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Love hate relationship with Taiwan

2:06 PM claire 0 Comments

My June holiday to Taiwan was my first ever trip there, and I must say there were a few things I really liked and disliked about the place! You can call it a love-hate relationship. Singaporeans are really blessed to have such a clean city, not just on the streets but even the air. Sure, we get the occasional haze which makes all of us terribly unwell, but we don't have as much vehicle and factory pollution as other countries. Many Taiwanese nationals actually wear masks around as the air is quite polluted, and even your nose will show some symptoms too. Here are some things to note about Taiwan before heading there.


Will be releasing my detailed itinerary soon so check back again!

Hate/Dislike

Let's start off with what I disliked about Taiwan, before moving to what I really loved!

  • Toilets

While toilets are clean in departmental stores and some restaurants/cafes, all of them have one thing in common. You can't throw anything in the toilet bowl. And that includes toilet paper. That results in a bin next to it that either smells like a mixture of pee and poop OR if you're lucky, a bin with a lid on it, that only smells like that when you lift the cover up. Either way, you're gonna smell it. This is due to Taiwan's drainage system that will likely choke and cause the whole toilet bowl to explode, which you want to avoid even happening. I also really dislike how squatting toilets are still rampant here!!

Tip: Bring tissue paper wherever you go, and if possible, a sanitizer spray.

  • Motorists don't always follow traffic signs and drive recklessly
They even get in the way of my photos

Saw a motorcycle do a U-turn when the light was red. Was almost knocked over many, many times. Read in an article somewhere that it is possible for Taiwanese to get a driver's license without actually physically driving, so you have been warned. Motorbikes can travel anywhere, even through the crowded night markets, so it's a little annoying when you have to keep an eye out on the road even while shopping. There was a night market in Kaohsiung where motorists (still sitting on their bikes) would rummage through the racks!! As someone who's been burnt by a motorcycle engine, I was very, very cautious. Always look left and right before you cross the road and pause if you think a motorcycle is going to go. Traffic lights aren't the most reliable as motorists dare to run lights and are very unpredictable. Don't text while crossing the road!!

  • Money changing issues

Changing money at the airport is the most convenient way, but if you're in the middle of your holiday and you need more Taiwanese dollar, you have to change at a bank. Not only are these banks hard to find as many of them are just ATM's, they also close around 3pm. Argh!! Especially in more rural areas, you might not even have a bank at all. Bring lots of cash before you go!!

  • Erratic weather
The storm just before this almost made us give up coming here

One moment it's bright and sunny, five minutes later it's storming cats and dogs. The weather has more mood swings than a lady on menopause. You're never safe without an umbrella, and I'm pretty sure umbrella stores have the most business all year round. Weather forecasts were frequently wrong, so we gave up and just decided to wing it while travelling to outdoor places. Result? Missing the sunset at Tamsui but a pretty sunny afternoon at Hualien.

  • Trashcans

Where are all the trashcans?? Even in night markets, where you're supposed to be buying lots of street food, eating and walking at the same time, it's soo hard to find a trashcan to throw your rubbish. When you ask the stall vendor for the nearest trashcan, usually (if he's nice), he will offer to throw it for you in his own trashcan. I've given up looking for one. Do the taiwanese carry plastic bags in their bags so they can consolidate their trash at the end of the day or something?? Actually, I do think they carry plastic bags as many supermarkets and stores don't provide bags for free, unlike Singapore. To combat this, bring a few plastic bags in your bag.

  • Mosquitoes

I'm fine with spiders, scorpions, earthworms as long as they don't bother me, but the MOSQUITOES. Man, once it rains you're certain to have them following you around, especially in less city areas. As someone with really sweet blood who frequently gets bitten, I had to carry insect repellent around and even so sometimes I couldn't avoid them :( Please fog the drains, Taiwan. I scratched some mosquito bites until they bled and now the scabs are healing. My leg looks hideous. DO NOT underestimate the strength of these insects and don't try to act tough.

  • Stinky Tofu
So smelly I couldn't endure long enough to snap a photo

This one is probably me being touristy, but I asked a bunch of my friends and none of us can take the smell. One commented that she tried Stinky Tofu but it made her mouth smell like that after, so she had to brush her teeth like 8 times before it went away. I went to Taiwan excited to try it for the first time, but the smell was too pungent to even make it to the counter to order. If you've never had the privilege of encountering this, it smells like the sewer, and probably something rotting. It is tofu that has been fried and fermented and most Taiwanese LOVE this. They claim that the stinkier it is, the better it tastes. *shudder*

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Love/Like

On to my favorites!

  • Food


Taiwanese food is famous for a reason. You can find a wide food selection from their famous Taiwanese Beef Noodles to Japanese sashimi to Western Steaks, and their night markets never disappoint. Even desserts like snow ice, Chinese taro(yam) balls delicacies are widely available and a pleasure to the taste buds.

Best of all, the food in Taiwan is so cheap!!! Even SGD$4 beef noodles are enough for 2, and they are very generous with the meat. Will be doing a post on my favourite Taiwanese snacks soon :p

  • People
They are so patient!!

The people in Taiwan are generally one of the friendliest I've met, out of the countries that I've travelled. When I looked a little lost, someone would usually come up to me and help me out. Even the cab drivers would chat us up, ask us where we're from, give us some handy advice. It was a great experience!

Tip: If you ask cab drivers for recommendations for food, you won't be disappointed. They are well versed in the art of making tummies happy!!

  • Clean train stations

Train stations in Taiwan are as clean as Singapore!! No vandalisms, graffiti and strange looking stains that you see in Europe. Happy!! Signs are all in English and Mandarin with arrows pointing you in the right direction every 100m or so. Fast trains even have a train service lady who will come around collecting your trash!

  • Never going thirsty
Kaohsiung's famed Papaya milk drink

Almost every corner has a bubble tea store or a convenience store, I was never thirsty for very long. Do try their Aiyu jelly which is very refreshing especially in summer! Koi in Taiwan is almost half price cheaper, so have as many milk teas as you want before you come back! I kind of have a phobia of pearls because I swallowed too many without chewing and felt them sticking to my throat. Not fun.

  • Scenery
Hualien's abundant marble rocks

Taiwan is gorgeous. Singaporeans are used to an urban landscape, but in Taiwan even in Taipei you can see mountains in the distance, peeking out from your photos. In spring you get to see pretty pink cherry blossoms, in winter everyone dresses up in cute trenchcoats and boots. There's always something to see in every season!

  • Free Wifi

Even though I bought an unlimited data plan sim card from the airport (yes you get UNLIMITED data!!), there were many cafes and shopping malls that offered free wifi as well. You can easily stay connected to friends and family, and some places even provide power plugs for you to charge your phone if needed.

  • Nightlife
The bar at Hotel Quote

This one is a bit of a mix between like and dislike. What I like about the nightclubs is that there are offers for free flow alcohol at certain clubs for a fixed price. After exchanging your initial drink coupon, you just keep returning your previous glasses to get another drink of your choice. What I dislike is that not many people in the club actually dance. Most are just people watching, yes even on the dance floor, and only the front bunch nearest to the DJ are dancing. Too concerned with looking sexy? Not sure.

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If you have suggestions on what to add to this list or any comments on the above, please feel free to leave a note below!

Thanks for reading!
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