I arrived in Taipei in what was literally the coldest it’s been in 15 years. OF COURSE that would happen to me, and I have to just laugh about it. I had come from New York, which was simultaneously experiencing the “Snowstorm of the Century”, therefore many people from back home probably couldn’t understand what I was complaining about. But the difference is since it’s never really that cold in Taiwan, there is no heat to be found anywhere. So whatever temperature it is outdoors (38° F in this case), it is the same temperature indoors.
Ok. End of weather-related rant. For the most part.
Besides the weather, Taipei has been an easy city to acclimate to. The people are friendly, the metro is efficient and extremely easy to navigate. I can’t wait to dive in and explore this pulsating city further.
Here are a few more of my (possibly premature) observations gathered upon arrival:
• Everything is even cheaper than anticipated
I didn’t think Taipei would be a necessarily expensive city, but I also didn’t expect it to be this cheap.
Because of the temperature, I basically needed an entirely different wardrobe than anything I’d brought along. So I needed to do some shopping. I wasn’t happy about this because I agonized over what to pack for weeks and really didn’t want to spend the money I had intended to get me on my feet in Taipei to go towards clothes. But much to my chagrin, I found mostly everything to cost significantly less than in most Western countries, along with other Asian cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo.
If I’d had known, maybe I would’ve just saved the room in my suitcase and bought things when I got here – things that were better suited for the weather!
• It rains. A lot.
Being that Taiwan is an island means it’s prone to island weather conditions and it’s either raining or damp every single day. I know…womp womp.
I haven’t figured out a positive spin on the rain aspect yet, but I’ll get back to you on that!
• It’s authentic.
Very little is catered to tourists, which I love. Especially after traveling to such touristy Asian countries in the past few months (ahem Southeast Asia). English menus are hard to come by in restaurants, but it’s still not a problem because if people see you struggling to order they will certainly help you out.
Many buildings around Taipei are also titled solely with Chinese characters and not the pinyin (Western alphabet) versions. This can make it a little tricky to find an address, but once again, I’ve noticed that if people see you’re struggling they’re really very happy to help point you in the right direction. I’ve found most people speak at least a few words of English, and combined with hand gestures, it’s more than enough to get by.
• Taipei is a very GREEN city.
I think this is something that truly separates Taiwan from China. Care for the environment is taken into account in so many different ways. The Taipei 101 is a wonderful testament to that in it’s own right; it is the tallest sustainable building in the world and even received the highest level LEED platinum status.
• The food is some of the best I’ve ever had.
For me, this is saying a lot.
Humblebrag: I’ve been privileged enough to have eaten in some of the best restaurants around the world, and Taipei makes an insane case for the top of that list. I really can’t deny this. I’ll go further into detail on this in a separate post.
• It’s quite safe.
My family will be happy to hear this! It’s one of the reasons I chose Taipei in the first place, but still, it’s so nice to arrive somewhere and not have to worry at all about getting swindled. I just don’t have the energy for that anymore in my old age. It probably doesn’t help that the last place I traveled to was Vietnam, land of the swindles. But then it also makes me appreciate the level of safety in Taipei that much more comparatively.
I don’t think any of these are necessarily revelations, as they’re pretty much what I read about before arriving and the general consensus of visitors/expats living in Taipei. Since I’ve only been here for a short time, I don’t want to act like any kind of expert on Taipei. That would be kind of ridiculous, wouldn’t it?
Regardless, I’m so excited to have the opportunity to learn more about Taipei, and share it all with you. I might even look back at this post later on and think how naive I was about things here. But such is life.
Lastly, just a reminder that visitors are welcome (and encouraged)! Drop me a line if you’ll be passing through Taipei, or if you’d like to pass through :)