Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Site

Hi everyone!

If you haven't already, please redirect Connvoyage to its new site on Wordpress. All posts will be published there from now on.

Thanks for your continued support!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Surprise Coming Your Way

I know I've been pretty quiet lately. It's because I've been working hard on redesigning Connvoyage!

I'm excited to unveil the new look shortly. Thanks for your patience and continued support!

For now, it's back to Asia I go, and finally realizing one of my dreams of volunteering with elephants!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Voluntourism - Impact or Impossible

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Voluntourism - Impact or Impossible."

Q1 via : What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to give voluntouring a go?
  • : Do it because you are passionate about volunteering and not because it looks good on paper
  • : See who the organizer really is. I found out halfway I was volunteering with a religious cult 
  • : Research, Research, Research. Check out lots of organizations and ask them lots of questions. Good ones will answer them all
  • :: Do it for right reasons, not on a whim. It may be a gap year for you but for them it's their life
  • : Do lots of research! Ask for advice and tips from people that have done it before 
  • : Really think about what it is you have to offer and ensure you can actually give the time you have agreed to 
  • : Make sure the organization is reputable and the causes involved are things you agree with or share in common
  • : Go with an open mind and willingness to work, but don't expect to save the world in a month
  • : Do your research. Always know exactly who they are and exactly what they expect from you
  • Do something in a field you love, something you're passionate about. Whether that's animals, environmental, building, etc 

Q2 via : Best voluntourism activity for a first-timer?
  • : Pick something that your comfortable with, that you think you'll enjoy and can contribute to 
  • : Start with something small - like help cleaning an old stadium for children to play in or help planting trees 
  • : Go with a friend so you can share the life-changing times. And rough out the hard days together
  • : Do something local, volunteering doesn't necessary have to involve long haul travel or developing countries
  • : Grow something! Whether it`s working on a farm or volunteering with a community garden, make an impact that`s sustainable 

 Q3 via : What was your most worthwhile voluntourism activity?
  • : Helping out at the food bank in Iceland. Felt good to be able to help others in need! Specially around Christmas
  • : Helping to rebuild parts of Pisco, Peru after it was destroyed by an earthquake
  • : When I spent two weeks at a childcare facility in Honduras, we took some paint/paper and did art with the kids in the afternoons  
  • : My most worthwhile was also my worst, in Cambodia. Learned SO many lessons on what to watch out for and better select in future
  • : Playing games with orphans in Jakarta, Indonesia. Love putting a smile on kids faces
  • : The hubs and I volunteered to help feed 3500 immigrant workers for Thanksgiving one year
  • : My most valuable voluntourism was digging trenches in India to stop elephant and locals conflicting

Q4 from : Which 3 things should potential volunteers look for in a credible volunteer program?
  • : Must not replace local work; must be sustainable/accountable; must not exploit 
  • : What impact will I make? Am I passionate about the project? Where is my money going?
  • : Check who's behind the organization,where money goes and try to find out what the local community thinks
  • : Financial transparency, safety, and of course...happy alumni
  • : Definitely get in touch with people who have used them, do proper research (beyond just their website)  
  • : Where does the money go? Do the locals really benefit? Has the organisation a good reputation? 

Q5 via : What info websites can you recommend for volunteers who are researching?

And there you have it, "Voluntourism - Impact or Impossible."  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Travel Buddies!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Voluntourism - Impact or Impossible" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Highlights from the Social Good Summit

Last week when I posted my thoughts the Social Good Summit, I mentioned that I didn't think it fostered as much "global conversation" as I would have hoped. Be that as it may, I did enjoy Mashable's Social Good Summit immensely as the speakers and presentations throughout the three day event were thought-provoking and engaging. I also must stress how important and relevant I thought the Social Good Summit was in terms of bringing more awareness to all the social good taking place around the world and how individuals like you and I can easily get involved through the use of technology and other social platforms.

In case you weren't able to attend in New York City, or watch all the live-streams, here are some of the best moments to come out of the Social Good Summit.

