I took a total of 4 flights from Tonga to Taiwan through Fiji and New Zealand. After I arrived at Taipei Airport, the capital of Taiwan, I went to the baggage claim area, and there was my bicycle box without any damage. I was proud of the bike box that didn’t break even though I took it on the plane nearly 10 times.
When I came out to arriving hall with my luggage, YaTsu welcomed me. I met her on Central Asia around 2016. Her friend gave us a ride. This was such a surprise thing to see so many cars and people after traveling quiet South Pacific island countries.
YaTsu also traveled Central Asia by bicycle at the time, and I was happy to meet her again in Taiwan.
It was the first food I ate after arriving in Taiwan, and the soup was refreshing and delicious.
The next day, I walked around the city to buy a SIM card.
When I was having lunch at a restaurant after buying a SIM card, I saw a religious ceremony was being held on the street. In Taiwan, everyone uses a messenger called Line, and I set this picture as my Line profile.
Taiwan just opened its borders at the time, so there was regulation of staying in a room per one person for a week. I heard that Ximending was busy tourist area, so I booked an Airbnb accommodation nearby. However, the actual appearance of the accommodation was very different from the pictures from online; Old, noisy, bugs. Anyway, Ximending was close, so it was easy to walk around.
After walking around the city, I entered a place called Donki, a large building that only sells Japanese products. ‘Donki Donki Don Don Donki~~’ music kept playing over and over. That music kept staying on my head for a few days. There so many things were around and I felt like I was in Japanese anime.
A cat looked at me on alley when I looked for the direction to the accommodation. I could often see cats in the alleys in Taiwan.
The reflection on a rainy day on the street in Ximending was nice.
Paypal’s exchange rate is so lower than the normal exchange rate that I lose quite a bit of money every time I withdraw. However, I found out that I could withdraw USD with Taiwan E-sun Bank. When I searched the Internet, it was said that if I go to the Immigration Office, I can get UI number, and I can open a bank account with it. UI number came out right after applying with the passport.
However, I went to two E-sun banks and they said I needed Alien Resident Card (ARC) which only can get from working or student visa. So in the end, I failed to open an E-Sun bank account. Instead, I opened a Taiwanese Post Office visa bank card. Later I realized several places don’t accept visa card in Taiwan, so I only used it as transportation card.
I had dinner with YaTsu and her friends. There were a lot of different kind of foods and everything was so delicious.
I started CrossFit by chance in Vanuatu a few months ago, I did it in Tonga, and I did it in Taiwan as well. However, the cost of attending CrossFit was a bit pricy. Also, I only started it since I wanted to get out of depressing mood, but as the covid was easing, I felt better and better slowly after two years, so I quitted CrossFit.
YaTsu told me several yummy restaurants, and this was one of them. When food was good, sometimes there was line.
After one week staying alone, I moved to Star hostel near Taipei Station, and there were quite a few Taipei tour books in Korean. According to the hostel staff, many Koreans stayed here before the covid. It was also the best hostel in Taipei.
I heard that since Taipei was introduced on a Korean show, many Korean people started visiting Taiwan. In fact, it was a place full of things that Koreans might like such as cafes, foods, sweet snacks, shopping, and so on.
Taipei had a lot of fun to explore these narrow alleys.
It was nice to look at this kind of unique small shops as well.
A shop full of pretty tea cups
There was also a tradition drug store.
There was some place looked like bookstore, so I went into it, and it was a comic book and DVD renting room store. If you pay a certain amount per hour, you can use it freely and drink it for free.
In the restaurant where I went to have breakfast, there were art works made by the kids.
Seeing this reminded me of a local friend. I was in local friend’s car, and there was a clumsily folded paper crane attached to the car. I asked what it was and he said his son made it, I asked how old he is, he said 19 years old. It turned out that his son made it when he was little kid and he kept it on his car. I thought Taiwanese people were so sweet.
It reminded me of Taiwanese movie such as ‘Secret’ I enjoyed watching in my 20s. So, sometimes when I looked Taiwanese teenagers on the street, they looked like characters on the movie I watched.
This is inexpensive buffet in Taiwan which is very common. You get the food as much as you want, and then go to the counter to weigh it and pay for the food. Some places sells only vegetarian for monk without garlic, onions, meat, and fish. Vegetarian place also has a huge variety of food, so I think Taipei is heaven for vegetarians. This kind of restaurant is often used by aunty or uncle.
