- Kathy (杜 言 艷)
- Yilan, Taiwan
- I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Grateful to Live in Tainan: Top 15 Reasons
Its that time of year, to cultivate gratitude and remind ourselves to be thankful everyday. While friends and family are stuffing their face with organic turkeys, pumpkin pies on gluten free crust, washed down with local micro brews, I will be going to work like it was any other day. Evenso, I am counting my blessings-literally and in no particular order.
1. The People- Also a source of anxiety at times, but that is just part of living with imperfect people in a different culture. For the most part, the people here are very friendly, willing to help. Its very easy to make friends in Tainan, and friends that last.
Ive also come to appreciate the expat crowd. Undoubtedly we all might never hang out with each other if we lived in the same town back home, but here in Tainan we do, so its an interesting cast of characters. In my neighborhood, within a 5 minute radius there are a handful of guys, friendly neighbors that have helped me out in a pinch. Despite Tainan being a small city there is a pretty international crowd, loads of S. Africans, Japanese, Latin Americans, to name a few.
2. Health care- As an American I cant tell you how thankful I am to have cheap, affordable health care. Dental, reproductive health are all cheap and good. There are no political hang ups about how national health care is paid, everyone agrees that as part of the social contract of having a high standard of living is paying a very small tax each month. Every month I get 2000NT (67 USD) taken out of my paycheck for me and my daughter. I dont mind. If we need to see the Dr or Dentist, its a 150 NT ($5 US), including meds.
3. Relative Safety- Personal guns aren't legal so unless I'm hanging out with gangsters I can pretty much count on going to a movie theater or school without threat of a psycho with a gun on the warpath.
4. Base to explore Asia- My daughter and I have vacationed in Malaysia 4 times (twice to the peninsula and twice to Borneo, Sabah and Sarawak), as well as Sumatra, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. When I lived in Taipei before she was born, I was able to to travel to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. There are some great low carrier Airlines like Scoot, Peach, Air Asia and Tiger that make it affordable. This Chinese New Years we are going to Myanmar.
5.Sea, Mountains and Islands- I live literally 1 minute from the beach and port. I am blessed.Ok in Anping you have to travel a bit to get into the mountains, but Taiwan is pretty loaded with nice mountains thats an easy trip from Tainan. We have been to Alishan twice, Sun Moon Lake, Nantou 4 times, Guanshan covered in Daylilies, and of course Taroko. I went river tracing last year for the first time and hope I can do it again. Now that my daughter is older, I want to start to do some more serious trekking.
As for islands, even that is pretty easy to get to from Tainan. There is Green Island (went there twice), Matsu, Xiao Liou Qiou and the Penghu archipelago. Orchid island is next on my list. In terms of coastal scenery nothing beats the East Coast. Taitung has it all, mountains and sea, indigenous culture and outdoor sports. Its just a 4 hour train ride away.
6. Exotic fruit All Year Long- It seems like every month a new fruit is coming into season; dragon fruit, local pineapple, sugar cane, guava, waxed apple, asian pear, lychee, avocados, papaya, plums, pomelo, mango, it never stops. I live for my fruit shake breakfasts.
7. Cheap Living Expenses- In comparison to the States rent, bills, fruit, clothes are cheaper. For a 3 bed 1 bath, super small kitchen, I pay 7500 NT ($253US). I can still get a decent bottle of wine for 8-10 bucks US. A 80 minute full body, traditional Chinese massage is 800NT (27 US), a 2 hour facial is about 30 bucks US.
8. Mild Winters- Having grown up in Colorado, which yes is beautiful and yes so is the snow, but after a few months of scraping the ice off the windows, waiting 10 minutes to warm up the car, yes I appreciate the relatively warm winters. Plus its drier here than Taipei so we don't really deal with year round rain like they do in the north, except for a few typhoons here and there.
9. My child is fluent in Mandarin- Its a changing, global world and China is a major player. Chinese business, Chinese people are everywhere and Mandarin is and will be an important language.
10. Don't need a car- This is probably truer in Taipei with better public transportation than Tainan, but for getting around Anping, a scooter is just fine. I do get around Taiwan, using trains, planes and ferries, but if I could afford it I would have a car, if only because I grew up doing road trips. I covet the freedom to just take off and explore a new part of the island for a weekend. Still I see it as a luxury rather than necessity.
11. Hot Springs galore - The closest hot spring to Tainan is Guanzhiling, but I've also been fortunate to have been to 2 in Nantou, the rare salt water hot spring on Green Island, a handful in Taipei's Beitou/Yangminshan, some on the East Rift Valley, Hongye Hot springs (twice), Rueshuei and Antong. Then there was that nice hot springs on our way back from Kenting,
12. Fascinating Indigenous Tribes- Its not really something that comes to mind when you think Tainan, but I live 1 minute away from an Indigenous Park across from Anping port, which frequently on the weekends gets buses of different dancers and musicians from various tribes sharing their culture with each other. Z likes to eat some wild boar BBQ and I'll sip a little millet wine and enjoy looking at the different traditional costumes and interesting faces.
13. Cheap TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)- Because of the cheap national health care system, I can pay 150NT to see the TCM Dr who at his recommendation might prescribe TCM herbs, acupuncture, cupping or scraping or whatever I needed. I also have learned a lot from friends about how and what to cook according to the weather and Chinese cosmology.
14. Less typhoon disasters and earthquakes- In comparison to Taipei or the East coast, Tainan is known for its safer position from tropical western moving storms and rarer earthquakes. The locals attribute this to Tainan's supposedly higher number of temples and temple activities.
15. Parks- In a 5 mile radius there are several nice parks with trails along rivers, trees with flower blossoms, bamboo, playgrounds to keep my kid busy, while I'll do some yoga or hang up the TRX straps. There are a plethora of baseball diamonds, basketball and tennis courts. Every morning the locals are practicing variations of Tai Chi alone, or in groups, with swords or fans, or practicing Chi Gong. I always feel lucky after spending sometime in the park, I'm fortunate to live so close to them.