Cherry Blossoms Season 2018 in Taiwan.

One of the most beautiful sightings of spring, the Cherry Blossoms Season 2018 is here and is gorgeous!

Cherry Blossoms Season 2018.

As the winter is getting colder here in Taipei, my time outdoors has decreased. While scrolling on my cellphone, I found the most interesting news “First cherry blossoms spotted in New Taipei City”. Surprised by this (I always thought this was a Japanese thing!), I made a day, grabbed my coat, and headed to TianYuan Temple in Tamsui, whose gardens have several cherry blossoms.

I’ve always known of people’s fascination with cherry blossom trees, in high school, one of my closest friends was always dreaming ongoing to Japan and see these Sakura trees. Until this day, for me they were only nice trees with pink flowers. I’m now in love with these beauties!

 

Cherry Blossoms Season 2018

Wuji TianYuan Temple in Tamsui. Photo by Richard Marin.

 

 

The Taoist temple of Wuji TianYuan it’s stunning by itself, rising in the hill with its beautiful facade. Take your time and walk thru the gardens. As you get deeper into them, you can see the first cherry blossoms.

There is plenty of walk-able space, water fountains, and benches for you to enjoy peacefully the place. Make sure to go all the way up to the top. The landscape from there won’t disappoint you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Searching around the internet, Japan covers the entire information. Well, let me tell you, Taiwan has several places to sight see, and the best part, it won’t kill your budget!

Cherry Blossoms Season 2018

Cherry blossoms welcoming spring!

Cherry blossoms in Taiwan: What you need to know!

  • What is a cherry blossom?

The cherry blossom, known worldwide as Sakura, is the flower of a Prunus tree. These trees found more in the temperate areas of the northern hemisphere. This flower doesn’t become a fruit; however, this tree is related to almond, peach and plum trees.

  • Cherry blossom forecast 2018.

Is happening during the last months of winter, some places might bloom in late January, during February, and will end on March. Locals say this year started earlier due to a warmer winter (nonsense! I’ve been freezing all along!) This year in Taiwan they are due to appear from mid-January until the end of March.

  • How long is cherry blossom season?

The season last around two-and-a-half months, from mid-January until the end of March. Depending on how cold the weather is in a particular area, the season might start until late-February.

  • How long are the cherry blossoms in bloom?

Each tree lasts around 15 to 22 days. Once the flower has blossomed takes one week to reach its peak, after another week it’s completely blossomed, and then will start falling. Rain and strong winds can cut the flowers sooner.

  • Where can you find cherry blossoms in Taiwan? How to get there?

These are the most famous places around Taiwan to spot cherry blossom trees. I’m providing you with the easiest directions for you to get there.

Northern Area.

TianYuan Temple, Tamsui.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui, and get down at the last station. Get out and turn right to the bus station. Take bus 875, and after 30 minutes, get down at Bei Xin Zhuang stop, walk straight to the Seven Eleven store and make a right.

Pingjing Street, Lane 42, Shilin.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui and get down on Shilin station. Walk three minutes to Shilin Farmers Association bus stop and wait for bus 303, after one hour ride get down at Lunziwei stop, walk straight and you can find the beautiful street decorated in pink.

Yangmingshan National Park, Beitou.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Tamsui and get down on Beitou station. From there take the bus 230, it will take directly to the park. This place has many things to offer, make sure you take the whole day to enjoy it.

Wulai Scenic Area, New Taipei City.

From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT red line to Xiangshan, get down at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and switch to the green line to Xindian.  At the north of the same station, take bus 849 to Wulai.

Central Area.

Alishan National Scenic Area, Chiayi.

From Taipei, it can take over 10 hours to get there by public transportation. It would combine buses and high-speed train for you to prove how convenient the system is around here. Once you are at Chiayi main station, take the bus 7322, get down at A Li Shan Rts and take the Forest Railway.

Wuling Farm, Taichung.

Even though is located in Taichung, is easier to get access from Yilan. Get to the Yilan railway station and from there take the Kuo Kuang bus to Lishan and get down just in front of the farm.

