Convenient Taiwan

If I have to describe Taiwan in one word I would chose the word “convenient”. Not only because the locals use this word to describe almost everything here, but also because once you come here and experience it, you will realize you have been missing “convenience” in your life.

Last year I met some friends from different parts of the world and they claimed they do not have/use this word in their language. But that they started living with this word once they came to Taiwan. Literally and figuratively.

If you have been here before, or overhead someone talking about this beautiful island, then you are probably aware of the convenience stores, such as 7-11 or Family Mart, literally at every corner, and open 24/7 every single day of the year.  So if I was to include them in the list then everybody would agree that they would rank the most convenient feature in Taiwan and the list would go something like this:

Taiwan’s No. 1 convenient feature:

The convenience stores.  They provide a little of everything solving you life in every possible way………………………… end. 

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But that is not a very fair list. I will, however, make a list of the convenient features you can do, of get at a convenient store. I will probably focus on the 7-11 since it is my personal favorite.  In the meantime let me rank  the other convenient features of Taiwan’s life.

So here it goes, my TOP convenient features of Taiwan.

5. Public Transportation.  

Let me start from the biggest to the smallest. There are 4 major international airports and 14 other minor and domestics ones in an island that is only 400 km in length. So you can practically fly anywhere in Taiwan. But let’s face it, flying might not be that convenient. That is why there is the the High Speed Rail, train and buses. You can purchase tickets online or with an app with your credit card  or by cash at the station or even better at a 7-11.

Here is the HSR link:

https://www.thsrc.com.tw/index_en.html?force=1

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But if you chose to get the ticket at 7-11 you will even get a discount coupon at Mr. Donuts or Starbucks. Now! isn’t that convenient?  You can also take intercity buses. They all have Wi-Fi, USB charging port, bathroom, and some even have massage chairs and movies.

City transportation is also convenient specially at Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung, where they have buses and MRT (mass rapid transit, al known as subway, underground or however you want to call it. It runs well in Taipei and Kaohsiung but it is still under construction in Taichung).  Just get your “Easy-Card” and you are good to go. You can recharge it at the station or guess where else? yes! at 7-11 or any other convenient store. Too lazy or too far to walk? get a Taxi. Wait for it at at the street, or use the 7-11 ibon to call one. I personally think, that is the easiest way, it gets there in less than 5 mins and I can wait in the freshness of the store. All taxi-drivers use the taximeter and are usually very friendly.

Uber, yes we have Uber, and it is expected to open in all Taiwan, but for the moment only in Taipei.

Overall, public transportation is very convenient, but the reason I am rating 5th is because there isn’t a direct convenient transportation from the HSR station to the airport or from Taipei. I heard rumors that this system is already under construction, but in the time being, there is only one line of shuttle buses that are usually overcrowded and the luggage ends up rolling around.

4. Scooters

Oh yeah! They are fun, they are fast, they can get into small alleys and you only need about NT$ 100 a week to fill them. There is no doubt that Taiwan can be a little overcrowded sometimes and it can be a little hard to find parking spot for cars, but for scooters, never! This might be a little different for Taipei-people, but for the rest of Taiwan, it is the scooter-life you want.

traffic-stop-taipei-by-jafabrit
Image: jafabrit.blogspot.tw

You can get a second hand scooter for about NT$ 10,000, more or less, depending on the scooter. Most foreigners will chose a second hand scooter, since most of us stay for about 2 years or less, and there are scooter mechanics on each street.   Getting the scooter drivers licence is really easy. The test is no more than common sense and some practice. Here is the link for the mock test:

Mock test for motorcycle driver’s license.

https://www.mvdis.gov.tw/m3-simulator-drv/

So, Get up early, do the medical examination, which is usually in front of the motor vehicle office and about 10 am you will be a legal driver in Taiwan. Your scooter will be your best companion in this beguiling Asian country. The only thing you will regret is not having enough time to discover more of Taiwan.

I say scooters, but if you are into motorcycles you can also get a small one, about 125cc. You will mostly use it for the city and maybe going to cities around you. A bigger motorbike is too big for the roads here and you will most-likely have problems parking it.

I love my scooter, but I place this feature in 4th place because even if you were best and most careful driver in the world, there is always the risk that somebody else is not having a good day and crashes with you. So if you come to Taiwan and decide to ride a scooter, open your eyes, drive safe and always, always, always, wear helmet.

3. Food

What time is it?

4-10 am? sure you can get something to eat, the breakfast are already open with delicious sandwiches and Chinese omelettes waiting for you.

10-11:30 am? Either breakfast place, rice rolls (飯糰 Fàntuán) or the lunch boxes store are just starting , but perhaps coffee at 7-11 is just good enough.

