The Taiwanese people
– I have traveled to such cities in Asia such as Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Guangzhou. Of these cities in general I prefer the Taiwanese people. They are generally honest, trustworthy, respectful, and friendly. Coming from a western background I really appreciate these qualities that you cannot expect throughout Asia. I knew I was going to deal with a large language barrier gap, and with it a vulnerability that the Taiwanese wouldn’t try to take advantage of. Well at least I hoped.
Safe & clean
Generally Taipei is a very clean city. The upscale areas such as Xinyi tend to be the cleanest with some local suburbs still being clean, but not to the same extent. Public transport stations on their underground train (the MRT) are very clean. Coming from Vancouver and Singapore it is easy to take this for granted. The only danger I have experienced is while crossing the street looking out for crazy scooter and bus drivers, but generally you can walk in Taipei even until late at night without worrying about being in danger. After traveling to South Africa I appreciate the peace of mind and countries where I can look at my smartphone without being worried about being robbed.
The MRT system and facilities here are top notch. They use the contactless card for payment entry and the service is fast, extensive and reliable. Taipei is the only city I know that offers designated plug and usb outlets for charging phones and devices at their stations. Almost every station has a clean bathroom and well-labeled exits. Taipei also offers an easy to use bike rental program with quality equipment, plenty of bike stations for free 30 minute use.
– I knew Taipei was a modern developed city in Asia that offered a good standard of living, good transportation, and was an Internet friendly city.
– Geographically I like to think of Taiwan as the heart of Asia. It is nearby to Hong Kong, Shanghai, South Korea and not too far away from Malaysia, Japan, Phillipines, and In Indonesia.
Under 2 hours to Hong Kong
About 2 hours to Shanghai
Under 3 hours to Seoul, Korea
Low cost of living
compared to Western standards things like food, transport, and accommodation cost less. My private studio in Jingan apartment was small, but it was private and cost me close to $440 US dollars a month and included internet, washing machine, and furniture. I was also prepared to pay 21,000nt or $700US for my very first apartment in Jingan, but I quickly found out after arriving that this was too expensive. (太 贵 了！）
Home to Taiwanese beef noodles, Xiao long bao, bubble tea, and many other great foods. A good bowl of Beef noodles can be found for 90NT or $3US.
Canada had an arrangement with Taiwan called a working holiday visa. This was was relatively straightforward to obtain and allowed me to legally live, work, and study in Taiwan for up to a year. This isn’t available in every country and there are some age limit restrictions ranging from 35 to 30 depending on the country. The working holiday visa option was an amazing opportunity to gain a rich cultural experience. Read more about working holidays here.
Now that you know why I moved to Taiwan. In my next article I’ll share some experiences and what I have actually observed and learned from living and studying here in my first 3 months. Some things I’ll discuss:
- How was the experience of learning chinese in Taipei at the MTC ?
- Could I build a life and friends in Taipei and what adventures did I have ?
- How did I survive and figure out the basics such as how to eat and find a place to live ?
- Was Taiwan what I thought it would be?