  • What countries have cherry blossoms?

The most popular place is Japan; the cherry blossom is also their national flower. You can find it as well in Korea, Siberia, China, United States, Canada, India, Iran, Pakistan, and of course here in Taiwan.

Last but not least!

  1. Take your more comfortable shoes! These areas are worth the visit and they all will make you walk.
  2. Is winter season during those months, some days are colder than others. And especially in those high places, the cold and strong winds may be present.
  3. Take your camera and your patience! It’s obvious to think that being so beautiful and popular, these places won’t be alone, and everybody wants a picture!
  4. Make sure to visit the food places around, they won’t disappoint!
  5. Chinese New Year is on February 15 and 16, meaning people from around the country and some neighbors may be celebrating here!

Well now you know, if you need to experience the cherry blossoms season 2018 without breaking your savings account, Taiwan is the best option for you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Found out more of my Taiwanese discoveries here.

Advertisements

Chinese Language.

Learning Mandarin in Taiwan.

I must admit that growing up I never paid much attention to any Asian language, always thought that as a Spanish native speaker I should remain on the same root of languages; and so I came here with zero knowledge, wait, not zero, I was able to say “Ni Hao!”

One of the challenges I’ve faced since my arrival in Taipei has been the language, thankfully there are a lot of people who handle a basic to a good level of English, however, to wander around is a lot easier to speak the basic stuff. This was a wonderful discovery; you can read more about my first impressions here: Discovering beautiful Taiwan

Learning chinese

So, taking advantage of my free time, and considering that eventually, I would like to work and make a living while I’m here, two weeks after our arrival I enrolled in a private institute to learn Chinese mandarin. Not going to lie, after my first class I ended up with a little headache and a sore throat!

Language Schools in Taiwan.

Since we are living in New Taipei City, I only consider the schools in the nearby area; however, I’m sure there are plenty of options in other big cities like Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taichung.

I started making a little online research and reading all reviews of the main schools here, and after my arrival I went personally to each place in order to make sure about the location and the overall feeling of the school, as well as to find out about pricing, since is very difficult to find it online. Here I summarize my top three findings:

Mandarin Training Center.

This school belongs to the National Taiwan Normal University or best known here as “Shida”. Being part of one of the main universities here gives them a lot of credibility and has a lot of students, however, I believe the format and the length of their classes are not for everybody. This school is for people who can stay in Taipei at least for one year or more, their enrollment is made once a year, you need to apply in advanced around May, then if you are selected you need to fulfill all requirements and be here ready to start in September.

The big advantage this school has is that since day one you will be totally immersed in reading and writing the Chinese characters. There are several schedules for you to pick from and the whole college environment will help you socialize and find new friends in your same situation. Have in mind though, that they can take up to 25-30 students per class so it won’t be as personal and conversational as you may like.

This school offers scholarships thru government programs, if you are interested you can find more information on their website. MTC at NTNU.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute.

Located in the same area as Mandarin Training Center, this school is more focused on foreigners who would like to learn a bit of Chinese while they are staying here. This school offers a new class opening every Monday, however, this only happens if there are at least three people signed up for it. They offer classes in the morning, and in the evening (in case you need to work during the day), as well as several private classes where you can pick the most convenient hour during any weekday.

The great thing about this place is that they only open groups of up to six people, making the class more oriented to participation; you have almost a personalized experience. They start focusing more on conversational skills and pushing vocabulary, also, they use the book developed by Mandarin Training Center, which is the certified one. The bad thing is that, since there are a lot of students just passing by, as you would move forward you may not have enough classmates to open the next level group with you.

Taiwan Chinese Academy.

This is a private institute in the same area as Shida, just like Taiwan Mandarin Institute, has a focus on foreigners vacationing or living short-term in Taipei. However, they do have fixed starting dates so is a good idea to arrange your arrival according to their start time.

They have several classes in the morning and evening as well as private classes according to your schedule; they also focus on conversational learning slowly transitioning to reading and writing. Since they have fixed dates you may find continuity easier as they will always have enough people to start.

