The first thing I became aware of was (on my arrival in Taipei ) the strong smell of exhaust fumes in the"air" Taipei is not a pedestrian friendly city..beware crosing the streets even on "zebra" crossings.!! It is beyond my understanding that millions of people would burn toxic money in metal pots (on so many occassions )in a crowded and polluted city (Chinese have strong superstitios beliefs).. this can not be good for the environment. I would not reccomend Taiwan as a good tourist destination, value for money is not there....go to Thailand instead .Related to:
- Budget Travel
Be aware of Typhoons in summer!
The damage of typhoons in Taiwan gets more and more with the global environment change,esp. in south of Taiwan,a popular tourist site,that is , Kenting, where there is a potential danger on a bridge linking kenting downtown and other towns. That means, when the bridge is damaged by wild wind and heavy rains, you could probably be stuck in kenting!
The same situation also applies in "lu dao" (green island), lan yu, and other islands.
Please check the Central Weather Bureau before you go.
Taiwan has a great medical system and if your un insured is pretty cheap to patch you up...compared to most countries.
There is no malaria, sars seems in the past and avian flu is kept at bay and i never heard of it.
The biggest worry is stuff like ecoli. every year i get some form of ecoli and it wipes me out for a week. Its from the foods, so you need to be careful, especially at markets and food stands on the roads, which is likely where you will get it from.
My family that visited got pills from the doctor that were a vaccine i presume, and they never had any troubles for the 3 weeks they were here.
Dengue fever can be problematic. every year there are a couple people that die (old/sick). Mostly in southern Taiwan. It spreads by mosquitoes, so avoid them and your good. i get bit a lot, and never have a problem, but last year there were a couple hundred people who got it (most get better no problem).
Don't drink the tap water. it wont kill you, but may make you sick. bottled water, or boiled water. Rainwater is usually acidic from pollution (mainly in western/northern taiwan), so avoid that as well. better yet, buy tea/juice instead, almost the same price anyway.....
Typhoons come every year, like a hurricane in the states. July to November is the season, but most are in Aug/Sept. Taiwan is quite safe in typhoons, and devastation like you see in China, Philippines and even the USA form hurricanes is just not seen.
you should avoid going outside though, things blowing around can be dangerous.
The real bad thing about typhoons are you cant travel.....it rains, and i mean REALLY rains, and blows hard.....so any sight seeing is ruined. sometimes you can still go shopping and such indoors, but going to and from, use common sense and avoid walking/scooters etc.
They happen. Many small ones. The building structure in Taiwan, although it may not look it, is pretty safe! there was a really devastating one a few years back, but they are rare. I would not be any more worried here than say Japan or California.
Probably good to have an emergency contact or 2, just in case. Even have your embassies phone #.
When the typhoon comes to town...
At first I was worried that my incoming flight would be delayed due the impending typhoon.
When the typhoon lashed downtown Taipei, I stayed indoor like the locals but right after the typhoon, we went driving around to check out the damage. Actually, it is not advisable as there could be broken power lines and better to keep roads clear for emergency operation.
There were many typhoon related scrolling advisories and advisories on all major tv networks, They are all in Chinese as the typhoon approached. So check with the locals and stay safe.
Usually the weather after the typhoon has passed is fantastic - clear skies. Unfortunately due to the damages on roads, it affected my planned trip to other parts of Taiwan.
The same sense of heeding warnings and following the local authorities when it comes to another natural disaster common in Taiwan - earthquake.
Rockslides and Mudslides
Rockslides and Mudslides are rather common occurences in Taiwan's mountains. Heavy rains and earthquakes (especially after 921) have caused many mountain slopes to become unstable. Often, entire mountain sides will collapse, causing roads to be broken and sometimes killing. While your chance of being buried by a landslide is small, all mountainous roads (including Hehuanshan Road, Alishan Highway, and South Cross Island Highway) are possible rockslide areas, often cutting off particular areas from travel. Check before you go into the mountains.
Traffic in Taiwan isn't quite as bad as some areas in America (yet) but it probably will be, soon. The Republic of China is a relatively affluent nation, and soon more people will be driving, and considering how many people there are for this small island, that's scary.
Traffic problems at the present don't deal so much with cars as with scooters and motorcycles. In Taiwan, scooters are everywhere; driving on the same road as those things is hell. Plus, motorists here generally don't pay attention to traffic signals; don't expect all cars to stop at red lights. Drivers are also generally more aggressive here than in the United States. Also, no matter what a traffic signal may say, pedestrians NEVER have the right of way, and don't expect someone on a car, scooter, or motorcycle to stop for you.
