Our first 10 days have gone by in a blur. Taipei is everything we had imagined and then some. The city streets are constantly bustling with buses, cars and let’s not forget the iconic mo-ped. The city is quite different than our suburban home just outside of Houston. Although city living isn’t a foreign concept for us, it’s been awhile since we called one home.
When it comes to food, we’ve had everything from pizza with cheese and honey to lamb on a stick here in Taiwan. Street food is definitely the easiest and most affordable type of food you can come by and on every corner you’ll find something to eat.
Since most menus in this area (we live in an area not necessarily visited by foreigners) aren’t in English, we’ve found that if we can find a stall with pictures in the menu or we can actually see what’s available, we can point to order! Most of the food stalls are tucked down less crowded streets, so you have to veer off the main drag to find something cheap and yummy. Our favorites so far have been steamed sausage buns and green onion pancakes (as we call them back home) – filled with eggs and sausage/bacon! We also definitely enjoyed the fried chicken and fried sweet potatoes the other day for lunch, but what wouldn’t be good fried? Our least favorite so far was the stuffed purple rice ball. In and of itself it was great, but I have yet to figure out what the little brown fishy squares were. Those I did not care for! We are used to cooking our own food back home in Houston and enjoying the occasional eating out experience, so we’ve learned where some of the grocery stores near us are. We can hit up the huge Carrefour (think French Walmart) by bus, run down the street to the local grocery store or head next door to our apartment complex where the mall has a high end grocery store that sells imported products from all over the world.
Taipei (and most of Taiwan) has a complex but user-friendly public transportation system. Our AirBnb host, who was absolutely amazing, helped us get set up with an EasyCard. It’s card designed to be filled and refilled then used for a variety of things in and around the city including public transport. We even figured out how to refill it by ourselves at the subway station! Ha! So far we have taken the subway all over the city, buses around our area and we’ve worn our good old fashioned walking shoes to get us from place to place. With Google Maps (which will even tell you bus stops and routes), a map of the subway system and websites for all the trains and subways here, we are set!
Apartments are typically listed for rent when they are available, not at sometime in the future. We knew we would have to find an apartment when we arrived. For that reason, we booked an AirBnb for a week near where we had hoped to find an apartment. Our stay there was FANTASTIC! I definitely recommend using AirBnb for a budget option and to support local enterprise since people are renting out their private property for you to stay at, just be sure to read the reviews of the property and the host. We booked an
apartment so we would have a place to ourselves and room to store our stuff! (If you decide to use AirBnb based on my recommendation, please use my link www.airbnb.com/c/tiffanyo965 and we’ll both get a credit to use when booking!) We were able to find an apartment to rent this next year during the week we were at the AirBnb. (It’s actually a wonderful story – we’ll share the long version in a later post!) It’s a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom in high rise. It’s definitely a lot smaller than our 4 bedroom house, but it’s really close to the subway, train and High Speed Rail Station, which is just perfect for commuting to work and traveling!
In all honesty, most of these 10 days have been transitioning to a new country and taking care of necessary business, like checking in at the school, getting (and cleaning) an apartment, exchanging money, going through a health check (that is going to be an awesome post!) for our residency requirements and getting acquainted with our new surroundings. But it has been fun! And we love the city streets, the sights, the views, the mix of western and eastern culture, the international fusion in this city is absolutely amazing! We’ve waited in line for the Mango Avalanche at Ice Monster (check out this article from CNN) and taken the Maokong Gondola to the top of the mountain for an afternoon of hiking and exploring the tea culture in Taiwan. We have many more plans to get out and discover the world that awaits here in Taiwan, but for right now, we’re extremely happy to be settled and unpacked, finally!