Johnny FD is a prominent digital nomad who has built up the digital nomad community and openly shares business advice and earnings. He has been featured on articles like Forbes and Business insider. In part 2 of 3 from Taipei Taiwan we compare food and rent in Taiwan vs Chiang Mai, food airlines in Asia, banking, and his business. The real gem comes at the end of this epsiode when Johnny talks about the abundance mindset.
Johnny FD is a prominent digital nomad building community and sharing business advice. He has been featured on articles on forbes and business insider. I discovered Johnny through his many youtube videos about Chiang Mai. Learn about Johnny and his journey, business, and thoughts on living in Taiwan Vs Chiang Mai as a digital nomad
Where to go to relax and exercise in Taipei, Taiwan
If you are living in Taiwan and want to know where to go to relax and exercise in Taipei, Taiwan I got you covered. This article is targeted at the digital nomad on-line workers. I’ve met younger guys in their twenties that drink a lot, but don’t seem to exercise that much. As someone in my late thirties with a Dad constantly reminded me to take care of my health I’ve taken a healthy lifestyle to heart wherever I go. This includes exercise and eating healthy. I’m not a perfect role model by any means, but I believe I live a balanced lifestyle.
My first 6 months spent in Taipei were at the National Taiwan Normal University more commonly referred to by locals as “Shida”. If you are a student at the school you can purchase a monthly pass for 500nt. The gym offers free weights and some machines. There are limited hours for the gym, but the price is cheap and if you are studying it is a good option. The gym is located almost across the street from the Chinese school in the basement.
Public sports centers
These are the equivalent of community sports centers back in Canada except you don’t need any membership. There are numerous sports centers throughout Taipei, but not are equal. The sports centers offer a pretty modern gym with most of the free weights and machines that you need. Depending on the sports center they may offer additional facilities like swimming pools, full-size gyms, or even yoga classes. To use the weight rooms cost 50nt and they all enforce a strict one-hour policy and mandatory towel. It’s amazing how productive you can be with a paid time constraint. All these sports centers offer free water and free and paid lockers. They even offer a weight machine and high tech blood pressure machine.
My favorite gym was Songshan sports center (臺北松山運動中心) located at the Taipei Arena MRT. They have a large but busy weight room. They have punch bags that I loved to use for a cardio workout as well as a stress outlet. Songshan sports center also has a running track outside that can be seen from the weight room’s patio. I also loved that there is an Olympic sized running track 1-minute walk away. You are also minutes away from the local hip area of Dunhua Sogo area and plenty of good eats. They have a swimming pool at this center although they strictly enforce that men wear tight speedos and hair caps. Even if you wanted to wear these speedos they are not cheap. One of my favorite places to work is also near here. They serve good coffee have comfortable seating and good desks with reliable Wi-Fi. I‘ll talk more about places to work in my digital nomad guide.
Zhongshan sports center (臺北市中山運動中心) located a 5 minute walk from the Zhongshan MRT is also one of my favorites. Located in a trendy area with good eats the gym is a little quieter, smaller, and harder to find. What I like about the Zhongshan gym is that is has a pretty good swimming pool and spa facility. I used to make a long journey to the Da-an sports center just to use their pool, steam room, and water massage machines. Zhongshan offers all these facilities and is usually not as busy. Best of all you can use this pool with western style swim-shorts.
Running tracks & trails
If the gym is not your thing Taipei have plenty of good and free options for you to run. As previously mentioned I think the Taipei arena at Songshan is a good option. In addition to the sports center just beside the center there are 2 cushioned running tracks. One is smaller and the other is an Olympic sized arena. I loved running in the Olympic area. It is a cushioned track with water machines and bathrooms. The stadium also filters out a lot of the city noise and wind. It closes at 10pm
Other running options and basketball
You can also run around Da-an Park and on the trails. Even though this is the largest park in Taipei there is a lot of people and bicycle traffic to compete with. There are many bike paths on the city outskirts by the riverside that are also quieter and serene.
There are many schools throughout Taipei with basketball courts and tracks. After school is finished (usually by 5pm) the public can use the facilities. The Taiwanese are crazy about basketball, so it should be easy to find a pickup game.
Being a formerly ranked competitive junior tennis player I became a pretty decent player and brought my tennis rackets with me to Taiwan. There are courts near the Dajia riverside and Guting Riverside Park with lights. It’s difficult to get to these areas if you don’t have a motorbike or bicycle. Even if you do make it there you need someone that is at a similar level. I was lucky to meet a Taiwanese girl through a site called Tennis tonic in Singapore who introduced me to some Taiwan friends that were good players. Once you find one good partner its not a bad idea to challenge other good pairs to doubles and expand your network.
Biking can be a good way to get exercise in Taipei. New Taipei city tends to have smaller and crowded sidewalks. You can buy a bike or if you have an easy card you can easily rent a U-bike. An easy card is the public metro value card. The rate is 10nt for every 30 minutes for the first 4 hours. Once you’ve registered you just tap your card at the many bike stations throughout the city. Once you tap out it automatically deducts the value. You don’t need a helmet, but perhaps it is a good idea to wear one if you are riding in the city. The app lets you know where the bike stations are in the city as well as how many bikes are available. My favorite rides were along the dajia riverside where you get a nice view and it’s peaceful. If you want a nice long ride go from Yuanshan Park to beitou, but just be warned that there isn’t u-bike park stations there. For specific map routes and pictures you can see my digital nomad guide.