How to choose chinese school in Taipei.png

How to choose between Chinese Schools?

I strongly recommend you to sign up for language classes as soon as you arrive, it doesn’t matter how long you will be staying, take advantage of your time, not only for the sake of learning a new language but also in order to immerse yourself in this beautiful culture and learn beyond words.

Please have in mind that the only institution that can help you with a student visa is Mandarin Training Center; with the other two schools, you need to apply yourself for your visitor visa according to the rules and requirements for your country. Also, for Shida, you need to prepare your papers and have them translated to English, in case your papers are written in other languages, and have them certified by a Taiwanese diplomatic office near you. With the other schools, you only need to show your passport.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute and Taiwan Chinese Academy charge around $22000NT (around $740USD) per 12 weeks, two hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. On the other hand, Mandarin Training Center charges $28000NT (around $940USD) for the same period of time, only their schedule is five days a week. Books and other materials are extra on all of them. Please double check all pricing directly with them prior signing up at this might change with time.

All three of them offer nice non-mandatory extra class activities, different every week so you can start connecting with all the wonders that Taiwan and its culture has to offer.

Additional resources.

Last but not least, if you are serious about speaking Chinese any time soon, practice will help you a lot, don’t be afraid to start practicing with the personnel at the restaurant or tea spot. However, if you don’t want to be that exposed yet, I recommend you to use two apps that you can download to your phone, one is Hello Chinese, and the other one is called Chinese Skill. Both will help you learn more vocabulary as well to practice the pinyin and pronunciation. If you are into podcasting I recommend you the one from Chineasy, very interesting and very up to the moment.

chinese apps

My new best friends! This is how you can find the apps.

I must admit I was a bit negative about all of this, during my first weeks I found myself feeling frustrated, but as I continued and discovered the beautiful symbolism of every character and every word made me realize what a wonderfully rich language this is, and the challenge it represents just makes me want to overcome it even more!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Learning Chinese in Taipei: a quick review!

Learning Chinese in Taipei.

I must admit that growing up I never paid much attention to any Asian language, always thought that as a Spanish native speaker I should remain on the same root of languages; and so I came here with zero knowledge, wait, not zero, I was able to say “Ni Hao!”. Either way, I arrived in this beautiful place and the correct thing to do is speak their language, so here is my experience learning Chinese in Taipei.

One of the challenges I’ve faced since my arrival in Taipei has been the language, thankfully there are a lot of people who handle a basic to a good level of English, however, to wander around is a lot easier to speak the basic stuff. This was a wonderful discovery; you can read more about my first impressions here: Discovering beautiful Taiwan

Learning chinese in Taipei

What you should consider in order to pick the best school.

So, taking advantage of my free time, and considering that eventually, I would like to work and make a living while I’m here, two weeks after our arrival I enrolled in a private institute to learn Chinese. Not going to lie, after my first class I ended up with a little headache and a sore throat!

Language Schools in Taiwan.

Since we are living in Taipei City, I only consider the schools in the nearby area; however, I’m sure there are plenty of options in other big cities like Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taichung.

I started making a little online research and reading all reviews of the main schools to learn Chinese in Taipei, and after my arrival I went personally to each place in order to make sure about the location and the overall feeling of the school, as well as to find out about pricing, since is very difficult to find it online. Here I summarize my top three findings:

Mandarin Training Center.

This school belongs to the National Taiwan Normal University or best known here as “Shida”. Being part of one of the main universities here gives them a lot of credibilities and has a lot of students, however, I believe the format and the length of their classes are not for everybody. This school is for people who can stay in Taipei at least for one year or more, their enrollment is made once a year, you need to apply in advanced around May, then if you are selected you need to fulfill all requirements and be here ready to start in September.

The big advantage this school has is that since day one you will be totally immersed in reading and writing the Chinese characters. There are several schedules for you to pick from and the whole college environment will help you socialize and find new friends in your same situation. Have in mind though, that they can take up to 25-30 students per class so it won’t be as personal and conversational as you may like.

