1. Taiwan is Not Your Home Country; Don’t Compare Them 臺灣不是你的家鄉; 不要比較
You are not in Kansas anymore. One of the initial stages of culture shock is to look at all the negative aspects of a new culture by comparing it to one’s home country. If you do compare, try to find the good things about Taiwan that your home country lacks; this way you will have a much happier and fulfilling experience in Taiwan. Taiwan is a separate country with different history, customs, and beliefs than your home country, so you should forget everything you know about your culture and accept Taiwan for what it is. Come to Taiwan with a good attitude, and you might learn something!
The best advice I can give is when in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you mimic what other Taiwanese people do, you might find that they do things better than your home country, and you will discover new things about the human experience.
2. Taiwan is Not China; Don’t Even Go There 臺灣不屬於中國大陸; 別提
If you are a foreigner in Taiwan claiming that Taiwan is part pf the PRC or Mainland China, you are going to offend a lot of people here. Even if this is a view that you truly believe because Taiwan is not in the U.N. or whatnot, just keep it to yourself. Taiwan is an independent Nation for all intents and purposes. If you respect democratic freedom, you should also respect Taiwan independence.
3. Taiwan is Not Taipei! 臺灣不是臺北
Many Foreigners come to Taiwan only to visit sights around Taipei, and then leave not seeing all that Taiwan has to offer. Chinese Taipei is a fake country. It is the country of the sky dragon 天龍國, full of many idealistic and westernized Taiwanese that have been abroad and are rich. The South and East are the real Taiwan. Taipei City is only one city in Taiwan and only has less than 12% of its population and .01% of its land area. New Taipei, Keelung, and Taipei city only account for 33% of Taiwan's population and 7% of its land area. If you have only been to Taipei City and call yourself a Taiwan expat, you are not; you are a sky dragon expat. There is much more of Taiwan to be explored.
4. Taiwan is Safe 臺灣很安全
Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world; it was named in the top global peace index and was named the safest country in the world in 2016. People are not allowed to own guns in Taiwan. You don’t need to worry about getting mugged in the street when you are here. People here are nice to people they don't know, especially if they are from a vibrant foreign country. Also, Taiwan is politically stable, even with pressure from China.
5. Taiwan is Cheap 臺灣的東西很便宜
Take a look at some of the commodities above! The cost of living in Taiwan is relatively low, and Taiwan has one of the best standards of living in the world.
6. Taiwan is Convenient 臺灣很方便
Taiwan is one of the most convenient countries in the world. There are almost 10,000 convenience stores, putting them in walking distance for most people. It is hard to tour Taiwan without seeing a 7-11, Family Mart, OK Mart, or Hi-Life everywhere you go. These stores also let people pay their bills with cash, purchase travel tickets, print pictures, ship and receive packages, buy everyday items, and much more.
Also, health clinics are everywhere, and even if you don’t have insurance a checkup is very affordable. A normal checkup is no more than $30 USD, and if you are enrolled in NHI, the copay will range from $2 - $8 USD.
7. Taiwan Has Great Public Transportation 臺灣的交通設施非常好
Taiwan has an extremely convenient and efficient public transportation system. In Taiwan it’s easy to go anywhere on the island within hours. There is a railway that encompasses the entire island, as well as high speed rail along the west side connecting the major cities. Most major cities in Taiwan also have airports, with 4 international airports in total. Freeways and expressways also cover most of the island, which makes it easy to get to place to place by car or bus. It is so easy to travel in Taiwan that one can have a business meeting in Taipei in the morning, and travel via high speed rail for a relaxing afternoon on a tropical southern beach.
8. Taiwan Food is Delicious! 臺灣食物好吃！
We love Taiwan food! Don’t be the expat that eats at McDonald’s for every meal. There is so much delicious food everywhere! For lists of our favorite foods, click here: www.foreignersintaiwan.com/blog-posts/category/food
9. Taiwan is fun! 臺灣很好玩！
Because Taiwan is so convenient and has such a developed transportation system, it is easy to travel and have fun. Taiwan is home to many tourist destinations, from beautiful mountain scenery like Taroko Gorge, to Kenting’s tropical beaches, to Hot Springs in nearly every county, to night markets and endless shopping.
