This summer we spent some time in Taiwan. It was our first time there, so we weren’t sure what to expect other than the famous night markets, bubble tea, lots of great food and the bamboo-shaped skyscraper. Oh, and a cat village! We did most of the things you’re supposed to do as a tourist, but we don’t just remember Taiwan as that place with awesome soup dumplings. Our fondest memories are of the little things we noticed along the way, some of them fun, some a little odd, some a bit of both.
Let’s just start with the bad and stinky before we move on to the good stuff. A fair warning to all the girls out there especially: Taiwanese public toilets are nasty. The first strange thing we noticed was a sign in our hotel room asking not to throw toilet paper into the toilet. Wait, what? Apparently this is a thing in some countries, because old plumbing can’t handle it. This means everyone throws used toilet paper into a bin next to the toilet, which smells exactly as you’d imagine. Another heads up: in some places, the toilet paper is outside the stall, so you have to decide how much you’re going to need before going in to do your business.
Musical garbage trucks
Alright, one more stinky (but not bad) thing. We were walking back to the hotel from a night market one evening, when we heard an ice cream truck coming our way. Except it wasn’t an ice cream truck. It was a garbage truck playing ice cream truck music. After we got over the disappointment of no ice cream, we learned that Taiwan takes its garbage very seriously. Taipei recycles 67% of their garbage, and these musical garbage trucks come to pick up the trash five nights a week. I mean, who needs ice cream trucks anyway when there’s a 7-Eleven on every street?
Metro arrival music
Speaking of music, Taipei’s amazing metro system (MRT) plays soothing, yet mildly spooky music whenever a train arrives. It makes you feel like you’re in a video game.
The coffee houses are super trendy
There are a lot of hip coffee houses scattered around Taipei, all of them very hip(ster). The one that was near our hotel was a Korean one (Caffebene) where you’re happily greeted with an “Annyeonghaseyo!“. You can also order gigantic bingsu and pretend you’re in a Korean drama.
Taipei’s massive underground mall
Connected to Taipei Main Station, there’s a giant underground mall with different “streets” that all have their own themes: clothing, video games, food, etc. The first street we stumbled into was the video games one, with loud arcades and gaming/anime merchandise. I love that there’s no upper age limit on liking toys, figurines and video games/arcade games. We were planning to go back to have a look later in the week, but we never actually found it again. We’ll find it again some day.
The other thing we’ll do when we go back? Eat tons of juicy pepper buns!