I spent 2 weeks in Taiwan this summer and looking back on that experience, what I loved was how people seemed to gravitate easily toward each other there. Whether it was spending time in a group or traveling alone, one never felt lonely.
What first greeted me outside the airport was a thick wall of sticky heat. It’s not like I was surprised by it, since I had been tracking the weather for weeks prior, but it certainly took getting used to. When I met up with my long-time mentor, who now lives in Taiwan, he asked, “Of all the months, why are you here during summer? It’s the most miserable time of the year,” as he sat in the shade, soaked in his shirt. Well, after the first 3 days of saying “It’s hot,” I made the conscious decision to stop talking about the weather. There was so much more to get excited about and complaining about the heat was preventing me from opening up to new experiences.
Over the course of the next two weeks, I immersed myself into work, getting to know new people, and trying new things. It was all so amazing and although I had been on the road for a lot of summer, I really connected with Taiwan. The Taiwanese people I met reminded me a lot of Hawaiʻi people, friendly and easy-going. I like to think it’s because we’re all “island people”.
And I can’t forget to mention the food. Wow. It’s a foodie’s dream come true. I visited a bunch of night markets and food stalls, as well as some choice restaurants. The food was all very delicious. Dim Sum is a must.
It’s easy to see why Taiwan is a vacation destination. It’s affordable. High speed rail tickets, food, everything is cheap. When I arrived in Chia-yi, I saw an ad on the window of the McDonald’s at the High Speed Rail Station for a $36 breakfast combo. I snapped a pic with the caption, “So hungry. Send money,” and sent it home to Hawaiʻi. Of course, the breakfast combo came out to barely $1 USD, but nobody else knew that. Nor did they understand why a UNIQLO sweater was $760 (roughly $24USD).
Taiwan is one of those places I’d definitely go back and visit and will likely spend most of the time in Taipei, which has all the modern conveniences as other major cities, like a slick mass transit system with a convenience card that you can load with money and use everywhere around the city. I will likely venture outside the city for day trips though. And let’s not forget renting a bike from the YouBike program there. When in Taiwan…
A few days after I left, Typhoon Soudelor barreled through Taiwan. Lucky for me, but definitely not for the country that took such excellent care of me, and for that, I’ll always have a soft spot for it.