Taiwan has many hiking routes. I’m not a regular hiker, but when I do I always recommend going up to the Elephant mountain trail (象山). There are no elephants here, but this is a well-paved 30-minute one way-walking trail that offers the best view of Taipei 101 and the downtown area. Lucky you the city recently built an MRT station (象山 Xiangshan in Chinese or Elephant mountain) a 5-minute away from the start of the trail. Bring a camera, water, towel, and maybe some beers to celebrate at top around sunset.
I’m sure by the time you read this you would have heard about the Beitou hot springs located in new Beitou. The cheaper hotspring which is called Millenium is more backpacker style with a senior crowd and coin operated hot showers. The nicer hot springs are at the nice hotels, which are more expensive and require you to go nude with the same sex.
My favorite spot to relax and meditate was at the pool at Da-an sports center. I would use the spa area to water massages at the many machines. For about 110nt you can use the pool. I think it was either 3 hours or unlimited. Either way it is long enough to enjoy the water-bed and steam room.
The Dharma Drum center is a Buddhist organized offering foreigners free meditation classes in English. Don’t worry you don’t need to be Buddhist, but I recommend you try to respectful of the their beliefs and listen to the monk or instructor and you will be fine. The main center is near Taipei main and ximending MRT and classes are usually half day. I enjoyed just doing some light stretches and guided meditation in a group setting. It is very relaxing and a chance to work on your meditation in a comfortable environment.
I will mention a secret and quiet beach area in Taipei. It has almost nothing there, not many people and very peaceful. My ex-girlfriend introduced it to me and we had a beautiful day on the beach. Since it is past Tamsui you can head there after for a nice drink at sunset.
Taiwan is a convenient city and you can easily find many clean parks in your neighborhood with benches and pagoda’s. One of my favorite things to do was get some lunch and city at the park and watch the kids play at the playground. You can easily loose your thoughts and relax in the park.
In this 4 part video series I’m going to chat with Johnny FD about Chiang Mai and Taipei digital nomad lifestyle. If you read the current blogs on the web in 2015 and recent years there seems to be a consensus that Chiang Mai is the digital nomad capital of the world. Some of the factors include the low cost of living, weather, great food, and large digital nomad community. Taipei offers most of these benefits as well to varying degrees including friendlier visa policies. After my interview I came to the conclusion that the largest difference between the two was the lack of a digital nomad community.
My research about the Chiang Mai lifestyle led to me finding Johnny FD, and American who came to Chiang Mai and built his new life and business.
As March and April are the 2 months to avoid Chiang Mai I managed to connect with him during his visit to Taipei for a 4-part series video interview filmed at the Maker Bar.
I will be traveling to Chiang Mai during April/May 2015 to sample the lifestyle first-hand in Chiang Mai.
In the interview some of what you will learn are:
• Drop-shipping business model
• Cost of living prices of Chiang Mai and Taipei for apartments and foods
• Comparing Taipei and Chiang Mai as ideal destinations for digital nomads
• Where to get cheap flights from Chiang Mai to Taipei
• Food tips in Taipei and Chiang Mai
• Talking about co-working spaces in Taipei and Chiang Mai
• Visa-runs in Chiang Mai and Taipei
Please sign up to receive links to the 3rd and 4th videos as well as great footage and posts on Chiang Mai after my visit.
Resources for Chiang Mai and Taipei Digital Nomad lifestyle
Yes that’s right. Traveling, coding, and eating a Tarantula spider in Cambodia. Today we have a special guest Nigel Fish, a Vancouver digital nomad in Asia on “ghunglive”. I met Nigel in Taipei thanks to the introduction from my Taiwanese friend Serena in 2014. I credit Nigel with taking me deeper in the world of the Digital nomad and making me realize that I myself have become a digital nomad. Nigel is the first digital nomad that I’ve met in Asia actually from the same hometown. While I prefer to use Taiwan as a base and take less frequent trips to nearby countries in Asia, Nigel is more “nomadic” as he travels more frequently than I do. The truth is I would love to more freedom to travel like Nigel.
Why should you watch this video?
