I have been in Taiwan for over a year now and I figured now would be a good time to write about some of my favorite aspects of Taiwan, especially considering that I used to live in America. Some of these things might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes it’s the little things we appreciate the most. So anyone considering moving or visiting Taiwan, here are some reasons to do so.
The convenience stores
I absolutely love how convenient things are in Taiwan. And convenience stores here really know how to make things convenient. Need food? Pick a direction and walk five minutes and you’ll find a 7-11 or some other convenient store. Bam, food problem solved.
Need to pay a bill? Again, go to 7-11 and you can pay it there. No mailing a check necessary.
Need a taxi? Guess what? 7-11 will help you call one.
Need to print or copy something? Alright you should know what I’m going to say next.
Mom and Pop shops
A lot of stores in Taiwan are essentially just people selling stuff out of the first floor of their homes (but yes, they still make it look like a store or restaurant). This means that walking down the street you will find a variety of different stores that you can go to for whatever you may need. Now if I need to buy a gift for someone, I just need to walk 5 minutes down the street and I found a place.
Hungry for a home cooked meal? Just head on down and see who’s cooking. One of my favorite 牛肉麵 (beef noodles, a popular dish in Taiwan) is a mom and Pop place down the street from my apartment. I love it!
Hot and need something to refresh yourself? How about some nice shaved ice?
Tax Included in the price
One of the things I always hated about pricing in America is that the complete amount of money you pay for something is not known until you either calculate the amount yourself, or you go to pay for it. In Taiwan, the tax is included, which is so much nicer because I know exactly what I’m paying when I see the price. It’s just so much easier too when you are planning on making a big purchase. Yes, it’s a little thing, but it’s a little thing that I love.
The People Are Really Friendly
The first time I came to Taiwan, my Chinese was horrible. I had major problems understanding people and reading signs. But what I didn’t have a problem with was finding someone to help me. I could be at a train station staring at a ticket machine and suddenly a Taiwanese person looks at me and goes “do you need help?” He not only helped me get the ticket, he walked me to the platform and made sure I got on the right train. It was incredibly nice. If you get lost, just ask someone. The Taiwanese are very open to helping you out.
The Ease of Paying Taxes
Everyone hates taxes, yet here I am mentioning two things I love about Taiwan related to taxes. When tax paying season comes around, everyone gets annoyed with the long arduous process. However, I was surprised to find that when I needed to pay taxes in Taiwan it took me twenty minutes total, including the time spent waiting at the tax office. That fast. When I tell Taiwanese people how long it takes us to file taxes in America, they think it’s insane. I’m glad it’s easy here. Of course, this one only really applies to you if you plan on working and living in Taiwan, but it’s nice making my American friends jealous.
Free tea and soup
Going to most restaurants in Taiwan means one thing: free tea and soup. Now I’m not much of a soup person, but I absolutely love the free tea. For starters, it’s free (who doesn’t like free stuff?) and it’s good tea. Usually they give sweet tea, but I have seen different types of tea given out. Some places I’ve been to also give complimentary juice. Each restaurant picks what beverages it gives out. Of course, when it comes to the soup, it’s a free appetizer while you wait for your food!
The area that I come from in America, most bars close at 2am. Most stores and restaurants around 9-10pm. What do you do then if you get off work late and are hanging out with friends? Even the liquor stores aren’t open late. Well, never fear. Late night Taiwanese hours are here. A lot of bars and clubs are open till 4am, some even 5am. While a lot of department stores close at 10, there’s still night markets you can go to that stay open much later. There’s also plenty of 24 hour stores that sell all sorts of things, which brings me to my next point.
Xiaobei 小北 is a 24 store that sells pretty much whatever you can think of. Need shampoo? Xiaobei, need a late night snack? Xiaobei. Cooking equipment? Xiaobei. They even sell hard liquor. So for any night owls that get off work late, there’s always a place to if you need something late at night. There’s one of these near my apartment and I can say that I have gone more times than I can count for myriad things.
Night markets are pretty self explanatory. It’s a market that occurs at night. What’s nice is all the different foods, beverages, and things you can buy at the night markets. There’s so many all over Taiwan. Some night markets are smaller and are pretty much a nice place to get dinner while others are huge and have all sorts of activities going on. For people that are big into food, night markets are probably the best places to experience a wide range of Taiwanese foods. My friends usually go there to grab some food and see what people are selling at the different stand. For anyone taking a trip to Taiwan, they have to visit a night market.
Taiwan is loaded with tons of beautiful scenery. If you are a person who likes hiking, Taiwan has plenty of places for you to hike. Maybe you want to go check out a temple and see what’s inside. Well, Taiwan has plenty of those as well. What’s nice is everything is so close in Taiwan, giving you the chance to go from the city center to a more rural area in an hour. Most of my coworkers take the opportunity to go exploring every weekend. There’s just so many places to go.