Food is better. Whilst proofing news briefs for a Taiwan 🇹🇼 newspaper, I read a crazy story about how vendors in Beijing were caught stuffing cardboard into dumplings 🥟. People are so poor there and desperate to make a buck that they would put cardboard as a filler in shui jiao. Pretty pathetic! Disgusting and dishonest, too. Never heard people do such things in Taiwan 🇹🇼, where the noodles are handmade and everywhere is offered an astonishing array of fresh fruits and vegetables, many of them unknown to the average Westerner.
People are more honest and trustworthy in Taiwan 🇹🇼. In some of the earliest accounts of Formosa and its inhabitants, the Formosans are always described as very honest people. Today, too, since competition to survive is so cutthroat in China 🇨🇳, even a lot of Taiwanese today seem to maintain a healthy skepticism of Chinese motives.
The Environment is cleaner in Taiwan. China 🇨🇳 is so ruthless and determined to rape the earth 🌎 of all the natural resources it can, that its water 💦 and countrysides and soil are totally contaminated. It seems very dangerous to live in such a densely populated country that holds absolutely no respect for Mother Nature or the Environment. True, in Taiwan 🇹🇼 many of the towns and villages are rundown and shabby-looking. But half the island of Taiwan 🇹🇼 is still fairly pristine – mainly because of the Central Mountain Range, which colonizers like the Japanese discovered how difficult it was to tame the Taiwan 🇹🇼 wilderness. Today, hiking and sightseeing opportunities abound in Taiwan 🇹🇼, and the cycling path network is exquisite, especially through the Taipei area.
Lifestyle is slower paced in Taiwan 🇹🇼. As a good friend described, ‘Taiwan 🇹🇼 is filled with rich farmers driving BMWs in flipflops’. According to this Taiwanese friend, this nation of farmers sold some of their land and made a fortune. Yet they still live simply in Taiwan. In Taiwan 🇹🇼, people still barbecue 🍗 on the streets for national holidays. Compare the teaching schedule in China to that of Taiwan – you will work 40 hours/week in China and 20 hours/week in Taiwan 🇹🇼 – for the same salary.
Foreigners are treated so sweetly in Taiwan 🇹🇼 – it must be one of the few places left in the world where they still seem to like Americans! Must be because US sent ships 🛳 to ward off the Chinese in the Chinese Civil War – the Quemoy Incident, it was called. Or maybe because after the Japanese left in 1949, the arrival of the Americans 🇺🇸 was seen as a liberation – until Gen. ‘Cash My Check’ Chiangmai Kai-shek cracked down brutally on the people of Formosa.
I remember when I was lost downtown, Taiwanese people offered – I didn’t even ask- to help me find the place I was looking for. The lady didn’t even speak English, but she went out of her way and called her sister at home to translate. Once a father with his two girls on a scooter kindly gave me a ride somewhere! How cool 😎 is that!
You can still hitchhike, safely in Taiwan 🇹🇼. A friend and I hitchhiked TWICE from Taipei to Spring Scream – what fun that was!
I found what could only be called ‘Extraordinary kindness’ in Taiwan 🇹🇼 towards foreigners.
On the other hand, foreign visitors to China 🇨🇳 complain they must always be on their guard, for fear of being cheated. In PRC, there are ripoffs at every turn- fake museums, price gouging – all kinds of cheating tactics are found in China 🇨🇳- but not really in Taiwan 🇹🇼.
Chinese people are habitually brainwashed by their government. Even Chinese Americans often spout off about ‘Taiwan is a part of China’- no it’s not. Taiwan 🇹🇼 has been de facto a sovereign country with its own currency, economy and elected leaders for like 70 years now.
I think China 🇨🇳 is just afraid to ‘lose face’ by losing control over what it wants to claim as its territory. They get away with bullying others, and caging a million Uighers in concentration camps in Xinjiang, and oppressing freedom-seekers in Hong Kong 🇭🇰, and destroying the ancient culture and legacy of Tibet. Shame on them! China 🇨🇳 should LEARN from its better-looking cousins in Taiwan 🇹🇼.
Taiwan 🇹🇼 is a free country, about as free as you can get in this crazy world 🌎. Taiwan 🇹🇼 is a GREAT country, too! It’s got the best healthcare system in the world 🌎; it was the first Republic in Asia. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors and martial arts 🥋 experts fled China 🇨🇳 to seek safely in the bastion of freedom that was and is Taiwan 🇹🇼.
