For once I am not referring to the age that I am rapidly heading towards but in fact Taiwan and the fact that, at long last, I have finally visited my seventieth country. I say at ‘long last’ because for the past 2 years or so I have only visited countries that I have already been to before (India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia etc) and recently this has started to bug me so when we arrived at Taipei airport I was very happy as it meant I could notch up that elusive big seven zero.So what are we doing in Taiwan and what’s it like???? We are here because it is somewhere neither of us have visited before and as we were ‘in the area’ so to speak we thought we would give it a go plus it is on the way to Japan which we are heading to next.As to what is it like? As we have only been here a few days so far and only seen a bit of Taipei, and a city in the south called Tainan I would like to reserve judgment for the time being. However there are few things that we have observed;It’s really hard to get breakfast (or what we call breakfast) outside of McDonald’s.You get receipts for everything. For example we got a receipt for Taiwan dollar (NT)3. That is about 6 pence. I mention it as you are lucky to get a receipt for £600 anywhere in SE Asia.It is so cold….. only joking, it’s not cold but it certainly isn’t the evil heat that you get in Cambodia and Thailand. You don’t need air-conditioning, we sleep under the sheets and wear socks and jeans – what bliss!!!! There aren’t many tourists here and no tourists equals no low life touts, horrible taxi drivers and most importantly no ‘know it all’ travelers.
Nobody wants to rip you off. There is one price for all and both foreigners and locals alike pay the same.The Taiwanese don’t seem to drink very much booze but on the other hand there are tea shops everywhere.Reading glasses are provided in public places such railway stations in order to help you read the small print on timetables.You get built-in speakers in your seat on long distance buses to go with the movie that is being shown.Everyone wants to help you. There are information centres all over the place and the Taiwanese go out of their way to help you with directions etc. For example we had one guy stop his scooter to give us directions when we were looking at a map. Unbeknown to us, he must have then followed us to make sure we were going the right way as he then re-appeared, got off his scooter and walked us to the location we were looking for then said goodbye and left – what a nice man!Hotels and hostels are expensive for what you pay. Compared to SE Asia accommodation is expensive and not half as good.The Taiwanese eat a lot of weird crap, not sure how easy it is going to be for us to venture away from the noodle shops and McDonald’s??? Until 1945 the Taiwanese spoke Japanese as their first language. More on Taiwan later, once we get to know the place a bit better…..