Archive for Taiwan

Leaving Taipei – What I will miss..

I had more twists and turns in the last one week than that ever happened in the past 2 years. What was the last assignment in Taipei and my current company actually became the stepping stone to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move on. I would be leaving Taipei for Kuala Lumpur. I dont know what is in store for me but leaving Taipei would be difficult especially when I was getting into the groove of Taipei life.

There are some things I will miss once I got out of Taipei..

1. The lovely people who would step in to help you when you need, although shy because they dont much English

2. ‘Real’ Chinese cuisine – eat as much as you like without feeling the guilt of adding weight…just vegetables and natural spices with a small bowl of noodles

3. Those spectacular live-music pubs in An-ho lu especially China Pa.

4. My soliloquies along the Xindian River while jogging over the length of the River Park

5. Those inquisitive Taiwanese asking questions about India

6. The spacious city and well paced life irrespective of your ignorance of the local language

7. Last but now the least, the beautiful and well dressed girls in Taipei ..you would miss them once you wear your ‘Chinese Goggles’

I will miss you Taipei!!!

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Indians in Taipei

There are few things Indians should know when they are living in Taipei – whether they have come through their companies or on their own.  I have been involved in setting up the branch of our company and there are some things I learnt which I  want to share with you guys.

1. Indians cannot get a landing visa. You need to come with a Business / Visitor Visa

2. India does not consider Taiwan as a country and officially treats it as ‘Renegade State of China’. Nevertheless, we have good relationship with Taiwan. India Taipei Association is the de facto Indian representative. It is located on the 20th floor of World Trade Center (Near MRT: City Hall – Blue Line). Please visit the Director General in case you have any troubles or want to clarify on your visa.

3. There is an orkut community for Indians in Taipei,  Click the link to join

4. There is an Indian store called Trinity close to Gate 4 of Blue line MRT: Taipei City Hall. One can get Indian sweets, spices, snacks and Hindi movie CDs.  The address is M/s. Trinity Super Stores, / F, NO : 137, Chung Shiao East Road, ec 5, Taipei,Taiwan

5. Dont worry about vegetarian food in Taiwan. 8 months and no kitchen, I am happily settled eating Chinese veg.  Message me for more details.

6. You can get calling cards for calling up India at rates as less as 6NT per minute. Leave me a scrap / comment to get more information on this.

7. Indian communities are concentrated in Taipei, Hsinchu and marginally in Taoyuan.

8. For Indian restaurants in Taipei visit https://wannderer.wordpress.com/2006/09/20/indian-restaurants-in-taipei/

Indians are really respected in Taiwan because of our ‘intellect’.  Although the brown skin may not help you score in the discos, it is highly respected and hopefully you would rise up to the level of respect we get here.

Taipei is a great place, have fun!

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Cheers and Beers Taiwan

One place that most Taiwanese have complimented me to to have introduced them – Cafe Odeo. I am so glad to show a Taiwanese a new place that they never knew existed but loved to be there again. Cafe Odeo is a great place for beer. One would go to that place as a connoisseur than as a drunkard. The place as hundreds of beers – just beers from all over the world including the dark ales, fruit-flavoured beers and light beers.

How to reach the place? Get off the Gongguan MRT station, at the gate closest to NTU. Cross the road to the opposite side of NTU gate. Walk till you see the church on your right and then turn left. Walk straight and look for Cafe Odeo to your left. There you are are!

I usually prefer ‘smoked cheese and biscuits’ with my drinks and mind you, it is not on the menu. You need to ask for it. The place is a nice place for the NTU students to congregate.

Another place is ‘Peshawar’ in ShiDa night market. I have never seen the place, but my friend recommended me that.

Cheers!

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Chinese Goggles

I was discussing with Scott my first experiences in Chinese world (Taipei) , he introduced me to a term which in succinctly summarised what I described for 1 hr – Chinese Goggles.

The first problem was that it was difficult to distinguish one Chinese from the other. The only parameter perfectly discernable was the height. I couldnt stand (no offence) the skinny bodies. The following fortnight I went out with my partner and his friend who was apparently Ms. Taiwan couple of years ago. Honestly, even a couple of Jack Daniels couldnt convince me that she was beautiful.

A month or so after landing in Taipei, my eyes started recalibrating to appreciate the Chinese beauty and 9 months now, I wish I got for a drink with that Ms.Taiwan again. Its too late though (thats a different story now)

The Chinese skin is amazing and faultless thanks to the good and fresh food they eat. They have one of the healthiest eating habits in the world. Due to less intake of sugar, oil and red meat and good genes reduce the risk of gaining weight. But these days, thanks to Americans invading into the pristine eating habits, the weight advantage is decreasing.

Taiwan is still better, girls are dressed much smarter than in China. They show the right amount of skin – not too much to look indecent, but enough to highlight the beauty.

OK, OK! Cant say more than this because I am neither drunk nor in private. Under exactly opposite situation, I could give more in-depth (academic) analysis.

Before I conclude, I can only say I will miss all of these when I go back to India. Never before I had seen such a huge density of beautiful girls! Hail Taipei

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MRT – The Lifeline of Taipei

MRT LogoWe take some things in life for granted; for Taipei, its the MRT. MRT MapOperational for almost a decade now and in many ways has transformed the city of Taipei and made it the modern metropolis as it stands today. Life, residents claim, was different then.

