Taiwan Blog: A Year in Taiwan

Taiwan Travel Blog

I’ve officially been living in Taiwan for over a year now. Last spring, I applied for and was accepted into the Taiwan-United States Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA) program. Originally my intention was to stay for two months so I could finish the foreign language requirement for my master’s degree and then go back to the US. The goal of the TUSA program is that, “Upon returning to the United States, students will be expected to act as ambassadors of good will for both the United States and Taiwan whenever the opportunity presents itself.” Unfortunately for TUSA, I liked Taiwan too much and decided I would rather stay here than go back to the US.

To be honest the decision wasn’t that hard. On the surface the US seems like a prosperous, wealthy country, but in reality there are a lot of issues: racism, income inequality, lack of affordable healthcare, gun violence, climate change denial, measles outbreak (why?), etc. Taiwan has all the benefits of being a developed country without a lot of the issues that exist in the US.

The quality of life in Taiwan is on par with and sometimes above what you can find in the US, especially if you come from the Midwest, like I do. I live ten minutes away from the ocean, have access to a high-speed rail that can take me from one side of the island to the other in a few hours, an hours drive from the beautiful scenery in the mountains, great public transportation, no crazy white people with guns, and universal health care coverage. I’ve had a lot of great experiences in Taiwan so far and so I’ve broken it down by months.

June

View from my dorm at NCKU
Same view but while it was raining

We arrived in Taiwan at the start of the East Asian rainy season. It basically rained everyday for the rest of the month. I’ve never experienced this type of rain before so I wasn’t prepared to handle the torrential downpours that occurred throughout the day.

The popular food street by NCKU
The Artful Dodger, cool Western owned bar and restaurant.
Some of the best Carne Asada I’ve had, at the Cocina Quesadilla.

Trying the different food in Taiwan is one of my favorite things to do. I have Celiac disease so it’s hard for me to try everything, but I’ve found some great food here that I can eat without worrying about getting sick.

The Shanhua Sugar Factory in Tainan.
The Sicao Green Tunnel

This was one of the first trips that the TUSA program took us on. We went to the Shanhua Sugar Factory near Annan and visited the famous Sicao Green Tunnel. Unfortunately when we went, the weather wasn’t great and we ended up getting rained on.

Anping Old Fort
Anping Old Fort
肉粽子
Me during my first Dragon Boat Festival

As I mentioned before, I wasn’t prepared for the rains here in Taiwan. I got caught by one of the strong rains wearing sneakers. I’ve since learned the importance of having a pair of flip-flops.

Taking the ferry to Cijin Island
Cijin Island

This was the first time I visited Cijin Island. It’s a popular spot for tourists, especially foreigners, because it has a bar near the beach. Personally, I think it’s overrated. The beaches I’ve visited in Tainan are much better.

July

Fulong Beach
Frogs at the Taipei Zoo
Amazing sushi at a restaurant in Taipei
First time visiting Taipei 101

At the beginning of July, the TUSA group went to Taipei for the weekend. My friend Stefan and I visited Fulong beach during the first day and had some great seafood. The next day we went to the Taipei Zoo and went to an amazing sushi place for dinner. The day we were supposed to leave, we stopped by Taipei 101. Unfortunately it was cloudy so I wasn’t able to get very good pictures.

Visiting Kaohsiung and Cijin again
View from Cijin looking towards the Sun Yat Sen University and Monkey Mountain
Looking towards Kaohsiung
Po Wei and I

Po Wei and I went to Kaohsiung for a day trip so he could show me some of the sites. It was one of my favorite days in Taiwan. He showed me some famous food spots, Pier 2, and tried to see some of the monkeys on Chai Shan. It was only topped by our trip to Xiaoliuqiu Island.

On the ferry going to Xiaoliuqiu Island
The water was crystal clear
The famous Vase Rock on Xialiuqiu
Stefan, Po Wei, and I about to go snorkeling
Dinner at the BnB
We met some of Po Wei’s friends and went to Chai Shan
Saw a lot more monkeys this time

All three of us went to Xiaoliuqiu for the weekend. It was a great time because all three of us could go. We went snorkeling and saw sea turtles, clown fish, and other sea creatures. We drove electric scooters around the island, ate mango ice cream, visited the haunted ghost cave. Then capped it off by drinking and talking at the edge of the island looking towards Kaohsiung.

After we took the ferry back to Kaohsiung, we met up with some of Po Wei’s friends and went to Pier 2 again. We also went to Chai Shan to see some of the monkeys and this time they were everywhere.

At this point I had already been visiting different English schools around Tainan. I had a few offers available and knew that I would be able to stay after the semester ended. So I started looking for a place to live in after I had to leave the dorm.

August

Farewell dinner
Farewell Dinner with Stefan, Po Wei, his girlfriend, and Jin

We all met up at 逐鹿炭火烧肉. It is a BBQ restaurant which offers free food for an hour after your first order. It’s still one of my favorite restaurant in Taiwan. The food was great and the restaurant had a great atmosphere.

My new room

It didn’t take me long to find a place to stay in Tainan. I tried to find a room near the bus line that took me to work. This one was in a great area and right next to the bus stop.

Stefan buying this HSR ticket to Taipei
Stefan heading off to Taipei

This was the end of the TUSA program and the beginning of my new life here in Taiwan. I started teaching at the school shortly after.

First morning after sleeping in my new place
Sunset Tower at Yuguangdao
Visiting Xiaoliuqiu for the second time
Anping Tree House

The rest of August, I spent getting used to my new life in Taiwan. I visited Xiaoliuqiu again with a friend. Spent time swimming and relaxing at Yuguangdao. I also visited the Anping Tree House for the first time.

