10 Things I’ve Learned During My First Year in Taiwan

Sunrise over the Alishan Mountains

Sunrise over the Alishan Mountains

I can’t believe it, but today marks my one year “Taiwanniversary”. It’s crazy to think that one year ago, Dominic and I arrived in Kaohsiung with no job, no home, and no friends. Today, I am blessed with all of the above, and for this I am grateful. Taiwan has been good to me, and I’m happy to be here for another year to come.

As for a few things I’ve learned during this time (and sadly, speaking Chinese is not one of them):

1. No matter how many times I try it (3 times now), I will never like stinky tofu. I’ve been told the reason I don’t like it is due to the fact that I haven’t had it from the right place. I highly doubt that this imaginary “right place” exists.

2.The trash truck song has an eerily calming effect.

3.It is not necessary for children to wear helmets on scooters, because obviously, a skull can only be smashed in if you are 18 years of age or older.

4.Even though there are no left turns allowed at the lights, this shouldn’t stop you from finding one of many ingenious ways to zig-zag your way to the other side in the shortest amount of time possible. For more driving tips in Taiwan click HERE.

5.Regardless of what you have been told, professional grade fireworks can be set off by anyone, and the middle of the street is indeed the perfect launching pad.

6.You can never have too many hair salons, and getting a hair wash is a life changing experience.

7.The letter X is pronounced “egg-uh-suh”.

8.The power of the word “maybe” in employer/employee relationships.

9.In the winter, it is imperative for dogs to first put on their shoes and coat before leaving the house.

10.It is common knowledge that if you burn paper money, in addition to leaving betel nut, alcohol, bags of processed foods, and fruit on an altar, the Gods will be sure to bless your home and business with good fortune. It is also well known that one shouldn’t go swimming during the month of August unless you want to be drowned by ghosts.

As another Chinese New Year approaches, and the red lanterns begin to line the street, I can’t help but grow nostalgic. It seems like just yesterday, we were screaming at the top of our lungs on Chinese New Year Eve, in order to scare away the evil spirits.

It must have worked, because this past year has been filled with nothing but good fortune.


  1. Technically not august, the 7th month of the lunar year.

    I have to agree, stinky tofu must be from the right place to be good. I only know of 2 right places in Kaohsiung and one in Tainan. Other places, I refuse to eat. I have yet to have good stinky tofu in any of the night markets.

    Good KH stinky tofu locations: Siziwan, there is a temple hidden in the back streets near the mrt station. There are 2 stores there, only 1 is super good.
    The other is on the corner of Ziciang Rd and Sanmin Rd. It’s Sanmin market and it’s open afternoon to evening. They have a make your own soy sauce station with garlic,chives and such. This is by far my favorite stinky tofu place ^.^ And there pao cai (the pickled cabbage you get with stinky tofu) is amazing as well. Few places get both right!

  2. I didn’t know this thing about screaming to scare away evils spirits, I’ll try it out this year : )

    Btw., I agree with you. You either love or hate stinky tofu, no matter how well it is prepared.

    Have a great new year in Taiwan!

  3. Love your blog. I was visiting my parents in Kh last week. Never understood why no left turns on a scooter. If you’re still teaching at the end of the year, I’ll be sure to join your yoga class.

  4. Stinky tofu! Ewww! lol

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