With a characteristic red-blue-orange-brown-green coloured ‘map’ crudely depicting the layout of this efficient mass transport system, MRT is a blessing for commuters and tourists alike.

<Click on the map for Romanised names of stations>

The MRT network coupled with the bus network makes point-to-point movement very simple in Taipei. Almost ALL signs in the MRT stations have English signs make it easy for foreigners. One needs to figure out the right MRT-bus network to get to the place of work and then more often than not, it works out better than taking a cab, in terms of time. Taipei MRT has more than a million ridership per day with a low on Sunday.
For the tourists, the MRT stations offer excellent tour guides which contains a clearly devised half-day or whole-day tours in and around Taipei using the MRT; also mentioning the connections toward the later leg of the journey. Even ‘faraway’ places like Yuanshan, Bali, Muzha etc. is accessible through the MRT, albeit with further connections. Tourists SHOULD NOT miss picking one of these brochures / tour guides. What else, bikes (bicycles) are allowed on the Red/Orange/Green lines which have the most beautiful sights enroute.

Wherever you are wandering, just find out the closest MRT to your hotel / hostel, so if you get lost when you are randomly exploring the city, you just need to look for this symbol and there you are back to a ‘familiar place’

The blue line is relatively boring because it is underground, nevertheless connecting most of the populated areas. The brown line is completely elevated and takes you right through the city. Red (Orange/Green) line is my favourite and its the most beautiful line. Its mostly underground and gets out into the open after Minquan (W) and then the view changes. Instead of the boring station scenes, one can seen the beautiful mountains. Passing the stadium & gardens in Yuanshan, Shilin night market in Jiantan, hot springs in Beitou and finally Danshui where all the elements of the nature meet.

The MRT stations are all designed for easy movement of disabled people including ramps, toilets, doors etc.Lift for the Disabled

Even if you are traveler for a week, get one of those MRT cards which can be used both in the buses and on the trains, costs NT$100 which is just the deposit. Just flash the smart card and leave the machine the burden of determining the fares and you walk away.

Other Links

1. MRT Tourists information http://english.trtc.com.tw/travel95.asp

Click on images to get full-sized view

Next>>Random Trips on the MRT

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Taimali – The Millenium Sun-rise Point

The 5-day weekend was well spent with my 3-day vist to Taimali/Taidong. Thanks to Wayne who drove me all the way down south to Taipei to his guest house in Taimali. Taimali’s claim to fame is that its the eastern-most point and shot to fame during the millenium’s first sunrise. If you see a flat map, it isnt obvious that Tai-mali is the eastern most point but curve of the globe does all the magic in putting Tai-mali close to the sunrise.

Not marketed well for the foreigners, Taimali is a place not to be missed if you know some local. It is the home for several tribes, the prominent being Paiwan and ***. Taimali is less than 10 km from Taidong city and has its own railway station. The guest house I stayed was located in the settlement area of Paiwan tribes and it was a feast for the eyes with tradition and modernity blending smoothly.

Taimali guest House Chief House Traditional Wall Painting

1. Guest House 2. Tribal Chief’s house 3. Traditional Paiwan painting
You can drive down Dawu Mountain Nature Education Center which showcases the local flora, fauna and the tribal culture. You can relax in the hot springs attached to the education centre.

The shore-line in Taidong/Taimali is clean, less crowded and beatiful. On a clear day, one can see Green Island across a patch of Pacific ocean. I didnt get a chance to visit Green Island.

Approach: Taimali is a station before TaiDong. The best way to travel is driving down south.

To Dawu Mountain: By Car – On the National Route 9, turn right at 414k towards Jinlun Hot Springs and drive 2.5 k in that direction to arrive at this place

Bus: From TaiTung City: Ding-Dong Bus (Mountain or Liqiu line) to Jinlun Hot springs stop.

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The West , The Chinese and the Indians

This is continuation of my earlier blog on comments on article by Gentle Rain (GR).

I kind of agree with him when he says about the way the westerns and the easterns think (he has extended the courtesy of identifying the indians uniquely).

The ease with which we Indians have adopted to the western thinking is several times rightly attributed to English colonialism (Related Who is an Indian ) , I think it is more deeper than that. I am sure that the Chinese wouldnt transition to western thought or English, as easily as we did. My premise is language is culture and culture is language – existing in symbiosis.
Indian thought and languages have evovled over milleniums and is based on very logial constructs as much as abstractions. Sanskrit, the mother of almost 80% of Indian languages is considered the most(sic) perfect language. As logical as it gets, a good deal of abstraction and complex patterns are embedded in the works written over centuries.

English (proxy for western thought) joined this league as late as 15th century while rennaisance happened. Science and mathematics was suddenly revived after centuries of interlude between Pythagoras and Galileo. The language and hence the culture (or is it vice-versa) evolved both in logic and abstraction because of the increasing need to express things in a written format.

Indians follow the same thought pattern and it is easy to absorb the western culture (Do we need to do it? is a seperate question) and hence English (call centres, anyone?)

Its not gonna be a easy ride for the Chinese. I feel the Chinese (like their language) think very abtractly and less in logical patterns. Their structuring of though (and language) cannot be directly correlated to English. The fundamental fabric of the thought and culture is different, and it is going to be a challenge to adopt English language and western thought patterns.

Another angle of Chinese thought is that it is a Confusian society – top down. There is little room of individuality and relationships are very complex. It is unthinkable for the Chinese to challenge authority (on an average).

<Sorry for the abdrupt end>

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