Great and cheap public transport
Moving around with metro is easy and cheap. It works really well, trains go every couple of minutes. Taipei has 5 metro lines, we have so far used 3 of them. I don’t know if that is the case with all the lines but we saw the other day that trains are actually automated, so going without a driver. The fare is calculated based on the distance travelled and the most we have paid for the journey to the other side of town was NTD36.
European lifestyle with much cheaper prices
Taiwan is economically very well developed and feels a lot like Europe. It is also safe and clean. However, the price level is much cheaper than in Europe. For example, we really only spend about GBP5-6 for food daily (eating out mainly) on the two of us. Generally things cost much less than in Europe while services are the same. Big thumbs up. And I was positively surprised that people recycle everything. We have about 10 different bins in our waste room.
Friendly people who don’t speak much English
People are always very polite and smile when one passes by. English is not spoken commonly so we got some good motivation to learn few phrases in Mandarin. It also allowed us to experience life in a country where people don’t speak your language. I understand much better now why many Chinese you meet in Europe look confused all the time.
One hurdle we had was with getting a sim-card. Our nice tour guide wrote us down the name of few mobile shops but of course in Chinese characters. So looking for them on the high street is really troublesome since all the signs look just the same to us. See the photo of the typical street below.
When we finally found a shop, the lady first said that she needs to see our passports. We got them and after that she just said sorry, she cannot sell us the sim after all and wrote down yet another name on the paper. By then we were quite frustrated so decided just to give up on the local sim card.
Little things are different and we have come far by just observing what local people do. We frequently get things we didn’t order in the restaurants because there is only so much one can achieve with pointing and sign language. Oh and we miss being able to order take-away – explaining what you want and where you live would be totally impossible.
But this is all why it is so great here. It gives us a chance to learn new words, culture and traditions.
Temples are beautiful
Temples are beautiful and really peaceful places. People are clearly spiritual and there are always at least couple of worshippers around. Lots of flowers adorn the spaces near gods.
We learned how to pray correctly and even use the wooden block to ask gods questions (see photos). But we never know which god is suppose to do what and while we of course want to keep them all happy, we do not want to pray “in vain” to the wrong god. So we have been content to just to observe and admire.
Green spaces and surrounding nature
The nature is surrounding Taipei from all directions. It is subtropical climate so the vegetation is thick and the landscape is hilly. The city itself has many gardens. See few photos from Lin family garden.