Travel: Yilan, Taiwan

Mention the phrases ‘Taiwan’ and ‘summer’ and the first place that’ll come to mind is likely Kenting. But little known to many, Yilan, located in northeastern Taiwan, is an equally picturesque county to enjoy your sun, surf and sand. In fact, you’ll be thrilled that you can still enjoy the quaint sights of the town as it is not as overcrowded and commercial as Kenting. Check out our top three picks in Yilan that you could consider for your next itinerary!

1. Wushigang (烏石港)

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(Photos by Wedding & Travel)

Toucheng (頭城) county, where Wushigang is located at, is usually a small sleepy town — until summer comes around. With its famed black sands and good waves, it is not surprising that Wushigang is steadily gaining popularity as one of the best beaches around, be it for the surfer, or the casual beach dweller. (For surfing aspirants, look no further for guidance than from the many surfing schools located around town!)

If you’re lucky, you’ll manage to catch the Hal’ O Bar (海樂小巴) — a little bar housed in a orange vintage Volkswagon — parked beside the beach. Quite a charming and curious sight, we struck up a conversation with the owner, and discovered that he chose to set up shop here because he is a surfing enthusiast, and working here meant that he could embrace the waves once he gets off work!

Alternatively, you could choose to gaze at Guishan Island (龜山島) — Yilan’s largest island located 10km east of Toucheng — from the hilltop Mr Brown Castle Cafe. We recommend the cafe’s rooftop balcony at sunset for the best views.

2. Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市)

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(Photo Credit: The Yilan Guru)

Taiwan is practically synonymous with night markets, and your Yilan itinerary won’t be complete without a trip to the Luodong Night Market! Undoubtedly the most ‘happening’ night market in Yilan, Luodong Market is also particularly famous for its many scrumptious street foods. The list of must-try local specialties goes on — scallion pancakes (蔥油餅), gaozha (糕渣: a snack made from minced meat and starch), and deep fried pork (卜肉). Of course, all good things come with a wait and you’ll have to brave the queues for these yummy items. If the crowd gets too much to bear, you can also enjoy your food at the nearby Zhongshan Park (中山公園). The park apparently also serves as the stage for the occasional cultural performance, as we chanced upon when we were there.

3. Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館)

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(Photos from Arch Daily, taken by Jeffrey Cheng)

Designed by Kris Yao and completed just in 2010, the iconic Lanyang Museum is a striking piece of architecture rising from Yilan’s countryside backdrop. Visitors can find out all about Yilan’s natural terrain from permanent exhibitions based on the themes of the mountains, plains and ocean. Of course, exploring the gorgeous museum is an experience in itself! Be warned though, that the museum can get crowded during peak seasons due to its popularity with tour groups.

When you’re done with the main building, enjoy the summer breeze with a stroll in the adjacent Museum Park. Or, you can hunt down a fresh seafood meal at the nearby Wushi Harbour, where a couple of restaurants are lined up just by the waterfront. Oh, and just so you know, it seems that the museum is quite a hit as a spot for pre-wedding photos for couples in Taiwan too!

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DIY Wedding Favours

There are many reasons to DIY your wedding favours — not only does it give you some cool savings that you can splurge elsewhere in your wedding, it also adds a nice personal touch to what your loved ones take away from your special day. While the idea might seem overwhelming at first, you’ll be happy to find out that DIY wedding favours do not necessarily require a lot of trouble, and are definitely not only for the artistically inclined! Take a look at some of these easy but chic DIY wedding favours and get inspired!

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1. Homemade Jam (Image from here)

Homemade jams are relatively simple to make, yet impressive when they’re completed. The flavours of the jam can be based on your favourite fruits, or better still, the fruits in season. Finish off with some pretty fabric and handmade labels and wow your guests! Especially great for outdoor and garden weddings.

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2. Candies (Images from here, here and here)

Candies are a great choice as fuss-free wedding favours as they are inexpensive and absolutely easy to package! Take your pick from boxex, bags, cones, and even paper to create a beautiful candy package for your guests — the final product is versatile as you can easily match the choice of materials to suit the theme of your wedding! We love Tip Junkie‘s handy round up that features 38 tutorials in making paper flowers. For customised handmade hard candy in Singapore, try Sticky.

