I grew up braving the cold weather of Austria, and came to Asia to finally live my dream of living a tropical lifestyle. It is not only the weather that attracts me to stay longer here, but also to maximize my income potential. The term “geo-arbitrage”, which means taking advantage of location in order to take advantage of income-generating opportunities.
I have been to many countries, but I never thought of visiting Taiwan. Since I was going back and forth to Singapore at that time, and I have a friend there (his name is David, you will see him later!), it’s a good enough reason to fly.
I’ll share with you a bit of horrible experience I had before coming to Taiwan. On that day, there was a huge tropical storm. It was expected to be pretty strong. Unluckily for me, I was careless enough not to read the news, so I proceeded to go to the airport. (I had a post of not reading news, but this one should be an exception!).
I am sure you have experienced the agony of waiting at the airport. My flight was originally scheduled at 8 AM, so I have to be there by 6 the latest. Little did I know that my flight will be delayed for more than six hours! I was furious at the counter of my airline, because they didn’t advise their passengers beforehand. Finally, the check-in started about 11 AM; the flight was rescheduled at 2PM. I was having doubts already about this flight because I was seeing “flight cancelled” for all planes flying to Taiwan. And at that time I knew that there was a typhoon. And the only airline flying was my airline. I don’t want to risk my life; so to cut the story short, I demanded the airline to unload me and my luggage. I decided to fly the next day.
Taiwan is very much similar to its East Asian neighbors; it is not actually what you can call a busy metropolitan like Hong Kong and Tokyo. It has a bit of a cultural feeling in an urban setting. For me, cities are always the same everywhere, but Taipei has maintained its distinctiveness despite being the capital.
Taipei is certainly much cheaper than its counterparts, and it is an excellent location for geo-arbitrage. If you are not very demanding, you can get an apartment for around USD 700-800. It is also very convenient so you don’t need a scooter or car; MRT and buses would suffice. Meals are cheap: as low as USD 5-6 for a meal. And there are things cheaper than that of course. It all depends on how you do some trade-offs on things you really need.
I visited my friend, David, on the third day of my stay. He lives in the south, so I had to take the HSR. to Kaoshiung, a big city in the South, takes around 2 hours by high speed train. There are two classes, economy and business class. Because I am a person who hates inconvenience, I took the business class. Bigger seats, no crying kids, less noise, simply more productive travel.
I spent the whole night with David. Kaohsiung is a far cry from Taipei, very provincial. I drove the scooter there, and the traffic is much less worse than Ho Chi Minh.
I went back to Taipei the day after and continued my search on the must-see and must-dos. I read that Taiwan is famous for night markets, so I stopped by the famous night market near my area. Night markets in Taiwan is an area where there are a lot of street vendors, peddling fried food, traditional snacks, clothes, and accessories. There are also games like the mahjong, chess, and a bit of arcade-like video game machines. It is mostly packed on the weekends. So do not lose your cool when you have to fight your way through the crowd.
Food is incredibly delicious and tasty. I can never forget the taste of these heavenly scallions wrapped in bacon. They are barbecued and laden with sweet sauce with sesame. There was a queue of people waiting, and you have to be patient. As you can see in the image below, each piece sells for NT$10, which is around USD0.3. You could really stretch your budget (and your stomach) living here.
Day went so fast, next time I knew it was Monday again and I gotta go back to the grind. I will be back in Taiwan for sure. If you’ve got travel tips or you have been to Taiwan, let me know!