10. The Majority of Foreigners Here are Blue Collar Workers from Southeast Asia 大部分在臺灣的外國人是從東南亞的勞動
As you can see from the above chart (sorry it's in Chinese), most foreign blue collar laborers are from Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines, and Thailand. According to Taiwan's government database, there are 657,983 foreign blue collar workers in Taiwan as of July 2017. Most of these people either work in manufacturing or caring for Taiwan's elderly.
Most of your fellow foreigners in Taiwan are from Southeast Asian countries coming here to do blue collar jobs that nobody else wants to do, for very low wages. We want to give them a voice and hope these people are not forgotten.
Please like and share! If we forgot something, please tell us in the comments below!
As of May this year, Wulai public hot springs have been destroyed. For many of us, Wulai hot springs were a relaxing place to become one with nature and enjoy conversing with locals. To honor their memory, we have written this post.
History of Wulai Hot Springs
Wulai was originally an Atayal aborigine village, its name meaning hot and poisonous. There has always been natural hot springs in Wulai, but much of that water has been channeled into hotels and public bathhouses. The free hot springs stood at the bottom of the hill next to the river, and was a collection of used hot spring water from the hotels and paid hot springs above. In its prime, it boasted the largest free outdoor hot springs in Taiwan. Recently the township of Wulai has become a major tourist attraction, partly because of its close proximity to Taipei. It has museums, waterfalls, a gondola, a train (under renovation), a night market, and most of all hot springs.
In 2015 Typhoon Soudelor wreaked havoc to the town and destroyed many hot springs. Due to this and sanitation concerns, New Taipei City decided to shut down the hot springs, and gave the owners until April 2017 to tear it down. When the owners did not comply, New Taipei took the matter in their own hands and tore down the springs in May 2017.
My experience at Wulai springs was quite peaceful. When I was there last February, there were many pools to choose from with varying temperatures. Also, there were many free showers there made from recycled billboards. Some pools were full of dead skin, but the water was changed out every hour (even so, the new water coming in was also not guaranteed to be clean, although it was just as clean as any cheap public hot spring you would find in Beitou). I must admit that the average demographic there was 65 and older Taiwanese people, but I imagine they came there regularly, so now that the springs are demolished their daily relaxed routine of soaking in the springs is gone. They are the true victims of this demolition.
Next to the springs was a hole that captured the spring water mixed with river water. Although some of the water was foamy, it was relaxing swimming in the cool calm water after a dip in the springs. Perhaps the best part of the experience was the great mountain view and fresh air. In spring, there were also cherry blossoms on the hills for all to enjoy.
The New Taipei City government said the water from these springs was too filthy and polluting the river. Also they claimed it was hard to evacuate people using the springs during a Typhoon. In 2015 there were two fatalities during typhoon Soudelor; both these people were using the hot springs during the typhoon. In addition, the river is officially restricted from building anything. Because of these factors the government worked to shut these hot springs down.
Photo credit: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3166954
Personally, I think the private hot spring hotel owners in Wulai worked together to lobby against the public hot springs and bring them down so that they could make an extra buck. The New Taipei City government should have taken over the public springs to make them safer, cleaner, and legal: this would have brought tourists and money to the community. Those that want to go to free hot springs will now visit elsewhere.
We are very sad to see these hot springs go, and consider ourselves lucky to have enjoyed them while they lasted. But with all things that are fun, eventually some law or regulation will shut them down. I hope that someday New Taipei City government will have the foresight to rebuild them into a legal, safe, and free hot springs again.
Please leave your comments, memories, or other thoughts below, and don't forget to like and share!
The recent changes to Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act (LSA) have left many people confused. Most foreigners don’t know what Taiwan’s labor standards are at all, so let me give you some important points below:
Advice for Foreigners:
Recently added LSA regulations:
With the recent island-wide power outage on August 15th, many people were stuck at work with nothing to do. In this situation, under the new regulations employers could have actually let employees go home without pay because it wasn’t the employer’s fault that there was a power outage.
Here is a picture of my office during the outage:
Employers cannot put random clauses in the contract that contradicts other clauses or the law. As all white collar foreigners must have contracts in Taiwan, this is important to consider.
