Arts / Culture / Film/Cinema / Food / Luodong / Milk Tea / Taiwan

5 Things that make me grumble in Taiwan

I love Taiwan a lot and there are certainly more things that I like than that I grumble about. That said, there are 5 things that really get me about life in Taiwan. These mostly come from being born and bred as a sensible, picky-eater and weather-conscious Brit.

  1. Scooters Driving on the Pavement

This really comes under a big umbrella grumble about bad driving in Taiwan. It’s not uncommon to see helmet-less scooter drivers running a red light with their family and dog crammed on board too. As hazardous as this makes driving, my real grumble is people driving on designated pedestrian areas. Why drive on the sidewalk when the road is parallel to it? And where are pedestrians supposed to walk scooters are running them down on the pavements? Scooters driving through night markets makes me equally grumbly.

  1. Gloomy Overcast Weather (and no sympathy from the Taiwanese!)

Part of the reason I moved to South-East Asia was to escape the British weather. I am no stranger to grey overcast days and like all Brits, this kind of dreary end-of-the-world weather gets me down. But there’s no conversation to be made about it here! To the Taiwanese, the weather is an irrelevant factor and not a topic for small talk. Cloudy, overcast days make up about 5 months of the year here in Yilan.

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  1. The Bubbles in Bubble Tea

Anyone who knows anything about contemporary Taiwan will know that all the young people are crazy about drinking bubble milk tea (also known as pearl milk tea). While I quite like milk tea, I just don’t understand the fascination with the fatty, starchy tapioca balls (fěnyuán) that block up your giant straw and make your jaw ache from all the chewing. They’ve also been the subject of a few food scandals because of carcinogens. Bù yào fěnyuán, thank you.

  1. Eateries closing early

Taiwan has a huge eat-out culture. Food on the streets and small eateries is much cheaper than cooking at home and a big bowl of noodles will only set you back around NT$60 (£1.20). But everywhere closes at 8pm. Maybe this is just because we live in a small town, as I’m sure Taipei and the larger cities cater for later eaters. But when you finish work at 6.30pm or even 8.30pm then dinner is either a rush or you’ve completely missed it.

  1. I’ve not met a Taiwanese person who likes Taiwan Cinema

Devastating but not unsurprising. After studying Taiwan New Cinema at university with a group of students who hated it, I was sure that I was going to meet proud national cinema enthusiasts all over Taiwan: turns out not. In fact, most people I’ve spoken to don’t even know who Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Tsai Ming-Liang are. Admittedly Taiwan’s cinema is known as ‘the cinema of slowness’ and if you think paint drying is slow, then you have no idea how slow it is. But it has a certain charm.

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6 thoughts on “5 Things that make me grumble in Taiwan

  1. I totally agree about the scooters and the weather. But I’m a bubble tea drinker, so I can’t stand with you on that one! In Taipei there are some places that close early, but more like 9:00pm. Which means you must finish your meal and be out of there by 9. Ironically, I also get off work at 8:30… Fortunately the night market is open late for those who eat all things fried on a stick. But I don’t eat meat, so I just bought a rice cooker last night to solve my dinner dilemma. Anyway, nice post, thanks!

    • Oh man, really!? Bubble tea is so unhealthy! All that sugar and fatty starch.. and the related health scares over it in the past. I can’t bring myself round!

      We’re vegetarian, so we cooked a lot while we were in Taiwan too. A rice cooker would’ve been an excellent investment we decided just before leaving!

      • I’m vegetarian, too! (Vegan, actually.) And I just bought a rice cooker last week! Too funny! I order my bubble tea without sugar or milk, just plain tea and pearls with ice. I haven’t really tuned into the health issues around it, but maybe I should? Yikes! You’re making me think I should do my homework.

      • Wow, vegan, excellent – go you! Ah, maybe just enjoy it as it is and don’t think about it :) Much healthier without the milk and sugar for sure.

        I took a vegan cooking class in Vietnam just this week – was excellent. How long have you been vegan?

      • That’s amazing, really admirable. Yes, I should do! I’m planning on starting a new travel blog after Vietnam, as I’m no longer in Taiwan, so maybe I will then :)

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