Least-Expensive Fruit Stands in Taipei

A Fruit Stand in the area of Dalongdong Temple, Taipei City
A Fruit Stand in the area of Dalongdong Temple, Taipei City

Being vegan who likes to eat raw whenever possible, I eat a lot of fruit.

Of course, Taipei doesn’t have too many raw food cafes (any?), but it does have a lot of fruit to offer. tropical fruits and the same “regular” fruits that we get at home (my favorite is dragonfruit — 火龍果).

But I can get expensive to eat a lot of fruit, and even in Taipei, fruits aren’t exactly cheap (not like in Thailand anyway). So I started to make a mental note of all the least-expensive places to buy fruit in Taipei. I don’t like to use the word “cheap”, because of connotations of low-quality, and the fruit is the same quality pretty much wherever you buy it here.

Here’s one just next to Longshan Temple:


No. 1, Lane 224, Xichang St, Wanhua District
Taipei City, Taiwan 108

This one was the 2nd-lowest prices I’ve found. The lowest? Here, by the Dalongdong & Confucius temples:


Lane 259, Dalong St, Datong District
Taipei City, Taiwan 103

To determine the expenses, I’ve used a simple test: the red dragonfruit test. The lower the price of red dragonfruit, the lower the price. Most of the fruit prices follow suit I believe, but the red dragon fruits (aka pitayas) I know for sure.

Taipei – initial experiences

Wow, just wow. Where to start?

Taipei is a bit like I expected for an Asian city. Small shops everywhere, no obvious zoning considerations at all, general Asia street smell…

I found a nice tea house in the Yongkang street area (Da’an district) while I was walking around and — wait for it — waiting for another tea house to open. Guess the early bird gets the worm? Finding True Heart teahouse was a breath of fresh air.

True Heart Tea House in Taipei
True Heart Tea House in Taipei

Like any Asian city, Taipei is bustling, always moving, and I haven’t really had the chance to stop and take a moment. Tea time was time to do just that. While drinking tea (a Taiwanese oolong), I had the realization that our bodies are royal temples — not to be abused any longer!

Also had a vision of what I want to become — my “true destiny”, or something like that. Very zen, mindful, and always with tea. Serving tea. I want to help people become more mindful and aware of the now, and take time from the hectic hustle-and-bustle of the modern Western lifestyle. Not 100% sure how it will play out, but I think that I want to have a tea house, or maybe a Zen eco-village, or both. Some mixture of all that.

In other travel news

I’m extremely grateful to have Skype’d with Brittany this morning. Haven’t seen her face in about 3 days, so nice to finally see her (and our kitty).

Finally found a café to settle down in and get some work done. Trying to just slow down from the hectic travel life (always moving, always things to take care of) and just focus on getting my work done.

Hostels can be both good and bad, and I think the reason most people stay in them is the low price for some value. But the money in running a hostel is in groups of people — the numbers. And for an introvert like me, forced group settings like this just… suck. Most hostels are not good for actually getting things done. So I’m looking to find a short-ish-term apartment somewhere in/around Taipei.

I also brought too much crap with me, as I knew I would. Too many clothes, bulky items that I brought “just in case”. Been down this road so many times. I know better. :/

Ok, bye.

Refresh Yourself in the Airport

When traveling long-distance flights with multiple connections, I always feel 100% better after refreshing myself, changing my socks and shirt.

I’ve found that it’s generally easier if I can locate the family restroom, then refresh in there. I’ll wash my feet, dry them with my Packtowl, then put on a fresh pair of socks. I also will wash/rinse my armpits and apply fresh deodorant, and change my shirt. The aforementioned Packtowl is wonderful when traveling.

I’d recommend packing a change of clothes in your personal bag, which I do.

But since I also don’t check bags, I have everything that I need with me at any rate, whether packed in my personal bag (smaller) or my carry-on (bigger, mostly clothes and laptop).

After a quick 10-minute refresh in the family bathroom, I always feel so much better, cleaner, and ready for the next leg of the journey. This is especially true after 6+ hour, long-haul flights.

In transit to Taiwan

The last 2 weeks of life have been a complete blur. I’ve been running around like crazy trying to get loose ends tied up in Arkansas, get assets moved around and re-allocated, and sell my big stuff (e.g. car) that I won’t need abroad.

Right now I’m in the Narita airport in Japan, about 80 or so km east of Tokyo.

And unlike my last short visit to Japan, this trip’s layover is only about 3 hours, so there’s really no time to get out and see any of Japan. So I’m staying in the international terminal, getting some food in my stomach and waiting for my evening flight to Taipei.

