“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher
I just got back from my latest jaunt around Asia that my daddy paid for but I’ll tell everyone I did on a budget, and I got to spend 25 minutes at the airport in Taiwan on a short layover. OMG, I fell in love with Taiwan – it is seriously the best. If you haven’t been to Taiwan here is everything you need to know that no one has ever written about before.
The Friendliest People On Earth
Taiwanese people were just so polite and sweet, and they went out of their way to help whenever they saw how lost I was. Except on the MRT when people got a little elbow-y or had no respect for anyone else’s personal space, everyone was just above and beyond nice. I mean, except for at Costco on Sunday afternoon when people were crawling all over each for cheap bulk products, all Taiwanese people smiled at me and made me feel so welcomed here.
For example, I was so lost walking around Xinyi District – I thought ATT 4 FUN was the phone company, silly me – and when I stopped to ask for directions a super sweet Taiwanese girl named Apple actually walked me half a block to where I needed to go. I thought she was just really nice and everything she said was polite, except for when we walked by a group of Filipinos and she said they were dirty. Or when she told me how much she hated everyone from China. But besides that, I couldn’t believe how open and friendly she was by slightly inconveniencing herself!
It wasn’t just my new lifelong friend Apple (got her email so we’ll be penpals forever), but like, everyone, except for drunk people and everyone at nightclubs. So many people saw me and said “Welcome! Where you from?” and I felt like anyone would be treated wonderfully here, unless they are black or happen to run into a rich Taiwanese person who wants you to know it. But really, just the friendliest people ever if you’re white.
Street Food and Night Markets
One of Taiwan’s biggest secrets are the night markets. That’s right – markets. At night. They are so amazing and genuinely local, it’s just the most amazingly genuinely local experience ever. There’s so much to see and do there – you can pay to shoot rubber BBs at balloons, buy knock-off clothes and shoes, or buy a Chinese-made, ready to explode phone charger that may light your house on fire. But they’re super cheap and I bought mine from a nice local man chain smoking Mevius brand cigarettes, so the experience was authentic.
And even better than all of this authenticity is the food. Street food. Food, on the street. So local, so real. The one dish you have to try – stinky tofu. I was walking through the market and got a whiff of something that was very much like body odor and thought it was the guy wearing the yellowing white t-shirt who had mysteriously red teeth, but I realized the smell was wafting from a fried tofu stand with a line of 20 people waiting in front of it. Obviously I did what the locals do and waited an inordinate amount of time, and you know what?! It tasted just like fried tofu! You have to try it when you go.
The Most Convenient Country in the World Because of 7-11
Are you guys even aware of what convenience really is? If you haven’t paid your bills and bought a mass-made sandwich at the same time, you just have no idea. In 7-11 in Taiwan, you can do so much! You can buy concert tickets on the Ibon kiosk! Neat!
I love that you can get a cafe latte and tea eggs 24 hours a day. The ubiquity of convenience stores makes Taiwan just so convenient – even if you need two forms of ID to do anything at the phone store and can’t get a credit card, 7-11 on every corner will ensure a steady supply of crap food and coffee whenever you want.
So Much Culture!
Taiwan is full of culture and history. The National Palace Museum, which is full of Chinese history (which I guess is kinda the same as Taiwan history maybe?) is just amazing, stuffed full of old pots and tax ledgers and jade cabbage sculptures. I learned so much about Taiwan there. I think?
Also, there’s um… the National Palace Museum! Oh, wait, I said that. The whole movie Spirited Away is based on Jiufen someone told me. Uh, I heard there was a fort in Tainan or something. And some aboriginal people have culture here maybe? Did you know that “Tainan” means “Taiwan South”? Cultural!
The Safest I’ve Ever Felt
Did you know that Taipei is the 3rd safest city in the world? You are totally, 100% safe, as long as you never try to cross the road. You could be walking around at night, and you wouldn’t even get mugged or attacked unless you get chased by a pack of stray dogs in the riverside park. I almost couldn’t believe it how safe I felt. Your stuff will never get stolen, especially if you avoid leaving it in a taxi on accident.
Seriously, I have never felt more secure just walking around the city – people were so friendly and the MRT was always on time, and as long as I didn’t stand next to a creepy guy on public transportation, I totally didn’t get groped. There is so little crime that you don’t have to worry about hardly anything, except for things like drinking pearl milk tea or breathing the air most days in the summer. So safe!
If you’re lucky enough to have rich parents who pay for you to travel, seriously consider dropping by Taiwan for an hour or two so you can write your own blog. I’m sure you’ll come up with all kinds of things no one else has written about before. And follow my tips for when you go – they’re a sure thing unless you’re black or brown or something weird. Happy travels!