Lanterns light up Taiwan

Year of the pig sky lantern festival in Pingxi, Taiwan

The Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout Asia between late January and early February, but few places do it as spectacularly as Taiwan, which is famous for a dazzling sky lantern festival and a crazy firework display that have spawned the commonly heard phrase “fireworks in the south and sky lanterns in the north.”

The fireworks in the south refer to the beehive fireworks festival in Yenshui, an insane event where rockets are fired at spectators, and the sky lanterns in the north are part of an Instagram-favourite display seen every year in Pingxi, near the capital city of Taipei.

There is also a national lantern festival that is of more recent vintage that moves from city to city each year that could expand the phrase cited above to include “lanterns somewhere in between.”

The conundrum for visitors is that all three of these events take place on the 15th of the first month of the lunar calendar, and since it’s impossible to be in each place at once, you have to pick one or come back a few more times to experience them all, which doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Read the rest of the story on TraveLife.

Photos: Tantalizing views of Taiwan

I was lucky enough to be invited back to Taiwan for a press trip in February and what made it special was that it was during the country’s Lunar New Year celebrations. Highlights included the Taiwan Lantern Festival and the Yenshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. Disappointed that I missed the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, but I was able to get to the mountain town to launch a sky lantern of my own. Here are a few photos from my time there:

Taiwan is the “wheel deal” for cyclists

We had only five kilometres left to cycle that day, but it was hot, our muscles were complaining and the long road ahead of us sloped upwards, reminding us that we’d have to work that much harder to get to our final destination.

As we approached the hill in the Taiwanese countryside, we came to a small community of homes. By the roadside, in the merciful shade of a towering tree, was a small Taoist shrine, one of many similar structures found throughout the country.

The small red building, no bigger than a garden shed, was adorned with colourful sculptures of Chinese gods and monsters. Inside was a golden statue of a deity with offerings left behind by worshippers from nearby farms. We didn’t have anything to offer, but we thirstily drank our remaining water and silently beseeched any gods that were listening to provide us with the energy needed to climb that final hill.

Our prayers were answered because, in what seemed like no time, we powered up the slope ahead and coasted the rest of the way to the hotel where the others in our group were waiting. We were able to luxuriate in the pool where our aching muscles could recover for the next day’s ride.

Read the rest of the story on TraveLife magazine’s website.

The best bike touring routes in Taiwan for every skill level

Taiwan might be famous for making cheap electronics, but it also happens to be home to Giant, the world’s largest bicycle company.

It exports millions of bicycles to every corner of the world each year, but also supplies a thriving local market in a land that is in love with the two-wheel ride.

Thus, visitors to Taiwan can easily explore the country on bike by riding a sprawling network of dedicated paths that caters to cyclists of all abilities. Numerous local operators offer tours that include bike rentals and support vans as well as restaurant and accommodation options that allow tourists to go at their own pace.

Here are some popular cycling itineraries, rated by difficulty, for people interested in discovering this green and pleasant sub-tropical island.

Read the rest on Metro Canada.

The musical garbage trucks of Taiwan

It might sound like the music from an ice-cream truck, but if you’re in Taiwan, chances are that’s the garbage truck. By law, you can’t leave your trash on the curb in Taiwan, but have to hand it directly to the garbageman which is why trash trucks play music to alert you that they’re on the way.

News and Notes: A waterproof e-reader, Arctic itineraries and multi-currency credit cards

Once again, my inbox is overflowing with press releases and news from agencies representing destinations and travel operators from around the world. Here is a selection of some of the items that I thought were particularly interesting so read on:


The Kobo Aura H20 is the world’s first fully waterproof eReader.

At just 233 grams, it makes the perfect travel companion regardless of the destination as book lovers can read anywhere and anytime, with access to more than 4.9 million eBooks and magazines. The device also has a stunning HD display that showcases stories with crisp and clear clarity that reads just like paper.

The Kobo Aura H20 is available across Canada at Best Buy, Indigo, Chapter, Coles, London Drugs, Staples, The Source, Walmart and online at for an MSRP of $199.99.


The time to visit the High Arctic is now, with leading expedition cruise operator, One Ocean Expeditions.  OOE has packages to create a memorable summer holiday and with savings representing up to $2,400.00 US, the Arctic is suddenly an attainable getaway.

One Ocean Expeditions’ Arctic 2016 season introduces new cruise itineraries to the Northwest Passage.  Travellers with limited time can now join shorter Arctic voyages including the Northwest Passage.

The 7-night Wildlife Encounter voyage immerses travelers in abundant nature and wildlife, one of the biggest attractions to the north.

The 8-night Finding Franklin Expedition, departing on August 20, takes intrepid travelers back to the days of early polar explorers and the discovery of the Northwest Passage in the footsteps of British Explorer, Sir John Franklin.

One of One Ocean Expeditions most popular voyages is their 12-night Classic Northwest Passage, considered as the ultimate Arctic experience for people that have always dreamed of exploring this pristine destination.

The Arctic trip that surprises and touches travellers the most, for its raw beauty and haunting wildlife is the Baffin Island-Jewel of the High Arctic voyage.

OOE’s Canadian Arctic cruise prices start from US $5,195 per person for a 7-night voyage, ranging up to US $8, 895pp for a 12-night voyage, based on triple share.

For more information and departure dates, visit


Canadian travellers can soon reap the same benefits as their neighbours to the south, as the next generation of prepaid travel cards is preparing to launch north of the border.

Designed to put consumers in control of their travel money and make it easier to budget for the next trip, the MasterCard Multi-currency Cash Passport is one of several multi-currency cards that will soon be available in Canada.

With it, travellers feeling the pain of the Canadian dollar will be able to access up to seven different currencies for fuss-free destination hopping and shopping, and will also benefit from


The secret is out — the stunning beaches and azure seas featured in the all-new unscripted dating series Coupled is none other than the alluring Caribbean destination  of Anguilla.

The series, produced by Emmy Award winner Mark Burnett  premiered on May 17 on FOX.

Hosted by entertainment personality Terrence “J” Jenkins, COUPLED follows 12 single, smart and young professional women looking for love, who will meet face-to-face with eligible single men against the beautiful backdrop of the Caribbean island.

“The decision to make Anguilla the destination of choice for this major network television production represents a tremendous vote of confidence in our island,” said Anguilla’s Chief Minister, The Hon. Victor Banks.

Fans of the show are invited to follow COUPLED on Facebook Follow the series on Twitter @CoupledFOX and join the discussion using #Coupled. See photos and videos on Instagram @CoupledFOX.

For more information on Anguilla visit the official website of the Anguilla Tourist Board:


Summer has already started in Taiwan with the May 7, 2016 launch of the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival on Fulong Beach. Twenty four sculptors from 12 countries around the globe, including Canada, are showcasing their incredible works, heralding the start of the summer season in a festive event that blends art, architecture, music and more.

Now in its ninth year, the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival is renowned as the best sand-sculpting event in all of Taiwan.

Last year’s event broke world records with more than 300,000 travellers attending throughout the summer, and visitors of all ages are invited to join the festivities by creating their own artistic sculptures. Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival is runs until July 10.

Located just 55 kilometer east of Taipei, Fulong is renowned for its diverse scenery and abundant outdoor activities within the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area. Visitors can enjoy swimming, surfing and canoeing, while the nearby Longmen camping site and coastline biking trail attract outdoor enthusiasts from far and wide.