“Tea, dehydration and bathroom tiles”

Since we’ve moved to Taipei in the beginning of January we really enjoy living in Taiwan. We get to learn more and more about this small, interesting and beautiful tea loving nation and to admit, we’ve even become bubble tea fans ourselves!  We’d like to share some of our experiences and peculiarities we encountered.

So far it has been a warm winter and the first typhoon was already heading this way (fortunately it faded out, because the sea is still too cold). Now, while writing this blog ‘luckily’ we can still experience real Taiwanese winter; it has been raining non-stop for over 72 hours and with 10-15°C it’s cold! So cold actually, that due to the lack of indoor heating, everyone wears their jackets inside. But it’s a good thing the first blossoms already start to show and the spring is in the air!

exchange urban life for some diehard nature

Although we’ve only seen a small percentage, we can already tell that Taiwan is a very diverse Island. So far we have seen dense forest landscapes, both tropical and subtropical, high mountains, rugged coasts and beautiful sandy beaches. While Taiwan is even smaller than the Netherlands, you have to travel for hours to get to the mountains (luckily you also pass many different landscapes to get there). It’s nice to explore these scenes in the weekends, when we can exchange urban life for some diehard nature. We did a few hikes in the higher mountains, where we were rewarded with the famous ‘sea of clouds’ in the lower valleys and beautiful panoramic vistas.

In Taiwan you have to be well prepared while going on overnight hikes, as we discovered during our last hike together with Chantal in a quite remote area. We had only one day to walk through steep terrain and ascent about 2000 meters in altitude. Half way up, we set up our tents before heading for the summit again. While going up we needed to drink a lot of water, as it was a very intense hike. Luckily the the map showed a lake close to the summit where we could do a refill…so we thought. In the end the lake was dried up and we had to share 2 liters of water with 3 persons for 1.5 day. When we walked down the next morning we were so happy to encounter the river on our way back, so we could hydrate again and enjoy a few celebratory cups of coffee 😉 There are hardly no provisions or huts in most mountain areas, so you really rely on your own. Next time we will be better prepared! Also, you need to apply for mountain permits, which is a good thing, since the foresting department can keep track if you’re back in time. As a plus, it is less crowded on these permitted summit tracks.

Although exploring these landscapes could take up all our time, we’re also very busy with job searching, interviews and PhD related work. Erik had one job interview so far and Viola is reading lots of articles. But we won’t bother you with that now.

it must look like Russian to you!

And then, off course, there is learning Mandarin! When Viola first came to Mandarin class and opened the book, the teacher saw here disturbed look and said with pity in her eyes “it must look like Russian to you!”. Then Viola told her it looked like Chinese to her…. The teacher didn’t see any problem with that. At least, we already have Chinese names! Viola now is known as An Wei Na (安薇娜) and Erik a.k.a. An Rui Ke (安瑞克) (Iglesias). Viola needed a Chinese name to apply for her ARC, so some professors helped her find a suitable name and Erik’s name, well… it’s just phonetic. This chinese name is quite essential, as you are constantly asked for your Chinese name. You even need a stamp with your name to approve official documents, and for opening a bank account.

a diverse display of bathroom tiles

At last an update about our living situation; within the first week we’ve found a room in an apartment in the Da’an District. A very central place and lively neighborhood, close to the big Da’an park, where you can encounter many birdwatchers with their impressive tele-zooms and where Tai Chi is a morning habit of the locals. We also worked on our chopstick skills by exploring lots of night markets and other food options. But more on food in our next update (there is so much to tell about food in Taiwan!). To finnish, a free tip: If your planning to rebuild your bathroom and didn’t pick tiles yet, you definitely have to come to Taipei, since the architecture here can be best described as a diverse display of bathroom tiles. If you’re used to public swimming pools, then you feel right at home!

Greetings from Taiwan, and  since we entered the year of the Pig in February … happy pig year everyone!

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  1. George de Vries says:

    Wat weer een grenzen die verkend moeten worden.. Leuk geschreven en fijn ook om een beeld te krijgen van hoe jullie daar leven.

  2. George says:

    Mijn tekst is verhaspeld..