If I hadn’t already booked the flight all at once, I might have broken it up and stayed in Japan for a few days, then flown out. But then I’d want to spend quite a bit of time in Japan once I was here, see lots of sights and things. Maybe one day soon, before I leave Asia.

Oh yeah, I bought a one-way ticket to Taipei. I’ll be traveling around Asia, working on building my own living out values that I believe strongly in. Such as mobility, financial independence and freedom, and monetary freedom (achieved via FinTech such as Bitcoin and Dash). I also just freaking love east Asian culture, food, mindset, and the cities. Ah, … the city.

My wife is still in the US. For some, that causes heads to turn. Others seem to be a bit more understanding. For various reasons, she’s staying back in Arkansas, but mainly it boils down to:

a) the cat
b) her personal development

She loves her pet cat that she’s been with for about 16 years and doesn’t want to leave her. Precious (the cat) gets really depressed when my wife is gone for long amounts of time (over a week or two and gets really bad). Her health deteriorates. We’ve almost lost her a time or two, and we’re pretty sure it’s got a lot to do with Brittany’s presence.

She also feels the need to stay for reasons of helping certain individuals, and building her own sense of independence, which she’s never really had and is the next stage of personal growth for her. So that’s that. It’s been difficult not being able to communicate with her, but we texted briefly a bit ago. We plan to meet up in a few months once we’ve both accomplished what we need to.

I’ve got a bit of personal development to do as well, mindfulness being one of my primary goals for my own.

I just realized that I’ve gotta so see about changing my seat to an aisle seat, so I’m gonna leave off here. But since I’m trying to be prolific, just gonna go ahead and ship this one out the door.

Thanks for reading, and please drop me a note if our interests align, and you’re in Taiwan within the next few weeks or months and wanna meet up.

Crazy side note:

I met a couple (Jonathan and Rachel +1 cute baby boy) flying from XNA (in Arkansas) to Taipei, same exact route as me. Crazy. I never would have thought that I’d have the exact same itinerary as someone else originating in Arkansas and ending up on the other side of the world. Small world.

How to Get Your Passport (for US citizens)

US Passport
US Passport

Note: I wrote this back in 2010. I think the fees might have increased, and I’m not sure if the links are all working now. Get the book, not the card. The card is useless. Oh yeah, now you have the option to get the 26-page or the 52-page version. I don’t think there’s a price difference, so just get the 52-page version. Trust me on this one.

I’ve been accused of writing too much before {by James}. If this page is too long, skip to the good stuff.

Ever wished you could just pack up and take a nice week or two in Europe, the Caribbean or even somewhere more exotic, like say… Tahiti? The good news is you can, because you live in a “free” country, in a modern society, and although you may not describe yourself this way, you truly are wealthy compared to most of the rest of the world. All you have to do is schedule your vacation, book a flight and you’re off!

Oh, no, wait, you can’t. You can’t leave the borders of this wonderful country because you’re too damn lazy to take a few extra steps and get a small document which allows access to virtually any place on earth.

Get your passport.

How to get a US passport for US citizens living in the US. Originally written for my friends in Northwest Arkansas.

Here’s the official web page that has all the details. I have meticulously combed through the details & pulled out the important stuff.

  • 2 passport photos
  • 1 copy, front & back, of Arkansas Driver’s license on standard 8-1/2 x 11 paper
  • Form DS-11, printed & filled out but DO NOT SIGN IT
  • certified birth certificate {with raised seal}

You can go to Walgreen’s to get your passport photos. Just walk in, say you need passport photos, and they will know what you’re talking about. They cost like 5 bucks or something.

You can get your driver’s license copied at Office Depot. There’s one by the Atlanta Bread in Rogers.
{You will also need to bring your driver’s license to the post office later.}

Oh yeah, print & fill out form DS-11 but DO NOT SIGN IT. you must sign it in front of the person at the post office that accepts your form. This is very important.

Oh, BTW, when filling out this form DO NOT SIGN IT YET. Just wanted to state that another time to make sure it got through.

How much will it cost?

There will be 2 fees:

  1. The first fee is the “application fee”, and is for your passport itself, and any check/money order should be made payable to “U.S. Department of State”.
  2. The second is the “execution fee”, it is for the acceptance facility, e.g. the post office.

Application Fee for adults: $110
Execution Fee: $25

These must be paid with 2 separate forms of payment. They don’t allow you to write one check for both fees.

I believe a money order will work as payment for both of these, you can go to the bank & purchase a money order for $110 and a separate one for $25.

It really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon or 2 to get all this stuff together & get to the post office. The hardest part would be getting the official birth certificate (with raised seal) if you don’t have one at home somewhere.

