Of course, the main reason for moving to Taiwan is that I really hate Slovakia. The moment I came back "home" from South Africa after studying over there for 6 months, I realized I don’t belong here. I had this constant feeling that I should’ve been born somewhere else.
This feeling has even strengthened when I started to travel more, seeing things I could never see and experience before. And it’s not just about fancy buildings and classy people.
Anyway, these are just my personal subjective preferences so if you get offended it’s entirely your problem.
1. Friendly people
It might sound a little cliche, but people in Taiwan (and East Asia in general) are really friendly. Right after we got off the airport bus we couldn’t find a way to our apartment. We asked two girls to tell us the way and even though they had no clue and accidentally have navigated us the opposite direction, they wanted to help us no matter what.
They even offered us a company until we arrive there, but as a good mannered Slovakian I thanked and told them we’re ok.
Slovak people don’t want to bother anyone and of course don’t want to be bothered by others either. As kids, we were always told not to talk with strangers so people usually don’t, which feels really unfriendly.
And it isn’t just about random encounters on the street; you can feel the friendliness everywhere. In a pub, restaurant, grocery store and every single place you could think of. Not only people are friendly, but they are also very polite which is rarely seen in Slovakia. You walk in a store, and a cashier is going to make your mood shittier just by looking at you.
2. Pretty Women
Anyone who knows me in person is well aware of my "obsession" with Asian girls. I won’t go into their personalities because sometimes it’s just unbelievable (in a negative sense), but their beauty is stunning.
Even girls that I’d usually fuck off because of their looks (yeah I know I’m an asshole) look stunning just because they have something in their cute little Asian eyes. Not to mention the first point again. When you somehow end up close to them, they tend to keep an adamant friendship with you.
It’s probably the same with girls here as well, but I don’t find Caucasian girls as much as beautiful.
The moment you step in the Taipei’s subway station you feel like everything is in perfect order, especially when you come from a country without any subway at all. Stations are clean as well as are modern trains that are always on time.
People are respectful and don’t make excessive noise as is usually the case here.
Of course, I’m not for a total silence in the public, but talking loudly over the phone about a girl you fucked last night or playing shitty music for everyone to hear is just bit too much.And it’s not just about the subway, but also other means of transportation such as public buses, taxis, bikes, trains, etc.High Speed, which is really convenient and cheap to use.
Have you already heard of High-Speed Rail that can take you from Taipei to Kaohsiung in 90 minutes? A similar distance from Bratislava to Kosice takes more than 5 hours.
Taiwan is famous for its food. Be it a quick snack or whole bowl of noodles, Taiwanese people always gather with their friends, family, and coworkers to enjoy a delicious meal together.
But what I really love about Taiwanese cuisine is their wide range of vegetarian meals.
Taiwan is mostly a Buddhist country so you can always find a couple of vegetarian dishes in almost every eatery.
Being surrounded by water, Taiwan also offers a lot of seafood dishes as well which for me as a "pescetarian" is real heaven.
If you’re a tea person as me and you like to collect many different quality teas from around the world, the chances are one of the most delicious ones you currently own is coming from Taiwan.
Be it their famous high mountain oolong, black tea or green tea, you can find shops selling teas anywhere around the island.
They even invented their own type of tea called "bubble tea", which is a mixture of tea with milk or fruit with chewy tapioca balls added.
6. Night markets
Many streets in Taiwan turn in to markets in the evening selling local food and goods.
Once people are starting to get back home from their work, night markets become places where literally tons of people of a different age and social status gather together to eat delicious local meals, drink beer, buy clothes or just have fun playing weird "silly" games.
It’s a perfect place to go for a dinner, hang out with friends or meet new ones until very late hours.
Taiwan has the most 7-Eleven stores per capita in the world with having branches on almost every street corner. 7-Eleven is a chain of convenience stores opened 24/7 and you can pretty much do anything there.
Not only you can prepare your own food and eat it at the spot, you can also pay for your invoices or have an item bought online sent, paid for, and picked up at a branch of your choosing.
How cool is that? Of course, they sell some pretty cheap beers as well (beer in pubs and bars is expensive), which is usually drunk in front of the store by many foreign tourists.
Being a small island it doesn’t take too long to go for some stunning sea views or just quiet places where you can escape all the city rush. There’s always a good chance to find such place even in city outskirts.
I really liked Maokong area around Taipei which had amazing restaurants and tea shops on the hills and it was just a couple of minutes from the city by a cable car. And if you go deeper to a countryside you can find small villages with friendly indigenous people such as those in Wulai.
Possibilities are endless and I haven’t been to the east side of Taiwan yet.
Even though most of the cities lack any city planning and there are tons of old, dirty and ugly buildings everywhere, what I like most about Taiwan’s architecture is the contrast between those shitty buildings on one hand and modern offices and residential buildings on the other hand.
It’s nothing unusual to see them standing one next to each other in a perfect harmony.
It almost seems like Taiwanese society isn’t too much into creating all the social classes as you can see everywhere around Europe.
10. It’s safe
When you come to Taiwan you almost feel like there’s not any real crime going on. It doesn’t really matter whether you walk the city by day or night, the chances are there’s nothing bad gonna happen to you (except getting run over by a crazy scooter driver) even while being completely alone.
I’m not saying Taiwan is totally crimeless, but its crime rate is way too much lower than any western country. Of course, as in anywhere else, use common sense to avoid any situation you wouldn’t wanna be in.
11. Patience everywhere
Taiwanese people are just so patient (driving is always an exception to everything nice I mentioned about Taiwan) and you can see it the moment you arrive at the airport. People wait in perfect lines (painted on the ground) for public transportation which is something really hard to see in Slovakia.
Another thing is that when Taiwanese have an argument they usually don’t raise their voice. Shouting at someone doesn’t solve a shit and they are well aware of it.
Of course, it might be very different at home, but at least they don’t bother others with their issues.
12. Low prices
Except renting an apartment in Taipei which can be really expensive and buying a beer, almost everything else is just dirt cheap. Below are some examples so you get an idea how cheap Taiwan can be:
- a huge bowl of noodles with seafood, tofu, vegetables, eggs and some meat + "all you can drink" tea for NT$120
- a public bus ride for NT$15
- a subway ride starting at NT$20
- bubble tea around NT$30
- 2km taxi ride around NT$80
The further you go south of Taipei the cheaper it gets. Can you imagine a bowl of noodles to be even cheaper?
I could go on and on about what I like about Taiwan but the list would be probably endless and I believe I have yet to experience many more great things.
On the other hand, there are many things I hate about the country as well, such as reckless drivers mentioned before, huge spiders (thank god I haven’t seen any yet), relatively high air pollution and a lot of religious things such as "money burning" that negatively affect the environment.
Yet all those negatives are far outnumbered by all the positive things I’ll experience by moving to Taiwan.
I’m really looking forward to reading this post a couple of months later after being settled down, to either prove me wrong or to realize I made a life-changing choice that will make me happy once and for all.
How do you feel about "your" country? Do you also want to move somewhere else? If you want to move, but haven’t done so what’s keeping you from doing it now? Please let me know.
See more pictures on my Flickr.