I arrived at Taipei at the dead of night, a timing I am used to as there seems to be a correlation between cheap airfares and late night arrivals . I got some money out of the cash machine, made sure I had the Chinese Characters of the hotel, grabbed a cab and showed the driver my destination. Less than hour later, I am in front of my hotel, on an empty street in the city of New Taipei.
I stayed at Lion Hotel, which at 5 minutes walk to Fuhzong subway station makes it practical despite its distance from Taipei city centre. The subway trains in Taipei are spacious and clean, and to me its comfort level even at rush-hour is still acceptable. You can take 1–day, 2–day, 3–days and 5–days ticket from any station, explaining this to the ticket vendor is half the adventure :). Some English and sign language will do!
Today was my first day in Beirut. I went for a walk along the Corniche onwards to Raouché. At some point I thought I had everything wrong and that Raouché was at the opposite direction. And then, I came across a family; I asked them whether they spoke French, and two of them replied yes, enthusiastically. They told me I was heading for the right direction and as we said goodbye the man said: “Vous êtes le bienvenu ici!” . That must have been the most heartwarming welcome I have ever heard. I smiled.
Asia’s newest country is moving silently in its transition to mature its Economy and Society. It is a country where a lot is still on the drawing board and where there is still opportunity to start things with best practices considered. I guess you can say that East Timor is an El Dorado for Nation Building because a lot of the experiments are hits and misses.
Take Tourism for example, the industry is not well developed and people there are still not that used to tourists, but that for me is one of the big reasons why you should visit East Timor. People here are lot less consumer centric than in most countries you will have gone too. But I have to say that somehow the city has a 1 country 2 systems feel. The UN has had a large presence in the islands and it seems that there is a UN expat price and a local price. For example, foreigners are charged with a base price of 1 USD for a taxi but locals pay much less. It can be quite expensive in EastTimor though, the island does not have enough resources yet.
Just a little bit more than a year now, me and my friends did the Kilimanjaro trek. We chose the Machame route knowing its reputation as the most scenic of all the routes. Contrary to The Marrangu route(Coca Cola route- the easiest) you are supposed to sleep in tents and the path does not have a gradual ascent. This is the reason why Machame is called the Whiskey route! Continue reading The Machame route of Kilimanjaro→