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3. Cookies (Image from here)

Cookies are surprisingly easy to make — they’re highly foolproof even for kitchen beginners, and you just need the help of some cool cookie moulds to make your cookies presentable. Easy peasy. Last we checked, they’re also a hit among guests of all ages. Need we say more?

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4. DIY Coasters (Image from here)

We love Bayside Bride‘s amazing DIY coaster tutorial that teaches you how to make a coaster set without the help of a sewing machine! (Yes, you heard us right!) Apart from being pleasing on the eyes, this is also a lasting wedding favour that your guests can put to use in their homes, and be reminded of your lovely day at that! The pattern and touch of twine around the borders of the coasters set remind us of a nautical theme — great for that beach or yatch wedding.

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5. Coffee Bags (Image from here)

With all the craze with cafes nowadays, why not give your savvy guests a bag of coffee beans each to enjoy their fix at home? You will have no trouble finding good coffee beans from the many specialty coffee joints in Singapore such as Smitten, Chye Seng Huat Hardware Store and 40 Hands. Try your luck hunting for some budget-friendly bags at Daiso. And what’s left is just a simple handmade label — materials of which can be easily purchased at Art Friend or Popular.

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6. DIY Candle (Image from here)

DIY candles may take a little more time and patience than the other ideas on the list, but we thought, why not? They’re simple to make once you get the hang of it, and you can even personalise it further by adding your favoured scent to the candles. Likewise with your homemade jams, just pack them off with some pretty fabric and handmade labels and you’re good to go!

Do you have other funky ideas for DIY wedding favours? Drop us a note; we’ll love to know!

Beauty: Bridal Nail Arts

We understand you’d want to look stunning from top to toe on your big day. So we decided to help by sourcing out some very gorgeous nail arts that would best compliment your style. Ladies, prepare to put your best foot (and fingers) forward!

For the prim and proper

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1. Go Nude

There’s nothing wrong with opting to keep things simple. In fact, this minimalist trend of having neutral and cream colored nails is taking the fashion world by storm as of late, like Marc Jacobs models donning soft milky shades and Chanel choosing un-done French manicures on the runway. So, feel stylish by toning down your nails.

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2. Glitter A Little

If you prefer to have a little more star factor, try on glitter manicure on top of your nude shades. Having all ten gleaming fingers might be too over the top, so personalize your nails by going for the gradient look or apply glitter to only one finger of your choice. For those with the standard French manicure, try replacing the white with your favorite glitter. Be it gold or silver, trust us, the effect is stunning!

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3. Two-Tone

Yet another twist on the French manicure, the dual polish effect gives out vibes of being bold without trying too hard. Plus point, its pretty easy to attempt on your own. Just pick contrasting shades that flatter you and use a small brush to paint your favorite graphic. For beginners, try the vertical split or diagonal strip first before slowly progress to a V-shape, half moon or even a heart shape!

For the trend setter

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1. Velvet

Textured nails are all the rage recently. Concrete coats might seem too gritty for weddings so why not try on a fur-effect nail polish? First spotted on Hollywood actress Blake Lively during her wedding to Ryan Reynolds last year, these soft and flurry nails are versatile enough to see you through the proper ceremony as well as that fun after party.

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2. Caviar

Depending on the color of your choice, these nails might look like delish cake sprinklers or luxe fish eggs but if you want to be remembered as the trend-setting bride, this is the look you want to be spotted having.

Which is your favorite nail art? Drop us a comment!

Superhero Weddings

Superman: Man of Steel, the Avengers, Spiderman. With all these superhero franchise movies these days, we won’t be surprised if some of you are entertaining the thought of having a superhero theme wedding. I mean, why not? This theme is definitely for the fun-loving couple who is not afraid to show the inner child in them and get a little cheeky on their big day! (And we’re sure the boys will be thrilled with this theme!) Of course, just because it’s fun doesn’t mean that it can’t be chic. To help you get inspired, we’ve rounded up these references from around the web for you. We’ll love to hear from you if you’ve done a superhero wedding in Singapore!

1. Alex + James (Photos and full post at Green Wedding Shoes)

We love Alex and James’ free spirit — it’s not often that we come across people who are so comfortable in their own skin, and fully enjoying the fact that they are “big children”! What we love most about their superhero wedding are the handwritten backdrop and comic book labels that help tie the decor, favours and menu back to the theme.