One of the biggest faults that people have with the new LSA is that overtime is not flexible enough.
The government is considering to not limiting the total overtime hours to one week, but to one month or six months, or even one year. This would be most fitting to seasonal industries that have a few busy months in the year and the rest of the year has no overtime.
Also, working on holidays doesn’t count as overtime, but after 8 hours it does. Working on rest days does count toward overtime. If people come on a rest day off then they are paid for the whole day. Some employers will want to keep employees there for the whole day. However, employers can save on utilities of they let them go home early.
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Many people lately have been complaining about illegally parked bicycles, especially Obikes. But what are the laws currently for bicycles in Taipei? One can search, but most crucial info is in Chinese. Below we have provided a summary of our findings as well as an appendix of the full translated Taipei bicycle laws for you.
(The following information was found at the Taipei Police Bureau website; their English materials are limited).
The relevant articles for bicycles are contained in the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act from articles 69-131. The Taipei Police Bureau only has English for articles 69-90, so I have painstakingly translated the relevant articles from article 90 to article 131. Because this is really long, I have put some of the most interesting parts first here below with commentary:
Summary of Findings:
When Should Bicycles Yield?
According to article 124, slow moving vehicles (bicycles) have to yield to everything on the road, including people and objects. Also, they should also stay on the right side of the road.
Before driving, the driver should pay attention to whether there are obstacles, vehicles, pedestrians, and should yield to pedestrians and other vehicles.
When driving, drivers should follow the road traffic signs, markings, instructions, and be subject to traffic controller’s commands.
When driving on a road, drivers should follow the marked signs or provisions of the road; if there are no signs or markings, drivers should follow the provisions below:
Bicycle Path Rules:
According to article 124-1, bicycle paths in cities still give precedent to pedestrians. In other words, you must yield to pedestrians when travelling on bike paths. Sorry.
The competent authority of the road, the urban road authority or the police authority may, without blocking traffic or compromising safety, make a slow vehicle path on sidewalks and set the necessary signs or markings for slow travel. Slow vehicles should follow these lines on the path, and should give priority to pedestrians.
Pedestrians and Buses:
According to article 126, bikers should yield to pedestrians even when they J-walk. Also, much to my chagrin, bikes are always supposed to yield to buses, even to the point of stopping at an intersection for them.
When pedestrians are crossing the road, with or without traffic controllers,
Drivers should let pedestrians to pass first.
When traveling with buses or other mass transit vehicles, when approaching have turn signal sound or light, slow vehicles shall change lanes in accordance with regulations and give priority to these vehicles. Slow vehicles are prohibited from closely following or approaching, except where otherwise provided by the competent authority of the road.
According to article, 131 bikes can only be parked in designated parking spots with signs or painted lines. They can park in scooter parking. We will see if this changes, as with the onslaught of Obike Mayer Ke promised he would change these regulations. We will keep you updated with any developments.
Slow moving vehicles cannot be parked unconditionally. Vehicles shall be parked in specified places or within the line markings, and park in an orderly line.
In places where bicycle parking facilities are not provided, bicycles may park in motorcycle parking, but may not park in parking designated for cars or heavy motorcycles.
The rules for pedestrians and buses are reasonable, but I don't think anyone follows bicycle parking rules, and even less people get a ticket for it. I think that this law is so unenforced that it is laughable. I mean, you can't go up to every grandpa in the park and tell him he parked his bike in the wrong place. With Obike taking over thousands of scooter parking spots in the city (not to mention tons of bikes being thrown in bushes and rivers), the Taipei city government needs to act quickly to improve these regulations.
Please click "Read More" for the full translated version of Taipei bike laws. Otherwise please like and share below!
There is a popular trend in Taiwan to let fish eat the skin off of your feet. These places are usually related to "hot springs" in some way. I have done this a few times, but the last time we were in Jiaoxi it seemed like the town specialised in fish foot massage places. In fact, I later found that Jiaoxi is the foot massage capital of Taiwan.
