Taiwan cost summary

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Taiwan was one of the more expensive places I visited in Asia compared to Cambodia and Thailand, but still much cheaper than Europe of course. Food and drinks were higher in Taipei of course more than the smaller cities. In Taipei, drinks could range from $2.00 to $4.00 US whereas the same drinks or a full plate of food in smaller cities like Kaohsiung would cost $1.50 to $3.50. Our friends went on package tours at the national parks and Green Island which cost a bit more than making your own tour.

 All of the costs are listed below are in US dollars.

Transportation

  • $56.00 for a one-way ticket from Taipei to Kaohsiung on the high speed rail. The ride took 1.5 hours.
  • $22.00 for a one-way ticket from Kaohsiung to Taipei on the slow train. The ride took 6.5 hours.
  • A good bicycle for a day was $3.50 in Kaohsiung
  • Small boat for a 10-minute ride to a small island is $0.50 from Kaohsiung

Accommodation

  • I stayed for free at two friends’ apartments in Taipei and Kaohsiung. In Kaohsiung and Taipei, the cheapest accommodations are $18.00 a night.

Food in Taipei and Kaohsiung

  • Food costs between $1.50 to $5.00 for a meal.
  • Noodle soups: $1.75 to $2.00
  • Dumplings: $0.16 for a veggie or meat dumpling

Tours

  • Tour in Toroko National Park and a shared hostel stay with 4 people: $60.00 per person
  • Tour to Green Island and transportation: $40.00 per person

Total cost for two weeks in Taiwan: $550

Other cost summaries

Global time conversions

Real time bathroom stall updates in the public washroom in Taiwan. Not only is it efficient in Taiwan, you get all the info you need and more.

After traveling around different parts of Asia, there are very different attitudes towards time or a lack of acknowledgement of time. Of course every community has people who are very punctual and people who are very “late” by our Western value of time. But you can definitely feel a difference depending which communities you are in.

Here are some general time conversions as you navigate through different places:

  • 30 real time minutes=30 minutes in Taiwan
  • 30 real time minutes=45 to 90 minutes in Cambodia
  • 30 real time minutes=1 to 3.8 hours in hippy communities
  • 30 real time minutes=45 minutes to “whenever my massage is done” in northern Thailand
  • 30 real time minutes=1.5 hours or “whenever I feel like it” in Laos
  • 30 real time minutes=10 minutes in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is probably the most intense and quickest environment that is most definitely not a zen place to be if you want to relax in the main city. Everything in the city feels so fast and rushed, especially when you’re at restaurants. I remember when I went to dim sum with my family at a restaurant and the second you finish your meal, they yell and rush you out and throw the next plates for the next customers. Any second wasted on us getting ready to go is money being wasted in their eyes.

On the other extreme end of the non-existent time spectrum, you have Laos PDR, which stands for “Please Don’t Rush” as the airport sign told me. Even at a restaurant that has two customers or less, the food can take up to an hour and a half to come out. Service generally happens whenever people feel like it. So assume there will likely be delays in your journey.

 

 

Life after surviving the tsunami

I had a wonderful holiday dinner on December 25, 2013 with my best friend in Taiwan and her classmates in Kiaohsiung city. There were about 25 people in the apartment and we all enjoyed a delicious meal together.

There was a couple sitting beside us a bit away from the group, so I went to introduce myself. The man I spoke with was from Toronto, Canada originally and he had been living in the city for a long time and returns regularly for work. It’s amazing how many people have had incredible experiences that we often will never know unless we have a conversation with them.

We shared some short travel stories but his story of surviving the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries was unforgettable. We didn’t talk for so long but he told me when the tsunami came to his area, people started running out of the building he was in. If he had gotten out just 10 minutes later than he did, he wouldn’t be alive.

When I asked him how it changed his perspective on life he said, “I just don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. Before I used to travel but just for small trips, but now I work really hard for one year to save up money and travel every other year. I have enough to take me around Europe next year so we’re going on a trip. We should do it while we can and see as much as we can.”

Blogging on bathrooms and transport in a land of regulations

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I’m catching up on blog posts I should have posted months ago from different countries over the next few months. I hope you don’t mind.

In Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Thailand, I could get a local phone number for a few dollars and be done. The any rules of the road are governed by the people who are on the road and the speed limits are whatever people feel comfortable with, even if it’s 90 km/hour on a scooter (more commonly referred to as mottos in Asia). So I was a bit culture shocked coming to Taiwan in December, a country with enforced regulations that people actually follow.

After being in Taiwan for a few days, my reaction to enforced rules was:

“What?! You have to show two pieces of ID just to get a phone number?”

“What?! There are traffic lights here and people actually follow the road rules? It takes forever to cross the street.”

But it is refreshing and good to know there are some places with some sense of order.

Well-organized transport

Piano player at one of the train stations. I would love to see more public art and hired musicians in Vancouver, Canada at our bus and skytrain station to complement the wonderful buskers.

Taiwan has one of the cleanest and easiest transportation systems I have ever seen. The train lines, high speed rail and slow trains that connect to different parts of the country make it very easy to travel. This is the first country I’ve seen between Cambodia, Laos and Thailand that really accommodates pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly very well.

There is also great public art and unique designs at the train stations that make the place more vibrant.

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Sign at the High Speed Rail station.

Clean and functionally designed bathrooms

I really appreciate places with smart and functional design and the public bathrooms in Taiwan are among the cleanest and smartly designed. I know it seems weird for someone to write about bathrooms but after doing my business in every type of bathroom you can imagine, you appreciate common comforts like toilet paper.

Just when I thought they couldn’t make the bathrooms any more convenient, anther train station bathroom surprises me because it has real-time bathroom stall updates so you know which ones are free and which ones are occupied. Wow.

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Real-time bathroom stall updates.

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Bathroom at the train station.

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This is the first “help” button I’ve seen in a public bathroom stall. Very considerate. Though aside from an elderly person falling, I’m wondering what other situations would require people to use this convenient feature. Hmmmmmm.

The best automatic dryer I’ve ever used. Your hands are dry within seconds.

Real-time bathroom stall updates in Taipei

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Ha! I’ve been to my fair share of bathrooms around Asia and some have unique features. But this is the first time I’ve seen live bathroom stall updates in Taipei, Taiwan at the metro station. Before you go to the bathroom, you can check which stalls are free by looking at the ones that have a green light.

How proactive of the potty designer.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday by baguette Christmas tree

DSC_0814Ha! This is must be one of the tastiest Christmas trees ever. My friend and I saw this outside one of the bakery shops in Taipei and the sign says, “Please do not sample.” So tempting.

To all my friends and family around the world of all faiths, I wish you a wonderful time with your family, friends, good health, fearlessness, and a positive journey towards your dreams.

Happy holidays.

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