People think I’m some globe-trotting “road warrior” who can cram 21 presentations across 5 cities in 4 days with nothing more than her laptop, a toothbrush and an occasional stop or two at an airport bar. Sounds quite legendary, but in all honesty I’ve never been further from home than a short trip across the pond.
How do you go further? Take a job where you work with a team of amazing people around the world and find a good excuse to pack your bags. OK, it’s not always that easy, but in my case it worked.
It just happens that some of the incredibly smart, talented and creative people I work with live on the other side of the planet, 12 hours ahead of me, in Taipei. Kinda makes me feel like I’m always late for something. It also means we only communicate via email or late night conference calls. I don’t mind occasionally being able to work in a fuzzy bathrobe and bunny slippers, but it does make it hard to get to know people who are thousands of miles away. Especially when I rely heavily on my over-the-top facial expressions and wild arm gestures to fully communicate my ideas and level of excitement that a smiley face can’t describe. So I asked my colleagues in Taipei to take me in and show me the ropes. Here’s what I learned:
Air travel: longest trip EVER!
- Wear comfy clothes
- Don’t drink too many fluids if you’re in a window seat
- Bring earplugs and mints—for you and your neighbour
- There are more scooters than cars and these scooters can fit entire families on them (also a ladder, mop and bucket, dog, BBQ and pizza)
- Traffic laws are more like traffic suggestions. You just have to go with the flow
- Green lights don’t always mean you have the right of way
- Sidewalks can double as extra lanes when necessary
- Friends will purposely order something strange and mildly grotesque to “test” you
- If they tell you it’s “chicken,” just smile and eat it
- They call it “stinky tofu” for a reason. It’s popular. I don’t know why—it tastes like it smells
- Sometimes your food will still have a face. Just eat around it. You’ll be fine
- Go to Din Tai Fung and order the dumplings. You will never be the same. It’s that good!
- Even when you think the subway is full, it isn’t. There’s always room for 1 more
- People actually respect the rules of the line!
- The subway is the most efficient and cheapest way to get around the city
- Let’s just say it: toilets
- Some of them may look funny
- Approach with caution and remember what you learned camping
- It was the most friendly and safe city that I’ve ever visited
- Tourist areas and transit signs are often in Chinese and English
- Most people speak English, but hand gestures and calculators work in every market
- Always bring a Chinese/English map and your hotel key (it has the address in Chinese) so any cabbie can get you back home
- Night markets, Jade Market, temples, Taipei 101, Lantern Festival, National Palace museum, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and more
- You’ll run out of time before you run out of things to see or do
A beautiful Chinese name given to me by my lovely friends.
Funny, talented, kind, smart, passionate, incredibly hardworking and generally just awesome people.
Taipei is an amazing place. Even better are the friends I made!
Have you traveled anywhere exciting recently? Post your travel photos below. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out PaintShop Pro X4 for even more ways to bring your travel photos to life!