My recent article about the nine reasons Expats choose Taiwan included glowing reviews of the friendly people, great medical care, and wonderful food. And life in Taiwan really is good, but it’s not all sunshine, roses, and butterflies every single day. There is a downside to life in Taiwan because, the reality is, sometimes life here is inconvenient and people drive crazy!
A glimpse of the downside to balance out the list of “Pros” – nothing in life is perfect!
Life in Taiwan – The Driving Reality
People drive crazy here! That’s just the way it is and maybe it’s a cultural difference but it’s something that takes a while to get used to. Driving a scooter is sometimes dangerous, but I’ve learned a few things in the past few years…
Always expect drivers to do the opposite of what you think they will and they won’t disappoint. If they have a left turn signal on, it’s very likely they intend to make a right-hand turn. Likewise, if they have no turn signal on, they probably still intend to turn…possibly even a left turn from the far right lane (or whatever). Be alert and expect the unexpected.
On a road with 2 lanes in each direction, the safest place to drive is just to the right of the center line. This allows cars to pass on the left and insane scooter drivers to dart out of nowhere on the right. Scooters making a right turn onto a busy road will almost NEVER look to see if traffic is coming, it’s just a thing here. Crazy scooters pop out of nowhere on the right, sort of like you’re driving in a real-life video game.
People driving scooters with their feet down often drive against traffic along the right-hand side of the road. It’s kind of like they’re pedestrians – only they’re not, they’re on a scooter. And usually, those people driving with their feet dragging are really, really old and have no sense of balance – or else they’re carrying chickens or a large dog on the scooter floorboard. Either way, watch out!
And then there’s this:
Life in Taiwan – The Shopping Reality
Target opened its first store 54 years ago today, and it STILL hasn’t made it to Taiwan!
As I was doing my semi-weekly “scavenger hunt” for basic supplies earlier today, I was calculating how much time I’d save if only Target would open a store in Hsinchu.
Today’s scavenger hunt consisted of 7 stops, all of which could’ve been handled at Target in about 12 minutes and 45 seconds.
Stop #1: Home Box – poisonous spray to kill the insects making a meal of my garden.
Stop #2: Fruit stand – slightly green bananas and a perfectly ripe pineapple.
Stop #3: 7-11- Cash machine (sadly, it was out of money) and yogurt. Decent yogurt is hard to find and usually requires searching in at least two 7-11s and one Family Mart.
Stop #4: 7-11 – Cash machine works. Yay!
Stop #5: Wellcome Supermarket (yes, the name is actually misspelled with two “l”s). Eggs, cereal, and Ritz crackers. The yogurt at Wellcome sucks. So does the bread.
Stop #6: Walnut Bakery – decent bread. Not great, but better than supermarket white bread.
Stop #7: Family Mart – sweet potatoes. Tis the season for my favorite Family Mart sweet potatoes, slow roasted and healthy. Sometimes it requires stopping at three Family Marts to find decent ones roasted just right.
Now that I’ve figured out where to find stuff, I’ve got the routine down and it takes a little less time. Also, I do all of this shopping on a scooter and creatively pack stuff into the seat, in a backpack, and on the floorboard. Shopping for gardening supplies is even more of a challenge. Carrying big bags of soil and bougainvillea plants on a scooter requires real talent!
Life in Taiwan – The Dating Reality
A fact of life that I’ve accepted since moving to Asia is this: I am nobody’s “type”. I will not have a date for the rest of my life in Taiwan. That’s just how it is and I can either accept it or move back to the US on the off chance that someday I may actually have a date. I don’t like those odds…so I’ll just stay here.
Here’s why: most Western men living in Asia are here because they are into Asian women. They believe Taiwanese women are less complicated and less independent than Western women. Ironically, some Taiwanese men think the Taiwanese women are too complicated and too independent so they look to Vietnam, the Philippines, or Ukraine for arranged marriages, kind of an Asian Match.com.
I’ve actually looked at a few of those Dating apps since I’ve been here. They tell me that my nearest match is 5,563 miles away. I deleted the app. I don’t need proof of what I already know: tall, old, blondes are nobody’s type here in Asia!
Life is all about balance and as long as the sunny days and mountain road scooter rides continue to outshine the dateless Friday nights, life as an expat in Taiwan is pretty darn good. I’ve got Netflix and Chardonnay to entertain me and I feel very fortunate to have landed in this version of reality!
My fellow expats – can you add any other “cons” to this list?