Catch a glimpse of Nigel eating a Tarantula in Cambodia
Learn more about the life of a Canadian web developer who makes a living traveling and working from different countries
Get useful insight as a digital nomad in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Taiwan
Learn about the type of digital nomads Nigel has met in Bangkok meetups
Hear about Time Zone Freedom – The idea of not being chained to a 9am – 5pm schedule. Nigel is able to do sightseeing in the day and do some work at night
Digital nomad essentials and useful resources
How regular working people can get started into the Digital Nomad lifestyle
Talk about visa allowances for Canadians in Asian countries
Payment systems that are used to get paid over the Internet
Way to meet people on our journey’s using Meetups and tinder
The idea of becoming a Digital indefinitely
I think it’s great to meet people like Nigel that are not just talking about being a digital nomad, but that are actually living the lifestyle. He is so optimistic about giving it a try that it actually inspires me to push on. Nigel touched on the lifestyle stuff like green space and going for a run in Cambodia. I think its important for Digital Nomads to take into account the lifestyle that a city offers other than just cafe’s, low cost of living, and the Wifi availability. In Taipei I can go to the local sports center gym for 50nt for ($1.98 cdn, $1.59 US) for an hour or run at an Olympic style track for free. You can take out a U-bike rental with the Easycard to the riverside for an hour or two for less than $1 US without any sign-up or insurances hassles. What is the transportation and convenience like? Do you need to take a taxi to get to space that you can run? Do you need a car? In Taipei I can take the MRT just outside my apartment for 1 station and be at the track in 7 minutes. Everyone has a different lifestyle. Perhaps you like having a larger house in the suburbs with a car and commuting to work and back for an hour each day is your lifestyle.
Getting paid over the Internet as a digital nomad in a foreign countries has some issues. For me receiving money through paypal means I get his with a fee from my domestic bank and the local bank here costing me about $25 US for each withdrawal. I also loose some money in the conversion process. I’m not sure what the best solution is yet.
Lastly the idea of being able to get a business visa in Cambodia and being a digital nomad indefinitely was very interesting. Not having to worry about visa issues really does open up new possibilities to setup shop in Asia.
Digital nomads any thoughts or comments on this episode?
This was my first Skype video interview that I setup from Taipei while Nigel was in Cambodia. I hope you enjoyed this format, and if you enjoyed it please sign up for the newsletter and comment below!
Meditate for business success like Russell Simmons in Taiwan
Do you meditate or have you thought about meditating for business or personal reasons? Is it all wishy washy, foo foo, or fluffy stuff. In this article I’m going to explore how to meditate for business success like Russell Simmons. I’m going to share the experience of my full-day meditation and what tell you what I think meditation can do for you as a digital nomad and entrepreneur.
I’m a strong believer in a balanced life as an entrepreneur. Although my friends may think I enjoy going out socializing for drinks, which I do. I also try to strive for balance in terms of health and spirituality. I believe as an entrepreneur it is important to have a balanced and healthy life, and to try to evolve as a person.
Recently my friend Serena convinced me to attend a one-day meditation retreat in Taipei. She observed that I had too many things on the go (which I do), and I was making poor decisions and mistakes. I think in today’s world with smart-phones, email, instant messaging, multi-tasking, multi-tabs, and multi-social media platforms I think this is normal life. I think we are surrounded by distractions that sadly I surround myself with. Being an entrepreneur that spends a lot of time checking my phone with multiple Firefox sessions with over numerous tabs open I felt that I could use a digital detox and give my mind a vacation.
I’ve flirted with meditation during my days working out in the Steve Nash gym in Vancouver. They had a meditation class that I would attend and even the Yoga classes would dedicate some time to meditation. I enjoyed these classes, but these were shorter sessions. Serena introduced me to the Dharma Drum Mountain group in Taipei. They offered free half-day meditation sessions, which I tried once. It was a good experience, but I found myself falling asleep a lot and didn’t get much out of it.
I decided to skip a Friday night out drinking and get some decent sleep. This retreat was scheduled for 9am on a Saturday in the North of Taipei near Qiyan MRT。A group of 24 of us were led to a large modern temple. As I looked at the schedule I was expecting a 3-hour commitment, but saw this was going to a 9am – 5pm affair. “I don’t do this this often, but I should. I’m here so I might as well make the most of it.” I thought. Besides they offered a free vegetarian lunch.
We went to the grand hall. A large impressive space and what appeared to be a large Buddhist statue with 24 meditation mats facing it. The décor was impressive on each side of the statue. I think there about 2000 mini illuminated Buddhist statues. The meditation mat had a firm round cushion and we were given a towel. We were forbidden to use cell-phones, talk, or wear shoes inside. It was quite a structured day. For example, right side for men and left side for women.
The master was dressed like a monk and she gently spoke on the microphone to instruct us in English. We started the first meditation session. I crossed my legs, closed my eyes, with hands facing upwards resting on my knees. I was ready to reach my blissful state. There was no “ohming” or yoga music. Just silence. At first I was worried I was going to get bored just sitting there for 8 hours. Being in this space with these 23 other people put me in the right mindset to take this seriously. The master told us to get comfortable “not to get attached to the wandering thoughts” to “put them down”. We were here to let go of the garbage in our minds. Sounded purifying to me. It was very quiet and still except for the occasional scooter sounds outside. As I closed my eyes my mind started to wander from thing to thing. Constantly I would just try to blank out my mind. Think nothing. Simple. “Be still” I told myself. I think the session was about an hour. Surprisingly the time passed very fast. I actually got 6 hours of sleep the night before unlike the others so I would only sleep for short periods during the hour meditation.
