Taipei Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Personally I would have liked to experience one. But Taiwan get's about 4 a year, I'm going to be there for most of the typhoon season, so I guess I just get the next one...
I can’t say I’m impressed with Taiwan.
The people are really very friendly; they tried their best to make us feel comfortable and welcome. They always seem to be able to find somebody who can at least speak a little English, so meals weren’t too much of an issue. I always knew what I was eating before I ate it!
The hotel we stayed in lied to us. Instead of simply telling us they couldn’t handle us for dinner (they had a big booking that never pitched in the end), they kept on postponing the meal. Two hours later we eventually figured out they simply didn’t know how to tell us to go eat elsewhere. That wasn’t very nice, but I figured it’s because they were trying their best not to be rude and just didn’t handle it well. They then charged the company for a meal, which we had to go buy elsewhere. So in effect they stole too. We left a complaint with the company, but I don’t expect to see my money back. Again I don’t think it was intentional, but from there on I started paying attention to the money side of things.
The country itself isn’t much to write about. I don’t think there are any unspoiled parts left, almost no houses, just blocks of flats. Taipei and surrounds are poorly maintained. They tend to build buildings and then just forget they exist. Could be because of the humidity, I guess maybe the paint doesn’t last or something. The cities are more western than I expected (disappointingly so) and there doesn’t seem to be much of a countryside. Rice paddies are strewn in between the blocks of flats and next to factories. Can’t think that can be good agricultural practice, in terms of pollutants. The roads are well maintained and policed, so not to much chaos. But they clearly have no clue what a safe following distance is. Lot’s of scooters around, but less than I expected.
What’s also funny is how no one seems to mention the constant wind. The abundance of wind turbines is a big clue. The sea isn’t the blue turquoise you see in the brochures, unless you’re prepared for a boat ride. I spend two months crawling around in zero visibility mud, and I was on a boat. Don’t expect a white paradise type beach. There’s probably a factory on it anyway, like the one I’m looking at right now (they did paint pink dolphins on the towers at least).
We drove two hours out of Taipei and somehow never left the city. The signboards indicated that we were in a new city or town, but there weren’t really any real breaks between the different areas and it all looked the same.
Although the food is tasty, it’s not as tasty as Thai or Vietnamese food and I paid for eating out roughly the same I’d pay at home, so not even cheaper. The local beer is sweet, gives you one hell of a headache the next morning. I was forced to apply my Budweiser rule. No more than three a day, it’s not worth the headache, and eventually switched to European imports.
They do take sex sells to a new level. Not that there’s a big (visible) sex industry here, in some area’s there are small little shops, like half a shipping container really, with entire walls made of glass, where you’ll find bikini clad girls selling anything from food to trinkets or they’d be doing labor intensive task like sowing, all in full view of whomever happens to be passing by. Can’t really see the benefits of deep-frying anything in a bikini. Splashes could be painful! But I guess the idea is the sexy girls (and they are sexy) will bring in the clients.
No fat people to be seen anywhere and I found it nearly impossible to tell age. And clearly the locals are very used to seeing Westerners around.
It’s not a destination that I would consider special or worth the effort. Not worth a second visit. There are better places to experience the east.
We got monsoon’ed and typhoon’ed something hectic. I was supposed to be here for a diving job, but a week into the trip I still hadn’t touched the water. The current only allows a one-hour a day diving window; weather permitting (it hasn’t permitted so far) and we’re about to run from a 120 mile an hour typhoon. That’s going to take another week. We wont be allowed on deck without safety harnesses. I strongly suggest avoiding Taiwan in typhoon season.
We shared the ablutions with the locals and I must say I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The majority of people in there had near death experiences every morning. If I had a phone number for an ambulance I would have called it for a few guys. Never heard anything quite like it. It’s a cacophony of coughs, wheezes, snuffs, spitting, gagging, gurgles, wet mucus splashes, and a few other sounds I couldn’t identify. If I sounded like that first thing in the morning, I’d immediately book myself into the best hospital I could find for fear of immanent death. I suppose one should declare it a cultural difference, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence our entire dive team went down with colds, well; we hope it was a cold. Basic hygiene is basic hygiene, and it’s not big in Taiwan, that’s for sure.
I suppose it is better than working in Africa, but for a holiday destination, forget. I’d have been disappointed had I come here for a holiday…
Oh, and Taiwanese people are stronger than they look. I tried to open a few yogurts, but to no avail. We passed it around a bit, but none of us were strong enough to pull the tab. I had to stab the thing full of holes to get going, not exactly what I had in mind for breakfast. Considering the physical nature of my job, we’re not exactly small or weak people, a yogurt shouldn’t have presented a problem. The locals didn’t seem to have the same problem. Maybe they just stab holes in the top as a matter of course.