My boyfriend and I have recently migrated to Asia, to the wonderful city of Taipei in Taiwan. Many people have previously asked me “Where is Taiwan?”. So if you were thinking the same thing, its a small country off the East coast of China, neighbouring Japan situated in the North-East and the Philippines in the South. We made the decision to take a leap of curiosity and travel across the World from the UK and become Native English Speaking Teachers. Having just recently graduated at the age of twenty-one, we thought “Why not?!” with an inspiration to experience a new country, especially Asia, and also the joyous job of teaching.
So here is a brief account of my time here so far, it only being two weeks to the date. My first impressions of Asia were ones of fascination, because I’ve never travelled so far East before. Flying with Vietnam airlines and having a 9 hour stop over in Vietnam airport supported an elevated travelling experience, the trip taking 24 hours in total. However, when we arrived I was flooded with feelings of overwhelming excitement. Taiwan is a majestic, bustling and brightly lit city with flashing signs above every shop and stall. Although I’m now beginning to notice that most streets look the exact same.
The culture here is pleasant and people are happy and friendly. Although people do tend to openly stare at Westerners, though its not to be taken to offence, they are merely curious to our differences. Night markets are the best places to experience Taiwanese culture and fresh food. We have visited Shilin market, the biggest in the country, and Raohe, although there are many smaller street markets all over the city. Its said that the locals rarely cook at home because food is easier and cheaper to buy from street vendors, and is the best way to socialise. Deep fried crispy squid, oyster omelette and ‘stinky’ tofu are a must try! But don’t let the appearance or smell put you off. Many markets are also placed near beautiful temples that display Asian religion in its best light.
As a vastly developing city Taipei is easy to get around, the MRT stretches far enough to all main areas, even as far as the coast of Tamsui. Taipei is surrounded by mountains and tropical forests and you can take the MRT to Xiang Shan, right next to Taipei 101 and take a hike up Elephant mountain. Although we were dripping with sweat and our legs were burning, the stunning sun-set views over the city were breathtaking. Taipei has everything you need in reach and Western style amenities are easy to find, if you make an effort to find them.
So far I believe I will be very happy to live and work here for the next year as it so far proves to be a very hospitable and city. Everyday is an unknown adventure.