Arriving in Taiwan

I’m not sure if it’s possible but I wasn’t able to get Taiwanese currency in Japan. On landing in Taipei my priority was to find an ATM machine. The airport authorities must be aware of this and there were plenty of cash machines, and they didn’t charge you commission.

Like Japan, passengers were supposed to have registered on a website before landing. But, again, the airline didn’t mention anything about this. After filling in the online form and admitting I had some fruit and nuts (there were dire warnings about bringing various things into the country), there was some debate at the first checkpoint. Initially, the official told me to throw away the food. Then another said it should be fine, but I should show it at customs.

I went through passport control, although the filled online form hadn’t reached them and I had to quickly fill in a paper form. Customs didn’t ask me about my food, which gave me something to eat on the journey into central Taipei from the airport.

There are two things required to get you going in a new country: money and understanding of the transport system (if you’re not getting a taxi). At the airport train station, they give a leaflet explaining the transport system. It’s incredibly useful and every city should do it.

The journey to the centre of Taipei was fast. I could see that the Taiwanese metro was heavily influenced by Japanese culture, as were a few other things I later learnt.

I wandered around Taipei Main Station’s shopping area since my check-in at the hostel was at 1pm. For the phone I’d bought in Japan, I looked for a screen protector. I stumbled on an underground market with mostly Indonesian stalls. I got talking to someone selling phone-related stuff. This particular phone model was not sold in Taiwan. However, he was confident he could find a screen protector. I admired his desire to find the right cover, having rejected some covers that seemed perfectly fine to me. After some rummaging around, he plucked out one that fit my screen according to his satisfaction. He even fitted it for me, which I wasn’t expecting. Only after both of us were happy did he take payment.

I asked him about some of the phone prices on the stall. He said that these were prices to rent a mobile phone for a month or several months. Even though many (most) people had mobile phones, for some people, the cost was too much.

Next, I encountered what looked like a toy fair being setup. The stall owners were very precise in how they placed their toys. These were clearly for adults, I assume from films, comics, and games.

After I checked into the hostel, I slept for a bit after the early start that morning.

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