I was meant to blog about this a few months ago. I visited Taiwan in August for 2 weeks, which was part of Taiwan’s International Youth Week – Centennial Homestay celebrations (12-25 August 2011).

My first impression of Taiwan reminded me of the streets of Bangkok: scooters, crowds, bright lights and traffic – everywhere. Not to mention the humidity. There are night markets in every district, and stuff is cheap. Also, people are very independent – youngsters take the bus alone and the elderly ride their bicycles everywhere.

Anyway, I’ve made a list of my likes and dislikes.

1. Public transport (MRT), it’s very easy to get around Taipei using the trains and buses. Everything runs like clockwork.
2. The city is very clean. They have a system where you get taxed if you don’t recycle. So the recycle bags are cheaper than normal bags.
3. Everything here is cheap. Especially electronic goods (a visit to the digital plaza is a must if you’re planning to go).
4. Fresh fruit. All fruit are very sweet, especially mango. My favorite was mango shaved ice:

5. The city isn’t very big so you can cover a lot of places in one day, via the MRT. All the major sight-seeing places are easily accessible.
6. People are respectable and polite. No unruly or uncouth behaviour. If you’re female and alone in the city, you will be safe/have nothing to worry about.
7. Everyone is so hard working and dedicated, in whatever they do. Really admirable.

1. Lack of halaal food.
2. Humidity – but I went during the hottest time of year.
3. Not everyone is willing to help if you are stuck. They don’t reply in English (yet it is compulsory to learn at school, so they know what you’re saying).
4. Waiters and waitresses aren’t trained to understand basic phrases like “can we place our order” etc. It got a bit frustrating.

I also got to spend time with my freelancer, Ragel Nel (My Digital Life), who is based in the Western Cape. We spent a few nights together, did some sight-seeing, visited the best burger joint in the world too many times, got lost, amongst other things. I can safely say that she actually exists, is normal and a very good room mate.

Here are some pics. Click on image to enlarge (and scroll with your right arrow):

Bench in the middle of Taipei 005 Temple 007 At Shihfen Ximending Ximending at night Danshui 004 Taipei 101 - second tallest building in the world Taipei Grand Mosque Common sight in Taipei Food pic-01 pic-02 pic-03 pic-05 pic-06 pic-04 013