Convenience of Taiwan
The convenience of Taiwan is something that is commented on by many that travel and live here. The backbone to this is how well designed and efficient the transportation services are on this small island, something that really came in handy on a recent trip I took to Taichung.
The performance my friend and I were watching was “13 Tongues” or 《十三聲》 produced by Taiwan’s famous Cloud Gate theater. Also, since tickets were sold out in Taipei, we traveled to Taichung to watch the performance – another great excuse to do some traveling.
Buying tickets online was incredibly easy and in order to pick them up I simply needed to go to one of the countless, literally countless, convenience stores, show them my card and pick them up – one of the many services they provide (they even receive your packages!).
Once the tickets were purchased it was time to decide how to get to Taichung; bus or train. Train would be a bit more expensive, but incredibly fast, smooth, and would avoid traffic. Bus is much cheaper, a little bumpier, add in the traffic, but the seats are just as, if not more, comfortable than the train.
So when you’re not particularly in a hurry or if you plan ahead of time the bus is good option. Plus, I’m not the kind of person who likes to rush around from place to place so the bus worked out just fine for me. Good thing my travel partner was of the same mindset!
My friend and I arrived to Taichung station without reserving a ticket or doing any excessive research online about departure times. Why? Well, that’s simple. There are tons of busses leaving from Taipei Main Station so all you need to do is arrive, choose a bus company (there are varying kinds that provide different services ranging from fully reclining individual chairs with personal T.V.s to your standard run-of-the-mill charter bus), and line up to wait for the next departing bus.
Once we arrived to Taichung Main Station we took our time to walk to the performance venue, only about a thirty minute walk from the station. On the way we managed to pick up some lunch before the show and arrived to Zhongshan Performance Hall at 2:15 – the show started at 2:30. Talk about perfect timing.
After the show we took the free bus, yes all the busses in Taichung are free with a Yoyo Card (the public transportation card), back to Taichung Train Station where my friends friend picked us up in her car and took us to an all-you-can-eat hotpot place.
This is another thing about Taiwanese people, they are incredibly welcoming, friendly, and are always willing to help out a friend – even one they haven’t seen since junior high school.
Since we weren’t of the mindset to rush from Taichung and back to Taipei, my friends friend even let us stay overnight and accommodated us with rooms, blankets, pillows, two adorable cats, the works.
We took the next day to walk around Taichung and see some of the sights. The city had much more of a southern feel to it compared to Taipei even given its relatively close proximity.
People were more tanned, the city felt a bit more unkempt (the dreary weather didn’t help), and surrounding the train station were travelers from Southeast Asian countries sitting in circles on the ground, smoking and throwing peanut shells everywhere. Seriously, there were peanut shells everywhere…
However, regardless of the superficial features, the city has a lot of charm. It retains a lot of the old building structures from the time of Japanese colonialism and the city does a great job preserving it. They also have numerous beautiful parks and views of the city.
As all good things must come to an end, we too needed to head back to Taipei to catch the last MRT at Taipei Main Station and thus, we strolled to Taichung Main Station, bought tickets for the next available train, boarded, and arrived in Taipei at 11:55. Just enough time to catch the last train home.
If there is one thing that this trip reinforced about about living in Taiwan, it’s the incredible convenience. Things can go incredibly smoothly if you just let them pan out. Force an issue too much and you may never see it come to fruition, but let things flow and you will find they come much easier.
In the words of Lao Tsu:
“Tao [life] abides in non-action,
Yet nothing is left undone…”