12-2:30 pm? They typical question is:”rice or noodles?” Here in Tainan you get a very complete lunch with only NT$ 60, with NT$ 100 you will be more than full. If you live near a university you will be able to find a street full of food shops and restaurants, there are just so many options. Spaghetti (義大利麵 Yìdà lì miàn), dumplings (水餃 Shuǐjiǎo), fried rice (炒飯 Chǎofàn), rice covered with vegetables (蓋飯 Gài fàn or 燴飯 huì fàn), Japanese soup (拉麵 Lāmiàn). The list goes on and on.

3-5 pm? Some restaurants take a rest in the afternoon, but they start selling onion omelet and the egg cakes

 5:30 pm – 1 am? dinner time. You will find as many options as at lunch time, but it gets even better and better. Now the Lu wei’s (滷味 Lǔwèi) are open (I don’t know how to translate that), where you can chose what you want and they will boil and flavor it for you. There are some breakfast places that open at 5 pm and close the next day at around 10, so it is a great place to get a  chicken sandwich (should I even call them breakfast places? Maybe just snack places). And the best at night are the night markets. Tons of different food, drinks and snacks. People and lights everywhere. It is the best way to live and feel Taiwan. What is the first you should do when you visit a new place in Taiwan? go to the night market, you will certainly have a lot of fun.
Since I live in Tainan, I am providing the schedule of Tainan’s night markets.
schedule
The only two reasons I do not give food 2nd or 1st place, is because not all places have English menu and you might need certain level of Chinese to know what they are selling and the other reason is that some food can be very oily.

2. Clinics

I hope you are never in the need of any doctor while you are here, but it is not a bad idea to be prepared.

Taiwan has one of the best medical services, if you are here for more than six months, they you can apply for the national health insurance. This will allow you to see a doctor at a clinic for a price ranging from NTD 50-150, and it includes medicine. If you don’t have this card, then a visit might be around NTD 300 – 500, still cheap and it also includes medicine. Normally you don’t need an appointment, you just pop in and the doctor will see you in 10 or 15 mins.

Finding a doctor is also very easy, just translate the type of doctor you want, google it and you will get at least 10 options around you. Doctor at clinic do not necessarily speak English, but they make themselves understandable. If you still cannot find what you want, then maybe you will decide to go directly to the hospital. Their English level is usually better, and they will provide you with a general doctor at first, and he/she will direct you with an specialist. The hospital might be around NTD 500 with insurance or about NTD 1200 without insurance.

Special Honors

Pet shops.

I did not give pt shops a spot on the list because not everybody has pets. But Pet shops in Taiwan are really convenient. They are open up until midnight. What kind of petshop is open until midnight? Anyway, if it is 11 pm and you have the sudden need of a fluffy hamster or a bewildering lizards like mine, you can just go to the pet shop and fulfill your desired. NOTE: I am not saying you should, since we are talking about LIVE ANIMALS and owning one is something you should decide responsibly.  You can always find one within a Km radius and they have everything your pet might need.

As for me, I am the proud owner of two magnificent geckos, and one of the reasons they keep so healthy is because even if I had a busy day I am always able to find them food at any time of the day.

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Jupiter and Nova after a well deserved feast.

If you like my geckos, check out my other blog: Jupiter, the Jubilat

And the moment you have been waiting for…. 

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1. Tea shops

Yes!  TEA SHOPS is the absolutely most convenient feature of Taiwan.

For the intense heat of Taiwan mostly all year long, tea is what you need. I am a coffee lover, but without a doubt tea is a delicious feature of Taiwan. Sure, you can buy drinks at 7-11, but there is nothing like a drink made specially for your taste.

rueifeng-night-market-kaohsiung-taiwan-taiwanese-street-food-90

When you finally make up your mind between the infinite choice they have just tell them the amount of ice and sugar you want.

It is usually like this:

Sugar ( Táng)

Ice (Bīng)

Normal Sugar(正常Zhèngcháng) Normal Ice (正常Zhèngcháng)
80% Sugar (少糖Shǎo tang) 60% Ice (少冰shǎo bīng)
50% Sugar(半糖Bàn tang) 30% (微冰wēi bīng)
30% Sugar (微糖Wēi tang) No Ice (去冰qù bīng)
No Sugar (無糖Wú tang) Hot (熱rè)

Each person has its own preference, but my three favorite drinks are

  1. Winter melon with lemon (冬瓜檸檬 Dōngguā níngméng)
  2. Black tea with lemon (檸檬紅茶 Níngméng hóngchá)
  3. Green tea with yakult. (多多綠茶 Duōduō lǜchá)

The tea shops are something I will definitely miss when I leave Taiwan. They are healthy, they are delicious and they are everywhere.

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Depending on where you live you will find different stores, here in the magnificent south Taiwan I recommend:

  1. Magic Hand
  2. 50 Lan
  3. Fox tail

magic-hand50lan31foxtail

So what do you think? Would you also rank Tea shops as the number convenient feature of Taiwan? 


Thank you for reading my blog! 謝謝你

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For you, a colorful origami flower:

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