This school offers scholarships thru government programs, if you are interested you can find more information on their website. MTC at NTNU.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute.

Located in the same area as Mandarin Training Center, this school is more focused on foreigners who would like to learn a bit of Chinese while they are staying here. This school offers a new class opening every Monday, however, this only happens if there are at least three people signed up for it. They offer classes in the morning, and in the evening (in case you need to work during the day), as well as several private classes where you can pick the most convenient hour during any weekday.

The great thing about this place is that they only open groups of up to six people, making the class more oriented to participation; you have almost a personalized experience. They start focusing more on conversational skills and pushing vocabulary, also, they use the book developed by Mandarin Training Center, which is the certified one. The bad thing is that, since there are a lot of students just passing by, as you would move forward you may not have enough classmates to open the next level group with you.

Taiwan Chinese Academy.

This is a private institute in the same area as Shida, just like Taiwan Mandarin Institute, has a focus on foreigners vacationing or living short-term in Taipei. However, they do have fixed starting dates so is a good idea to arrange your arrival according to their start time.

They have several classes in the morning and evening as well as private classes according to your schedule; they also focus on conversational learning slowly transitioning to reading and writing. Since they have fixed dates you may find continuity easier as they will always have enough people to start.

How to choose chinese school in Taipei.png

How to choose between Chinese Schools?

I strongly recommend you to sign up for language classes as soon as you arrive, it doesn’t matter how long you will be staying, take advantage of your time, not only for the sake of learning a new language but also in order to immerse yourself in this beautiful culture and learn beyond words.

Please have in mind that the only institution that can help you with a student visa is Mandarin Training Center; with the other two schools, you need to apply yourself for your visitor visa according to the rules and requirements for your country. Also, for Shida, you need to prepare your papers and have them translated to English, in case your papers are written in other languages, and have them certified by a Taiwanese diplomatic office near you. With the other schools, you only need to show your passport.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute and Taiwan Chinese Academy charge around $22000NT (around $740USD) per 12 weeks, two hours a day, from Monday to Thursday. On the other hand, Mandarin Training Center charges $28000NT (around $940USD) for the same period of time, only their schedule is five days a week. Books and other materials are extra on all of them. Please double check all pricing directly with them prior signing up at this might change with time.

All three of them offer nice non-mandatory extra class activities, different every week so you can start connecting with all the wonders that Taiwan and its culture has to offer.

Additional resources.

Last but not least, if you are serious about speaking Chinese any time soon, practice will help you a lot, don’t be afraid to start practicing with the personnel at the restaurant or tea spot. However, if you don’t want to be that exposed yet, I recommend you to use two apps that you can download to your phone, one is Hello Chinese, and the other one is called Chinese Skill. Both will help you learn more vocabulary as well to practice the pinyin and pronunciation. If you are into podcasting I recommend you the one from Chineasy, very interesting and very up to the moment.

chinese apps

My new best friends! This is how you can find the apps.

I must admit I was a bit negative about all of this, during my first weeks I found myself feeling frustrated, but as I continued and discovered the beautiful symbolism of every character and every word made me realize what a wonderfully rich language this is, and the challenge it represents just makes me want to overcome it even more!

Discovering beautiful Taiwan.

It’s been a few months since we first arrived in Taiwan, and all I can summarize is Such an efficient place! Everything you ever heard about the beauty, efficiency and lovely people is absolutely true!

Discovering Taiwan

There is a convenience store on every corner, literally. Those little 7Eleven and Family Mart stores work as grocery stores, drug stores, and coffee shops, they all have copy machines, ATM machine, and you can even pay your bills.

People are so mindful of the line in the train, as well with recycling; everyone separates the trash and delivered properly to the truck that collects it. We’ve used several public services, from the post office, which is also a bank, to the hospital, in which in less than two hours we managed to do four medical checks, and for a very reasonable price.

There is a good variety of food, the restaurants around the home are humble but they have the best and the cheapest food, these are known as the “mom and dad restaurants”, and definitely are the best way to try the real local food, besides the night markets. Hot pots and dumplings restaurants are really famous as well. In the same way is super easy to find Thai, Korean, and the most popular one Japanese food.