The Easy, Step-by-Step Version

  1. Find an official certified copy of your birth certificate with raised seal. Ask your parents if you don’t have one or don’t know.
  2. Go to Walgreen’s and get 2 passport photos.
  3. Go to Office Depot and get a front and back copy made of your Arkansas driver’s license {important that it is Arkansas}.
  4. Print and fill out this form, but DO NOT SIGN IT
  5. Purchase two money orders from your local bank. One should be for $110, and the other should be for $25.
  6. Take all these documents along with your Arkansas drivers license and money orders to the Bentonville post office. Rogers is just ghetto. Talk to the person at the front, tell them you want to apply for a passport, show them all your documents.

That’s it. You’re awesome.

Photo by bryansblog


Sailboat & Sunset Eclipse

My wife and I are now registered for the ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing class through Learn to Sail Texas in Corpus Christi.

We’re currently the only 2 members enrolled for the July 28-29th course, but that’s full enough that the captain won’t cancel the class (unless there is a hurricane).

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a little over 2 years now, so I’m pretty excited that I’m finally able to make this happen.

I eventually want to purchase a small keelboat or catamaran (preferably) and sail across the ocean/around the world.

There are actually several levels of ASA classes/certification, and this is only the first. But it’s a step in the right direction and by only taking this basic first course, we won’t be overwhelmed with material.

We had the option of taking a “fast-track” course which includes the ASA 101, 103 and 104 classes, but I feel like it would be too much at once since we have no sailing experience yet.

We are also excited to see my brother & his family, since my wife hasn’t met any of them yet. I want to make sure my wife gets to visit the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington while we are there.

Photo Credit: Edgar Barany

Life Update and Castles in Belgium

Castle at Bouillon, Belgium
Castle at Bouillon, Belgium

I just realized that my ‘about’ page is pretty freakin’ sissy, so I’ve reverted to the old one. The image of myself on that page is pretty sissy as well, but I’ll change it as soon as I get around to it. The sissy ‘about’ page can be found at http://ngmarley.com/blog/about-2. (Update, April 2015: Not anymore. Sorry.)

Also, I’m going to immigrate to Belgium and purchase a castle there. I’ve already got some semblance of a plan in place, but currently only in my head. Here in a few days when I’m finished traveling I’ll be able to focus more on the specifics and getting it laid out and such. But basically, it’s a €10M in 3 years type thing. Don’t worry, it’s do-able.

It’s really all about belief and the power of thinking big. If you believe you’ll get something, you probably will. As such, I’ve an actual, concrete plan as to how I am going to raise the 10M in Euros within 3 years. I realize that there will be some proverbial bumps in the road along the way and that it will be hard work, but I love that stuff. And I don’t sleep. Sleep is for those people who are broke.

Basically, I’ll setup several internet-based businesses (internet marketing, starting with PPC/PPV and lead gen offers). I will develop 15-20 income streams using this method and then focus on growing them. When I believe the cash flow in each of them is sufficient, I will start and grow new streams, always augmenting, fine-tuning and then scaling them up.

The first year will be the hardest and dedicated to creating the streams and of course learning the ins and outs of the business.

The next year will be mostly an intense growth sprint in preparation for year 3, which will be where 50% of the total sum comes from. Since that’s €5 million, I’ll basically need to have the machine setup already by then and have met certain daily income goals for each income stream. By the end of the second year, I should have about €14K coming in per day, which sounds like a lot, until you split in into about 20 or more sources/income streams. If I have 20 separate income sources, that’s about €700 per day. Now it doesn’t sound too difficult at all. It’s all about perspective.

Later I may add a bar chart which has the same information I just wrote in the previous paragraphs, but bar charts make things seem more well thought-out and people tend to take you more seriously.

photo credit

Arrival at Quebec City

Le Château Frontenac
Le Château Frontenac

Quebec City (known locally as just Québec) greeted me with 20MPH+ winds whipping freezing rain into my face as I trundled out the door of the bus station, laden with only my (quite full) backpack. It was so freakin cold. And wet. But I still had to go about 15 minutes walk before arriving at my hostel. Fifteen minutes in freezing wet rain and wind that kept whipping across every exposed part of my body. But I endured. And I’m glad I did, because if I didn’t, then I would have died I guess, and that would suck. Anyway…

Old Quebec City is beautiful {when not raining}. At dusk I made the trek (ok, it was a 5-minutes walk) to the Château Frontenac, a 5-star hotel designed to look like an old historic castle.

Here’s a glimpse of the Château Frontenac:

And I went there. I went inside. I entered through the Starbucks. Yes, there is a Starbucks at the base of the Château Frontenac. I’ve even heard stories there’s a SBUX at the Great Wall of China. Or is it the Forbidden City? Those guys are everywhere.

