Taiwan Must go
A festival high in the mountains, during which you dress in a full-body rainsuit, gloves, a full-face helmet and drape wet towels around your neck. Why? Because huge structures filled with fireworks are ignited and shot at you, obviously. I went to this and it was equal parts bizarre and awesome.
Taiwan Must do
Night marketing shopping
Try betel nut
Rent a room in a karaoke bar
Taiwan Must eat
Fried fermented tofu with strips of pickled vegetables and sri racha sauce. Don’t be dissuaded by that awful smell. As bad as it smells – that’s as good as it tastes!
Taiwan’s breakfast of champions! A rice flour and onion ‘tortilla’ with fried egg and your choice of American cheese or ham. Dan bing plus a sub par latte costs $1.
Sugar street strawberries
Giant strawberries on a long wooden skewer that have been dipped in a big vat of hot toffee so they have a thin candy shell.
Steamed edamame stir fried with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and star anise. Oily and yummy and sure to make your breath stink.
‘Personal space’ and ‘standing in line’ are concepts that aren’t necessarily recognized in Taiwan – or much of Asia. If you stand more than three inches away from someone, people will believe that those four inches are a personal invitation to them – you’ve now invited them to budge in front of you in he 7-11 line.
Traveling on the cheap
It might seem strange to couchsurf in a country where most people don’t speak your language, but Taiwan is thick with expats teaching English and working in technology – and most of them are fellow travelers who will be thrilled to show you around their local night market. Check out the Taiwan, Ho! message board for more possible hosts.
If you’ve got a decent travel budget or you want something nicer than a stranger’s couch, Airbnb is obviously always an option. This 4 bedroom apartment in Chungli (where I used to live!) is $16 USD per night! If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking.