40 Reasons I ♥ Taiwan
Written by Alita World (original post at Protected content )
Wednesday, 15 June Protected content
1.The people here: some of the friendliest, most helpful people you will ever meet anywhere in the world. Hands down.
2.The frontier spirit, particularly in the south: five people on a scooter, betel nut girls, custom-designed vehicles, street vendors, independent businesses, shops set up in any available nook, people gambling on card tables at the side of the road, electric wire mayhem, DIY freedom.
3.24-hour activity and convenience: restaurants, cafés, convenience stores, bookstores open around the clock.
4.Taipei’s growing cosmopolitan feel: Russian ice-vodka bars, sushi restaurants, upscale department grocery store delis, wine bars, Eslite bookstore, etc.
5.Taxis: affordable, available, efficient, fairly honest, prepared to go on a cross-country trip if required, and you can drink in the cab.
6.Taipei 101. Simply beautiful, and the best view of the city on a clear day.
7.FREEDOM: Democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, social activism, marches, protests, Tibetan Freedom concerts, artist’s freedom of expression. THIS IS TAIWAN, NOT CHINA. See our artists criticizing the gov’t? Well you’ll see them tomorrow, too, because they won’t be locked up.
8.State of the art technology and design. Taiwanese engineers, inventors, and designers are winning awards world-wide. We have city wide internet access in Taipei as well. The future happens faster in Taiwan.
9.7-11: where you can pay your phone bill, do your banking, affordably ship a package anywhere on the island overnight, get a latte, fruit, salads, and sit at a counter to eat/drink/read the paper.
10.Job opportunities for foreigners teaching English for a decent wage with full benefits and an Alien Resident Card, in a country where education and educators are respected.
11.6% tax, most of which you get back as a tax refund, which a friendly, English-speaking government volunteer will help you apply for free of charge, without having to wait.
12.Other opportunities for expatriates as DJs, artists, writers, reporters, columnists, actors, directors, models, burlesque dancers, musicians, vocalists, tap-dancers, graffiti artists, graphic designers. If you want to do it and you are good at it you can find a way here.
13.Affordability: housing, food, entertainment, travel, accommodation, are all very reasonable. You can live like a queen here, have brunch at a fine restaurant, take taxis everywhere, buy a new outfit, go out for dinner, go dancing, and end it by drinking champagne (okay sparkling wine) on a tropical beach – and you can do that every weekend!
14.World class health and dental care, which covers 90% of any costs, and pharmacies where you can get anything you need without a prescription and without paying through the teeth.
15.Hot springs. All over the island. Public or in your own private hot tub, from free to luxurious, some with massage jets and some just in a rock pool in the middle of nowhere.
16.The naked lady spa. I go to Lady Eliza. 350NT gets you 12 hours with hot and cold pools, saunas, steam rooms, a restaurant, lounge, and nap room (with the air con cranked and big down comforters), complimentary robes, towels, toothbrushes, hair dryers, cold cream, etc. You can even spend the night.
17.Massage. Full body, foot, reflexology, deep tissue, oil. Even as part of your hair wash and style, you get a shoulder and neck rub.
18.Chinese medicine, cupping, acupuncture. Will sort out life-long back problems that Western medicine can’t touch. Affordable, effective, and holistic.
19.Parks: located all over the cities, with sitting areas and play areas, beautiful landscaping, trees, flowers, ponds, fish, ducks, playgrounds, sports’ areas, walking and running paths.
20.Bike paths in the river valleys and around the country, with widespread bike rental available.
21.Green initiatives: world class constantly expanding public transport, construction site fencing covered with vertical gardens, tree planting along roads and boulevards, rooftop gardens, wind power, solar panels.
22.The MRT. Listed as one of the world’s top metro services for four years in a row. Clean, cheap, fast, efficient, wide spread. Makes Taipei instantly accessible. Kaohsiung’s metro stations are amazing as well, beautiful soaring glass architectural structures that give it the feeling of Vancouver or Sydney.
23.The High Speed Rail. You can get from one end of the island to the other in 1 hour and 45 mins, for NT$ Protected content 50$US). It used to take 5 to 9 hours, depending on traffic. It’s as convenient as getting on the metro, and you can prebook your tickets online.