Ok, the differences between Québec and Montréal: everyone speaks French here. Note that hotel and restaurant workers in touristy areas always speak some English, no matter where you are. Aside from that, everything is in French.

In Montréal, a common greeting is “Bonjour-Hi”, all run together. Then the person can respond in the language with which he or she is most comfortable.

Not here in Québec. It’s either French or TSL (travellers’ sign language). Which is wonderful if you’re trying to practice French.

The European-style architecture is great in the Old City as well. At dusk, there’s this eerie tranquil mood that sets in (the fog helps). Since Old Quebec is built on a hill overlooking the city, you can… see… the whole city… through the fog… anyway, it’s cool. It’s really cool. You can see snow on the buildings in the distance. This closing really needs some work. Wordsmithing or something.

photo credit

Traveling vs. Living


I got back from a trip to south Texas at 4:20 am this morning. A trip in which I realized that I really don’t like traveling — at least not the “traveling” part. It was a lot of driving, and a lot of my car falling apart {it now has 227,000 miles on it and makes some awful scraping noises}.

I love seeing new cultures & spending time getting to know an area, a culture and a people, but hate the actual transport part of it. I arrive to my destination tired and dirty. I don’t like being tired. Or dirty. I also usually arrive hungry, which I also don’t like being.

New Zealand-bound

I don’t think I’ve written about it here yet, but I got approved for a New Zealand working holiday visa. Which means I can enter NZ and stay for a year. I can take up work, as long as it’s not considered permanent employment. My apartment lease here in Arkansas is up at the end of October. I’ve already given them my leave notice and paid rent through the end of October. So I’m here until then, after which I leave.

Before I’d thought about applying for an NZ WHV, my intentions were to go to Santiago, Chile and stay for a few months, then go to either NZ or Australia on a tourist visa.

However, after getting approved for the NZ visa, I had a new idea. I decided it would be cool to take buses {and a boat!} through Mexico, Central America and South America to finally arrive at Santiago. I could revisit some countries {Colombia, Uruguay, Brazil} as well as see some new ones {Venezuela, Chile}.

I was really looking forward to Venezuela and Brazil. But now that I realize {remember?} how much I don’t like the actual transit aspect of travel, I’m reconsidering. I never made those plans public, so it’s not really a big deal either way.

I Can’t Do Everything… and that’s OK

I’m realizing once again that I can’t do everything. I’d probably spend all my money in South America anyway, and have run out before I realized it, and before they let me in to New Zealand. The NZ visa comes with a stipulation — I have to have proof of sufficient funds to purchase an onward ticket. Usually the immigration officials don’t ask for proof of funds/income if someone is from an affluent country like the USA, but if the particular official is in a bad mood or just feels like being a jerk… it can happen.

Once I admitted to myself this afternoon that I can’t do everything, I felt a lot more at peace about leaving. About the future in general. I’ll probably just fly to NZ from somewhere in the US. And I’ll probably start the journey to that place from XNA airport here in NWArk. And that’s ok.

I’ve got my whole life to do everything I want. I can take it easy, enjoy New Zealand. Really get into the culture. Get to know some people. Make some friends. Life is good. No rush, no hurry {no reason to!}. Just enjoy it. Already feeling about 110% less stressed than I was before.

Living the Culture

On the other hand, I love living in a culture. It allows you to get to know it better than any traveler just passing through. Getting to know the people. The language. And do all the stuff I said in the previous paragraph. Discover all the local hole-in-the-wall places. I think it really fits my personality well too. I’m more of an introverted person until I really get to know a person or group of people. Until that happens, I don’t really let go and start being myself. It’s just how I am {which is also ok}.

Settling down in a place allows me to really get to know people and be myself like constant traveling never will. For some this is still considered “traveling” but I’m going to spend a year of my life in a new country. At what point does it become more than just a “trip” to New Zealand? Not sure, but it’s not likely I’ll ever go back to living in the midwest/southern United States. I’m really looking for a home more than anything. One that’s more conducive to my lifestyle & values. So although I’m traveling to New Zealand, I can’t keep calling it “travel”. It’s more like “life”. Just in a new place.

I think I broke my car

This is really not related, but…

In other news, I’m considering purchasing a bicycle and just using it in place of an automobile. Cars are a lot of work with maintenance, insurance, gas money, etc. and I don’t really think they’re worth it if you don’t absolutely need one. If I lived in a city like San Francisco, I’d have gone the bike route long ago, but it’s more difficult in a place like Arkansas. Still, that’s an excuse. I guess the estimate on labor required to fix my car will help determine where I go with the bicycle idea.

photo credit