Top 10 Awesome things in Taiwan that you probably didn't know
It has been a couple of months since I left Taiwan. Taiwan is like a small thread on the world map but often ignored by Western travelers. However, Taiwan is still surely a cool place with its own instinct scent of charm. I have a strong passion for finding such hidden gems inside an unfamiliar world and integrating into the local culture with getting surrounded by just the locals. My desire just worked when I arrived in Taiwan. I was in the middle of just the Taiwanese flocks in not only downtown Taipei of all the touristic destinations but also multiple spots off the tourist trail. All the experience lets me come up with this article to puzzle up the pieces of my Taiwan trip memory. Just a piece of my writing saved to be shared! Here are the TEN interesting things I took notice of while having such great days in this nice land.
1. The PEOPLE are SUPER WELCOMING
The local people in Taiwan are super nice and friendly. Trust me. Nowhere on this planet could you find friendlier locals than in Taiwan. Even though the vast majority of Taiwanese people are with the lack of English, they still try to lend you a hand as much as they could. If you struggled messing up with your map, there would be a local coming up to guide you. If you were in a MRT station feeling confused with the signs, there would always be the locals willing to help you out. I was lucky enough to make friends with some locals during my trip. The very first buddy I got in Taipei was Wen. She showed me around some typical places in downtown Taipei with Raohe night market getting to be the highlight for me. What impressed me the most was when she insisted taking me to my hotel though I could apparently got there on my own. She just wanted to make sure I was safe in her country. When we arrived at almost midnight, she took me up to the door, making sure I was alright. She said her family has been hosting a large number of backpackers (she can't even count because there are too many), giving them a sweet home place to get through the nights in a new country. How nice! Another road buddy I got was Lucy in Taichung. It took her nearly an hour to come see me and it happened during the Chinese New Year in Taiwan though, she still finally came up to welcome me in her beautiful hometown! She invited me to eat all the local foods and showed me all the unique things. To be honest, my travel to Taiwan would not have been fulfilled without the help of Wen and Lucy. Besides, all of the blog posts I contribute to Taiwan could hardly be done without Chen (Lucas), an online friend I met on a language learning platform (Internet is awesome this way. We just have to make use of it, right?). His major was English so I didn't have any difficulty communicating with him. I asked him tons of questions about Taiwan and it seems like he never got tired of me (or he did but I didn't know haha). I was traveling to Taiwan during the time of Chinese New Year and got to observe some fascinating customs linking with Chinese culture. I always ended up with a conversation with Chen all about it. All was fun though.
|We eating oyster omelette|
2. AWESOME NIGHT MARKETS with GREAT STREET FOODS
Taiwan must claim its place on a list of the best night markets the world over. I went to Raohe and Feng Chia night markets in two different cities and eventually came out with a conclusion that Taiwan is really the cream of the crop for its street food night markets! They are all awesome destinations offering a great variety of street foods. These night markets would definitely get you a true local feeling with your stomach filled with the most authentic local foods in Taiwan. Oyster omelette, bubble tea and stinky tofu are the real gems I would highly recommend you try! Oyster omelette seems like a mixture of fried-omelette and oysters poached in sweet orange syrup for me! Actually it's not orange juice or syrup but it's gelatinous sweet potato starch starting to melt in your mouth and covering all your tongue in the heaven of sweetness. It's delicious! Whereas oyster thingie could go directly to almost all tummies, stinky tofu - the fermented tofu is probably a challenge for most of us. It's not so difficult for you to find stinky tofu because of its heavy smell. I remember getting a box of stinky tofus with my Japanese friend. I tried to not puke out after swallowing a slice of stinky tofu when it went through the surface of my tongue, slid into my throat, down to the last slurp. All of the smelly tofu escaped from my mouth but the disgusting smell of it was still all over. Bottles of water could help. I tried. My friend said it was kind of the same with the stink bean in Japan so it was no problem for him but a real challenge for me. After the stinky tofu, a cup of bubble tea is worth a try. Bubble tea was born in Taiwan in about 1980s. It's a cool beverage of green tea milk with lots of black tapioca pearls added. A great drink to refresh yourself! (Check my video below to see these night markets!)
3. The KINGDOM of SEVEN ELEVENS
I have to admit that Taiwan is the kingdom of 7-Elevens! They are EVERYWHERE in Taiwan with 5000 stores throughout the country whose total area is just a bit bigger than Maryland in the States. There are tons of things you can do in these convenience stores. 7-Eleven is where you can get a Slurpee, have your phone charged, photo copy stuffs, send the parcels or redeem your Taiwan lottery receipt winning - look out at the number on every receipt in Taiwan and wait until your number gets selected to claim your prize ;).
