Taiwan Life

Taiwan isn’t often found on the Westerner’s to do list. When I told my friends and family I was going to live and work in Taiwan their response was often, “Oh that’s so cool you’re going to live in THAILAND??!!!’’ Erm, no. Or they would say, “Right, that’s the place with all the factories that make everything isn’t it?”.

I completed the CELTA, the best and most worthwhile teaching English course you can do, in July 2008. I had lived in the hectic city of Ho Chi Minh for two months during the course. It was time to find a job doing what I’d just spent four weeks practicing, teaching English. One of the course leaders had listed Taiwan as his favourite place to teach English and he had really taught everywhere. He’d asked what I was looking for in a teaching destination and I’d immediately reeled off hot weather, blue skies, sunshine, a beach, mountains, waterfalls, somewhere with lots of exploring potential; he practically shouted TAIWAN in my face! I compared Taiwan next to the other main options Japan and South Korea and Taiwan won. I jumped in and gave it a go thinking wellllll I can do six months.

I spent two years and three months living and working in Taiwan. It was 100% the best decision I’ve made, it was a thrilling, enchanting, and a life changing experience. Now, please don’t roll your eyes, I mean that with all seriousness. The experience gave me so much confidence, new friends for life, it opened my eyes to a completely different culture and gave me numerous challenges to overcome, one of the obvious being I don’t speak Mandarin and where I lived in Tainan few people spoke English.

In the time I spent living in Taiwan I managed to explore the majority of the island as it’s only small. There are stunning tropical beaches in the south, Kenting is known as Little Haiwaii. The mountains all the way down its middle are beautiful with hilltop temples, hot springs, fresh tropical fruit (don’t miss mango season) and lots of fun, butterfly inducing high windy roads. The night markets all over the country are fantastic, lively delicious experiences full of food you’ll love and possible loathe (chicken feet). There’s stunning cherry blossom in Alishan, endless old temples in Tainan, a breath-taking gorge at Taroko, high altitude tea fields in Jiufen, contrasting but equally stunning offshore islands like Penghu and Green Island lots of much variety.

I could write and write and write about my love for that country and the time I spent there but instead here’s a quick flash of what Taiwan life meant to me…

◊  ♦   24/7

♦  ◊   chopsticks

◊  ♦   friendly

♦  ◊   tropical

◊  ♦   mountainous

Taiwan – Mountainous – Southern Cross Highway

♦  ◊   tea

◊  ♦   bubble tea

♦  ◊   bad drivers

◊  ♦   no road rules

♦  ◊   beautiful

Taiwan – Beautiful

◊  ♦   beaches

Taiwan – Beaches – Penghu

♦  ◊   hot and sunny

◊  ♦   typhoons

Taiwan – Typhoon Damage

♦  ◊   Mandarin

◊  ♦   scooters

♦  ◊   baseball

◊  ♦   unexplored

♦  ◊   high speed rail

Taiwan – HSR

◊  ♦   intense studying culture

♦  ◊   no Western tourists

◊  ♦   no English

♦  ◊   paradise

◊  ♦   7/11

Taiwan – A 7/11 on every corner! 
Taiwan – At the highest 7/11 in Taiwan! Woo!

♦  ◊   Family Mart

♦  ◊   English schools on every corner

◊  ♦  landslides

Taiwan – Landslide – Rueili

♦  ◊   denim hot-pants

◊  ♦  beetle nuts

♦  ◊   beetle nut girls

◊  ♦  neon lights

♦  ◊   temples temples temples

Taiwan – Temples – Tainan

◊  ♦  no walking

♦  ◊   high rise living

◊  ♦  waterfalls

Taiwan – Sandimen Waterfall
Taiwan – Maolin Waterfall
Taiwan – Chiayi Waterfall

♦  ◊   tofu

◊  ♦  red mouths

♦  ◊   air conditioning

◊  ♦  shrimp rolls

♦  ◊   Sushi Express

Taiwan – I heart Sushi

◊  ♦  night markets

♦  ◊   festivals

◊  ♦  lanterns

Taiwan – Lanterns
Taiwan – Chinese Lanterns

♦  ◊   Taiwan Beer (headache)

