit and be blown away by how cheap the food is. I find all hawker centres foods are just as good, so best to ask a Singaporean which one they would recommend.

Apart from that, here are my other top recommendations:

  1. A very easy night time walk to see Singapore’s prettiest skyline: Walk from Clark Quay (restaurants and clubs) to the MCI Rainbow Building (nice photo spot) to Fullerton hotel (beautiful bridge and hotel, you can also use this hotel as a short cut to the bay front). You will see Boat Quay across the river along the way as well as City Hall on your side of the river footpath. Once you reach the bay front,  you can do a circular loop where you’ll see the Merlion, random art sculptures along the way, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Helix Bridge, Lotus looking Art and Science building, tall office buildings, Louis Vuitton and the Ferris Wheel. I was lucky to have also caught a temporary Carnival. You can definitely repeat this during the day but be aware that Singapore is really HOT!

  2. Haji lane (hipster, soho like alley with live music and bars) and Zam Zam restaurant for famous murtabak (stuffed pancake with egg, onion and a meat of your choice)
  3. Visit Katong to see typical Peranakan style houses and why not try a typical Singaporean breakfast (Kaya toast dipped in soft boiled egg)
  4. CHIJMES is a historic building complex in Singapore, which began life as a Catholic convent. It is now used for weddings and many restaurants have opened up. You can even do yoga in the courtyard.
  5. Sentosa Island – the happiest island ever. You have Universal Studios and a lot of other activities such as flow boarding. Be sure to give yourself at least 3 days to enjoy everything on this man made beach island.
  6. Orchard Road is known for shopping if you’re into malls that follow one after another.