Dr. Hans Rosling makes numbers, charts, and child mortality rates fascinating

Top presentations I didn't think I'd be interested in:
  1. Dr. Hans Rosling, Professor and Chairman of Gapminder Foundation: Trends in Child Mortality and New Data (video starts at 3:30)
  2. Jessica Mason, YouTube: What Causes Can Learn from Cat Videos
  3. Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States: Unleashing the Power of Open Innovation in Government
  4. Rebecca Moore, Engineering Manager of Google Earth Outreach: How Google Earth is Changing the World
  5. Nick Kristof, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize Winner, and Asi Burak, Co-President of Games for Change: Social Gaming for Good

Childhood hero, Jane Goodall, almost made me cry - she's so incredible!

Emotional moments when I had to fight back my tears:
  1. Primatologist and childhood hero, Jane Goodall steps out onto stage and then proceeds to make chimpanzee calls
  2. Introduction to World Humanitarian Day, 2012 - particularly when a photo of my humanitarian hero, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, was shown
  3. Video, including footage of humanitarian work being done around the world, of Beyonce's "I Was Here" performance at the UN General Assembly
  4. Women of Haiti video singing about equality in Haiti
  5. Designed to Move video: Five Extra Years
  6. The ONE campaign's video taken in Honduras
  7. Excerpt of Refugees United's video on the work they do to reconnected families separated during their escape from war-torn countries

Muhammad Yunus talks about social entrepreneurism

Best quotes:
  1. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank: "I'm not afraid of change! I'm excited by it!"
  2. Forest Whitaker, Actor and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador: "Don't be afraid to care...Love grows. Love is a commodity that can expand once you start to use it."
  3. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of US Department of Homeland Security: "Practice good cyber hygiene,"  when asked what advice she would give internet users
  4. Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States: “You take the data that’s already there and jujitsu it, put it in machine-readable form, let entrepreneurs take it and turn it into awesomeness," on the uselessness of data that isn't applied for public benefit
  5. Rob Reich, Co-Director of Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society: "The British are coming, the British are coming! Please RT!" on how history would be different if social media had been present in those times
  6. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State: "We are living at a moment when anyone can be a diplomat. All you have to do is hit SEND" during her opening address to the audience at the Social Good Summit

What are some of your favorite moments from the Social Good Summit?

If you are interested in viewing other presentations at the Social Good Summit, you can visit the Mashable livestream for the archives.

© Connie Hum 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Thoughts on the Social Good Summit

Whew! Last weekend was the 3rd Annual Social Good Summit in New York City and boy, was it an inspiring, emotional, thought-provoking, frustrating, and engaging three days!

Bloggers hard at work at the Social Good Summit's Digital Media Lounge
The weekend was also hectic and exhausting! I arrived in the bustling Digital Media Lounge each day by 11 in the morning and didn't leave until after 7 at night with almost no break in between. Scores of bloggers and independent journalists were tapping away on their devices from morning to night. I have never seen so many people using Twitter all at once before.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice speaks to Mashable founder Pete Cashmore

The most impressive aspect of the Social Media Summit was the sheer scope of the participants involved. In addition to the average concerned citizen in attendance (both physically and virtually) from over 153 countries, we had top political figures, internationally renowned journalists, successful businessmen and women, celebrity activists, and well, some really cool movers and shakers in the social media and technology world. I was geeking out in the best way possible with some of the world's best geeks. I felt incredibly lucky, and honored, to have been a part of it.

A highly connected audience listens while surprise guest Peter Gabrial speaks at the Social Good Summit in New York City

I was most disappointed in the actual "global conversation" that took place. Rather, that DIDN'T take place as a huge majority of tweets and retweets flowing in through the #SGSglobal hashtag were quotes and sound bites from the speakers. There wasn't much interaction in the way of people discussing the issues the speakers raised. I tried to start conversations by posing a number of questions during the presentations, but most of my Tweets fell on deaf ears or in this case, silent fingers.

So much of the hype leading up to the Social Good Summit was surrounded by the impression that there would be conversation taking place internationally about the issues brought forth at the Summit. I was truly disappointed by the lack of engagement amongst the global audience and the one question that kept popping up in my head was, "Where's the dialogue?"

