10. This applies to visitors of all cities: be attentive while riding public transit. Do not obsessively check your Facebook and Twitter updates from your phone on the bus and unknowingly sit in a courtesy/ priority seat. You might just be called a pregnant lady and feel slightly insulted and embarrassed after leaving the bus. Don’t be the rude person who doesn’t offer the seat to someone else in need. After my mistake, I made a point to stand on the bus. I got more exercise that way anyways.
9. This also applies to visitors of all cities: you will see things that you might find odd. The most notably weird things I’ve seen on my trip? A woman clipped her nails on the bus. A man decided the tree by the high school near my apartment would be a nice place to relieve himself.
8. Foreigners amaze non-foreigners. Vancouver’s multi-cultural and multi-ethnic city scene has immunized me to what foreign may look like or mean. I may not look foreign (although on many occasions I honestly wish I did so people would stop approaching me and speaking intelligible words while I look completely lost and confused), but once I speak English or explain that I am from Vancouver, I become a walking translator. Taipei’s a big city though and the amount of non-Taiwanese people is definitely growing. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few years’ time, Taipei’s ethnic scene changed dramatically.
7. It is very likely that despite the heaving amount of food you consume during your trip, you will not gain weight; you might even lose some. I have concluded through my month-long stay in Taipei that the amount you walk outside every day to get to places combined with the amount you sweat while walking to these said places is enough to ensure you have the needed amount of exercise that prevents you from gaining weight.
6. The number of Starbucks you pass by in Vancouver on a daily basis is approximately equal to the number of 7-11s you pass by in Taipei. Convenience stores in my opinion are a hell lot more useful though. As much as I need my daily caffeine rush, I think snacks and food and are better suited for my appetite. Taiwan’s 7-11s are fancy! Speaking of Starbucks, why are the Starbucks in Asia so fancy? Why don’t we serve decadent cakes and tarts? I WANT THEM TOO PLEASE.
5. The ability to speak English is an amazingly useful and privileged asset. See those words on that inexpensive tee that you like? They don’t make sense; why would you buy that? I wouldn’t buy that. Oh, this Australian gentleman at the travel agency doesn’t understand what the clerk is saying. How convenient, I can help translate. On the flip side, the inability to read or speak Mandarin can be very unfortunate. Moral of the story: learn as many languages as you can. Bilingualism (or multi-lingualism?) makes you smarter and boosts your cognitive thinking processes and also makes travelling to places a lot easier.
4. I don’t know why, but the bookstores in Taipei are amazing! Have you ever heard of Eslite? This mega-bookstore chain has an impressive branch in central Taipei: multi-story, multi-lingual, café-included open 24-hours above a shopping mall. I don’t think our Chapters can compare. Bonus: if you’re someone like me who loves to buy stationery, Taipei bookstores are stationery heavens!
3. If you buy basic cable TV, you get to enjoy the luxury of at least 8 different English-speaking channels including CNN, Star Movies and Star World. If you’re also planning to use mobile data whilst on your trip, data in Taipei is incredibly cheap compared to Vancouver’s prices. For a month of non-stop data usage or 720 hours on-going air time, you pay 900NT which converts to about $30CAD, approximately $1CAD a day!
2. Umbrellas are essential. Taipei is like Raincouver. It rains a lot and without warning too, but of course it’s also incredibly sunny and hot. Umbrellas from Taipei are UV-proof-equipped and also help with deflecting unexpected rain during the monsoon season.
1. Insect repellant is a must! I know you can’t bring over 10 mL of liquids onto your carry-on, but you can definitely bring however much you’d like in your checked luggage (within reason, of course). On the off-chance you aren’t bringing checked luggage (and let’s face it, you will probably buy a lot of clothes and souvenirs; you will have checked luggage), buy insect repellant. I was in Taipei for a month; I was bitten more than 20 times. The mosquitoes there are vicious: they can taste the foreignness of your blood. They will bite you, and only you, even when you sit in a room full of your relatives; they will only bite you, and you will leave the room scratching your leg into a scabby red mess wondering why in the world you did not just put on that clammy smelly insect repellent and save yourself the itchy trouble.