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Indonesian Bathrooms

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kamar mandi and squat toilet — cleaner than most

Going to the bathroom in Indonesia is quite different from in the West or in Thailand, Korea, China or Japan. For one thing they don’t use toilet paper so if, like me, you’re staying for just a short time, you should carry tissue with you everywhere.

Also unless you’re in a hotel that’s modern, there will be squat toilet and a cistern called a kamar mandi next to it. The kamar mandi is used to clean yourself up using a small bucket that will be provided. Scoop water to clean your private parts and hands.

Here’s a good blog post for more information

N.B. Bring a little towel or paper towels because you usually won’t find those.

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Intercontinental Hotel: Lijiang

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Adjacent to Lijiang’s Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Intercontinental hotel offers style, comfort and outstanding service. All the villas are modern and comfortable with rooms and architecture based on local ethnic crafts and culture making the Intercontinental an ideal place to stay, especially if you can pay with points. I really hated to leave this sanctuary. It would be an ideal place to come to finish editing a writing project.

The service was friendly and efficient. The staff all seemed genuinely eager to help. There were always enough staff with fluent English on hand to help.

The food in the executive lounge was beautiful and ample. I was upgraded to an executive room so I could have afternoon tea, cocktails and appetizers and breakfast in the lounge. They always offered a choice of Chinese and Western fare.

Novotel Taipei Airport

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Since I arrived at 10:30 pm and figured customs, immigration and claiming baggage would take an hour, I booked a night at the Novotel by the airport. The website made it sound like you could walk from the terminal to the hotel, but you can’t. When I arrived I thought there’d be a shuttle, but there wasn’t after 11 pm so I had to take a cab there. I do wish you could call or arrange a ride or that they’d reimburse for a taxi late at night.

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The night staff was attentive and kind. They efficiently got me checked in quickly. As a gold status member of Le Club Accor, I was upgraded to the executive floor. It’s certainly wise to join this program.

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I was surprised to find a giant stuffed panda in my room and enjoyed the whimsical touch. In addition to the fruit plate, I received some the cute cookies.

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The bathroom had a shower and an ample vanity. The toiletries were the same as they offer in Europe. The desk was big enough, but it was placed right under the television, which mystifies me since someone might want to write emails or blog posts while watching TV.

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The breakfast was outstanding — great service, presentation and food. I’ve got to check my phone for photos. There weren’t any on my camera.

The only problem I faced was when I went to check out. I planned to leave my bigger bag with the bell boy. It’s a typical service and I’ve done this at the Novotel in Beijing and hotels in Thailand and Europe. The clerk wouldn’t let me and wouldn’t budge no matter how I pleaded. It caused me to miss the next shuttle and was a major headache as I had to spend time figuring out what to do with the bigger bag. Another odd thing was I never received a survey from the hotel as I usually do from Accor. It could be a coincidence. I but I did want to provide feedback on what a hassle it was not to be able to store a bag.

Taiwan’s Confucian Temple

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Taipei has a beautiful Confucian temple, which is free to visit. Located a short walk from the Yuan Shan MRT station (Red Line), the temple is free to visit and offers a free film in English, which explains the basics of Confucianism. If you visit when there isn’t a tour, the brochure

The temple’s architecture is based on Qufu religious architecture and southern Fu Jianese architecture. Since I’ve seen a lot of Chinese temples this one didn’t wow me, but I always enjoy the art and symmetry of these temples. It’s a serene sight.

Free admission.

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 8:30 am to 9:00 pm
Sunday and Mondays 8:30 to 5:00pm. Closed on Sunday

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Huashan 1914

If you visit Taipei, you really should take a stroll around Huashan 1914, a one time industrial complex that’s now an artsy, creative center. Huashan 1914 has several cafés, galleries, shops and restaurants. The art ranges from the cute to the provocative, with an accent on the cute.

It’s a fun place to stroll and in humid Taiwan it’s nice to go from outside to in when you need some respite.

When I went, I met several gallery workers and shop clerks who spoke English well. I particularly enjoyed the man at the leather exhibition who told me several stories about the history of his leather company.

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It’s free to wander around, but some exhibits charge entrance fees.

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Images of Huashan 1914

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The Who Café

I’d seen 3D latte art in Taipei on Instagram so when I visited I asked my hotel to suggest where I could find a café that offers it and they came up with The Who Café which is a couple blocks from the Taipei 101 MRT station, exit 2. It’s hard to find as it’s on the second floor and the stairs are between a garage and a cake shop.

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When I went there, I passed it the first time I went up the street. I did find it, but didn’t know they didn’t open till 11:00 am so my plan for breakfast there was out. (I wound up going back up the street to a Starbucks.)

Later in the day I returned and got the cat latte above. I got the brown sugar latte which was sweet but not too sweet. The Who Café is best to visit when you’re not in a hurry because the artful lattes do take time and it also seemed like the staff wasn’t all that organized. So though I had to leave in a rush, I would go back and was happy with my drink.

Travel Theme: Abroad

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Fine Arts Museum, Taipei

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Buddhist Temple, Taipei

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Sydney, Victoria Building

What does abroad conjure up for you? If you fancy exploring the unfamiliar, exotic and unknown for this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

Create your own post and title it Travel Theme: Abroad
Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
Watch out for the next travel theme which will come out next weekend
Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.
❤ Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack?

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Melbourne. Australia

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Petitions at a temple in Taipai, Taiwan

From Charming Lijiang

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From Lijiang

For years I’ve wanted to visit Southwest China and Lijiang in particular, but flights here were always so pricey. I finally figured it’s cheaper to fly to Kunming and then take a bus to Lijiang so I could see its UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town.

N.B. There are no fast trains to Lijiang and the slow trains aren’t much faster than the bus. I wager my bus was cleaner than the train.

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The bus station was a bit confusing, but once you get past the noise and construction, getting a ticket is just a matter of showing the clerk the name of your destination in your guidebook, showing your passport and paying. I left from Kunming and the ticket was 217 rob ($32). A friend had taken the bus and suggested it was a pleasant journey as you get to see a lot of mountains, rice terraces and rural homes along the way. That was true, but my bus attendant made sure we sit in our assigned seats. Till I was on the half empty bus I had no idea there were assigned seats. So I was on the aisle the whole way. I could glimpse the scenery, but it’s not a great view. I did get a lot of reading done.

Since I’d taken a photo of the address of my hotel, I thought I it would be easy to get a taxi there. I showed two drivers the enlarged Chinese address and they refused me. The number I had for the hotel didn’t work.

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A kind old man with an electric cart wanted to help. I figured he’d has as much trouble as the other two. So I just took out my Lonely Planet and pointed to an address of a hostel near my hotel. I know that the Hostel International staff tend to speak English well. Once there I could walk or get a short taxi ride to the hotel. That plan worked. It took longer and I was tired, but it worked.

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Today I’ve spent most of my time exploring Lijiang’s Ancient Town. It’s full of shops, inns, cafés and craft shops. As is often the case most of the shops sell the same goods. I don’t think you’d make much money selling tea, drums, silver or traditional scarves here. The scarves and tea seem good quality, but I’m not in need of either.

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