There’s one thing I especially like when I live in Taipei: It’s one of the best destinations in Asia where you can find art and design wherever you walk or stay. Usually any kinds of guidance tables or signs are enriched with cartoons or other funny characters giving guidance in laid-back manner. It’s quite often a case for advertising or interior in coffee shops, too, restaurants are more traditional if they aren’t theme seasoned like Hello Kitty hot pot. In the contrary this is an old city with aged buildings and traditional architecture. The city is changing and more new construction is going-on, for sure the prices are rising, too.

 

Last weekend I went to Museum of Contemporary Art which is centrally located and usually concentrates into interesting art works and world-famous artists. This time the exhibition was by a Japanese artist Mika Ninagawa and another video animation outside the museum by Cyriak Harris from UK. Mika Ninagawa has made some music videos, designed clothes and accessories, but I guess the most famous part is her photography on famous Asian pop stars and people. Her “selfies” however are a bit different, but I also looked them during the visit. I’m more into moving or performing arts which means I preferred the outside video screen and animation by Harris. It’s called Hyperplasia – Mutation and it was lovely to see teddybears eating and playing among traffic or see cows changing into bigger or smaller ones letting you think what is that.

 

Sometimes I visit Museum of Fine Arts which is located both in Taipei and Kaohsiung the second biggest city in Taiwan. They have static exhibitions, class rooms for students and mostly changing exhibitions by Taiwanese or Chinese artists. Some are really cool, so it’s truly a place to visit if you come to Taiwan.

 


There are areas with smaller galleries, but I haven’t had enough time to visit them very often. Just sometimes if I hear someone or a friend is having an opening or such, I visit these. After all I enjoy seeing beautiful things, clever posters around the metro stations guiding me not to perform harassment or inappropriate behavior to others but doing it in a funny, less serious way. You may also find barriers on the parks or streets which look like an animal, just because they are better in colors, not only red and yellow. I also really like the road or other construction cuts when they put the moving robot to show you this road is closed.

 

 

Mala hot potI usually cook at home because I got used to it in Finland and Taiwanese food isn't so healthy in my opinion. But there are some great food here which I really like. Many of them came from China, for example dumplings and noodles (the fried noodles are excellent in Taiwan). Actually it's a bit difficult to find very local food, almost any western foods are available with reasonable prices with a Taiwanese twist.
Lu rou fan is a rice dish I got introduced when I moved here. It's a rice dish with meat, maybe not the best parts, very well cooked, and tastes delicious. If I'm abroad, this a kind of dish I eat when I'm coming back.

Oyster omelet, a little bit mucous look makes it weird for a foreigner but I bet it's worth a try. This dish is available in most of the night markets and cost around 50 NT. Maybe I like it because you it with a chili sauce.

Tofu, also the fried stinky tofu with Taiwanese kimchi, is very healthy food and really cheap. Cheese isn't so common in Taiwan, it's also expensive (probably 2-4 times more expensive than in Finland) but you can get it from supermarkets. You can't use tofu like cheese but it's a good extra for any dish.

If I'm going for a dinner, I prefer to choose a hot pot restaurant. It differs from Hong kong hot pot, and to my mind it's a food you can't make a miss. Sauces or hot pot soup can be unhealthy, greasy, but if you don't eat it everyday, I think it's just fine. Many places offer all you can eat with less than 20 euros, a lot of meat, free flow of beer and Haegen dazs ice cream for a dessert (and cakes).

I have tried Taiwanese BBQ restaurants as well. They are places where you'll have your own BBQ on the table and can cook or ask waitresses to do it for. A really good option for a dinner, tasty with fresh quality meat but can be a bit more expensive.

Supermarkets sell a lot of organic vegetables and certified meat which make them very convinient. For an amateur cook they are hidden gems in this city. Usually I buy my vegetables from a smaller shop but there are times when you don't have extra time stop by one of them.

 

It has been a bit busy these days because I started my first job abroad in Taiwan and also joined a fitness club next to the office. Working here isn't so much different than in Finland, I already did IT projects before and usually it's very time-oriented, go lives, testing, development and so on. This time it has been very fun to work with in-house research and development unit. I actually wanted to work in this kind of environment. It's good that if you have something to do, something new, you just need to talk to the people next to you.

A view from a skyscraper

 

But there are differences, quite simple ones. First day I was going to go to wrong elevator when I noticed by the help of one lady that elevator isn't going to stop before 20th flood. Our office is on 19th floor, so the first thing I learnt was the right line. I would like to have a few talks about the on-going discussion in Finland but I just say we usually work more than regular hours (iit's the same in project work in Finland sometimes) and have less holidays (8 days after first year). To my mind this hasn't have anything to do with efficiency, because it sometimes better than in Finland, or that people aren't so committed (they are, but yes sometimes changing a job is quicker but it happens also in other countries). Of course this is just one company but it's more a common goal to make customers happy and that's the reason why companies are doing very well.

