You just cannot get a prepaid SIM card in Taipei - coming from Hong Kong where I bought a SIM card in the Airport 7-11, I was surprised to find out that in order to buy one you need to get a registration card and do a whole procedure. Getting a calling card is simpler - these are sold in convince stores. Of course, you need to be creative about explaining what you want because English is non-existent in most places.
Fun Alternatives: May want to consider getting a calling card - it will work in all public phones with capability of using the card (there is phone number/pin for the card)
If you are not interested in a view from the sky, give taipei 101 observatory a miss. Priced at NT350 per ticket, it is not a cheap price to pay for a view from the sky (unless of course the view is breath taking). Some people may beg to differ, but personally i find the view from taipei 101 overhyped. The only thing which i enjoyed is the ride up one of the world's fastest elvator though.
p/s: There will be an additional charge of NT100 should you want to go up to the 91st floor of taiepi 101.
I went to hua xi jie night market expecting to see rows and rows of stalls selling snake related items but i was disappointed. There were about 3 or 4 miserable restaurant selling snake meat, snake gland wine and snake blood drink and some other eateries selling food. The only snake related performace you'll get to see is a restaurant which tries to show you how a snake dine as part of his sales technique to convince you to purchase the snake gland wines and etc. Visit this night market only if you are interested to eat snake meat. The guangzhou street night market which is adjacent to hua xi jie night market would be a better night market to shop and eat.
p/s: Photography of the restaurant selling snake meat is not allowed. I saw the sign only after taking the pictures. Please do not attempt to take a picture should the owner of the restauant forbid you to.
Make prostitution illegal, it will still exsist. Money will change hands, the crimals will get their hands in on the action/money, etc. Disease can easily be spread simply because there is no control over it.
Legalize prostitution, issue licenses, collect taxes, have required health/fire/safety inspections on the facilities and have workers get health clearance weekly or bi-monthly.
The government will be better off making money and at the same time controlling prostitution to a certain extent.
No matter where in the world -- prostitution exsists. It is a trade of money or goods for sex!
Fun Alternatives: Legalize Prostitution, Issue Licenses to Houses, Issue Permits to Workers, all at a fee. Collect taxes. Keep STD's in check, etc.
NT$4.5 Billion a year
According to estimates by New Party City Councilor Lee Hsin (李新), there are roughly 500 Chinese prostitutes working in Taipei.
The group is estimated to earn NT$12.5 million in profits for the sex industry daily, with each woman seeing about five clients a day at NT$5,000 per session. That works out to about NT$4.5 billion per year.
Most Chinese prostitutes after their arrest are sent to a detention center in Hsinchu, which is officially the nation's only illegal-immigrant detention center for women. There are two other centers for men.
But in recent weeks, due to Ma's crackdown, the Hsinchu center has been packed, and some detainees have been sent to the nation's other two detention centers in Ilan and Matsu.
Before a woman is deported, prosecutors investigate whether she was involved in any other crime.
In the meantime, detainees must wait for the Chinese Red Cross Society to schedule ships between Matsu and Xiamen or Kinmen and Xiamen.
On average, Chinese immigrants are held for roughly four months before being sent home.
According to police statistics, many Chinese prostitutes come to Taiwan through fake marriages or human smugglers.
Liu, who arrived in September, told police after her arrest that her "husband" paid NT$250,000 to a human trafficker for her to be brought to Taiwan.
After arriving, she started to work for her "husband" in order to pay back her fees.
"I need more money," Liu said. "My fake husband said that I have to pay him back so I can keep my own money instead of working for him."
Police say that many brothels use contract taxi drivers, who double as bodyguards, to deliver women to hotels or any location chosen by the customer.
Sometimes, a prostitute marries a driver to receive legal status in Taiwan. But in most cases a Chinese prostitute never meets her legal husband during her stay in Taiwan.
According to the Taipei police officer, marriage to a Taiwan national isn't enough to keep a Chinese prostitute from being deported.
"If a Chinese prostitute enters Taiwan via marriage, no matter whether the relationship is genuine or not, the police will submit the case to the Bureau of Immigration under the Ministry of the Interior," the officer said.
"When the paperwork is done, the case will be sent back to the police again for further investigation," he said. "Then the Chinese prostitute will be deported. The entire process will take approximately five days if the paperwork travels fast."
According to one estimate, roughly 500 Chinese prostitutes work in Taipei,
each seeing about five clients a day at NT$5,000 per session
By Jimmy Chuang
Tuesday, Oct 23, 2001,Page 2
For a 24-year-old Chinese woman surnamed Liu,
it was the opportunity to earn money that brought her
to this side of the Taiwan Strait.
The graduate of Normal University in Sichuan Province
made just 1,000 yuan (NT$4,200) a month teaching
elementary school -- a job many in China consider to be well-paid.
But as a prostitute in Taiwan, she earns considerably
more in just a single session with a client.
On most nights, Liu sees five to six men --
earning between NT$6,000 and NT$8,000 per session.
"Most of these Chinese girls will return to China after they
think they've earned enough money," said a Taipei police
officer, who asked not to be identified. "Very few of them
will quit prostitution and stay in Taiwan afterwards."
According to police sources, more and more women
are coming from China to work as prostitutes.
While there are no hard numbers, one city councilor
estimates that at least 500 prostitutes from China are
working in Taipei today.
A shared culture and language makes China an
ideal source for brothel owners to find prostitutes
to work in Taiwan, police say.
Fun Alternatives: But while the world's oldest profession is nothing new in Taiwan -- barber shops that have never cut a lock of hair flourish around the country -- what is new is a growing intolerance toward the sex industry.