Although not quite as frequent as typhoons, major earthquakes in Taiwan are really something to worry about. The island of Taiwan was formed by the collision of the Phillipines and Eurasian Plates, meaning that the island sits right on top of the boundary of the plates. This also means that as the collision between the plates continue, plenty of earthquakes are produced (the earthquakes are what created the scenery of the Zhongyang Mountain Range). Earthquakes over magnitude 7 rarely hit Taiwan, but during the middle of the night on September 21, 1999, a massive earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale struck in Jiji, Nantou County. The Chelungpu Fault, a long fault line over 100 km long, was uplifted up to nine meters, causing bridges, homes, and buildings to collapse. Over 2,500 people were killed by the quake. Taiwan still get's its fair share of earthquakes: Each year, an average of 3.5 earthquakes over magnitude 6 hit the island, and 29 earthquakes over magnitude 5 hit. If you stay in Taiwan for a little while, you're bound to run into at least one earthquake.
Typhoons in the western Pacific are identical to the North Atlantic hurricanes; technically, they are both called tropical cyclones. Typhoon comes from the Chinese word tai-fung (high wind). Most western Pacific typhoons form near Guam, first as tropical storms and depressions. These low pressure systems rotate counterclockwise and eventually develop an eye; some will gain strength, with winds soon surpassing 118 km/hr, making them typhoons. Typhoons in the Pacific are just as deadly as their Atlantic cousins. The naming of typhoons differ from naming hurricanes; although typhoons also recieve names, they are names drawn from a number of names submitted by 14 different nations.
2006 (The last time I was in the Republic of China) was a very active typhoon season. By mid-August, Taiwan had already been hit by four typhoons (Bilis, Kaemi, Baopha, Saomai). Of the four, Bilis did the most damage to Taiwan, causing major landslides and some crop damage; the other three did minimal damage. However, after moving on and making landfall on mainland China, typhoons Bilis and Saomai each became deadly, causing flooding, mudslides, and killing hundreds. Watch out for these storms if you visit Taiwan during summer or early autumn; be sure not to visit seaside or mountainous areas.
Callous regard for animal wellbeing is not uncommon. Street dogs roam in packs in Kaohsiung.
the land of natual disasters.
Taiwan has more natural disasters than any other country in the world. The typhoons cause flooding, so don't ride your scooter during high winds. Earthquakes are common, but usually uneventful. The buildings are build to withstand.
MRT self-serve vending machines for Easy ticket
When you buy store value ticket from those vending macines at MRT stations, make sure you feed the machine EXACT change, even though it may say it will give you change. I was as Ximen MRT (near my hotel at Ximenting), and wanted to buy a store vaue card, minimum value is NTD500. My friend fed it 5 x NTD100 notes and got her card. I fed in 1 x NTD1000 and got my card but NO CHANGE!!!! Luckily it was early in the morning, on a weekday, but after the working peak hours. I had to stand by the machine, and refuse to let further customers use it (otherwise how would staff know the last transaction is mine?), while my friend went to control station and got a staff to come open up the machine. He took out some receipts from the machine, and ask me to show it to Control Station, and the lady there gave me the NTD500 change back. *WHEW*
PS. NTD500 was more than sufficient for our 5D stay, and this includes using it to go Jiufen-Jinguashi, and Yang Ming Shan....Related to:
- Budget Travel
Taipei Main Station
Warning! TP Main Stn is very very huge. If you wish to transfer from MRT to railway, you must give yourself more time to get to your platform.
After buying your tickets (and these are time stamped), give yourself plenty of time to find the correct train platform. It took us a good 10 mins and we walked very very fast, to get onto the platform, from the ticket booth!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Dare to Drive!
Unless you just love major city traffic issues, DO NOT try to drive in the major cities. The traffic is controlled by police but many drivers seem to be in the biggest hurry to get through town. When an accident happens, the local rule of thumb seems to place blame on the largest vehicle involved. So if a bike cycle hids you you are at fault. If you hit a bus, the bus is at fault.
We did not have very high expectations about the standards of accomodation in Taipei and, actually,...more
We stayed in the Ambassador Hotel, Kaohsiung which is located on the Love River. This was a good...more
This hotel is located beside the Sun Moon Lake and each room is equipped with a Hot Spring Bath Tub...more
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