Breakfast on the road
The well known expat blogger Carrie Kellenberger recently posted a list of Ten Things That Taiwan Does Right. My personal ten:
1. No guns and no gun cult.
We have a few gun loons, but guns are thankfully strictly verboten in Taiwan. That means that in Taiwan, road rage almost never turns one person into a corpse and another into a killer. Nor do we have the open carry insanity, or mass killings, or guns in schools (WTF?), or the US' vast gun-related suicide death toll. In Taiwan, only gangsters have guns and for them they function largely as status symbols. For me, from a nation where guns cause 30,000 deaths annually, living in a country where the toxicity of guns is held to very low levels is a kind of security that I never knew in America.
2. Universal health insurance.
Taiwan has one of the best national health insurance programs in the world, and its health care is excellent. I often feel a deep compassion for Americans with their clinically insane health policies which are merely a form of disguised transfers of ever more wealth to the already wealthy.
3. Widespread English.
This has slipped under many a radar, but the Taiwan government's steady promotion of English has meant that Taiwan is far more English-accessible than many of its neighbors. And no matter how isolated the community, it has English speakers. Virtually all important signs are available in English, and most government websites have an English mirror. This is a far cry from when I first arrived in 1989.
4. The Rail System.
I ride it three or four times a week. It's marvelous: reliable, safe, fast, easy to use, and offers many payment methods. I love the rail system here and use it several times a week.
5. The internet.
This country is wired: the internet in Taiwan is relatively cheap, fast, and reliable. One of the most common complaints I hear from my friends who go to the US is the spotty internet there.
6. Rents are cheap relative to income.
Outside of urban Taipei and a couple of other hotspots Taiwan's rents are very affordable. This, coupled with the inexpensive health insurance and relatively low cost of food, means that you can enjoy a good lifestyle on what appears to be a lower income than the US.
7. Local and national government services are often quick and easy
Lose your driver's license? Renewal takes 5 minutes and costs $200 NT. Need a copy of your Hukou minbu? Two minutes, a small fee. Car inspection? 20 minutes. Permanent ARC? Follow the process and there it is. When I hear the horror stories coming out of the US...
8. Low street crime
It is very unlikely that a foreigner in Taiwan will ever be the subject of random violence, mugging, or a kidnapping. In the wee hours you can walk around in the streets or major cities without fear.
9. Asia is right next door.
I dreamed of Asia when I was a lad. Now I live it, with inexpensive flights available to every country in Asia. And I am still a lad.
10. Changes are for the better
Taiwan has changed immensely over the two decades I have lived here and followed events. The island is constantly evolving, and for us foreigners, most things are getting better, easier, and more convenient. That is likely to continue for some time to come.
What are your ten?
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