We had 3 of these sessions throughout the day. The interesting thing was that various thoughts would pop in my mind during the day. Some of them were creative ones or solutions to problems that I had. I didn’t want to loose them. Since the goal was to put the thoughts down I would imagine I had a mental version of Evernote and park these ideas in my mind for later. We ended each session with light self-massage and stretching.
I’ll share one example of a creative idea or solution that I put into action.
Connect laptop to my 32-inch LCD TV.
I have been working from my apartment a lot lately. Since I work on a 15-inch laptop screen I’ve been interested in saving up to purchase a larger LCD screen. Having already window-shopped for monitors I know they start out at 5000nt or $157 US. I just don’t think it’s a priority at this point so I didn’t do it yet. Besides if I were to travel more buying more this wouldn’t be able to go with me. During the meditation I envisioned my work desk with the laptop connected to my 30 inch LCD TV screen. Brilliant I thought. This would be making good use of the resources I already had. When I got home I relocated my work desk in front of the TV and moved the coffee table. My gosh! the desk was the perfect height to use the TV as my external monitor for my laptop. This is going to make reading and working on the laptop so much enjoyable for my eyes. I had a couple of other ideas throughout the day that I’m looking forward to putting into action. It was an AHA moment to get a creative idea from meditation, do it and have it work out!
I thought this excerpt from Successful Hip Hop Entrepreneur Russell Simmons Entrepreneur.com’s article was spot on.
When you sit quietly and let your mind settle, all the innovative, inventive and inspired ideas that have been hiding out in the depths of your mind are going to begin to bubble to the surface.
We did other interesting type of meditations. We did a walking meditation where we walked slowly and in a clockwise direction. We meditated with out eyes open. We were reminded to adopt a feeling of gratefulness. We should be grateful that we are healthy enough to walk. I think gratuity is a great mindset to adopt. Instead of trying to think of things that we don’t have we can be thankful for the things we already have, but take for granted.
The lunch meditation was interesting. Women and men were separated across the dining hall facing each other. Men sat side-by-side as did the women. No talking was allowed and we were instructed to focus on chewing our food 30 times to enjoy it. This was an interesting experience. Usually when eating food I’m talking to someone or if I’m eating on my own I study Chinese or use my phone. This exercise forced me to focus on enjoying the food. “How voluptuous, big, and juicy the mushroom looked” I thought. It tasted great btw. How green and perfectly shaped the green beans were cooked an opened so I could see the beans. I don’t see any business application to this exercise, but I think it is good to be aware of what you are eating.
We also went outside to do what was called a direct contemplation. We stopped at a park area and were asked by the master to look at something in the park. Furthermore, we were asked to ignore distractions such as noise and avoid labeling the first things that would come to mind. For example, when I was staring at a lake I was supposed to stare at it, but not think of it as a thing called “a lake”. I think through practice this exercise could help to train your mind not to make quick judgments on things you see.
We wrapped up by sitting in a circle and sharing our thoughts about the day. Some people re-iterated the importance of getting the body comfortable to allow the mind to settle. One person spoke about how sore his leg was that it distracted him from concentrating on the remaining meditations. My legs would get sore so I would alternate once them once in a while to avoid getting them numb. Many people found the direct contemplation interesting because actually looking at something rather than closing their eyes allowed them to avoid wandering thoughts better.
Overall, with my experience and after reading Russell’s article I believe that there is value of regular meditation. I used to use a nap as my poor excuse for meditation. It is different. In meditation are you still in wakeful state to control your thoughts although you can sometimes drift into a sleep during meditation. The master mentioned that during meditation we learn about ourselves in that we learn what thoughts we might be attached to. She mentioned that we were trying to get to place where we could become unattached. I think there is some parallel if you read Russell’s explaination about how we get caught up in the highs and lows of our professional lives. We try to celebrate the big successes and throw parties and become depressed when we fail. He refers to neither reaction as sustainable as the journey of an entrepreneur will have it’s high and lows. He suggests focusing on the process of work and “not the fruit of our labor.”
I believe that we can learn a lot about ourselves through meditation and in my early experiences of meditation I see it as a way to exercise and control our mind and our mindset. If we can train our mind to be still and reap the ideas that are submerged in the depths of our mind we can unlock great creativity within ourselves.
Personally I don’t think I need an 8-hour 1-day or 1 week retreat, but the goal for myself in 2015 will be to try to make time to do meditation and do it consistently. All the talk of “being still “reminded me of Oprah, arguably the most influential women in the world. Specifically in her Stanford graduation ceremony address I remember Oprah encourages us to take time to “get still” and slow down and listen to our feelings. Could it be that Oprah’s “stillness” prescription and meditation are similar allowing us to literally “tap into our inner power” and reach our business success? Is meditation one of the missing keys I need for business success in 2015?
I’m not sure, but one of the things I am good at is taking action on ideas. The challenge will be to do it consistently. For a digital nomad I’m sure you deal with numerous distractions working on the Internet and your smartphone. You also deal with a lot of change as a result of adapting and living in a new country. I can see how meditation can help you reserve time to help solve your own business problems. It’s also great for learning more about yourself and relaxing your mind. I think the idea of remaining unattached from successful and failures may be something great to strive for; however I do love the thrill of getting a sale from my own products. Perhaps for now this is something for me just to keep in mind.