It’s safer and easier to travel alone in Taiwan 🇹🇼. As a woman 👩, the only other place in the world 🌎 I’ve felt so safe is Sweden 🇸🇪. I’ve often joked – but this is true: a half-naked foreign woman could stumble home drunk, t+ts hangin’ out, money 💰 tumbling out of her pockets- and she’d make it home safely, no problem.
One refreshing thing very different from the west- men in Taiwan 🇹🇼 don’t catcall or otherwise harass women in the streets. In my home country of USA, lone women at night can pretty much expect to get harassed on the streets, and taken for streetwalkers. It would be extremely dangerous for women to stumble home drunk, alone- she would probably get raped, or robbed, or both.
Taiwan 🇹🇼 is a far more democratic society. The communist state apparatchik still has a stranglehold on all of Chinese society. It is a command society and economy, where ‘Death by 1,000 Cuts’ was still carried out until relatively recently. Just look at how they treat dissidents and critics, and artists. Instead of changing their ways, they still carry out black ops against their intellectuals. It’s holding back the progress of their entire country. They should let go of their stranglehold over the Democratic evolution of other countries, and Live & Let Live.
China has tourist traps; Taiwan 🇹🇼 sports more natural, scenic beauty and the best museum in the world 🌎 for Chinese artifacts. There are so many fakeries in China 🇨🇳 and ways that tourists are cheated, it makes China 🇨🇳 tourism seem unappealing to the extreme. By contrast, every part of Taiwan 🇹🇼 has its gems: Tamsui in the north; Taitung in the east; Taroko Gorge in the south. Backpackers can still roll through Taiwan 🇹🇼; only the most daring of travelers would brave travel 🧳 through China without the safety of a guided bus tour with many other foreign tourists.
China 🇨🇳 oppresses its minority groups; Taiwan’s minorities are increasingly respected. China 🇨🇳 does some crazy stuff to its billion-plus citizens, and its cruel and bizarre treatment of minority groups is appalling – much like America 🇺🇸 these days, and that of course is not a good thing.
Life in Taiwan 🇹🇼 is convenient in every way. I didn’t realize how wonderfully speedy and cheap Taiwan’s WiFi is, 🇹🇼 til I returned to the States and found it is so lousy and expensive by comparison. Taipei is actually the most ‘wired’ city in the world 🌎. Moreover, even little things like the plugs are the same in Taiwan 🇹🇼. And for sure, there is something enchanting in how in Taiwan 🇹🇼, you can buy cheap beer, cheap cigs, even whisky any time of day or night at any one of the gazillion 7-11s on every corner – and like their jingo says: ‘SEVEN-11 – always open!!”
Cost of living in Taiwan 🇹🇼 is still one of the best compared to other countries. Before coming to teach in Taiwan 🇹🇼, I learned from others here how the cost of living is so cheap here in Taiwan 🇹🇼. Everything costs about half as much as it does in America – food, rent, travel 🧳- and it’s been almost the same for decades now, save a little inflation.
One American 🇺🇸 teacher, Stephan, pointed out the salary for foreign teachers also has been the same for about 30 years now – roughly 500 to 600 NT dollars/hr, equivalent to US$18-20/hr, a respectable salary even today.
Standard of living for foreigners is comparable if not better than most other countries. Part of this is because due to the cost of living difference, we are able to save money and travel or pay off our student debts in North America. Education is fairly free in Taiwan 🇹🇼 , by the way; and preventive medicine like going to a dentist is a pittance ($5/visit for a filling!), because Taiwan’s society is highly organized and its leaders for the most part are well-qualified and carry out the public’s best interest.
Any thoughts, comments, cute remarks? Leave them below.
Trista di Genova-CHANG is an honors graduate of UC Berkeley, Oxford University and Taipei Medical University, has written countless features articles for Taiwan 🇹🇼 newspapers, magazines and wire agencies, and has written books – sci-fi, fiction, comedy and poetry. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok: Trista4SheriffAZGov&Prez. Her website is www.trista4change.com. Trista lives in Tucson, Arizona, and runs an eco-ranch with her Taiwan 🇹🇼 dog, Dr Baker.