Sunday, October 23, 2016

Really Unique Shoes in Jiufen Old Street Taiwan

Seriously, have you seen shoes like this?!

Crazy! I wonder if the Bata Shoe Museum has a pair of shoes like this in their collection?!

I saw these shoes in Jiufen Old Street, a really neat place in Taiwan


Late last month I had the pleasure of visiting a neat rural shopping area in Taiwan called Jiufen Old Street, in Ruifang District

It is a tourist attraction listed on Tripadvisor
Visiting Jiufen Old Street was one of the highlights of my visit throughout Taiwan - it a narrow alley way full of shops. It is an outdoor market however there are many shop canopies and rooftop overhangs so it is fine to visit even if there is a bit of light rain.

Jiufen Old Street is situated up on a mountainside in a very picturesque setting

Here is a quick video clip I took from an overlook area (a bus stop actually!) just outside the entrance to Jiufen Old Street.

Don't the colourful temples, the lush green hillsides and the bay make for a pretty surrounding? 

Honestly, the only drawback to this place was that they allow trucks (yes, trucks!) and motorcycles through this narrow street. And some of the motorcycle drivers seemed rather aggressive and impatient with the tourists standing around browsing shops in the alleyway. It is understandable that a place selling so many inviting foods and souvenirs will attract crowds and people browsing in the alley. I feel it is a bit of a safety hazard for such a narrow area to share the alley with vehicles - isn't there a back alleyway for the motor vehicles to use?
So, just be aware of the vehicles to stay safe and avoid getting hit

Do you like unique arts and craft shops?

You know, usually I do not find myself drawn to those type of shops or souvenir places. I was honestly really surprised by the quality of items they sell at this market, particularly the food. The food I tried tasted sooo good - I don't know if it was the fresh ingredients they used, the manufacturing / production process or what it was....I was extremely impressed with the quality of food, especially for a place tucked away high up on a hillside in a seemingly very quiet town. 
The picture of the mochi place above and the Misty Gelato place are both seriously by far the best mochi and gelato I have tried - and I have tried many!

Aren't the bright colours on this temple rooftop so pretty? 

Have you had a chance to visit Jiufen Old Street or Taiwan

Where was the most recent place you travelled to?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hostgator Review - Great Customer Service!

 Hands down Hostgator has exceptional customer service! 
Hostgator has always been able to help a non-techie like myself. They have been patient in explaining every step of a solution or simply carrying out the helpful steps for me on their end. 
I highly recommend Hostgator as a website hosting company 

There have been numerous occasions Hostgator helped me. If you wish to read how they most recently helped me, read on. 

I struggled through several failed attempts of verifying ownership of my work website with Google Webmaster Tools. One way to do this is using a Google HTML Verification (via TXT and DNS). Google's written step-by-step was not easy to follow as I could not locate the webpage/tab that was stated as one of their first steps! One of the troubleshooting suggestions was to reach out to the company you purchased your domain from - mine was GoDaddy

I cannot remember why my initial web developer suggested to purchase my domain from GoDaddy while having the website hosted by Hostgator. I trusted my web developer and did just that.
You know how the customer service for most companies is a hit and miss? Sometimes you get a helpful representative however the majority of the time you get someone who is probably more clueless than yourself? Yes, that is my experience with GoDaddy
The GoDaddy sales rep offered something like "oh I can send you an article that might help." I was like, "Thanks however I do not need an article. I have an article in front of me that I am not able to follow through on. That is why I am calling." He had no clue when I mentioned what specific step I required help, even worse he was not interested in understanding what I was asking help on, he did not offer to reach out to a colleague who could help and all he said was "contact Google" at which point I got off the call. Please, contacting Google is like contacting Youtube - doesn't work LOL

Next I contacted Hostgator via their live online chat. I got a hold of a very, very helpful rep whose name I forgot - sooo sorry :(  A thing great about Hostgator staff is that every few minutes they reminded me that they required a few more minutes to work on a solution on their end, so I knew they were still there helping me instead of dead silence where you might be left wondering if they disconnected the chat. Also, they have a chime that sounds off when the sales rep types a response or question which I found extremely helpful! Long story short, this sales rep could not help me and mentioned the reason for the complication (apparently my website domain does not have the www in front. How did that happen?). Immediately he followed up and mentioned he would escalate the issue to a senior staff who would help and that's when the next rep, James T, helped me. I thanked the initial rep because I knew he did the best he could and he was tremendous help - as was James who managed to successfully link my work website to Google Webmaster Tools

I asked James how I could help him in return, if I could put in a good word for him somehow. After all, he was incredible help and I wanted to offer my help in return to demonstrate my many thanks. He suggested I could leave feedback in a pop-up survey after our chat session ended or I could visit a website. I mentioned to James that I would fill out the survey to put in a good word for him. And gosh, the one time I wanted an online survey to pop up, it did not pop up and my chat window was closed so I no longer had the link to that website address to leave feedback - opps.  