 

Maybe later it will be a bit different when I start my own project next week as a project manager. The first days I studied about the company, product and basic things behind it but quite soon I started to help with one on-going project. I would say this starting was faster than in Finland because we don't have such a thing as 4 months period of time when the company and employee start together and both sides can quit the contract. In Taiwan that time doesn't pass away, it's written that one month notice can stop your contract. To my mind hiring a new person is expensive also here, it's not a goal to get new persons and change them once in a while. Actually many companies are making the working environment interesting, offer company  trips on their cost and in Taiwan some snacks are available if you need something to get extra energy. I know that there are good companies everywhere in the world, but at least I was able to decide where I want to live.

Now that I got a job in Taiwan and been living awhile in the same place, I decided to make some decorations to my home. For me it takes some time to make it feel like a home but this place feels very nice to live in, except MRT station could a bit closer. Dongmen, the area I live, is in Da'an district which is quite central locations and in Taipei to closer to Taipei 101 you are, the more expensive it is. Also the world famous Michelin star dumpling restaurant Ding Tai Fong opened its first restaurant here, every night it gets very busy. The same food isavailable nowadays in all major shopping malls and other busy locations. Yongkang street is maybe the most touristic restaurant street in Taipei, I rather take a lane from it and find a local place which are for sure cheaper and authentic.

 

Good things in Dongmen are location and peacefulness at the most. From here an MRT or a bus to anywhere in Taipei is usually less than 30 minutes. I've walked also to central railway station from here and it took around 20-25 minutes. This area gets very silent after 11 pm which make this seem like a sleeping district for many people. The people here are a mix of older people and families but also some younger ones who appreciate convenience. For me maybe a bit silent, but for a working man it's good that there are no traffic noise when you want to get a sleep. I heard that also Taipei governor lives in this area, nearly never you see any suspecious happening or begging or such (not very common anywhere in Taipei after all).

 

 

 

 

I never believed that I would buy anything from Marimekko but because my friend is a shop manager in their affiliate shop here, I visited it and wanted to get something Finnish instead of IKEA to my home. I also found a nice shop where I could buy quality beddings and other stuff. I confess I've bought also from IKEA a couple of towels earlier but I must say the quality isn't so good than in the other shop they also have towels and accessories for home. Btw IKEA restaurant is popular here, many people just go there but not enter the shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my mind my life here turned to be very normal life. Of course in Taipei you don't have to think about how much it will cost if you go to a restaurant when you don't want to cook or pay too much and compered to Europe living costs are lower in almost everything. Salary level isn't too high but you can have a good living standard in one of the safest city in the world.

 

It's been awhile I wrote any updates to my website, so I decided to post a story of my trip and meet-ups in Japan. I stayed around one week in Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto this spring after visiting South Korea. After seeing quite many places, meeting Japanese and seeing how they do Eurotrips, I have to say it was something different I explorer there.

 

The basic undestanding of Japan is based on the fact that there are over 130 million people living in those Islands, they GDP is the 3rd highest in the world and in Asia the impact of Japan and Japanese is enormous. In Taiwan many companies are Japanese, many restaurants are Japanese (or Japanese style) and Taiwanese people highly appreciate Japanese products. This has the history for sure but still doesn't make sense for me sometimes.

 

When it comes to staying in Japan, it's for sure quite expensive but the quality of the food and service is uncomparable to other places I've been in Asia. I really enjoyed the foods, around 5 euros you get a nice lunch and if you double, you get even better one. Dinner with free flow of drinks, all you can eat with less than 30 euros isn't so much compared to northern Europe either.

 

But for working or getting to know people, I bet you must speak Japanese. I do understand the characters but I can't say them in Japanese (the Chinese ones) and I have no idea how to spell or pronounce Japanese. The language itself sounds nice, very soft and polite.

 

The people I met in Japan were open-minded and friendly. I think they are doing great with foreigners nowadays (especially in Tokyo they have guides and helpful people), they are opening the country for travelers. But I must conclude that to my mind Japan isn't actually very open to invite foreigners to be part of the society. That's what many Japanese would also agree. Or maybe changes if you stay there, speak the language and have locals as a close friend.

Touristic spots I visited in Osaka weren't a lot, I just checked some temples and tried local foods, also some weird coffee shop culture seemed to be interesting way to make a cup of coffee. In Tokyo I wanted to wander around the streets, get to know areas but also saw some geishas, big temples and museum with contemporary arts. There are also a big garden to visit nearby arts gallery. Kyoto was the suger on the bottom of my glass, it was a great place for a traveler. There're so much to see that you stay maybe a week there. I just decided to look around a bit for one day before leavin home. I definately have to go back to Japan, but maybe just for a long weekend to enjoy great food, relax and find something new.

 

 

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