Despite the lack of sharing and discussing between participants, the talks and presentations on stage were nothing short of phenomenal. (I'll be updating a new blog post with my favorite highlights from the Social Media Summit in the coming days so be sure to check back for what I thought were some truly relevant, moving, and significant topics.)

Overall, the Social Good Summit was an amazing experience to see and hear so many influential people discussing their work and what more they hope to achieve with the help of social media and technology. It just would have been nice to hear what other people around the world were thinking and to have put my two cents into the pot as well.

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Road Trip Travels

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Road Trip Travels!"

Q1 via : What's the best country to go on a roadtrip and why?
  • : I would say the USA; its size and diversity (climate, geography, cultures, etc.) Plus it has classic interstate roadways 
  • : Taiwan on a scooter! Valleys, mountains, beaches, countryside, futuristic metro city....all of it
  • : South Africa. Good infrastructure, great landscapes and sights, nice B&Bs
  • : Argentina: urban, jungle, beach, glaciers, pampas, desert, mountains, waterfalls, etc. You name it, they have it 
  • : Ireland. Easy to drive. Lots of great scenery. All of the hidden gems are reachable by car
  • : Australia- 4WD adventure on deserted routes 
  • : One of the best and unforgettable road trip is the Great Ocean Road, Australia 

An incredible road trip in Iceland, 2007

Q2 via : Who would you most like to go on a road trip with and why?
  • : Someone who knows how to fix a car
  • : Anthony Bourdain because he is a sexy bad boy that loves good eats and can always appreciate local cultures 
  • : I road tripped with my sister last summer, and it was great! She's a good road trip buddy. Plus, we had time to bond 
  • : I'd most like to road trip with friends, but save a seat for a local who wants to show us the hidden gems
  • : Alex Trebek. He'd keep me busy with trivia, and probably knows the history of everything we'd see 
  • : I recommend picking up hitch hikers. They're like a box of chocolate. You never know what you're gonna get
  • : Justin Bieber - so I could leave him in the middle of nowhere

Q3 via : Don't go on a road trip without ____
  • : Firstly a great sense of adventure; then a great sense of humour; some flexibility; an open mind... Oh, and a camera 
  • : You cannot roadtrip without decent music. Hearing Abba on loop through Kenya was a living hell
  • : Snacks and maps 
  • : Bail/Bribe money
  • : Car supplies: jumper cables, bottled water, blanket, spare tire kit 
  • : Is it too British to say teabags?

Q4 via : What are your tricks to stay entertained on a long road trip?
  • : Great conversation. Nothing passes the time quicker
  • : Screaming at the top of my lungs to my favorite songs and waving my hands out the window
  • : Take annoying amounts of photographs and eat copious amounts of sweeties
  • : I perfect my mad rap artist skills by rapping along to music or just making it up. My car-mates LOVE it 
  • : Filming myself giving running commentary. Makes for hilarious post-trip videos 
  • : Wave at pedestrians and drivers. Watch the confusion and see how many wave back
  • : An audio book is also a great option for those who can't read in the car
  • : Singing to classic power ballads 

Q5 via : What are the most bizarre road signs you've come across? Show us a picture

: This was taken to warn people of cassowary crossings in Cape Trib

: Kusadasi, Turkey

: loved this sign in LA

: This one's pretty bad... what's a driver to do?

And there you have it, "Road Trip Travels!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Adventure and Activities!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Road Trip Travels" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Social Good Summit, NYC

I am so excited to confirm my attendance at this year's Social Good Summit in New York City! The Social Good Summit will combine my passion for social good and social media with innovative thinking and creative problem solving to direct conversations on a global scale towards some of the world's most challenging problems.

The Social Good Summit is a real opportunity for everyday people, just like you and me, to create a dialogue about how we can use our technology and social networks to make the world a better place! 

Pretty awesome, right?

