Hello all! I hope this post finds you well and in good health, and possibly stuffed from a grease-filled Fat Tuesday! I didn’t really go anywhere of historical importance today, so I don’t really have any good stories for you. Instead, I thought I’d make a note of some of the things I like about Taipei so far. So, here we go!
1. CLEAN AIR!! Air quality was never something I gave much thought to in the States and is something I choose to ignore in China. But after living in China for about 5 months, it really is amazing how different a whiff of fresh air will make you feel.
2. FOOD VARIETY!! Kaifeng is fairly limited when it comes to food options in that you will be eating Chinese food regardless of what your taste buds want. Don’t get me wrong–the food is wonderful, but a taste of home is just that–home. While in Taipei, I’ve had french fries covered in cheese, a corn dog, some kind of Greek sandwich that was similar to a gyro, and those were just snacks from street side food vendors! There are a plethora of Japanese, Korean, Italian, Mexican, etc restaurants in the area. The only food I’ve had trouble finding is Taiwenese food.
3. SUBWAYS!! Not the fast food chain you silly Westerner, I mean the underground public transportation method! The Taiwan MRT system is just amazing. It’s clean, fast, well organized, and has decent hours. Most of the lines stop running around 00:30 so you’re fine unless you’re going to a late movie or a bar.
4. FRIENDLINESS!! The Taiwanese are very friendly, particularly towards foreigners. I’m not saying China isn’t, but let’s be honest–Taipei is a big city and people living in a big city usually aren’t the friendliest towards strangers. I haven’t had to ask anyone for directions yet, but I’ve had several people come up to me and ask if I needed help. In another instance, I was behind a young Taiwanese couple on the subway escalator (by young I mean they could have been anywhere from 15-30 years old) and they just turned around and asked Dannysha and I where were we going and if we liked Taipei. They also made some suggestions about places to see before we leave.
5. MUSIC!! Chinese pop music isn’t really my thing–it’s mostly ballads and ALWAYS melodramatic, but Taiwanese pop seems to be closer in relation to Korean and American pop which are much more dance-y. Because small shops selling anything other than men’s clothing will be playing the most popular tracks, music is of utmost importance.
6. PARKS!! There are parks everywhere in Taipei, just like Shanghai. I’m beginning to think this a common theme in many Chinese cities, and I love it. Sure, New York has Central Park but who needs that when you’ve got about 12409 small parks randomly scattered about the downtown and running/biking parks running along the rivers that dissect the city?
7. ENGLISH!! Now, before you start judging me–a student of the Chinese language–for listing my mother tongue as a Pro, allow me to explain. When I step up to a counter to buy a food item or knick knack, the shop clerk will always begin in English. I will always respond in Chinese. They seem to love this and will then continue in Chinese, usually saying that my Chinese is great (which it’s not) before I leave. So to anyone thinking about travelling to Taiwan, don’t worry too much about the language barrier! You can get by with English. If you don’t speak Chinese or English you might run into some issues.
8. CLIMATE!! I suppose I should have listed this with clean air, but they’re fairly different. I’m visiting Taiwan in mid-February but it feels like mid-October to me. It’s also been cloudy and windy the entire time I’ve been here, which I also love. Were I here in July, the climate might be on my list of cons.
9. STARBUCKS!! They’re everywhere. I’m a regular now at the one closest to me. I’ve missed my quad grande americano in the worst way.
10. LINES!! That’s right, lines. Queues. People in China seem to find forming lines a cumbersome task and so they choose not to. This is not the case in Taiwan at all. On the escalators in the subway, everyone waits and lines up along the right side if they aren’t walking up the escalator. This way, those who want to move quicker can walk past on the left-hand side. While waiting for their train, people form lines on the subway platform and patiently wait for the train to arrive. When it does, they stand to the side and allow room for those exiting the vehicle. It’s truly a beautiful sight to see.
Well, that’s all for now. I’ve uploaded more photos of the Memorial for you to see, along with some random ones I’ve taken in the city. Enjoy!