Letting fish eat the skin off your feet is really uncomfortable at first. Me and my wife could not but laugh for the first few minutes, it is a very tingly experience. After a while though, you get used to it, and it is quite relaxing. My wife was especially happy that she didn't have to buy a foot bandage to get rid of her excess callus. I originally was riding around town looking for regular outdoor hot springs to soak in (because our hotel room didn't have one) but ended only finding this. The total price for us to relax here for an unlimited time was 60 NT per person. However it was outdoors and so also incredibly hot.
History of Fish Foot Massage:
The first documented evidence of this fish foot massage seems to have originated in Greece, a practice called Ichthyotherapy, which was meant to heal various ailments and sores. The fish most commonly used is the doctor fish which has no teeth. I have no idea how or when this Mediterranean practice became popular in Asia, but now it seems like a standard spa treatment in many Asian countries.
Some people, mostly American scientists, have spoken against this practice, calling it unsanitary. Usually the same fish are used on different people, which may cause certain diseases to spread. Because of this, fish message therapy has been banned in 14 U.S. states. Source:
So maybe this might not be the most sanitary activity, but its fun! Don't let those pessimistic American scientists deter you. Getting your feet eaten slowly by tons of little fish is an experience of a lifetime that you can tell your grandchildren, so just go out and do it.
Last week we made our way to the famous and ever popular Wufengqi waterfall in Jiaoxi. The waterfall was only a five minute scooter ride from our hotel. The entrance to the waterfall is simply a dead end to a mountain road that seems should have gone on longer. When we went, there were tons of cars and people, so this place seems to be very well advertised locally.
An Ahma showing us all how we should live life: do Taichi in front of a waterfall every morning. However this morning was not the post peaceful and quiet. A few men with chainsaws were cutting down Typhoon debris that has built up in the river. It was quite loud.
Further down from the main falls, a few people were swimming in the river. I would have joined them, but I was alone and there were just too many people for me to really connect with nature. Let me say again: there were TONS of people.
Below is a slide show with captions of the various places along the Wufengqi waterfall trail. I don't know how this will turn out; this is an experimental blog.
In conclusion, Wufengqi waterfall is beautiful but sadly very overcrowded. If you are looking for a peaceful place to connect with nature, this is not the place for you. But if you are looking for an easily accessible hike for your family, then this would be a good fit (although, funny story, my wife took two steps on the trail and a giant snake slithered right in front of us, so that was the end for her).
Below is a map for your reference:
If you have anything you would like to add, or you think I suck at blogging, please leave a comment below. We appreciate your feedback.
Last weekend we went to Yilan for vacation. Our first stop was the night market in Luodong, the biggest night market in Yilan. As you can see we did not bring a tripod and had shaky hands for the photos. Enjoy!
We were surprised to find quite a busy night market which in the middle was so packed with people that you could barely move. Pretty much every night market stand was a food stall. There wasn't much of selling clothes or trinkets from what we could see, although there were many clothing shops surrounding the night market.
One food stand particularly caught my eye: fried Taro buns with various fillings, You could choose cheese, meat floss, or egg yolk. I chose the cheese. It was okay, nothing too special. But only 20 NT a piece. After looking around at all the fried food we decided that we just wanted some hot pot that we saw at the mouth of the night market, 3 Momma's hotpot 三媽臭臭火鍋。
We have always been fans of 3 Momma's hotpot 三媽臭臭火鍋. Some have free drinks and ice cream, this one only had wintermelon tea. I got a seafood hotpot for 120 NT, but I was surprised to find that there were no oysters. I thought for sure oysters would be a staple in every seafood hotpot in Taiwan, but I guess you can't have everything you want.
In conclusion, Luodong night market is a great place if you are looking for a snack. There are a decent amount of people, food stands, and variety. The price is okay; I was expecting a little cheaper from a small town night market like this. If you'd like to add something please let us know down below in the comments!
Last weekend we made our way to the beautiful township in Yilan County called Jiaoxi, known for its waterfall and hot springs. It is a town with a population of about 35,000 people, and it seems it relies mostly on tourism to survive. Our experiences and our quest to find the well-hidden beach are explained below.
This is a view of Jiaoxi that I took across the train tracks. It seems that south of the train; there is nothing but rice fields with spattered houses and factories. On the north side of the tracks, I would say that 50% of the buildings are hot spring hotels. Most of the hotels here are super cheap. Ours was 840 NT, and other high end ones were under 2000 NT. This is because there are way too many hotels in this town. Because of its close proximity to Taipei, many Taipei entrepreneurs have invested in this spot close to home where they can cash in on some tourism.