The speakers in attendance are all world-class inspirations, though the ones I'm most looking forward to hearing from are Mashable's Pete Cashmore, Deepak Chopra, the UN Development Programme's Helen Clark, Jacques' grandson and Plant-A-Fish's Fabien Cousteau, American Red Cross' Wendy Harman, Egyptian human rights blogger Ramy Raoof, and Adora Svitak, the child prodigy who spoke at TED 2010 on "What Adults Can Learn From Kids."

To help facilitate a more global interaction on the pressing issues the world is faced with, communities from all over the world are invited to gather at Mashable Meetups during the Social Good Summit between September 22-24 to share ideas, dreams, and possible solutions.

Of course, you can also follow the hashtag #SGSglobal on Twitter and watch the events on Mashable's YouTube channel.

I'll be live-tweeting from the Digital Media Lounge throughout the Summit and following up with blog posts so that you can get my first-hand experiences and thoughts too.

We live in an exciting time where new media and technology can offer potential answers to the problems that plague our world. We need to turn that potential into a reality, and that reality begins with ideas, dialogue, and interaction.

I am so honored and proud to be a part of this global conversation.

How will YOU participate in one of the biggest, most global, and most powerful conversations the world has ever seen?

The 2012 Social Good Summit is brought to you by Mashable, 92nd Street Y, the United Nations Foundation, Ericsson, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Travel Confessions

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Travel Confessions!"

Q1 via : Tell us your biggest cultural faux-pas! 
  • @Miss_Starling: Telling a Spanish man I was horny rather than hot (temperature) Whoops
  • @hyperren: It may not seem like a big deal, but I always stress about how many air kisses it takes to greet which nationality
  • @MashOnEarth: Waved at my friend to come closer with palm up in Thailand. Apparently, it's the way to call a dog. For people - palm down 
  • @DigitalDiscussn: Car breaking down and asked blokes in pub if they could 'jump me'. They fell off their stools
  • @foodieintl: Eating bread with pasta in Italy. I learned my lesson 
  • @GreenGlobalTrvl: Holding the door for my lady in KwaZulu Natal, where men walk, eat, and drink first
  • @KyleGoesGlobal: In Spanish in Mexico, I tried to order a "hot dog" by describing it as a "dog that is hot" - I literally asked for a "horny dog"  
  • @SandiMcKenna: I am sure I have probably 'LOUD talked' when speaking to someone who didn't understand English thinking it would help 
  • @Ggnitaly84: Having a cappuccino after noon in Italy, a big no no in the Bel Paese
  • @Tactile Travel: Thinking I said grapes when I really said something anatomically obscene in Arabic

Q2 via : What's the most touristy thing you've ever done -- that you loved?
  • : I L-O-V-E double decker tour buses and I'm not ashamed to admit it
  • : Most touristy thing I've done & loved was climb to the top of Eiffel Tower at night 
  • : I cried watching the fountains at Bellagio. True story 
  • : Singing Sound of Music songs in Salzburg and poses in Mirabell Gardens 
  • : I bought (and still keep buying) fridge magnets from places I visit 
  • : Blocking narrow paths whilst taking photos - very annoying for busy locals speed-walking to work! 
  • : Getting on a camel in Giza solely for the photo opp. Who doesn't love a cliché Egypt photo? 
  • : Wearing Mickey ears at Disneyland
  • : Taking a photos holding up the leaning tower of Pisa. I'm sure everyone has one of those photos 

Q3 via : What's the worst thing you ever said while trying to speak a foreign language?
  • : I would like to eat vagina. (cous cous or cuscus in Farsi is vagina) true story
  • : I told a Chinese guy I wanted to see his beauty (piao liang) while I meant his ticket (feiji piao) 
  • : I tried to ask for a pregnancy test in a pharmacy in Spain but asked for a business test
  • : Someone I've met wanted to order "5 cold beers" in Cambodia, but said: "5 old women". He hit the wrong tones
  • : Requested a hard-on instead of a bread roll at the bakery in Brazil
  • : In Taiwan recently I said "shee shee" instead of "sher sher" which is "piss piss" instead of thanks 
  • : When I was working in the States, I would say I loved Hummers the car but not realize that meant an act on a male 
  • : I said "Get yourself hot" instead of "Shut yourself up" in Spanish to soldiers who were pestering me
  • : Chin Chin! what means "cheers" in some languages, turns out it means penis in Japanese 

