Monday, 15 May 2017

Taiwan general impressions May 2017


Taiwan general impressions May 2017

After second stay in Taipei (4-11may2017), I can renew my full recommendation of Taiwan as a destination for tourism and gay activities. For impressions from Dec 2016 see here: http://christianpfc.blogspot.com/2017/01/taiwan-general-impressions.html

After spending 4 years in Thailand and speaking the language and travelling every corner, and visa runs to Cambodia, Lao, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, I can say that Taiwan comes out clearly on top when value for money is concerned.

At time of posting 1 EUR = 33 TWD, 1 USD = 30 TWD, 1 TWD = 1.15 THB.

Animals
Spotted a few stray dogs, cats and cockroaches. No problem with pigeons, but some swallows and there is bird shit under their nests. 

7-Eleven
As ubiquitous as in Thailand, open 24/7. Even better than Thailand: copying machine and corner with seats and table (usually with view to street) for eating.

Escalator etiquette
On the escalator, people stand on the right and walk on the left. Everyone, everywhere! The acme/pinnacle of civilized behavior. In Thailand, it's an achievement if everyone on an escalator goes in same direction.

Fatties
People in Taiwan are slim to normal built. But watching out for fatties, I spotted a dozen.

Food
All local food I tried was at least ok. Foreign food (Italian and Japanese) delicious and prices similar to Thailand. (Contrary to Cambodia and Lao where I have rather poor memories of local food.)

Google maps
The one thing I used my phone for most is google maps. Luckily, they can be download or cached so I could use google maps without data connection. But the very useful directions (with all bus and train lines, full coverage and times) will not work offline.

Hostels
I wasn’t sure if I will go to Taroko gorge (but at the end skipped for uncertainty of transport and accommodation), so I didn’t book accommodation for the whole trip. The place I stayed at first didn’t have vacancy for the following days, so I moved (twice to check various places). All new, clean, well maintained and run (Pillow Hostel, Fun Inn Taipei, Angels’ Hostel this trip and Starbox Hostel Dec 2016, all near main station). Average price per night online 400 TWD. I inquired at receptions about walk-in price, and several recommended booking online because it will be cheaper. (E.g. Sleepbox 650 TWD walk-in.)

Booking.com didn't charge my credit card, didn't even ask for credit card information for one booking. Pay in cash at check-in. I like this, as it avoids credit card charges and unfavorable exchange rates.

Homeless people
There are a few homeless people sleeping on the streets. What surprised me is that I saw two who slept without shoes or socks (at daytime 25 C and night 20 C), whereas I suffer from cold feet and when traveling in air-conditioned trains or buses in Thailand over night, I have to wear socks, otherwise I couldn’t sleep for cold feet.

Money exchange
In Dec 2016 I went to ATM, but this time tried money exchange. This is done in banks during their opening times (Mon-Fri, 9:30-17:00?). Here Thailand has an advantage with plenty of money exchange booths, open every day, some 24 hours. The money exchange is the lowest point of my trip: I had to queue (sitting) half an hour and hand in form with 3 carbon copies! Exchange rates from 8may2017 morning:
Bank of Taiwan 1 EUR = 32.38 TWD
Land Bank of Taiwan 1 EUR = 32.49 TWD
Supermarket near main station 1 EUR = 31.43 TWD
Xe.com 1 EUR = 33.07 TWD

Museums
This trip I visited several museums (unless something I am really interested in, I keep museums for a rainy day or a filler, such as this trip my last day with flight at night where I don’t want to venture far or exercice). Entry prices cheap (up to 50 TWD).
Museum of Drinking Water (interesting)
Taipei Fine Arts Museum (degenerate art in my opinion)
National Taiwan Museum (very interesting)
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei MOCA (interesting, especially temporary exhibition Yoichiro Kawaguchi (Japanese computer graphics artist) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9hbsVZluzU)

Public WiFi
Once again, I didn’t buy a SIM card, but weaseled my way through without. (For all my trips, I abhor the idea of having credit left when I leave the country, and SIM expires while I’m away.) When I went to tourist information, they recommended I apply for free public WiFi, which I did (passport required). Coverage is ok, but logging in via browser every time is awkward and time consuming.

Rubbish
There is very little rubbish lying around, and in Peace Park park I saw a vistor pick up a piece of rubbish and put it in the bin. Opposite in Thailand, I witnessed multiple times adults (and from them, the children get it), throw their rubbish out of boat, car or bus.

Weather
Many locals dressed long-long, and in shadow with wind I feel cold in short-short.

Copyright 2017 ChristianPFC

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