Stay tuned. What have your experiences being with meditation as it relates to business?
Teaching English abroad in Taiwan is an interesting experience available to English speakers with a degree. There are different views on teaching English in Taiwan both from locals and from foreigners. I taught English in Taiwan for 4 months at a cram school and currently teach adults a couple times a month. Recently an American friend in Taiwan asked me these set of questions so I thought I would put together a Teaching English in Taiwan resource for 2015. I don’t claim to know everything, but I thought I would share as much as I know. When I was doing my research to be an English teacher I was already in Taiwan and had to go through the Formusa forums or some good, but outdated blog posts. As a digital nomad trying to get your business off the ground teaching English can provide another stable revenue steam. Its time to share what I know based on my experience to help you out.
How much can you earn?
The standard hourly rate is 580nt (obo$18.23 US). You will also get taxed on this amount. With a monthly part-time 20 hour contract I think I was earning around 39,000nt per month. Don’t quote me on that, but that is the general ball park range. If you teach outside a private school and you have more experience you could earn from 600-800nt hour.
Do you get paid for holidays or typhoon days?
Typhoon days you ask? Yes, I experienced one typhoon day in Taiwan, and it happens from time to time. Basically you get to spend the day at home, but you don’t get paid for it. Other holidays in Taiwan or vacation you take you don’t get paid for either. I know this sucks as you may in the country you live in. I did in Vancouver.
What other benefits can you expect?
If it is a larger school you can expect a health card, an ARC (resident visa to work and live), and if you’re lucky you may get access to a non-interest loan of up to 30,000nt. If you are working less than 20 hours it is likely you will not get any benefits. The health card is actually quite useful as it gives you access to good quality healthcare. For example a teeth cleaning will normally cost 1000-1300nt, but with the NHA card you can expect to pay 200nt.
How many hours will yo get?
For a part-time contract I believe I was getting 20 hours per week at the cram school. You can expect to be asked to sub (fill-in ) for other English teachers, which will bump up your hours.
What qualifications and requirements do you need?
For a cram school they require the original copy of your degree. The scanned copy will not do. I actually had to ship my degree from Canada to Taiwan. For more specific requirements please refer to the HESS site. You will need to hold a passport from one of these English speaking countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, The United Kingdom and The United States.
How and how often will you get paid?
Normally your monthly salary will be paid out the following month. The interesting thing is you will get an envelope with a slip and a big wad of cash on payday. This may seem strange for Westerners used to electronic automatic direct deposit. It is a bit of an inconvenience as you might need to make a special trip to get your pay. If you have a class that day you don’t, but you’ll have the responsibility of looking after your entire months day until your shift is over. As teachers didn’t get any secure locker or area I ended up stuffing this wad of cash in my jean pocket. Mentally you may feel rich on pay day, but be spend carefully otherwise you may be eating 5nt dumplings and 7-11 take out until the next payday.
How does the teaching thing work?
In a nutshell if you are new to the country the larger schools will arrange for you to stay at a hotel during the first week. You’ll get orientation, culture training, as well as training for about a month at the headquarters. Next, you will be assigned to a branch office where you will teach. You can request where you will teach, but are not guaranteed to teach at this location. Once at the branch you may observe an existing teacher before beginning your first class. You will get a schedule with your classes on a slip of paper. Usually in each class you will have a Chinese teacher whose job is to assist you. In my experience the Chinese teachers will likely have more experience than you and have sharper grammar than you so don’t be surprised if they interrupt you or report your mistakes to your manager. For each class you will teach you will receive a set of books. These books will contain the lesson plans and curriculum that you will be teaching. You will be responsible for marking homework. Do not be surprised if the Chinese teacher audits your homework grading. In some classes the Chinese teacher will teach the same set of students on alternate days so you will need to get the graded homework back to them before their class. If you fail to do so you will quickly get on their bad side as I experienced. To get back on their good side you may need to earn your guanxi back by treating them to a Starbucks drink.
How much time will I need to spend outside of the classroom?
You will be responsible for grading homework and all tests. You’re also going to need to be well prepared for your lessons. Teaching is like a performance. Once you begin class you’re performance begins until the break. For lower level classes this is not too difficult and may average 15-40 minutes for lesson planning and grading. Of course this varies with the number of students. For higher-level classes the grammar and grading gets more difficult. The amount of time can go up from 40-80 minutes. As you get more familiar with the material and get into a flow these times may drop. I used to take a notebook and scribble notes, which made lesson planning really slow. I tried typing out the notes, but I found it hard to get access to a computer at my branch. The most effective tip that my manager gave me was to just use post-it notes and just stick them on the books. This way you didn’t need to keep flipping back between your books and your notes.
How many students per class and how old are they?
Depending on the class you may get lucky and have 5 students, but sometimes you can get larger classes with up to 20 students. Generally the students I taught ranged from 5 – 15. If you get the kindergarten classes they are couple years younger.
What are the hours?