While walking down the street in the city, I saw that people were in a small street corner. So, I went there to check it out.
I usually went and ate anywhere on the street rather than looking for good restaurants on the internet, but in this case, I ran into language barriers. I had to read the menu with Google Translate picture to order food because English was not spoken well at none tourist restaurant.
In Taiwan, tomatoes were used to flavor the soup, but I preferred meat or other vegetable broths. So, I actually wanted to order other food, but due to the language barrier, I couldn’t get the food I wanted. Anyway, still it tasted better than the fish and chips I ate in Oceania.
In Taiwan, side dishes cost between U$1 to U$2. I wanted to eat different kind of vegetables, so I ordered an additional side dish. However, the vegetables in the noodles were just the same as side dish. It happened because I couldn’t understand what I was ordering due to the language barrier. The probability of getting the food I wanted was about 70%.
This was one of those 70% successful cases. On the right was pork broth rice bowl, which could be found in most restaurants. It was considered as a side dish, so it was cheap and a small portion
In Taiwan, eating outside was very common. Some restaurant sold only in the morning or night. This was my breakfast that I often had in the morning. I usually ordered two of them to make me full.
It was a lunch box-type meal that mixed vegetables, pickles, and meat.
I was hungry while walking around the city so I just ordered the food next to the street. When the food came out, I was disappointed cause it looked very simple meal. I thought today’s lunch was failed, but when I tried it, it was great. The meat seasoning was so good that it went really well with noodles and soup.
Taiwan was also known for its sweet snacks. I didn’t usually enjoy sweet much, but after coming to Taiwan, I had bubble tea every day. In Taiwan, there were many stores selling bubble tea on every corner, so it was very difficult to resist this temptation.
There was a donut shop in front of the hostel, and locals stood in a long line every day. I just passed by it every time because I thought the donut taste would be the same whatever. Then one day, when the line wasn’t very long, I was curious and bought it… Wow… it was incredibly unbelievably delicious. How come sugar can be this much delicious? If the line wasn’t long, I would have bought it every single day.
I went hiking near Taipei with YaTsu and her friend. The foggy gave the mountain special atmosphere.
It was quite chill and our clothes were wet by light rain while hiking, so we had hot pot later. In Taiwan, the price of hot pot varied from restaurant to restaurant. If you go to fancy restaurant, it’s quite expensive, but if you go to a regular restaurant like picture, it’s about U$8.
There were several night markets in Taipei. Shilin Night Market was the most famous and the largest one. Various game stores like shooting balloon were at the entrance.
If you go inside, there are clothes and shoes stores sold as well, but the street selling foods were the most crowded with people.
The market was so big that even the foods were sold at the basement.
Oyster pancakes were one of Taiwan’s representative foods. Korean pancake is crispy, but Taiwanese oyster pancake is chewy that it was fun to try different kind of pancake. The taste was good too.
I visited another night market and it was packed with people that walking was even difficult. Since the border had just been opened at the time, most of the people in the photo were locals.
It was a beef broth noodle called Niu Rou Mian which was famous Taiwanese dish. The soup was so savory.
What was interesting about Taiwan was that there were many similarities with South Korea. During the election season in South Korea, a lot of tissues with candidates’ pictures was handed out for free, and I could see Taiwanese doing this as well.
(It’s been a long time since I left South Korea, so I’m not sure if many things are still the same as before.)
It was election season at the time, and pictures of candidates were posted on many buildings which also looked similar to South Korea.
Like the Korean bus drivers, the Taiwanese bus drivers drove very close to the front bus. The yellow color you see on the picture was another bus, and it seemed that the distance between the two buses was less than 30cm(11inch).
Starbucks in Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and Starbucks in Taiwan had a different atmosphere. Starbucks in Taiwan was full of people studying. I heard that Korean Starbucks was also full of people studying.
In Taiwan, one time I saw a toilet paper on the table. In South Korea, many people put a toilet paper on the table and they wiped their mouth with it after eating food. When I was in South Korea, I’ve never thought this was weird. But now I felt unfamiliar about it. Of course, they didn’t suddenly bring used toilet paper from a toilet. The toilet paper on the table was a new one from the package.
In Taiwan, tissues were sold in bulk at a discount and often tissues were used on the table and in the bathroom too(different tissues). In my experiences, many countries separate toilet paper and table tissue in general.
