There’s a lot of reasons to love living in Taiwan, like the ever-friendly Taiwanese people, cheap food and accommodation, safety, amazing healthcare, $5 acupuncture treatments and the eternal sunshine, to name a few. But here’s why I love living here, and especially in Kaohsiung, which I think has the perfect mix of first-world living balanced with an easy-going edge.
1. My Hood
I live in the Cultural Centre 高雄市文化中心; area (KMRT 06/07) downtown. I absolutely LOVE living here. Maybe it’s because I live down a quaint little street that lights up at night, and the area is filled with eateries, cafes and pretty much everything I need within walking distance. I like that I can walk to the park which is always humming with people walking their dogs or families just hanging. On the weekends, it lights up with craft markets and there’s a definite buzz and an authenticity about it. I love how the corner man greets me everyday, even though I have never eaten at his restaurant, not once. I feel at home here.
2. Massages with No.23
Oh yes, massages with No.23 (aka Louis) are good, very good. So good in fact that a considerable part of my income has gone to funding Louis new noodle shop. He’s a quirky dude, who believes in ‘big’ love and has a penchant for stray animals. He gives a killer back, neck, full body or foot massage. I’d recommend all.
Sadly, due to said noodle business, he’s only doing massages by request. But I’d still recommend having a massage in Taiwan, they are on offer everywhere! Louis’ massage parlour is located here on Linquan street – directly opposite Lahore’s Indian restaurant, with another branch on Lingya 1st Road. 1 hour foot massage (incl. 15 mins neck & shoulders) = NT$350!
3. The Oldies & Me
Early morning qi gong in the park with the oldies leaves me feeling open, free and ready for the day ahead. It’s easy to find a qi gong or tai chi group to join in just about any park in Taiwan, and they love having foreigners, even if the only Chinese you can say is, “ni-hao”.
4. The Great Outdoors
Living in Kaohsiung has reinstated my love for the great outdoors. Probably because we really have it all down here. It’s made me want to hike mountains regularly (Shoushan) even if they’re full of monkeys. Take regular walks (sometimes jogs) around the park – of course I usually go to my local Cultural Centre park, but other favourites include Central Park, Aozhidi and Chengcing lake. Trees, trees everywhere:)
Oh and did I mention we have a beach. Yip, our very own beach, aka Secret Beach, which must be accessed by climbing over or under a fence. All the more intriguing. Ok, it might not be the cleanest water (which I was very happy to swim in before I found this out), but it’s great to have a beach around when you just need some beach time. Very beautiful and swimmable beaches are only a 2 hour drive away in Kenting and Baisha, and who doesn’t like setting up camp on the beach? Also a short ferry ride away is the quaint little island of Xiao Liuqui which looks like a typical Asian city, but down under is a water wonderland waiting to be discovered.
5. $2 Movies
Why not? Watch 2 movies for only $2. Yes please! They’re second run movies, just off the theatre, but they’re good. Bring your own snacks or buy some popcorn in the basement garage. Check it out here.
6. My Ride, Dick
Oh the irony. Yip, that’s the name inscribed on the side of my scooter, which I only realised after I bought, I promise. Nevertheless, Dick is my favourite ally, we go on adventures together. Even though I think I’m going to die atleast once everyday riding around the city, there is nothing quite as liberating as riding up into the mountains, past the beach, wind blowing in my hair; it’s totally liberating and I love it.
7. My Local Buddhist Lunchspot
I’m not mad about traditional Taiwanese lunchbox places, there’s a certain taste to the oil that I don’t like. But luckily for me, just around the corner from my house on Linde Road, is this little gem (directly opposite Sauces House). A family run Buddhist veggie lunchspot that serves fresh, clean-tasting Taiwanese food without that lunchbox taste. My go-to favourite meal is a mix mash of brown rice, sweet potato greens and a fake chicken fillet (probably the best fake chicken you’re ever gonna taste). Also their soup noodles are great, as well as their veggie lunch sets and sesame noodles. Mmm mm mm. It’s cheap too. Here’s a menu with my English notes incase you decide to try it out.
8. Cha, Cha, Cha
Tea makes me happy, it always has, always will. But wow, they’ve taken tea drinking to a whole new level here in Taiwan. My all-time favourite: Passion-fruit oolong tea with coconut jelly from Presotea (no sugar, light ice). It’s heavenly.
9. A Taiwanese Bestie
It’s essential, get yourself a Taiwanese bestie. Without her I wouldn’t have found my apartment, let alone probably even explored the Cultural Centre area. She hooked me up with my scooter; took me to her favourite acupuncturist, dermatologist, dentist and Chinese medicine doctor; taught me Chinese (well, tried to) and showed me her favourite secret spots that only a local would know. My experience in Taiwan wouldn’t have been the same without her. Thank you Camille, you’ve been more-than amazing.
So that’s it, 9 reasons I love living in Taiwan. They all say, “you’ll be back” – I probably will :)