Welcome to Trail of Gems!

I toyed with calling this blog "On the Crumb Trail" for that fairytale feeling of a Journey Through Unknown , but decided that this was created not for me to find my way back, but to recommend inspiring, cozy, budget-friendly resources and havens I have found along the way.

These pages contain listings under these major categories:

See + Do - sights, activities, must-experiences
Stay - accommodation I'd send my dearest friends to
Ride - modes of transport to ramble, roam and gallivant at will
Eat - as if I wouldn't have something to say on this subject!
Plan - extensive libraries of researched advice
Speak - basic language skills to order food, say thank you, etc.
Act - collaborate, volunteer and cultivate awareness

Enjoy, respond and love life!

Feb 10, 2013

XiaoLiuQiu - island bliss

Back for the second year in a row to this teeny island off the already small island nation of Taiwan.


XiaoLiuQiu (小琉球) is a little paradise, especially when you're dwelling somewhere noisy, smoggy and busy like Taipei.

Quintessential island living in that no one's in a rush (why bother? you can ride around the whole island in half an hour), no one wears helmets on the scooters, there are breezy eye-soothing sea views all along the coastal road and you can head inwards for leafy bamboo groves and undulating hills.  I recommend the Black Dwarf Cave over Beauty Cave and the Wild Board Trench is pretty awesome, with the ancient sea floor now thrust up around you in huge slabs of rock. Feels very primeval.

Although I like the guesthouse we found last year late on a weeknight, this time taking my visiting sis I wanted to book ahead. After some searching, settled on the nice-looking and very well-priced SeaToTravel Guesthouse (海之旅 民宿) and I honestly can't recommend them enough. Such a sweet family, really took care of us, insisted we get the package deal, which is a good combo but most importantly includes a guided walk along low tide pools - holy, wacky and weird life out there!

Tell them 艾喜 (Ài xǐ) sent you, though I think they must treat everyone who comes like friends or family.

Getting there is pretty easy - from Kaohsiung or Pingtung take a bus to Donggang Harbor and I recommend the bigger ferry company which has more sailing throughout each day. From the bus there's a 15 minute walk to the ferry, or a taxi company from Kaohsiung will take you door to door: call 0973205507.

As this is a locals vacation spot, speaking Mandarin would certainly be a plus, but if you're fine with adventurous traveling and smiling and pointing, then go get yourself a very relaxing Little LiuQiu getaway.

Jan 8, 2013

Singapore 24hr Indian!

RUN, don't walk to Mr. Prata near the Botanical Gardens, next time you're on a jaunt to Singapore.

After a drought of simultaneously truly exciting AND affordable food options in Taipei (you can get one or the other, but rarely both), we couldn't help ordering more and more items off the ridiculously extensive Southern Indian menu at Mr. Prata. Here are more and even more people who also think it's pretty awesome!

Nov 27, 2009

Destination Videos!

See video tours of places around the world - food, accommodation, the atmosphere of a city and some unexpected stops on your itinerary... Geobeats is currently showing videos from 45 countries, here are just a few examples:
And for any filmmakers out there, apply for paid assignments directly through the website! Explore and enjoy!

Oct 7, 2008

Cairo - a few feasting tips

If you like fresh mouth-watering seafood and find yourself in Cairo... go here and arrive hungry:

Kadoura Seafood Restaurant - King of Alexandria
Cairo 66 Gameat El Ddoal El Arabia St, El mohandsein
Tel: 33350622 / 37608660 / 37608665

Walking in, the smell of fresh fish is overwhelming... that's because it's on display and you choose what you want and how you want it done. Get some fish... get some grilled jumbo shrimp... choose a table on the top floor - away from the smell and generally lovely. Try everything they bring - spicy tomato slices, fabulous tahini and hummus... but for god's sake, save room for the amazing fruits de mer that's on its way to you from the kitchens.

For the vegetarians
Arabs love meat... but there are a few wonderful veggie dishes to look out for:
- a dish of spaghetti, macaroni, rice, chickpeas, lentils, crispy fried onions and tomato sauce
falafel - you've probably had it before... this Middle Eastern classic has gone worldwide

Any decent restaurant will have fresh juices. Mango, strawberry, etc... liquefied and placed in a glass for your enjoyment... Heaven.

Coffee fans... don't settle for Nescafé and kindly request a Turkish stove-top brew. Then be prepared for the STRONG dark ambrosia.

Aug 12, 2008

Turkey Travel Planner

There is a man named Tom Brosnahan who's written over 40 guidebooks and has a deep-seated love for tea and fez hats in his heart. And if you are at all curious about what you could see, do, how much it'll cost and even how to get married in Turkey... no kidding... I invite you to his online guide to Turkey at http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/

Time and again, browsing some info during my 3 weeks in Türkiye, I was redirected to his amazing database of regional information, maps, transport info, photographs...

Check it out!

The Man in Seat Sixty-One . . .

In our fast-paced immediate-gratification society, one of my personal joys of traversing the globe is being comfortably seated on a train, preferably with a window seat, listening to that rhythmic knocking against the rails and watching the landscape roll by...

It's amazing how far you can get around the world without flying. If you don't believe me, check out Seat 61 - one man's hobby turned into a glorious database on train travel, complete with ship connections. You'll never have to take off your shoes at an airport security station again. Unless you like that sort of thing.

Aug 9, 2008

Český Krumlov: Egon Schiele Art Centrum

The Egon Schiele Art Centrum is a fantastic maze-like old building that's just as much fun to roam around as sampling its exhibitions of art.

Named after the prominent unconventional artist of Czech and Austrian descent whose heart was devoted to the beauty of Český Krumlov, the gallery contains a permanent collection of Schiele's work.

The 2008 exhibits, in time for the Summer Olympics and all the political controversy, dedicate a large portion of the space to images, philosophy and customs of China. There is a fantastic tongue-in-cheek solo exhibit by young Chinese multi-media artist Yonghua Tian who creates the perfect nationalistic emblem, dogma and inspirational instructions using his own stylized image as the central logo driving the brave new world.