Sometimes culture barrier happens because I am not used seeing it, so I need to put an effort to understand why it is like that. For example, in general Asians are trying to not waste things such as keeping disposable plastic bags and container to reuse. So they buy toilet paper or tissue in bulk to save up and use it for everywhere, which looks more practical and at the end it’s good for environment as well.
I watched the news while eating at a restaurant. Even in Taiwan, they blur the face of criminal just like Korean TV. When I searched online, it was said that mainland China and Japan do not blur criminals face. I don’t know what Taiwanese think about blurring criminal’s face, but many Korean including me are not happy about it.
The glasses frames were broken in Australia, but foreigners without health insurance had to pay for an eye test separately, so I continued to use it by gluing. It was always leaning one side since fixing it.
I thought Taiwan would be much cheaper than Australia, so I went to an optician. The cost of the eye test was free, but it cost U$95 (2,980 TWD) for a basic glasses without special features.
Contact lenses hurt my eye. So I haven’t been able to wear sunglasses lately, which made my eyes tired at the end of day after riding. So, I ordered sunglasses with a prescription for the first time, and it cost U$95. If I converted to Australian dollars, it was A$300. If I had known that getting glasses was not that cheap, I would have had them just in Australia after paying little more money as wearing broken glasses over couple of years was not that fun.
In fact, Taiwan’s prices were a little cheaper or similar to Korea’s. 1L of milk in Korea is U$2.3 these days, and in Taiwan it is about U$2 (60 TWD). In Taiwan food sold on the street costs about $3 (100 TWD), and regular food sold in restaurants costs about $5~$8 (150-250 TWD), which is similar to Korean restaurant as well. A modern restaurant costs a little more.
On a nice day, I took a train near Taipei and went hiking.
When I walked out of the station and it looked like a scene from an peaceful anime.
There were several places where I could see the waterfall.
On the way down after hiking, I saw a cute cafe so had a cup of coffee. But the price wasn’t cute at all. It was much more expensive than Starbucks. I found that many Taiwanese cafes were serious about coffee such as roasting beans by themselves. So if you go to a place that makes coffee properly, the price is a bit high. I was not serious about coffee so I had 7-Eleven coffee most of times.
On the way back to the train station, I saw a peaceful rural village.
What surprised me while staying at a hostel in Taipei was that I didn’t see a single person drinking beer. I didn’t see a drunk person late at night around the hostel on the street as well. I’ve never seen a place like this where you can’t see drunk people. I quitted drinking three years ago, so I really liked this alcohol-free culture.
However, the alcohol-free culture came as disadvantage later. I used a 6-person dormitory room, and in other countries travelers come in and sleep right away if they get drunk late night. But Taiwanese tourist didn’t drink, so they kept coming in and out of the room late night. The problem was that I’ve been sleeping around 10-11pm for the past 3 years in Australia and the South Pacific. Taiwanese guests were awake until 1 to 3 am, going in and out of the room and making noise, so it was difficult to sleep deeply and my flow of sleep was messed up.
Welcome to Asia. After staying in Taipei for a month, I also got into the habit of sleeping at late night like 1-2am.
I remember that popular Korean dramas were usually on air at 10pm, meaning Korean people went to bed too late as well. Taiwan had many similarities with Korea, so I thought it was perfect for adaptation training before going to Korea.
Researcher found that the shortest sleep time in the world is Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Singapore. The place with the longest sleep time is Australia. So basically I move between two extremely places.
I had met half Taiwanese half aboriginal at a hostel, and it was interesting to learn many things from her.
The tent poles were broken while traveling in the South Pacific. There was a Decathlon, French inexpensive sports gear store, in Taipei, so I bought a new tent pole and assembled it.
The side of the bicycle pannier bag broken, so I tried attaching it with glue. But it kept opened again and the broken part got bigger and bigger. So, I bought an special outdoor tape from Decathlon and repaired with it.
I liked hot pot, but hot pot restaurants around me were quite expensive. I asked YaTsu if there were any cheap restaurants around, and she recommended this place. Since then, this became my favorite restaurant. Before leaving Taipei, I visited again.
After eating delicious food every day in Taipei and uploading YouTube videos after working hard, it was time to go cycling again!
Let’s cycle around Taiwan!
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Taiwan Night Market Food Tour (With Subtitles)