I do NOT recommend that you eat balut when you visit the Philippines!
Q4 via What kind of food you have tried during your travels that you won't recommend trying? 
  • : Durian! Seriously, there's a reason why this fruit is banned from most public places
  • : Oh god! The smell of Stinky Tofu just does my head in 
  • : Kokoretsi - kind of spit roast entrail thing you eat in Greece at Easter 
  • : Definitely NOT a fan of eating bugs! I don't CARE if they're protein
  • : Anything yak butter derived ..... shuddering just thinking about it 
  • : Baby eels. After I ordered them (feeling adventurous in Spain) I felt horrible about all the little guys.
  • : Rat kebab in Cebu or chickens feet
  • : Oysters. Unless you like the feeling of having snot in your mouth. I judge no one
  • : Vegemite. If this can even be called food

Q5 via : Have you hated a destination that everyone else loves? Where and why?
  • : Well, not everyone loved, but China. I couldn't handle the Asian-Asian racism
  • : Paris. Its just under whelming. It's all very cliched and try talking to some locals if they even speak to you 
  • : Koh Tao in Thailand overcrowded, too Western and generally couldn't wait to leave 
  • : Athens. It was dirty, disheveled and disappointing all-around. Maybe my expectations were too high for the historic hotspot 
  • : Las Vegas. Mostly because of the heat and the expense. Oh and what stays in Vegas never actually stays there 
  • : Tokyo. Concrete jungle, overcrowded, expensive. A group of teens thought we were Americans and told us to 'fluck off' out of Japan 
  • : Venice. Going at peak time was the worst thing. So crowded and extremely expensive. It's a shame when beauty becomes spoiled 
  • : Does anyone actually like Los Angeles?

And there you have it, "Travel Confessions!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Road Trip Travels!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Travel Confessions" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Up and Coming Travel Destinations

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Up and Coming Travel Destinations!"

Q1 via : Name three cities to travel to in 2013
  • : Budapest, Sevilla, and Cape Town you should have already have been to these awesome places, if you haven't what are you waiting for 
  • : Uruguay, Burma and Java
  • : Inca City, Mumbai, and Kathmandu
  • : Raipur, India, Olgii, Mongolia, and Letang,Tibet
  • : Jerusalem, Berlin and Hveragerdi 
  • : Goa (India), Rio de Jainero (Brazil), Porto (Potugal) 
  • : Istanbul, Granada, Morocco
  • : Cape Town, Lima, and St. Petersburg
  • : Saigon, Taipei, Yangon

Q2 via : What motivates you to step out of your comfort zone and discover new destinations?
  • : I travel to convince myself I live in a big planet called "The World", not in a little bubble called "Home" 
  • : Being able to make connections with other people and learning about their culture motivates me 
  • : The knowledge that knowing once out of our comfort zone, the experiences will be life-changing. This is the ONLY way to travel 
  • : A well written article, recommendation from a friend or blogger, but I always stick to intuition. Some places just call my name
  • : Curiosity and that feeling of adventure 
  • : The taste of adventure definitely, cultural diversity, new experiences... The list could go on but anything new 
  • : To travel is experience! You must pack as many experiences into life as possible! So, stepping out of your comfort zone is a must 
  • : A life less explored is a life less lived

Q3 via : Where have you visited that is unappreciated and should be on everyone's list?
  • : New Zealand. It's a popular destination, but the country is so beautiful that more people should visit
  • : Not many people head to the Baltics, but Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have gorgeous towns and friendly locals - and they're cheap 
  • : Montreal - very cool city 
  • : The Plitvice Lakes in Croatia are definitely worth a visit  
  • : My home country, the Philippines, is often underrated compared to SE Asia countries
  • : Namibia Africa is way under rated
  • : Curaçao. It is a beautiful island, the food is great, and the people are gracious
  • : Georgia (the country) and western Ukraine 
  • : Edinburgh. A lot to discover in a tiny city 