Classes are generally in the evenings between 5-9pm Mon – Fridays. Each class is 2 hours in length. You get a 10-minute break between each class, which is just enough time to relocate and setup for the next class. There are also classes on Saturday mornings. I taught on Friday nights until 9pm and had an 8:30am Saturday class. I never got used to it.
I’ve never taught before?
It is okay they will provide all the training. In my experience the training was not enough. Most of what I learned was just to start teaching and make plenty of mistakes and ask questions.
What are some of the schools to teach at?
There are a ton of schools to teach at. The largest schools to teach at are: Hess, Kojen, Reach to Teach, and Happy Mariam
A cram school is additional schooling for Taiwanese children after their regular school.
What is it like to teach children?
It depends on your class. To be honest I think they can be a handful if you don’t know how to manage them. The younger ones have a lot of energy and at times I felt like I was baby-sitting. It’s important to learn some classroom management techniques otherwise you’ll spend more time managing them than actually teaching. Some techniques involve offering rewards for good behavior. It works. On the positive side it does feel good to share the language with students, I just feel that the system you are required to follow is too rigid.
What is the experience like?
For Taiwan teaching English is considered to be a decent paying job. I think your English teaching experience will be shaped by the school you teach at, the location it is, your colleagues, and the students. Teaching English was an option that I needed at the time and I was grateful for that. Doing this job also helped me to discover the teacher in me, which led to me teaching courses through the Internet. I also built up even more comfort teaching and performing in front of people, which is a transferable skill. I had some fun making some friends from my training class and going for drinks with the other English teachers. However for me it wasn’t sustainable. The hours I had to work essentially replaced my social life. Most of the events I wanted to go were when I was teaching. Most of all being a digital nomad I wanted the freedom to do what I loved. If you are just starting your life in Taiwan teaching English can be a good way to ease yourself into the country. They educate you on culture shock; you’ll probably make fast friends with the other English-speaking teachers, and the pay is decent enough to live off of.
If you have taught English in Taiwan have you had a difference experience?
If you enjoyed this article I am currently working on an e-book on my Taiwan working holiday experience sharing my stories, tips, and adventures. Be sure to share your email for updates on the books release date.
Subscribe to receive my 5 locations for Location Independent Videographers and Why
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.
It’s hard to imagine I’ve lived in Taipei for almost a year and 4 months. During this time I spent some time learning Chinese, teaching English, and building several businesses on the Internet. It wasn’t until I met a fellow Canadian that came to visit Taipei that I began to think of myself as a Digital nomad.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is someone that earns money on the Internet. It is the idea that you can do work where you are free of the constraints of being in your office. In fact you can do it anywhere in the world. I spend most of my time working from home or the many cafe’s throughout Taipei. The type of businesses can vary. There are developers and coders that have clients in other countries like South Africa, but they are able to do their work from a country like Taiwan. Usually it makes sense to live in a country that has lower costs, but where you can earn overseas money to maximize your situation. A digital nomad is not limited to a coder. I myself create video stock footage and sell them through stock agencies on the Internet like Pond5. Some people earn income from youtube, google adsense, and being an affiliate for different products. I also create courses that are in video format that are available and sold on learning platforms like Udemy.com and have also began publishing and selling Travel adventures on Amazon Kindle. I believe the idea of traveling and being able to work anywhere over an Internet connection was popularized by the book “the 4 hour work week” by Tim Ferris. There are different types of Digital nomads of course. I prefer to spend 3 months or longer before traveling to a nearby country. There are some digital nomads that travel more frequently.
Again this idea I believe was also made popular my Tim Ferris. It is the idea that you can do work upfront that earns you can income while you sleep. While it’s not always while you sleep you can create a digital products like an e-book and then put it up for sale. The courses I create are in video format and once on the internet the sale of the course happens automatically through the platform. You can automate the sales transaction and the delivery of the product to the customer so you could be having dinner when you can get an email from Paypal telling you that you have money. Another advantage of this type of income is that once you have created your product or service it can continue to bring in a regular income so you can move onto the next project. An example is that I built a course on making money with travel videos that sells every month. I am now free to build a new course that there is a cumulative effect.
The experience of being a Digital Nomad in Taiwan
Let’s start with basic needs. Shelter, connectivity, food, transport, and social life. Compared to Vancouver and other North American cities I found just about everything cheaper in Taipei. I traveled to many places around the world from Singapore, Australia, and South Africa. Taiwan is one of the most Internet Wifi friendly cities that I’ve traveled to. The Taiwanese love their wifi and their smartphones. Just look at the number of people looking at their phones with power banks attached to their phones. Rent is cheap compared to apartments in North America. You can get 3 or 6 month contracts ready to move in that are fully furnished and have fast Internet. I’ve observed directly and heard from many local Taiwanese friends that there are more foreigners now in Taipei in the past year or so. Taiwan is often overlooked, but I believe it is a gem in Asia and the word is getting out. Taiwan is a food paradise with local specialties like noodles, soup, and rice available at cheap prices. Food is cheap enough that I can eat out almost every meal giving me more time to work on my business. Transportation is convenient and cheap with numerous options from the MRT, bus, u-bike, or Taxi. There are also plenty of social and business events to meet new friends and fellow entrepreneurs around Taipei. There is a happening nightlife in Taipei if that is your thing. Because of convenient and cheap transportation you can have a good time without worrying about driving.
