For a young Filipino adventurer aiming at his or her first-time overseas trip, things can either be exciting or risky. Take note, solo travels are not really my thing, but when I went to Taiwan and stayed there for six days, it’s mindset-changing. Solo travels can actually be exhilarating and safe at the same time! Well, I didn’t really travel solo when I went there, but I’ve become more confident about the idea throughout my stay. One of the core reasons why I could say such is this: Taiwan is such a zone of comfort. No, I don’t mean it’s boring. No, don’t even think of that word. What I’m saying is that once you get there, you might never want to come back to your piled-up desk, again. Simply put, you will definitely fall in love with Taiwan. Why travel to Taiwan? Here are 7 things that make Taiwan such a lovely haven, and why you should consider the country your first-ever overseas destination.
1. There’s just this overall sense of nostalgia
You would immediately sense the stark contrast between the place you used to be and the place you’re now in. Believe me, it’s even unbelievable! The feeling is quite nostalgic. No, I haven’t been there, in person, before January 17, 2018, showed itself on my calendar. But I have been there in my dreams, especially my childhood dreams. You see, I’ve been born in the 90’s. I caught up with the Meteor Garden fever. Although my best friend who was with me on that trip was more of the fanatic one, I was her full-supporter and stage sister. So we shared the same overwhelming feeling when we finally stepped on Taoyuan International Airport. It was my second travel abroad and her first time. I could say that finally getting there by ourselves was already an achievement. That nostalgic feeling of finally stepping our shoes on a place where our childhood idols could have been was just fantastic.
A view inside Taoyuan International Airport in Taoyuan, Taiwan
2. Taiwan is impressively safe and orderly while the residents are naturally disciplined
The next thing we immediately noticed was order. We live in our home country where discipline is still a struggle for most people. When we arrived in Taiwan, the atmosphere is absolutely different when it comes to overall orderliness in the system as well as in personal discipline. Order and discipline seemed all-natural for the dwellers there. I should give a side note on why I used the word “dwellers” instead of “citizens.” You see, even the non-Taiwanese dwellers there have embraced the discipline. They practice what the locals practice. Simple things such as lining up for the transit door or even a specific spot for picture taking – these seemed to be innately embedded in their senses. We may as well call this “common sense” but they have made it such an impressive reality. I couldn’t be more impressed.
You can leave a forgotten car key safe and untouched in Taiwan
What I love most about this seemingly innate sense of order among the people of Taiwan is that it’s quite contagious and it makes me feel safe. Friends we have made during our stay there even testified that one could leave his car key on the car door and no one would find interest in it. The owner, especially if a foreigner, might find that a happy surprise. It has indeed been a happy surprise for me and my best friend. No, we don’t own any car. We simply found it amazing to experience leaving our bags on our U-bike’s basket while purchasing something at a convenience store, and find them untouched even hours after. How amazing it is to experience first-hand the order and discipline of the people in Taiwan!
Traffic isn’t a problem in Taiwan
Talk about “orderliness” in a city and you will not leave the topic of traffic alone. It’s quite different in Taiwan: there seems to be no problem concerning traffic. The streets are wide enough and the routes are clear. No matter what time of day it is, you won’t find jampacked cars or cabs. Truly, having rentable bicycles distributed on certain street corners have helped reduce the number of four-wheelers in highways. Where you typically find yourself locked in the city streets at 6:00 to 7:00 pm in Manila, you’ll already be at your dining table in time for supper when in Taiwan.
3. It’s clean and green everywhere
In partnership with orderliness is cleanliness. I made it a point to discuss cleanliness separately because the subject is simply worth it. Taiwanese are indeed environment-friendly. Waste segregation is definitely weaved into the fabric of streets and restaurants. Except for a few, probably older, corners and streets where cigarette smokers usually let time pass, roads and lanes were all crystal clear of garbage. Even Shilin night market, with all sorts of visitors and vendors around, was a place of purely appetizing aroma because no trash was carelessly thrown everywhere.
Trees abound in streets
A view of a street in Taipei, Taiwan from inside a car
One thing I hate about most large cities is pollution. That is never a problem in Taiwan. Streets, while showcasing how industrially advanced the country is, would never run out of trees and shrubs on the aisles and sides. That is especially refreshing to see.
4. The locals are amazingly friendly and helpful
There was one time when we had to rent a U-bike and we couldn’t use the card because of some activation problem. A couple, with ages around 50’s, voluntarily presented themselves to help. They can’t speak English that well but they were very much willing to give us some aid. They even tried to swipe their own cards if they would work and offered to load our cards when they thought our card balance might just have been insufficient. Still, our card won’t work due to some registration error. They guided us through the registration machine in which almost everything one could read was in Chinese. When we’ve done almost everything we could and nothing would work still, they offered us to use the bike they’re supposed to be renting for themselves and told us to simply come back after we’re done purchasing from the other street.
5. Taiwan is a haven of awesome food even for health-conscious travelers
Travels won’t be complete without food. Taiwan certainly did not disappoint us on this matter, even when we’re vegans. It wasn’t difficult to find vegan and vegetarian restaurants and cafes in Taiwan, especially in Taipei where we’ve stayed the most. Vegan Taipei was a great find. We just loved the pizza and the non-dairy ice cream!
Vegan pizza and ice cream of two flavors from Vegan Taipei in Taiwan
6. Cold weather is totally cool in Taiwan
It was mid-January 2018 when we visited Taiwan and we loved the weather although it was already chilling cold at times. Typically, Filipinos love to visit places where the weather is way cooler than in the Philippines. We stayed at Yangmingshan and experienced a chilling cold temperature of 16°C while doing our dawn devotions and waiting for the sun to rise.
7. It’s VISA-free for Filipinos
Finally, Taiwan is currently VISA-free for Filipinos for a 14-day stay. The VISA-free trial period started last November 1, 2017, and will end on July 31, 2018. Hopefully, the VISA-free offer will continue on so that the opportunities for young aspiring travelers would stay open.
Taiwan Travel: a Worth-It Experience
Traveling from the Philippines to Taiwan was indeed an experience worth all our personal efforts and willing expenditures to get there. If you are planning on your first solo or duo trip abroad, consider Taiwan and you will never ever have any regrets.