Let me share some impressions of Taiwan when we were there recently.
Efficient rail network system
For this trip, we took the public transport to move around instead of relying on tour bus or taxis. Taiwan has the Metro, Taiwan Railways (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR). They are well interconnected at major exchanges. We had choices of using the slower TRA or when we needed the speed, HSR is an option but at a higher fare.
I did not feel that the train carriage was crowded. That was a relief. The stations and the toilets within the stations were clean. The standard for cleanliness is high. The trains run efficiently and on time.
Small enterprises and micro-businesses thrive
Small enterprises and micro-businesses thrive in Taiwan. We can see these businesses (cooked food stalls and others) in their famous Night Markets around the country.
Small shops dotted along streets and malls. They are not big names with big shop floors. To get a sense of general rental cost in the country, I was told that rent for an old landed house was about S$100 per month in Nantou. Taiwan is blessed with land (50 times the size of Singapore). This greatly reduces cost of carrying out a business in Taiwan.
Eco-friendly mindset of Taiwanese people
Protecting and conserving the environment is a big thing and is in the psyche of Taiwanese people. You cannot find dustbins readily available along the streets. So, I kept these litters with me until I reached the hotel or an establishment to dispose of them.
The people believe in keeping the old instead of replacing them with new. You see old floorings, wall tiles, WCs, etc. Buildings are not brought down to be re-built into new ones. People are not disoriented as the old buildings, railway stations, etc remain in their original states.
Friendly Taiwanese people
Hospitality is their hallmark. People were courteous. When we asked for directions, they were happy to assist. When we stayed in a place, people there ensured that we were looked after well. Each time when we visited a shop or someone’s home, they entertained us with their finest Chinese tea. (Making and serving Chinese tea is an art and a ceremony to behold.) Talk among us was sincere and easy-going.
Cost of food remains affordable
A bowl of delicious noodle costs about TWD50 (approx. S$2) at most small eateries. An adequate lunch for two persons can be less than TWD200 (approx. S$8). With that kind of cost, I am envious.