There is an inter-city bus station, a train station, a McDonald's, and a Starbucks in the town, so it is not the smallest town ever.
As my wife and child rested at the hotel, I went for an early morning scooter ride through the countryside. I found the rice fields quite peaceful, a refreshing view from the busy concrete jungle that is Taipei.
Driving aimlessly around, I found some telephone poles that were knocked sideways by Typhoon Nesat, indicative of some very strong winds that came through the area. I also found that quite a few signs had been knocked down by the storm.
Actually, driving through Jiaoxi after the Typhoon was like seeing America in autumn; all the leaves were golden and dying, or just missing altogether. The mountainside next to our hotel was barren, and many places looked completely dry and dead. It was like a bomb had gone off.
Somewhere in my aimless wandering I decided to go the beach, I figured it was close. However, I lost my sense of direction (even though mountains are clearly on the East). Eventually I got to a long mound of earth, like a levee next to the ocean. On top of the levee were graves and a military base, making it impossible to go the 100 meters left to the beach. I must have driven 10 kilometers before I broke down and looked at google maps. There was a small alley road leading to the beach from where I saw an Abei exit from.
I didn’t have a swimming suit, so I drove 10 minutes back to the hotel (originally it took me an hour and a half to find the beach, although I did wander around and take pictures along the way). The water was very refreshing in the 35 degree weather; cool but not too cold, although the water was murky and foamy. Maybe that was a bad idea. I’ll find out when I get cancer. No one lives forever.
Last weekend we decided to go to Yilan to vacation. As part of that process, we looked around for hotels. Our plan was to see the Luodong night market, so we wanted a hotel close to there. But then we realized that there were much cheaper hotels in the nearby township Jiaoxi, and most of them included breakfast and hot springs. We ended up going with the cheapest hotel room (not shared hostel room), Jiaoxi Hotspring Hotel 礁溪温泉商旅 for 840 NT!
After seeing the night market and renting a scooter from "Hi" scooters, we were on our way to the hotel for the night. It wasn't too far, only about a 25 minute scooter ride, and not too hard to find either. When we checked in, the guy at the front desk didn't even check my ID (first time that has ever happened to me). Maybe it was because we were the only guests that night? We didn't see anyone else there.
Part of the reason I think no one was there was that there are hotels everywhere in Jiaoxi. I think half the city was made up of hot spring hotels. Very much a saturated market, and it explains why our hotel was so cheap.
The room was nice and clean. Not the newest building in the world, but good enough for me and my family. My daughter was very interested in that pillow on the bed. One problem we had though was there was no fridge, so we had no choice but to store the breast milk we had brought at room temperature, and eventually it went bad.
This hotel claims to be a “Hot Spring Hotel," but we didn't see any anywhere. I guess our room was too cheap. But, our bathtub did have jets, which was nice. But the jets were only on the side, so you couldn't get a good back massage, and the tub was super small.
So you're probably thinking, why is this guy writing a review about a crappy Hotel? Well, frankly we need more posts on this site so we can get more ads so we can make more money. Keep reading.
One of the main reasons that we chose this hotel was that it included breakfast. We were surprised to find there was no restaurant at the hotel, but we were given a breakfast coupon to a local breakfast shop. This was nice, but the coupon only included about 45 NT worth of food per person (one burger and one drink), but luckily we had Poptarts back at the hotel. So basically, for all you people going to Jiaoxi, spend a few hundred more dollars for a hot spring in your hotel room and for a nice breakfast buffet.
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On my last trip to Luodong we came across a scooter shop tucked in a alley behind the bus station. Their prices are not the cheapest, but you get 100 NT off when you post their location on Facebook. We rented a 125 cc. for 350 NT for 24hrs. The scooters seemed brand new, and someone had filled up the tank for us. Hi doesn't siphon the tank like other scooter rental places, so if you get lucky you don't even have to pay for gas!
Their website: www.xn--hi--4d2e682ijpt7o7a.tw/
Address: No. 9 Liming Street, Luodong Township 羅東鎮黎明街9號
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.