24.Fruit and vegetable gardens in and around the city, independently grown and sold by small-scale farmers. Flower markets, gardening centers, bedding plants, all widely available and affordable.
25.Street side food markets and organic stores in every neighborhood, selling fresh locally grown produce, fish, seafood, eggs, meat, poultry, baked goods, without the “farmer’s market” prices in the West.
26.Night markets, free markets, flea markets, black markets. What you want is here, you can afford it, and you can even bargain that price down a bit.
27.Restaurants: a dizzying array of Indian, Thai, Western, Italian, Burmese, Halal, Vegetarian, Vegan, Vietnamese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Korean, check out the Hungry Girl’s blog for a wide list of options.
28.Taiwanese seafood restaurants. These deserve their own category. You can feast on tender squid, plump shrimp, crispy soft shell crab, sashimi, whole fish, juicy clams, and beer for about NT$300 per person. Or for vegans they’ll make gung-pao tofu, sweet and sour tofu, water spinach, sweet potato leaf, eggplant, you name it.
29.“Weird food”… that you come to love: squid on a stick, tea eggs, salty egg, rice triangles, stuffed bao-tze, fish with the tail and head on, poultry with the head and feet on, shrimp with sweet mayo and candy sprinkles, tofu skin (mmm), hell some even come to love stinky tofu.
30.Random art. Within a block of my house in each direction are: the Tun Hua Eslite “bird cage sculpture”, the Civic Blvd and Tun Hua “zebra crossing sculpture”, and the Yanji Street “cupping hands sculpture”. Art IS everywhere in Taiwan.
31.Cultural festivals and holidays: with days off, parades, fireworks, and incredible costumes and rituals, Taiwan always seems to have something going on: Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Ghost month Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Matzu’s festival, Tomb Sweeping Day, and that crazy one where people wear helmets and get bombed by fireworks.
32.Film festivals: Golden Horse, Urban Nomad, and other small festivals celebrating and sharing local, expat, and foreign works.
33.Live music. There are so many bands it’s impossible to keep up with them all. In particular, Taiwanese girl bands rock my world. There is every kind of music you can imagine, from blues and jazz to electro and death metal. Expats have also contributed greatly to the live scene and many have cut their first album here. Taiwan rocks. [Unfortunately the government seems determined to destroy Taichung’s music scene and has closed down the heart of it when they shut the doors of 89K].
34.Spring Scream – the actual Spring Scream, not the whole culmination of events including all the raves and beach parties. Spring Scream itself, the gathering of Protected content on 7 stages at Oulanbi Lighthouse set up by Wade and Jimi where musicians and music fans from around the island join up to camp, dance, eat, play, and rock the ROC.
35.Clubbing, outdoor electro festivals, parties. Luxy deserves special mention for bringing so many international acts and for fostering the careers of so many locally based talented DJs. It’s also beautiful inside, like three clubs in one, with luxurious accents and great dance floors (though the staff need retraining).
36.You can drink outside. Many convenience stores have tables and chairs set up under umbrellas outside, or you can share a bottle of wine in a park, or have a cold beer on a beach. You can put a cocktail shaker in the basket of your bicycle. You can walk around wearing one of those hats with two beers and a straw and enjoy your day. You can have a damn drink at an outdoor festival. Cheers to Taiwan. Gan bei!!
37.The geography. It’s such a tiny island but Taiwan has it all: gorgeous gorges, volcanic rock sculpted landscapes, lush jungles, rolling hills, misty mountains, and a stunning coastline.
38.The beaches: whether it’s Biasha north, the beaches of Kenting area, Fulong, Biasha south just outside of Taipei, or one of the lesser known strips of white, black, or golden sand and achingly blue water, huge waves or calm seas, there is no doubt you are on a tropical island.
39.Green Island. Special mention for my favorite place so far: a 40 minute ferry away from the mainland is an emerald jewel where you can ride a scooter around absorbing the beauty of cliffs straight out of Lord of the Rings, bathe in natural hot springs, eat fresh sashimi cut straight from a huge fish and placed on your tongue, or enjoy world class snorkeling.
40.Safety. This is one of the safest places in the world. There is not much violent street crime, random shooting is almost unheard of, there are very few homeless people or crazy people and begging is almost non-existent. I stopped carrying pepper spray after living here for a year and haven’t carried it since (unless I was going to India or North America).