Because we love to travel, we did not hesitate when we found cheap plane tickets to Taiwan! Taiwan is an island around 100 km off the coast of China. We had a fantastic time in Taiwan, and here we write about some of the surprises we experienced there.
Shock one: People everywhere!!
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The first shock was how densely Taiwan is populated! Since we come from Slovenia, a relatively small country not densely populated with 2 million inhabitants, we have been often asked whether we all live in one city. In Taiwan, however, anytime we were walking down the streets; there were people everywhere! Taiwan is approximately 50% larger than Slovenia, but has 10-times more people! The locals are friendly and helpful – whenever we looked lost someone came to us and asked where we wanted to go. They helped us ordering the food and finding the right bus.
Shock two: Taipei never sleeps
We live in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Ljubljana is the city with the most nightlife in Slovenia. However, in comparison to Taipei, it is a town for pensioners. Apart from a few clubs, everything is closed after midnight, and it is very peaceful and quiet. In Taipei, we stayed in a lively neighborhood Ximen where everything was open and loud throughout the whole day, even at night almost as bright as during the day!
Shock three: Lines, lines everywhere
In Slovenia, we usually regard ourselves as polite. However, when it comes to standing in the lines, the Taiwanese surely win. Sometimes you can see 50 people in a line one by one - waiting for the metro, bus, food stalls, even for the escalators. Taiwanese also always give a seat to older or disabled people. Probably with so many people living there queues and politeness are a way to avoid chaos.
However, the locals become entirely different persons when driving cars! When locals see you on the zebra crossing, we swear they speed up and try to chase you off the street. Crossing the road (especially where there were no traffic lights) was very stressful while at home it is easy.
Shock four: Rice, rice, rice, and rice noodles for a change
In Slovenia, bread is present with all meals, and we cannot survive long without it. In Taiwan, rice has this role. One of the Taiwanese favorites (although it has a rather unfortunate translation) is the small intestine in the big intestine which is a meat sausage wrapped in a rice sausage instead of bread. It was really good and one our favourite breakfast choices.
At the night markets, you can eat very late in the night. At home we rarely eat after 6 pm – in Slovenia, it is customary to eat dinner early. Also most kitchens in restaurants close later in the evening.
Shock five: amazing public transport
In Slovenia, it is almost a sport to complain about our public traffic. It takes a lot of time to get anywhere, the connections are scarce and mostly at least 15 minutes late. We all have cars because it is at least 2-times faster than public transport. But in Taiwan, it was faster to go somewhere by train than by car. The public transportation in Taiwan was excellent – clean, fast, on time and there were many different routes. We loved it!
Shock six: connected even in the National park
In Europe, we can use mobile data, and it makes traveling much more relaxed. In Taiwan, they have something similar – free wifi for tourists throughout the country. All you have to do is register online and then confirm the registration at the airport and voila – you have free internet everywhere!
Shock seven: ordering food in Chinese
The most common language spoken in Taiwan in Chinese. Our Chinese is practically non-existent apart for the 'thank you' (Xie Xie) and 'hello' (ni-hao). In restaurants, when you are ordering food, you mark what you want on a menu, and everything is written in Chinese. Sometimes, they have special menus with pictures, but usually, you can only guess what you are ordering. Ordering food was an adventure, and we were never sure what we were going to eat.
Shock eight: Beethoven and garbage-day
In Slovenia, we collect rubbish at home and put it in containers in front of our homes and then on designated days the garbage truck comes and collects it. In Taiwan, the garbage day was much more eventful – a truck was slowly driving around playing Beethoven's music For Elise very loud. When the locals hear the music, they bring the rubbish from their homes to the truck.
All in all, Taiwan was amazing, and we loved everything about it. We cannot wait to get back!
We are keen to publish travel experiences of people from Central and Eastern Europe. Let us know if you want to share your travel story too.
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