The bottom line is Taipei is a good choice for being a digital nomad. You can get connected, live and eat at a low cost. I’m not promoting this, but you can purchase a can of Taiwan beer for 35nt and drink it in a 7-11 or out on the street. Taiwan is a clean, safe, and modern city. Taiwan is also a foreign friendly city with low cost healthcare. It is easy and cheap to get around. However, to get the most out of Taiwan it definitely helps to speak Chinese Mandarin. You can get by on English though.
Costs of being a Digital Nomad in Taiwan
I’ve read about costs of being a digital nomad in techinasia.com’s article and the Digital nomad guide’s site. Techinasia has claimed a cost of $2121. I wanted to share with you a breakdown of my actual monthly costs of being a digital nomad in Taipei that is approximately $1071 US. Note that Taipei is the most expensive city in Taiwan. You could travel to Kaoshiung, the second largest city in Taiwan and reduce your accommodation costs by 40%. This is hearsay from a local friend, and I haven’t had a chance to look up the rental costs myself. Ok lets begin
Digital nomad monthly budget in Taipei, Taiwan
Accommodation in the central Taipei – 16,000NT Food (based on a 400nt daily budget) – 12,000nt Transportation – 1500nt Entertainment – 2000nt Cafe – 2000NT Mobile monthly wifi 2gb 320nt Total 34,020 NT US $1071 $1283 CDN 706 GBP There is no tax added on for most expenses for the customer. Most places don’t ask for tips except for nicer or western style restaurants. Of course you are probably wondering the assumptions behind the figures. I live near central Taipei, which is considered more on the high end. If you live in New Taipei City (20 minutes MRT across the river) you can expect to pay about 10,000nt a month. If you share a 2 bedroom apartment with a roomate you could pay 25,000nt in the Da-an area. Included in the the accommodation is High speed Internet, furniture, television, garbage service, and a small kitchen. It is normal to eat out every meal in Taiwan because it is good and cheap. Some apartments don’t have a kitchen area. I normally like to eat a healthy hot oat breakfast with fruit and then I’ll buy a noodle or rice dish for lunch and dinner. A bowl of beef noodles at a local shop goes for $130nt $4.11. You can go more expensive for western foods like a good burger and fries at Bravo Burger for 270nt $8.56Us or get a bbq chicken leg rice dish with vegetables, soup, and drink for 90nt $2.85. You can get around 1 way on the MRT to most locations in Taipei for 25nt one way .79 cents US. If you take the bus it is 15nt or .47 US. If you take the U-bike (free bike rental) to your destination in under 30 minutes it is free. The MRT is modern, fast, and has extensive coverage throughout the city. As I am central I save money on my transport as I don’t have to travel that far. I budgeted about 50nt per day to arrive at the that figure. If you need a taxi for those times on the weekend you can get to most locations from the Xinyi nightlife district for 200nt or under $6.34.
Starbucks cafe’s allow you to get a tall black coffee for 80nt and offer a good environment to work in. Note that not all Starbucks are equal. Some will be offer more space and offer plug outlets. If you buy a Starbucks card you get 2 hours daily free wifi. Local coffee shops like Mr. Brown you can get a coffee and unlimited daily Internet. If you go to the trendy cafe’s you’re looking to pay 130nt $4.11 US for an Americano. There are many choices with varying prices for Wifi. I heard that that 7-11 offers free wifi if you sign up and that’s completely free. If you’re heading for a night our you can expect to pay about $230nt for a pint of Heineken. $150nt for a small glass of wine. I use a mobile sim card on a 2gb plan which I think is super cheap. This isn’t your full-time connection for work, but good for communication with your friends or checking email when you don’t have coverage. Most cafe’s and restaurants will have wifi to converse your data, and when you have depleted you can always refill at different increments. 180nt $5.70Us will give you another 1GB. Do you have similar or different experiences in Taiwan. Please comment. Would you like to share your Digital nomad experience in another city that you live. Please comment.