I also had an amazing time discovering cherry blossoms in New Taipei city.

What I have discovered so far.

There is an amazing community of expats, if you come here on your own, and would like to meet people in your same situation, there are plenty of options to create new friendships based on network, language or food. These are my favorite groups:

Taiwan Expats Association

Taiwan Foodie Girls

Language Exchange in Taiwan

There are plenty of beautiful places to visit without leaving Taipei, if you are going to be working and will have limited time to go around the country, don´t worry, you still will have a lot to do, my recommended activities:

  • Go walk and try new food at Shilin Night Market, pretty big, easy to get to and an awesome vibe.
  • Take the MRT to Tamsui, get to meet around the pier, take a bike and start pedaling in the river bike lane, is safe and has a very beautiful view of the city.
  • Go hiking, it doesn´t matter how experienced you are, go to Da Hu Park and take advantage of those awesome hiking trails around, Yangminshan or Elephant Mountain is highly recommended as well.
DaHu Park 1

Da Hu Park lake and surrounding areas. The photo was taken by me.

And last but not least, my new favorite thing I just discovered here are the beautiful coffee shops all around the city, perfect if you need to study, work or just relax next to your favorite book. These places are cozy, warm and offer excellent coffee, tea and a variety of food, and most importantly, super stable wifi connection.

Explore my first Chinese New Year celebration here.

I´m looking forward to keeping discovering the city and the whole island, will keep you posted for sure!

Taiwan Attractions | Discovering Beautiful Taiwan.

It’s been a few months since we first arrived in Taiwan, and all I can summarize is Such an efficient place! Discovering beautiful Taiwan has proved me that what you ever heard about the beauty, efficiency and lovely people is absolutely true!

Taiwan Attractions.

Taiwan Attractions

There is a convenience store on every corner, literally. Those little 7Eleven and Family Mart stores work as grocery stores, drug stores, and coffee shops, they all have copy machines, ATM machine, and you can even pay your bills.

People are so mindful of the line in the train, as well with recycling; everyone separates the trash and delivered properly to the truck that collects it. We’ve used several public services, from the post office, which is also a bank, to the hospital, in which in less than two hours we managed to do four medical checks, and for a very reasonable price.

There is a good variety of food, the restaurants around the home are humble but they have the best and the cheapest food, these are known as the “mom and dad restaurants”, and definitely are the best way to try the real local food, besides the night markets. Hot pots and dumplings restaurants are really famous as well. In the same way is super easy to find Thai, Korean, and the most popular one Japanese food.

I also had an amazing time discovering cherry blossoms in New Taipei city.

What I have discovered so far.

There is an amazing community of expats, if you come here on your own, and would like to meet people in your same situation, there are plenty of options to create new friendships based on network, language or food. These are my favorite groups:

Taiwan Expats Association

Taiwan Foodie Girls

Language Exchange in Taiwan

There are plenty of beautiful places to visit without leaving Taipei, if you are going to be working and will have limited time to go around the country, don´t worry, you still will have a lot to do, my recommended activities:

  • Go walk and try new food at Shilin Night Market, pretty big, easy to get to and an awesome vibe.
  • Take the MRT to Tamsui, get to meet around the pier, take a bike and start pedaling in the river bike lane, is safe and has a very beautiful view of the city.
  • Go hiking, it doesn´t matter how experienced you are, go to Da Hu Park and take advantage of those awesome hiking trails around, Yangminshan or Elephant Mountain is highly recommended as well.
Taiwan Attractions

Da Hu Park lake and surrounding areas. The photo was taken by me.

And last but not least, my new favorite thing I just discovered here are the beautiful coffee shops all around the city, perfect if you need to study, work or just relax next to your favorite book. These places are cozy, warm and offer excellent coffee, tea and a variety of food, and most importantly, super stable wifi connection.

Explore my first Chinese New Year celebration here.

I´m looking forward to keeping discovering the city and the whole island, will keep you posted for sure!