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2. Megan + Tom (Photos by Cat Norman; Full post at Offbeat Bride)

We love how Megan and Tom got their bridesmaids and bestmen involved in the superhero dressing up, which resulted in some of the quirkiest wedding shots we’ve seen! Megan’s pepper red boots also add an unconventional touch to the traditional white wedding gown, and is a relatively easy way to work the superhero theme into your wedding if you are less adventurous.

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3. Holly + Anthony (Photos and full post at Rock N Roll Bride)

Holly and Anthony’s wedding is a perfect example of a superhero-inspired wedding — simply using the aesthetics from the theme, without any overt references to the the actual superheroes. We love how they worked polka dots into their outfits and decor, which is adapted from comic book halftones! Holly’s va-va-voom red hair, of course, sets off her pink polka dotted dress perfectly.

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Travel: Locks of Love Around The World

For those who caught the heist caper film “Now You See Me” in theaters lately, the mention of Paris’ love lock bridge would perhaps sound familiar. After all, this was where two of the main characters reunite in the ending scene. The investigative partners, who shared an ambiguous love relationship in the film, then affixed a padlock unto the bridge and threw the key into the Seine River as an unspoken commitment to their relationship and the secret they share.

This somewhat romantic scene is not a make believe created by the movie producers. In fact, the custom of a love lock, which are padlocks put unto fences, gates and bridges by lovebirds as a symbolization of their undying love, exists not only in Paris. Therefore, we at W&T came up with our very own list of love lock spots around the world for you lovebirds to have a most romantic holiday!

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1. Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris, France
The Pont des Arts, also known as the Passerellle des Arts, is a pedestrian bridge overlooking the Seine River and located near Paris’ landmark, the Louvre. Since the cadenas d’amour (love lock) tradition mysteriously started a few years back, it has become one of the most popular spots amongst the French and tourists to leave behind a testimony of their love. The ritual goes supposedly like this: couples first write their names or initials on the locks before attaching it to the bridge; then kiss the key and throw it into the Seine River as an act that their lock (and hence love) will remain forever.

Apart from the Pont des Arts, the Pont de l’Archevêché is apparently another popular love lock spot in Paris. It is said however, that the two bridges represent different commitments. The former represents one’s committed love while the latter signifies a dedication to your lover.

Irregardless of the location you eventually decide on, we think this is still one must-do in Paris. After all, what can be more romantic to leave your mark of affection in the world’s City of Love? We recommend however that you bring along your own lock if this is a planned spot on your itinerary, for locks sold at the area can be exorbitant.

2. Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, Italy
The ritual of love locks in Italy is said to be inspired by a book titled “I Want You” by Italian author Federico Moccia and this ancient bridge in Florence is where it all officially materialized. Locks of various shapes and sizes can be seen hanging alongside of this arch bridge spanning the Arno River, especially around the statue of Italian artist Benvenuto Cellini.

Apart from this, we think the Ponte Vecchion, which literally means “Old Bridge”, is a spot worth visiting especially if you are a history lover. Built during the Roman Times, this is one monument which have withstood the test of time and survived the attack of Germans during World War II.

3. Namsan Tower in Seoul, Korea
Apart from boasting of the most spectacular paranomic view of Seoul, the observation deck located at the top of Namsan Tower is a sight to see with tens of thousands of love locks decorating the area. It is said that this practice of leaving a lock on top of the tower and later throwing the key down was first made popular by a K-drama.

Apart from K-drama fans, the Namsan Tower remains a must-go destination especially for first timers to Seoul. Sight-seeing aside, there are plenty to do around the tourist hotspot. The Teddy Bear Museum is a must-go for females and children and for nature lovers, pop by the Namsan Park, the city’s largest green space, for a leisure stroll.

4. Fengyuan Train Station in Taichung, Taiwan
It is said that the custom of hanging locks on a fence near the Fengyuan train station began in 2004, when some local resident found padlocks with unidentified foreign language near the area. Before long, these padlocks were known as wish locks and even become infused with local folklore which states that trains generate a magnetic field when they travel through the underpass hence creating energy to fulfill wishes written on the wish locks.

While the theory of trains creating energy remains untested, this has since attracted locals and tourists to the quiet downtown in Taichung. The area is especially popular among students who pray for good results as well as lovers who seek to capture a moment of passion by hanging two padlocks together forming the “Heart Locks”.