Wednesday, November 30, 2005 

Land of Convenience


Taiwan has the Asia and possibly the world’s highest density of convenience stores per person: one store per 2,800 people. It also has the world’s highest density of 7-Elevens per person: one store per 6200 people. In major cities such as Taipei or Kaoshiung, you can find a convenient store, or two, everywhere you look. In fact, there are intersections with two or three convenient stores within a few hundred feet. Convenient stores in Taiwan not only sell food and drinks as well as magazines and amenities, but they can also serve as banks, government collection facilitys, and credit card institutions. They are also open 24 hours, making them the ultimate convenience. Where else can you buy a computer game, pay your credit card bill and your traffic ticket as well as grab a hot coffee and buy more minutes for your cell phone?

Monday, November 28, 2005 

Languages

Anyone born after the 1950s can speak Mandarin as it was forced on the population by the KMT that arrived in Taiwan from China. It is the language used in schools for the past 50 years. When the KMT arrived, they enforced Mandarin and outlawed the Taiwanese language in most settings. However, nowadays, many languages can be heard throughout Taiwan. While everyone speaks Mandarin, a majority also speak Taiwanese and others speak Hakka, another dialect. In addition, those who lived in Taiwan during the 1900s-1950s know Japanese, as it was taught by the Japanese who controlled the island during this period. Today, all schools teach English, resulting in a diverse trilingual population.

Monday, November 21, 2005 

Flying to Taiwan



The flight across the Pacific Ocean is at least 10 hours. From Los Angeles, California to Taipei, Taiwan is approximately 12 hours. If you fly from LA to Osaka, Japan, then transfer and fly to Taipei from there, that trip will add another 3 hours of so, not including connection layover. Imaging having to fly from Chicago to LA, then from LA to Osaka, and finally Osaka to Taipei. That trip will practically cost you an entire day! And what if you flew from New York first??? Not to mention, Taiwan is between 10-13 hours ahead, depending on what time zone you live in. By the time you get on an airplane and arrive in Taiwan, you will have theoretically lost almost 2 days of time.

I've flown Northwest, Japan Airlines, United, and EVA Airlines to Taiwan. No particular differences are outstanding, but I do believe Japan Airlines offers a little better service.

And remember, bring an empty suitcase so you can fill it with plenty of souvenirs on your way back!

Thursday, November 10, 2005 

Getting Around the Capital City


Taipei, located in the northern tip, is the capital of Taiwan. The city now boasts the tallest skyscraper in the world with Taipei 101. To see this attraction along with the other sights and sounds of Taipei, the easiest mode of transportation is the relatively new MRT subway system. Completely within the last few years, the system is already proving its effectiveness and appeal. Not only has it become the main mode of transportation for workers, students, and everyone in-between, but the system demands exceptionally clean facilities and ease of use for native Taiwanese as well as foreigners. The best quality of the MRT system? When it’s 98 degrees Fahrenheit and 100% humid, which is every day in the summer, it has to be the air conditioned rail-cars!

 

Geography/Climate


Taiwan is located off the southeastern coast of China, south of Japan and north of the Philippines. The island is surrounded by the Taiwan Straight to the west, the East China Sea to the north, the Philippine Sea to the east, and the Luzon Straight to the south. Covering a total area of 13,800 square miles, Taiwan is characterized by mostly mountainous terrain on the eastern half and rolling plains in the west. As for climate, Taiwan experiences marine tropical weather with a rainy season in the summer. For more information on geography and climate.