I am not a fan of these types of titles, but now I get it. There are always things we would like to know before we embark on a trip, yet never seem to find that one piece of information. I hope this post will address those little things that you need to know.
Oh, how I wish I knew how to ride a scooter! During the planning stages of my epic trip, I had planned to learn how to learn to ride a scooter. Alas, I did not get around to it which is a regret of mine. I had initially planned to learn to ride a scooter to help me get around Vietnam, not realising that I’d also need it for Taiwan. The scooter is their way of life. It feels to me like they have a scooter from home to the station, the station to work, and another one just for the sake of it.
However, I felt the need for a scooter when I visited Kaohsiung and Taichung. Either they have an MTR which was limited, or it’s solely busing to get around and the further out from the city, the harder it is to be mobile. If I had a scooter, I could have seen more of Taiwan and not rely on Uber, buses or walking for several hours.
Tip: learn how to ride a scooter and you will be surprised how much this will come in handy.
I heard that it rained a lot in Taiwan, and I mean a lot – it’s pretty similar to London. However, I was informed that I was coming in at a good time – not too hot, not too cold but the bonus there would hardly be any rain. Oh, how wrong was I? It rained a few times that I felt it was more than usual. When I arrived at the beginning of November, it was raining hard, and I was not willing to trudge my luggage all the way to my accommodation, so it was time to call for an Uber. I seriously thought I had landed back in London and this was all an illusion. I was hoping this was just a one-off or it would rain maybe once or twice more. I was wrong; it rained again and again.
For example, I went for Hot Pot with a friend, and before we entered the restaurant, it was a nice cool evening. We had our meal and as we stepped out, it was raining cats and dogs. We were in the restaurant for roughly two hours, and in that time it had rained hard. I only had on a t-shirt, a pair of Toms, and linen trousers. In other words, I was not prepared to walk home in that rain, quickly resulting in a taxi.
Tip: always carry an umbrella.
There is one thing I noticed while wandering around Taiwan, whether it was in Taipei, Kaohsiung, or Jiufen. There is a lack of bins, and I mean a serious lack of bins. I could not understand why I couldn’t find a bin and this meant I had to carry my rubbish around with me. Slowly, I learnt where I could find a bin, the MRT, 7/11 and at the beginning and the end of any night markets. I discovered while on a tour that there is a tax on residents disposing of their rubbish and residents would try to avoid this by disposing of their waste in public bins. To prevent this, the government removed all public bins apart from those mentioned above.
Tip: carry a little plastic or paper bag to keep your rubbish in until you find a bin.
In terms of technology and the various forms of payments which are available in Taiwan, including Line. LINE Pay is a mobile payment service that lets over 170 million monthly active LINE users (on iPhone or Android) make payments for affiliated services or at affiliated shops in an easy and convenient way, regardless of their carrier or OS. I was under the illusion it was a cashless society. However, it is not fully cashless, depending on how you look at it. Some places take a card but not your bank card, a majority of establishments accept iPass. iPass is an e-wallet that is aimed at replacing cash. It can be used on public transport, in convenient stores, in shopping centres, and many other places. I used it in a lot to pay for my Bubble Tea and to get around the country. I was able to use the iPass in Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung, now that’s what you call convenient! Still, you would be surprised at the places you can’t use to pay with your bank card. I went to PX Mart to do my food shopping soon found that I couldn’t use my bank card as they only took cash.
Tip: take out as much cash as you can – you will find cashpoints in abundance.
They are everywhere; I genuinely didn’t believe there were mosquitoes in Taiwan. The first day I was here I had a few bites on my arms and thought maybe there were bed bugs and proceeded to check the bed. The following day I had more bites and realised that it might not be bed bugs, but mosquitos. Suffice it to say that I was not impressed. However, I needed to test this theory out. I had packed a lot of insect repellent, maybe about four bottles or more. I covered my whole body with insect repellent for five days and saw not a single bite thereafter. I also sprayed my room three times a day to make sure that all those mosquitoes were long gone.
Then I made a rookie error, I went to Taichung and didn’t think that I needed insect repellent. I went for a walk in the local park and those mosquitoes had a field day on my arms; I had over nine bites across both arms. The pain was unbearable, and I’m adamant there were two bites on top of each other… such evil bugs.
Tip: bring insect repellent.