Where to go for great cheap local food Where to go for good Western food in Taipei Where to go to relax and exercise ( Gyms, Pools, hotsprings)Current prices of food, shelter, food, clothing and more Where to meet new friends Which areas and neighbourhoods to stay and workWhich bars and clubs to visit in Taipei’s nightlifeHow and where to find an apartment (without overpaying)How to meet other Entrepreneurs living in TaiwanHow to stay safe in Taipei Where to get the the fastest and cheapest SIM-card plans with mobile data with the exact address Tips on hacking Chinese with technology Cultural differences and how to cope with them
If you live in Taipei long enough you’re going to need to do ordinary things like get a haircut or get a dentist. So where to get a haircut in Taipei? I started by googling and recall opening this blog post by Madeline more than once. I tried out her suggestion and went to a hair salon called FIN near the Zhongshan MRT. There is actually a FIN1 and FIN2. I tried FIN2 and got a really good hair cut with the stylist, hairwash with an attractive girl, hair dry and some hair product. I think I paid about 500nt ($16.14 US), which is a good price by Western standards. When I tried to make my next appointment I did it with the same hair stylist. I even confirmed the price with them in Chinese. I think about 500nt. I got there and finished the haircut and then waited for the bill. They told me it is something like 900nt. I was so frustrated and to make matters worst all the staff crowded around the pay counter. I interpreted this as the Taiwanese way to try support their boss. Anyhow, I think their case was that I made an appointment with the master stylist and that was his price. Also the second time the haircut is usually more expensive. My argument was that I confirmed the price of the appointment on the phone. This was probably due to a miscommunication and I couldn’t really argue with people that didn’t fully understand me. I ended up settling on 700nt, and I was super frustrated they tried to take advantage of me especially in foreign friendly Taiwan. I promised I would write this post to protect english speaking foreigners from getting taking advantage of. If you’re going to a salon usually the way it works is they will use a more experienced stylist to cut your hair the first time. You’ll get the hair cut, free drink, hair wash, hair dry, and hair product treatment for about 500nt. The second time it’s going to cost you more for the experienced stylists and a bit less for the junior stylists. Personally I hate going to places with this tiered system.
Taipei organizes some areas well and in trendy Zhongshan (中山 MRT (red and green line) you’ll find a lot of upscale hair salons that are more pricy.
My friend told me if you pay more than 300nt you are paying too much. If you want a haircut for 300nt ($9.70 US) you can find the barbers at some of the MRT’s. They have one if you get off the Zhongshan MRT and walk in the underground metro mall towards Taipei Main station. There is another in the East Mall underground walkway at Zhongxiao Dunhua. If you want something a bit more stylish like a scissor haircut with a hairwash and some product you can go to the Shida area, which is near Taipower MRT exit 3. Once you exit go right on Roosevelt road and turn right on Shida road. If you walk straight on Shida road you will see hair salons on both sides. The hair salon I went to before that I had a great experience with is Park Hair Culture 台北市大安區師大路117巷4號1樓No. 4, Lane 117, Shi da Rd., Daan District, Taipei, Taipei 106, Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan. I was introduced to it by a Swedish friend that cared about his hair a lot. It is in a lane so you will turn right. I suggest you copy and paste the Chinese address in your Google maps to find it. If you’re a student the cost is 450nt. If you’re not a student it’s about 650-700nt I think. They are a smaller modern salon and I suggest making an appointment before.
If you don’t have a student card and you’re a guy I recently found a place called No.1 Male Hair Salon. Yes interesting name I know. Shandao Temple MRT (善導寺站) 臺北士林森南路 2-1號1F。They have a weird racing car garage theme, but they do an alright job with a haircut (with buzzer), quick hair wash, dry, and product for 550nt. Second visit is for 400-450nt. For the ladies if you’re looking for something more posh and fancy you can getting off at Taipei 101 World trade center MRT and looking around there.
If you’re interested in practicing some Chinese at the salon. Here is some vocabulary you may find useful. If you’re interested when the MP3 audio and a full set of the hair salon vocabulary and phrases you can sign up below.
The day after my birthday celebration my local friend and I met at the Taipei Mrt station of Guting at 8:30am. From there we caught our hour and half train ride out to Yilan. Prior to this trip a couple of locals mentioned that Yilan had natural beauty.
I did’t have time to plan as I usually do, but my friend had a chance to speak to my other local friends to give us some guidance. (Thanks Tina and Riwen).
We decided to get some brunch at a vegetarian buffet near the train station. For 100nt we had a delicious veggie buffet. All the good dishes started to come out at lunch. After we decided to rent a car nearby for about 1300nt for the day. Public transport is not as extensive as Taipei and we were there just for day for heavy camera gear so we thought the car would be handy. We rented a 4 door mini automatic car with a 1.3 liter engine that was capable of 100km/hr. Good enough. Armed with my iPhone, google maps, and a 3g internet connection from taiwan mobile we eventually settled on our next stop at plum blossom lake.
On our ride we passed by western style houses with green dancing grass that reminded me of areas in Bali. It was nice just to see western houses in Taiwan, which I haven’t seen in a year. Plum blossom lake has a flower shaped lake. It started raining hard so we took shelter by a food stand with a delicious lean pork grass wrap. Look at the pics they so more than I can do than words.
After we went drove up to the Sancing temple which took 15 minutes. I drove as close as I could to the temple and was happy to get free parking. It featured an awesome view of the lake and city. The temple itself was impressive and reminded me of the Forbidden city architecture especially with the animals on the roof. With my friend Serena sheltering me and my camera I managed to get some footage. the rain quickly stopped and cleared up. The weather in Taipei and Yilan changes very frequently throughout the day in May.
We had already used up most of our day and had just enough time to make it to the Su-ao area. We managed to take some pics of the Su-ao cold springs and the Su-ao port for some great shots. We rushed back to the car rental to catch our train and passed by the Luodong Night Market.
As I wrap up this blog I realized that Yilan will require more time to fully appreciate its beauty and what it has to offer. Special thanks to Serena for making the trip happen.!