Q4 via : What destination will never go out of style and why?
  • : South Africa, its just so diverse - wildlife, culture, beaches, history, icons, adventure. You can just keep coming back for more 
  • : Dubrovnik. Hasn't changed for the past few hundred years and probably won't change too much in the future
  • : Rome, it's the eternal city. So classy and beautiful  
  • : Sydney, London, New York, Hong Kong. Because they are the main hubs where people congregate
  • : Bangkok. So often a backpackers first destination. Will always be crazy 
  • : Paris-always one of my favorites-it's such a beautiful city, lots of culture/history, amazing food, and so much to do 

Q5 via : What up and coming destination do you want kept a secret?
  • : Love Oman, beautiful country, lovely people, great diversity
  • : Can we keep Burma a secret for just a little longer - so much to see before it's overrun
  • : Montenegro...shhh...don't get too touristy before I have a chance to visit please
  • : The island of Hvar in Croatia. Take a boat to some of the secluded islands and relax..Shhh 
  • : Cuba. I worry that if/when the US embargo lifts, it'll be all Americanized and lose its charm
  • : While all flock to Goa's beaches, Dudhsagar waterfalls is a hidden gem! It is Goa's best kept secret 
  • : I really think Slovenia and Slovakia are going to be hot in 2013. Both have stunning scenery 
  • : It's been big for budget travelers for a while, but more mainstream are starting to visit Laos. Great place, but don't tell  

And there you have it, "Up and Coming Travel Destinations!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Travel Confessions!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Up and Coming Travel Destinations" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Taipei's Ultracool Shida Night Market

Taiwan is known for its night markets specializing in street food, but at Taipei's Shida Night Market, the focus is on trendy fashion and cute accessories. Even for a non-shopper such as myself, I easily spent two nights exploring and window shopping the back alleys and bustling pedestrian-only thoroughfare. I couldn't get enough of the energy and colorful stalls of Shida Night Market!

The small, yet super-packed Shida Night Market mainly attracts students from nearby National Taiwan Normal University, though it's not uncommon to see families and foreigners trolling the stalls for inexpensive clothing, accessories, and gifts. Many people come out just to enjoy the vibrant and at times, chaotic atmosphere, making Shida Night Market a great place for people watching.

What surprised me the most about Shida Night Market is how upmarket it was. Once home to mom and pops stores, several roads have made way for cute boutique shops and hip restaurants to mark the rapidly gentrifying and diversifying neighborhood. For better or for worse, Taipei is changing and Shida Night Market is a prime example of how the traditional culture of night markets is evolving with the times.

Of course, let's not forget Shida Night Market is still a Taiwanese market at heart. Food stalls can still be found dotted along the streets, most of which can be found serving up traditional Taiwanese fare such as fish balls, fried chicken, oyster pancakes, and even stinky tofu. To cater to the growing popularity of Western cuisine with university students, Shida Night Market also offers coffee shops, burrito stalls, thin-crust pizza, and even a burger joint serving up local microbrews.

Out of Taipei's many famed night markets, Shida Night Market is definitely my favorite. Although it can be stressful at times to maneuver your way through the streets, it's an insightful look into changing urban life in Taipei, as well as a great spot to do some shopping for unique gifts for friends as well as yourself!

To get to Shida Night Market, take the MRT Xindian Line to the Taipower Building Station or the Guting Station. 

Insider tip: For those who still want to experience the nostalgia of old-time markets, head early in the morning to nearby Longquan Market where neighborhood residents still buy their groceries and household items.

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: On The Water

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Each week is a fun, new topic. Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk!

Just follow the #TTOT hashtag! 

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "On The Water!"