I am a huge supporter of commending great customer service.

This reminds me of a prospect client I met maybe three years ago. During the course of showings he mentioned he was serving on his condo board. Out of curiosity, I asked him how his experience was. He basically said all he heard from condo residents were complaints. No matter what solution he offered, you could never please 100% of the residents because they often wanted different things and sometimes even after you implemented an exact request, there are some individuals that are just not ever happy nor satisfied. He said serving on his condo board was "a thankless job". His words, "a thankless job", still stay with me. It is unfortunate that being in customer service may sometimes feel like that - sometimes you will do your best to help others however at times it may come across as 'thankless'

Do you think if we, including myself, could demonstrate gratitude and thanks every time you feel thankful, perhaps it would help people, like that prospect client, feel better about their work and to feel more motivated in providing better service to help others?

Unfortunately it is very rare to come across great customer service that is helpful and reliable so when I do come across it, I want to spread the good news :)

I will share this message with hostgator's email support because I believe it is always great to acknowledge someone who has gone out of their way when offering help. 

Thank you so much Hostgator staff for always being so helpful, reliable and readily available :)  

Do you use a web hosting company?

When was the last time you received great customer service? 

When was the last time you felt thankful for something? 


Update: Received a very quick email reply from Felix at Hostgator's Customer Service. Felix confirmed the name of the first very helpful sales representative, Lupe G, who helped me along with James T.
Many, many thanks again Hostgator team!
You guys are awesome and I highly recommend your company :)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Nature Walk - Rattray Marsh Conservation Area. Mississauga Ontario

Do you ever want to get in touch with nature? Or find a way to escape from everyone, from everything for just a short while? 

For the past month, I have been wanting to surround myself with some nature. Just on my own.
Somewhere peaceful, quiet, slightly secluded yet still very safe.

With the help of a quick Google search and very helpful reviews on TripAdvisor, I decided to visit Rattray Marsh Conservation Area.

It's about a 45 minute drive West of Downtown Toronto

Rattray Marsh Conservation Area was just what was looking for

The leaves on that tree reminded me of the gorgeous weeping willows in beautiful Savannah Georgia a few years back ;)

One of the things about the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area is that the boardwalk is limited to foot traffic
It is a narrow boardwalk so for everyone's safety, it is a smart idea to restrict the use of bicycles

This marsh overlook so peaceful and beautifulThere were a couple of swans out in that pond
For me, the 
marsh landscape was just as beautiful as the Lake Ontario Shoreline
What is your favourite type of landscape?

Can you see the Dragonfly? :)

This was one bird I saw and managed to get a picture of! 
Is it a robin?!

Zooming in, you can see Downtown Toronto and CN Tower when you look East across Lake Ontario :)
It has been a very humid and hot summer creating quite a bit of haze as is evident in the picture

Lots of smooth rocks and skipping stones along the shoreline

A couple of the very helpful Reviews on TripAdvisor shared a great trip about parking your car along Bexhill Road - thank you very much for the helpful tip!

I visited the conservation area on a weekday early afternoon - it was very easy to find parking right by one of the entrances at Bexhill Road and Gatehouse Drive.
You can also read more about parking options on the conservation park's website here.

From the entrance at Bexhill Road and Gatehouse Drive it is a quick ten to fifteen minute stroll to the marsh overlook.
Then from the marsh overlook to Lake Ontario's shoreline it is a another quick five minute stroll.
It is an easy walk that is nicely maintained along the wooden pathway.
If you follow the Waterfront Trail East, the wooden boardwalk along Rattray Marsh Conservation Area quickly opens up into Jack Darling Memorial Park where there are many open areas to picnic and it also includes Jack Darling Leash Free Dog Park, one of Ontario's largest leash free dog parks.

The Rattray Marsh Conservation is known for wildlife such as various birds and deer.
Since I visited the park on a hot, sunny midday hour (it was about 38 Celsius/104 F) there was not as much wildlife. Your best best for wildlife activity is during sunrise hours or sunset hours, particularly on a weekday when there will be fewer people than on the weekend.

One recent review on TripAdvisor shared a tip on bringing bug spray. Not sure when that review was written nor the time of day the reviewer visited the park. Based on my visit midday visit, perhaps the heat chased away all the insects since there was no need for insect repellant during my visit.

I spent maybe an hour at the conservation area. I was surprised that the hour long visit fulfilled my desire to get in touch with nature. For some reason I was expecting to spend a day or two visiting various parks and conservation areas before I felt my needs were met - so that is great news!
And honestly, I think this was my very first "nature walk" where I drove out of the way by myself to get in touch with nature.
Yay for a first :)

It was a beautiful way to escape from the city while still staying within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Can't wait to revisit especially in the Fall when all the leaves start to change colour.

Definitely open to your suggestions on nature and wildlife ideas!

Do you have any favourite nature or wildlife areas to visit in the Greater Toronto Area?

Are there any outdoor activities you enjoy doing where you live? 

Check out my previous posts

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