◊  ♦  joss

Taiwan – Joss

♦  ◊   high high highways

◊  ♦  REALLY windy roads

Taiwan – REALLY windy roads

◊  ♦  motorcycles

♦  ◊   soup dumplings

Taiwan – Soup Dumplings

◊  ♦  park your scooter anywhere

♦  ◊   bad table manners

◊  ♦  no Christmas

♦  ◊   KTV

Taiwan – KTV

◊  ♦  road-trips

♦  ◊   not having a licence

◊  ♦  hot springs

Taiwan – Hot Springs

♦  ◊   freedom

◊  ♦  fresh fruit juice

♦  ◊   convenience

◊  ♦  no pavement

♦  ◊   D.I.Y. tick menus

◊  ♦  no football (soccerball??)

♦  ◊   bad underwear

◊  ♦  optician overload

♦  ◊   cheap mechanics

◊  ♦  late nights

♦  ◊   late lie-ins

◊  ♦  knowing everyone

◊  ♦    your friends being your family

Taiwan – Your friends being your family
Taiwan – Your friends being your family
Taiwan – Your friends being your family

♦  ◊  roadsides have everything

◊  ♦    lunch boxes

Taiwan – Lunchboxes

♦  ◊  working on Christmas Day

◊  ♦    chicken feet

♦  ◊  clothed dogs

◊  ♦    ice shavings topped with fresh fruit

♦  ◊  lazy beach Sundays

◊  ♦    getting a tan whilst scootering to work

Taiwan – Getting a tan whilst scootering to work

♦  ◊  helmet fashion

◊  ♦  smelly old eggs

♦  ◊  dangerous drink driving

◊  ♦    doing the V sign in photographs

♦  ◊  jumping pictures

◊  ♦    taking pictures of everything

♦  ◊  kinder bueno

◊  ♦    best stationary shops ever

♦  ◊  wasabi peas

◊  ♦    7 select lemon tea

♦  ◊  ice cold cinemas

◊  ♦    BBQ’s

♦  ◊  tropical fruit

Taiwan – Tropical Fruit

◊  ♦   being stared at because you’re a foreigner

♦  ◊  small community

◊  ♦  babies speaking English

♦  ◊  stinky drains

◊  ♦   your blue eyes freaking people out

♦  ◊  really dark bars

◊  ♦    Carrefour

♦  ◊   people thinking eating with your fingers is disgusting

◊  ♦   fireworks all the time day and night

♦  ◊   scooter crashes

◊  ♦   heavy tropical rain

♦  ◊   enormous full body raincoats that look like giant bin bags

◊  ♦   small island but full of people

♦  ◊   pollution

◊  ♦   Shinkongmitsokoshi (something like that) mall

◊  ♦  Amazing islands off the coast

Taiwan – Green Island

◊  ♦  off the beaten path

♦  ◊  red glowing house shrines

◊  ♦  it being normal for children to study from 5am until midnight of later

♦  ◊  getting drinks delivered

◊  ♦  food stalls

♦  ◊  stunning

Taiwan – Stunning – Sea of Clouds – Southern Cross HIghway

◊  ♦   comfy VIP buses

♦  ◊   tropical islands off the coast

◊  ♦   office hours

♦  ◊   really quick food

◊  ♦   not being able to read the menu

♦  ◊   fun

◊  ♦   weekend adventures

Taiwan – Weekend Adventures

♦  ◊   funny signs with really bad English

◊  ♦   fried deep-fried fried deep-fried fried deep-fried

♦  ◊    bad Western food

◊  ♦   driving for hours on a motorcycle

Taiwan – Long motorcycle adventures

♦  ◊   delicious

◊  ♦   AMAZING!!!

Taiwan – Ghost Money

If you want to read more about Taiwan:

 Taiwan…Food! From three-pot chicken to Anping shrimp rolls it will get your mouth watering.

Taiwan…Sights! From Taroko Gorge to undiscovered waterfalls, you’ll want to jump on that plane now.

Taiwan…Teaching English! If you need to fund your adventure.

6 Comments

  1. Anthony Fletcher

    Also I liked dogs on scooters!! Willys bar (is that advertising? you will have to ask for a free pizza) Oh and the fair at kenting Taiwan was great

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