4. GREAT METRO RAPID TRANSIT - MRT
Taiwan should be regarded as one of Asia's leaders in creating effective public transit. Taiwan is the third country that I have exposed to the MRT and I totally fell in love with it. It's incredible that Taipei handles more than one million riderships a day! But have you ever questioned what the people in Metro Taiwan really do with the money they got from taxpayers? Here are some of the things I found out whilst hitting MRT rides. Taipei's MRT tries to reach the peak of safety with its panels glass doors at stations. They open with their lights on top getting flashed once the train has arrived and they close when the train leaves. I never saw these similar doors when I was in Metro Paris. People in Paris just have to be very careful not to fall into the tracks, either intentionally or accidentally. MRT in Taiwan is very clean as well. I'm 100% sure that you will be given such harshly disgusting looks if you ever eat or drink inside the stations and metro systems. So take this perfectly noted! MRT in Taiwan is also very smart this way: It offers seats facing towards the aisle so you never have to worry about crawling over the people to get out. This cool way of design also allows us to have more space to stand (Definitely appreciate this when it comes to peak hours).
(Check the video I shot below to see MRT in Taipei)
(Check the video I shot below to see MRT in Taipei)
5. The LOVE for FACE MASKS
Face masks used by both men and women are ubiquitous in Taiwan! All kinds of face masks are for sale in all convenience stores, drugstores, skincare shops and so on. Taiwan's face masks are efficient and really affordable, starting from about 3 USD/sheet - a good reason why many people pick this product as a lovely gift souvenir for their friends and families. I got one green tea sheet and put it on my face after the face wash part. The facial mask was so useful that it cooled down my skin and made me feel relaxed. A perfect pack of treat during your travel in such hot days!
6. WHITE - the color symbol of DEATH
While black is commonly used as the symbol of death in the West, white is applied in Taiwan. White never appears on weddings here either. The color red symbolizes good luck and of course, often used at weddings and other happy celebrations. I didn't know this fact until I heard a short story said by Wen - my Taiwanese friend. I asked her to tell me about her most memorable hosting experience and it was all about the misunderstanding in culture that her foreign guest encountered. The guest went out buying some white envelops to put her letters in and when she arrived home, Wen was shocked and asked what these envelops were for! The guest said just because they were pretty. Wen burst out of laughing and her guest went dead in silence for a second of fear. Yeah, that is how it works.
7. NO GARBAGE CANS
Yep, seriously no garbage cans outdoors. You shouldn't expect to see any garbage cans on roads in Taiwan. They are all hidden inside a house or building. You just have to keep all the trash in your bag until you go to a proper place with some garbage cans around.
8. The GARBAGE TRUCK plays MUSIC
If you don't want to step inside a building in search of a garbage can, you can wait till a garbage truck arrives (on a fixed regular schedule)! All people bring their household waste out when they hear the loud music coming out from the garbage truck. Wait, what I just said? Music? From a garbage truck? Not an ice cream van? Yes, it's true. The music played in these trucks are to announce their arrival in the streets! When the music tunes ring out loud, it seems like the trucks want to say: Hey people! Give me your trash! And then all the locals hurry up heading out to the streets with their hands holding garbage bags. The garbage bags get ready to go straight to the trucks without touching on the ground.
9. The Taiwanese with ENGLISH NAMES
If you asked Taiwanese people "What is your name?", almost all of them especially the youth would give you their English names. No matter how their English is perfect or poor, they speak out a straightforward answer with their English names. Their English names could be Lucas, Lucy, Apple, Cherry, Dog, Cat, Elephant and all the things you could imagine! At first, I thought they were afraid non-native Chinese speakers could hardly pronounce their names so they gave us their English names instead. However, it turned out that their English names are on mode all the time even when they communicate with their Taiwanese friends. Curious about this, I asked Chen and he told me that Taiwanese students started to name themselves at an early age when each of them was asked to create an English name in their English class. The cute English names stay together with them for their entire lives. It's just sort of funny if you come across a conversation like: "Hey, Mice, whatcha doing? - Just watching Tom and Jerry, how about you Cat?"
10. The SPEED of INTERNET
The speed of internet in Taiwan is incredibly fast! I purchased a pre-paid 3G data card at the airport and used it until the day I departed from Taiwan. I got the card inserted in and immediately puffed Chrome. It was dead fast! It was like a flick of tick pushing the tab out on the screen! The internet actually worked really smoothly and all my online apps just popped up right at the tip of my finger! I then googled about the speed of Taiwan's internet and the result surely lived up to my expectation. It ranked 8th in the world with 83.1 Mbps in terms of average peak connection speed! Cool, right?
All in all
Just want you to share with you TEN interesting things I found in Taiwan. Hope this kind-of-long post can get you a big picture of Taiwan! Does it get you visit Taiwan right away?
Have a nice day:)