September

Flying to Okinawa
Park in Okinawa
The Okinawa Shisa
Relaxing at the beach in Okinawa before my flight back home

I had some difficulty getting my ARC in time before my visa ran out. So I had to make a quick visa run to Okinawa. It was a short flight and I got to spend some time in Japan. My first observation there was how developed the culture is. The arts scene is really strong in Japan and I definitely want to go back to experience more of it.

Visiting Kending for the first time

This was my first time visiting Kending. I went down there quite a bit the next few weeks. It’s really beautiful, but also a little too touristy for me.

Brazilian Jazz Trio at Seety

I’ve written about this concert at Seety. You can find the article here. Really enjoyed this trio, they did a great job covering some Bossa Nova classics.

October

View from my place in Kending
Gangkou Beach
Another shot of Gangkou Beach

One of my friends was living in Kending so I was able to stay down there during the weekends. It was a nice change of scenery from being in Tainan all the time.

Chihkan Tower (Fort Proventia)
Eternal Golden Castle (Gate)

In October I bought a point and shoot camera so I could start taking higher quality pictures. I spent a lot of time walking around Tainan visiting important cultural sites in the city. You can see a lot of the pictures on my Instagram @Taiwanforeigner.

November

Walking back from the beach you can see Anping Fort rising above the buildings.
Wusheng Night Market Vendor
Blue Park Cultural Zone
Temple in Taipei
Mother and Child near the Moon Man
Jingzijiao Wapan Salt Fields

I spent most of November walking around Tainan. I did go to an EDM Festival in Taipei that month though. The festival had one of my favorite artists, Aly & Fila, who I was able to see live for the first time. The weather was still great here so I would walk to Anping on my days off and visit the beach. I also got the opportunity to visit the Jingzijiao Wapan Salt Fields. It was a cool experience and makes for some great photos.

December

Mazu in the Grand Mazu Temple in Tainan, Taiwan
First time visiting Taichung
Rainbow Man in the Rainbow Village

I went on a weekend trip to Taichung and Taipei for Christmas. The Rainbow Village was a really interesting place. A resident started painting his old village in order to prevent it from being demolished and now its one of the most famous places in Taiwan.

Celebrating my first New Years in Tainan at the Taikoo bar

January

Spending some quality time on the toilet in Danei

I didn’t do much in January besides visit Danei and work.

February

Beishan Village
Some of the food I had for Chinese New Year
Me pondering my new existence as a fat man
Me embracing my new existence as a fat man
View from the mountains in Nantou

Last February I was able to experience Chinese New Year with my friend’s family. They were really welcoming and kept insisting that I eat more food, which I couldn’t refuse because it was so good. I think I gained 10 lbs in three days. I enjoyed spending time with my friends family. It reminded me of how my family used to be before everyone moved to different states.

March

Got a scooter!
Got into a scooter accident!

In the span of a month I bought a scooter and then got into an accident. The accident wasn’t my fault though. A high school student made an illegal left turn and I collided into him. I did a flip in the air and landed on my back. Luckily I wasn’t hurt too bad and my head was saved by my helmet. The scooter repair shop let me borrow an old one while mine was being repaired. I wasn’t able to travel very much so I just went to the beach for most of the month.

April

Started playing World of Warcraft again

Broken scooter and started playing World of Warcraft again so I didn’t travel much.

May

Moon World
Niupu Mudstone Water and Soil Conservation Educational Park 
Small Shrine in the middle of the mountains
Tainan Skyline

After getting my scooter back I decided to try driving out into the country to visit some of the cultural sites on my list. The first location I visited was Moon World in southern Tainan. I went on a rainy day so the bad lands weren’t dry. This is what makes the mountains look like they are from the moon. My favorite trip was the one to the Niupu Mudstone Park. I got super lost trying to find it using my Tainan app. I ended up down in the mountains surrounded by a bunch of mango and chicken farms.

June

Batcave Waterfall
Luerhmen Mazu Temple
Beimen Crystal Church

I spent the first part of June driving to Beimen and some waterfalls in Nanxi. Unfortunately the heavy rain season has begun and I don’t have as many opportunities to go on weekend drives.

Looking Forward

I’ve set a number of goals for myself this year. I want to continue writing articles for this website and keeping everyone updated about my life here. I was lucky enough to be placed in the Top 5 Taiwan Travel blogs on Feedspot. Last week I bought a GoPro so I can start motovlogging. I plan on recording my trips around the island and even have plans to ride my scooter to Taitung.

Anther goal I’ve set is to buy a Jeep so when my friends and family visit I can drive them around, making everything a lot more convenient. I’ve also been thinking about purchasing a SYM Wolf motorcycle. It’s 150cc and a little more comfortable for longer trips.

My last goal is to get a Taiwanese style sleeve. I’d like to incorporate the Anping Lion into it since that area means a lot to me and is one of my favorite areas in Taiwan.

I’m looking forward to my next year in Taiwan. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough time and try to take in as much as I can everyday. When I first decided to live here one of my friends mentioned that I might just be in the honeymoon phase with Taiwan. But after a year, I still feel the same excitement and happiness that I had a year ago. When I wake-up and go exploring, I still get blown away by the scenery here. I’m a lot more accustomed to life here now so some of the awe has gone away, but when I get into the mountains or see something knew it all comes back.

2 thoughts on “Taiwan Blog: A Year in Taiwan”

  1. Really glad you love Taiwan. You have very good photos and posts about culture/view. Wish you have more and more wonderful trips in Taiwan.

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