Taiwan. Taipei. Miss Saigon. ROC. Official language Mandarin. Usually warm. Sometimes hot. Very often humid.
Basically, I’ve entered into another country that I knew literally next to nothing about before my arrival. After an incredibly long journey from Edinburgh -> Frankfurt -> Seoul -> Taipei —–through immigration (which is a nightmare at the TPE airport)—-and then the HSR (High Speed Rail), I finally, finally made it to my destination: Chiayi City. I felt Friday late morning and arrived by 7 pm on Saturday night.
Given that I lived in Korea for some time, I brought along a few biases and assumptions about the culture here. But, I’ve been wildly surprised by everything so far. While its only been a week and I’ve probably spent most of that time adjusting to my early morning practice/teaching routine, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen and eaten.
On a more cultural note, coming to Taiwan with no understanding of the local language would be difficult. Most everything, like Korea, is in Chinese. As most know, Chinese characters are an entirely other world to tackle, unlike Korean hangul that you can learn in a day. I’m fortunate to have help from some of the locals. As I always recommend, if you’re planning to integrate anywhere, try to connect with the people from the area. Life is so much easier when someone knows where to buy mosquito repellant, business letter envelopes, and organic products!
I might add that I still can’t ride a scooter, which is a very popular form of transportation in Chiayi City. It’s not so common in Taipei because its a bigger city, but public transportation isn’t good here (no subway/bus and few taxis). I did go for my first scooter ride with my friend this morning, we made it to the yoga school in about 25 minutes (normally takes about 10). On my to do list: learn to ride a scooter!
Balance Yoga School, Chiayi City
Other than that, the people here are so friendly, even if they can’t understand me. The warm weather has been treating me well, granted it’s a little humid, but I can’t complain. It is wonderful to be able to wear shorts, t-shirts and sandals again!!! It’s been too long!
My addiction right now?? Sweet potato! Actually, it’d be a lie to say this isn’t my addiction year round, but you can get it here roasted, which is heaven and for only about 15-20TWD! I bought 4 large ones hot and ready to dive into for about $2 USD.
I used to go bananas for roasted sweet potato when I lived in Korea, but finding the stalls that sold them were few and far in between. I’d often end up roasting my entire apartment, because it took so long, in an effort to recreate the oh-so-delightful-roasted sweet potato taste.
But, I’m grateful that I can now eat sweet potatoes all the time. I’m probably going to turn a different color with all the carotenoderma. Project Orange here I come!
The Taiwanese food that I’ve tried has been really good, with a great deal of variety and then there’s all the fruits that are available in surplus because of the climate: pineapple, papaya, mango, watermelon. Heaven.
Low cost of living, friendly people, amazing fruit and vegetables and my fingertips, not to mention warm weather – sign me up for more!!! My first week can be summed up in a lot of roasted sweet potatoes, watermelon, yoga, watching too many TV shows, reading, going to a Taiwanese wedding and getting to bed far too early.
I guess the only thing that’s missing from this adventure is my boyfriend.