Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top 10 Things I’ll Miss about Living in Taipei

Our time here is winding down.  I’m quickly checking out of Taipei and migrating my thoughts to relocating in the US.  I’m narrowing in on a job and we are searching for apartments in Columbia, Missouri.  Being near to friends and family is an extremely exciting prospect, but I know that leaving Taipei won’t be so easy.  This is a great city that has been incredibly kind to our little family.  We have thrived here and I know we will miss it.  What will I miss the most?

10. Fruit and Vegetables
Fresh greens and ripe fruit all year round – what’s not to like?  My favorite veg is Chinese Broccoli and my favorite fruit is papaya, which I used to despise. 

9. Public Transportation
Cheap, clean, affordable, and far-reaching public transportation that everyone uses.  In my hundreds of trips on the subway (MRT), not once has a train been delayed or late.  Never.  I’ve never had to wait more than five minutes for the next train to come.  The buses and train cars may get a bit crowded on certain routes during peak hours, but people take it in stride.

8. Punctuality
People and activities are on time here.  If someone says “I’ll be there at 1:30”, you better believe them.  I think that punctuality is a sign of respect – showing someone that you value their time and presence, so I always appreciate it when people try hard not to be late.

7. Affordability
Taipei is a world-class city, but even the ritzy parts of town are affordable for part-time teachers.  Eating out, getting around, and renting an apartment are all very affordable.  Compared to major cities in the US and Europe, Taipei is an incredible bargain.

6. Amazing Food
There is a reason why Chinese food is popular around the world – they have spent thousands of years combining flavors to make a universally appreciated menu.  Not only is the Chinese food great here, but there are hundreds of Vietnamese, Japanese, and Thai restaurants all around the city.

5. Parks
We are spoiled.  We live between the two largest parks in the city – Da’an Forest Park and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Park.  Even without these two large green spaces, every neighborhood has its own block-sized park with trees, a playground, and benches.

4. Efficiency
I’m still surprised almost every day by how efficient everything is here.  Hospitals, government offices, transportation, even restaurants – they all operate quickly and at a high standard of quality.  The people here have an incredible work-ethic, and it shows. 

3. Safety
I cannot exaggerate how safe we feel here.  Walking alone at night in a dark park in the city is safe. Random violent crime is unheard of in the city.  I completely take this for granted on a day-to-day basis, so I know that I’ll experience some culture shock when I return to the US and have to worry about theft and other random crime. 

2. Walking Everywhere
We walk to the grocery store, our favorite restaurants, the doctor, the pharmacy, the home-goods store, the post-office, and pretty much every other business of interest.  Most neighborhoods are self-contained units that have everything you need.  Public transportation is great for getting to and from work, but the rest of the day I prefer to hoof it.  This is definitely something that is not possible in most places at home, so I’ll have to get used to strapping Abel in a carseat rather than the baby-carriers every time we need to run to the store.

1. Nice People
I’ve been to a lot of different places in my travels, but I can say with confidence that the Taiwanese are the nicest people I have ever encountered.  Genuinely kind and even-tempered.  There are exceptions to this, of course, but amazingly few.  I could count the unpleasant encounters I’ve had in Taiwan on one hand, which is especially surprising because I moved to their country without speaking a word of their language!  Imagine a Taiwanese person moving to the US without speaking a word of English – I wish I could say that they would experience as much hospitality as I have, but I know that they would not.  The world can learn a lot about manners, kindness, and hospitality from this little island.

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