Q1 via Most scenic ferry / cruise you've taken?
  • : Galapagos Yacht La Pinta: sharks, marine iguanas and volcanic islands 
  • : Floating down the Ganges in Varanasi, India and seeing the Hindu cremations 
  • : Rhine River cruise in Germany
  • : I'd have to say sailing in the Togian Island, Indonesia. It's awesome to come into a mini archipelago like that 
  • : Definitely sailing around the Whitsunday Islands. Beautiful beaches,even more beautiful reefs
  • : Cruising through the Caribbean is beautiful. The color of the water is just mesmerizing 
  • : Going up the Amazon in Brazil on local ferries, sleeping in a hammock
  • : Yangzte River Cruise, The Three Gorges were just stunning 
  • : Dug out canoe, steered by man who made it, across endangered mangrove creek, to see wild flamingoes, east Kenya  
  • : For something local, the ferry ride crossing Hong Kong Island to Kowloon is pretty special

Amazing view of the Hong Kong skyline on board the Star Ferry

Q2 via What's the most unique form of water transport you've been on?
  • : Fishing boat exploring Tonle Sap Lake - Floating Village, Cambodia. Amazing experience 
  • : A swan shaped pedalo in Newcastle, Northern Ireland 
  • : Water skis 
  • : Mokoro (dug out canoes) in Botswanas Okavango Delta waterways... unique and a little scary 
  • : On the back of a dolphin
  • : A small raft rowed by a monk to get me across Lake Snagov to visit the monastery where Vlad the Impaler is buried
  • : I loved the boat buses in Venice. So strange waiting for a boat bus instead of a bus bus 
  • : Banana boats are really odd - great fun though
  • : A 1960's gin palace formerly owned by Onassis. Crewed her from Turkey to Malta 6 years ago 

Cairo's party boats along the Nile River

Q3 via Describe your favorite water based view
  • : Have to say the amazing sunsets as their colors reflect off the water 
  • : The view landing by seaplane in Victoria Harbor is pretty cool
  • : Quiet beach late at night, with a camp fire next to me reflecting in the lapping waves
  • : Underwater - with awesome visibility, like in OZ and Thailand. Wow. Whole new perspective
  • : Sunrise in Venice from a vaporetto on the Grand Canal after a great night of partying
  • : I love the feeling when you stand on a beach looking out on an ocean and all you can see is sea and sky, especially at sunset
  • : Sunset on the Okavango Delta from the comfort of a mokoro watching the hippos
  • : White sand beach, palm trees, clear turquoise waters, coral reefs, a hammock--Paradise
  • : View of the Bosphorus at night from one of the funky rooftop bars in Istanbul 

The Bosphorus view from MY favorite Istanbul rooftop bar

Q4 via Robyn Boswell What's the best water-based adventure you've had?
  • : Putting my head underwear in snorkel and mask for the very first time in Thailand - nothing could prepare me for the WOW
  • : Swimming with crocs at the Gibb River road in Northern Australia
  • : Kloofing in South Africa! Basically like a hike combined with cliff jumping off waterfalls, and you hike between falls  
  • : Lvoved the Nha Trang floating bar in Vietnam. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world, so free surrounded by mindblowing beauty
  • : Whale watching with humpbacks swimming right beside the catamaran
  • : River Rafting on the Orange River was great fun
  • : Swimming with sharks was such great experience. Must admit, it was nerve racking at first but after awhile it was fantastic
  • : White-water rafting down Nepal's steepest river Bhote Koshi! Insane 

Q5 via What's your favorite way to travel on the water?
  • : Swim / Kayak / Sail. Ways that don't hurt the environment they're using
  • : Jetskis! Favorite way to travel on water
  • : Inflatable boat down a peaceful river - the Cesky Krumlov way
  • : On a yacht being served wine by a sexy man
  • : Diving for sure. A whole new world plus the added bonus of no seasickness
  • : A ferry/boat that has lots of room to lay outside in the sun, but also an indoor area with aircon 
  • : Ferries that are used as public transport in cities! Think Sydney and Istanbul. A nice alternative to the bus 
  • : On one of the fine looking yachts I spotted in Turkey. You know, the one that comes with a helicopter
  • : Has to be sailing, letting the wind take you 

And there you have it, "On The Water!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Up and Coming Travel Destinations!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "On The Water" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

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