Embarrassed by allegations of police officers colluding with the sex industry, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) -- like his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) -- has vowed to do something.
Earlier this month, Ma promised to rid Taipei of the sex industry within three months.
On Oct. 20, roughly 200 illegal Chinese immigrants were deported from Matsu. Of those, about 50 were prostitutes.
Still, many doubt Ma will be successful in his efforts to drive out the sex industry.
And women's groups such as the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters say legislation should be introduced to legalize prostitution. They say crackdowns will do little but push the sex industry further underground, nor will it solve the problem of police corruption.
Prostitution Status: Prostitution is legal and regulated.
Brothels and prostitutes have to be licensed.
The licensing of new brothels has been stopped in 1974
and licenses cannot be transfered; the government hopes
to phase out legal brothels (and also legalized prostitution
as a whole, since only brothel owners can apply for licenses
for prostitutes). Taipei has removed all brothel licenses as
of Sept 6, 1997 and is trying to close down illegal brothels, but fails.
Licensed brothels in Taipei could be found near one end of Snake Alley
in the district Wanhua when they still existed.
These cater mostly to working class Taiwanese and prices paid are below US $20
I mention this because while walking about the
snake market or Night Market in the wee hours of the night,
we (Mieke and I) were wandering down one end of the Snake Alley,
there were not so many people moving around this area,
we walked down one alleyway and standing outside a
funny sort of done up shack were girls dressed in white,
maybe 25 or 30 of them and a 'Madam' standing at the
back near the door. In 1987 not many backpackers
came to Taipei and we knew of only 2 youth hostels
in the city. We were a couple of young Westerners holding hands.
The girls were fascinated by Mieke having blondish hair
and fair skinned and they had probably never seen a white
European female close up. Some of the girls touched her hands and
1 her face. Jokingly she asked if I wanted to 'pop in', I thought
the situation bizzare, so we both smiled at the girls and
passed on down the alley, realising this was the brothel
area, we turned back into the Chinese medicine alley.
It was a really surealistic evening already without
the addition of the brothels of the girls who might
have been forced into that sad existance and all
dressed like nuns on a day off.
use your imagination or rent a video.
In Taiwan, all money changers, banks charge a minimum service charge for money change.
The rate shown on the board will need to add on service charges for everytime of money changes. The rate can be vary from bank to bank, and the same bank might charge differently at different location, ie. airport or downtown.... the range from NT20 -NT100.
So, it is better to change in big amount rather then a small amount.
Unique Suggestions: Change the sufficient amount at once..... don't think of the better rates in other banks and other days..... you will end up loss most money on the service charge.
The cheapest service charge is in the airport for NT20
Fun Alternatives: ATMs, Credit card withdrawal is very easy and popular in Taiwan
If you think that going National Palace Museum in the early morning and you got more time to see it better..... you are WRONG!!!
As many tour group practice, National Palace Museum trip will be the first trip in the morning. If you are a single traveller, you will caught in the big group again and again in various exhibition halls.... it is too crowded, too noisy, too..... whatever you think of....
Just don't go National Palace Museum in the early morning if you have choice.
Unique Suggestions: Go in the late morning, may be 10am and after... the tour groups had leave and you will have peace of mind to look at the collections in detail.
Fun Alternatives: Well, it is still an advantage I can think of, out of all the disadvantages.
You can listern to the introduction by the tour guide without hiring any guide or rent a audio guide. I think this is the only advantage and you must be lucky enough to meet a tour guide speak your language.
There are always a group of young people (may be different person from time to time) hanging around in Taipei Railway Station, approaching, trying to sell pen,pencil and some other stationeries.
According to them, they are try to sell these stuff for charity, and sometimes the story goes as they are doing job training that they need to finish all the products to get the job.
Well, I am not sure how true is the story, but it is just not my way to help people like this. (Latest news: The Taiwanese Police Department is warning public not to trust them)
Unique Suggestions: Just ignore them and simply say "No"
Be careful of cab drivers who insist that you pay a flat fee. Quite often, they quote too high.
In Wulai, a driver wanted 300NT for a 1.6km trip. He kept insisting that the trip was more than 10km, until we pointed to a roadsign behind him. It says "Wulai top - 1.6km".
That left him speechless and we smiled as we slowly walked to our destination. :D
Unique Suggestions: Try bargaining with them. It'll be good if you can get a rough estimate of the cost from some locals.
Fun Alternatives: If you do not want to get ripped of, either walk to take a bus.
This is the pic on my main Taipei page. All tourists seem to be drawn there and the suprised, disgusted and saddened when they do. YOu can watch many snakes being stuck on to spikes and skinned alive or see turtles with their shells removed being hung alive on hooks while others have their heads chopped so they deficate and their lifeless heads continue to flop around.
You can drink snake blood which is reported to increase your verility. Some local men will drink it and then head off to the local brothel.
As I walked through snake alley I was shocked. I was amazed a t the groups watching these animals tortured and killed. It is all about shock valuue. You will also find many sex shops and chinese doctors who specialize in gentital disgurement diseases...
Unique Suggestions: Visit the temples nearby and have your fortune read. If you are going to watch the action then atleast take part and drink the blood or snake juice. ( I didn't but my friend did...)
Fun Alternatives: If ou want to see a real night market they are all over taipei. The Shilin night market is one of the most popular and has some of the cheepest options.
YANG MING SHAN: Here we are at the fountain...we made the best of the situation...and took billions of different pictures here to make up for the fact that there really wasn't much to see...an artificially landscaped place...