The weather is cooler and incredibly more pleasant lately. I no longer sweat when I leave the house, but I’m not cold either, just perfectly comfortable. The high today was 81° Fahrenheit and the low 77°. The Taiwanese seem to think it’s time for jackets, sweaters, and scarves, though. I’ll try to get some photos of this phenomenon. Carrie even saw some people wearing gloves. Not just the sun protectant variety seen on ladies year round, winter gloves.
Neither of us could figure out if it is excitement for fall fashion spurring the layering up, or if some people actually feel cold. In the summer, we were confused about how so many could walk around a sweltering, humid city in any type of jacket. But, they did, so I guess it’s not that surprising to see them now wearing thick sweaters in 80° weather. Maybe I could speculate that in general the Taiwanese have less fat, so they become cold more easily than I do… or that they are not as physically active, so they don’t work up a sweat. But, this logic falls apart when I see a white guy walking down the street in a hoodie at 1 pm. Is he hot? There has to be a dribble of sweat working its way down his back, I just know it.
I ran around jungle hill today, and saw many people: couples of all ages, dads with kids, men with dogs, ladies helping older ladies. The Taiwanese are definitely active in a sense, but you don’t see many doing strenuous physical activity. Few ride their bikes, and when they do, they ride so very slowly. The majority of people ride scooters which requires little physical activity.
To give you an idea of how many scooters are on the road, if all the people scootering to work decided one day to drive a car to work instead, no one would arrive until lunchtime. I would be on my bike, trying to maneuver through the mother-of-all traffic jams.
As it is, though, traffic runs smoothly albeit not quickly. The cars and scooters cannot drive very fast because of how many different types of vehicles you have to watch out for and how often you have to stop for a light. But just like everything else in Taiwan, the streets are predictable, even construction seems to stay out of the way. This is remarkable to me. There are 2.5 million people in this city (including suburbs it’s 7 million), and they all live in less than a 4 mile radius, so how can the traffic be described as smooth? My answer is variety. There is a variety of transportation options here, and when traveling inside the main city area, none of them are drastically much better than the others unless you’re talking carbon footprints. Here are the options from most expensive to least:
I will use the route from my apartment to my school to compare times and prices (in USD); this distance is about 1/3 of the radius of the main city area.
Taxi – A $3.30 ride will take about 10 – 15 minutes.
MRT – A 65¢ ride will take about 7 minutes including the time it takes to walk through the train station and wait for the next train. The thing about this mode of transportation is that it’s really only the fastest if your start and end points are both near a station. I live 2 minutes from a station, but my destination in this scenario is a 15 minute walk from the nearest station.
Bus – A 50¢ ride will take about 15-20 minutes. Taking a bus is about as convenient as taking a bus can get. They are everywhere and the process is quick. Whether or not you get a seat right away depends on where and when you get on the bus. This is a very popular mode of transport, so you are almost never the only one on the bus, and if you miss your bus, another one will arrive within the next 5 – 15 minutes depending on the time of day.
(Note: The city sells “Easy Cards” which look like a credit card and hold up to about$170 USD on them. You can use it to travel by MRT or bus, and you can also use it at the 711 convenience stores. If you use it at the MRT you get a 20% discount (13¢ for each ride), and if you take the bus within one hour of taking the MRT, that bus ride will be half the cost (7¢ instead of 15¢).
Scooter – An inexpensive ride that takes about 10 minutes. The scooter can often beat the car because it can maneuver between them, and cars often have to wait for scooters or bicycles to get out of the way. However, when making a left turn. The scooter cannot just turn onto the perpendicular street that it wants to drive on. It has to go into the intersection and wait in a little box on that perpendicular street. Then, when the light on the street turns green, it can go. This probably sounds very confusing, but the point is that the scooter has to wait through two lights when turning left. Gas is very very cheap. I want to say it’s between 1 and 2 dollars a gallon.
Bicycle – A virtually free ride that takes about 10 – 15 minutes depending on how fast I want to ride. And since I do not have to follow the rules of the cars or the scooters, I can end up arriving there at the same time as a scooter. For example. If the scooters are waiting at a light, a bike can scoot onto the sidewalk and make a right turn. I never, never break any laws though, Mom. Bikers and scooter drivers both breathe in fumes from cars and scooters, so that’s a pretty big con.
Biking in the street is made easier because of the fact that all the vehicles are ALWAYS expecting a scooter to pop out of nowhere. Therefore, I am not catching vehicles by surprise, and I can take more risks (safe ones, Mom). I can’t imagine what it would be like to bike on the streets of NYC.
Right now with the temperature in the low 80s, I don’t get nearly as sweaty, and I feel nice and energized when I arrive at work. I prefer this to riding the bus, but my little bus 292 isn’t half bad. I miss taking photos of all the cute old men in their seats.
Walking – A free experience taking you 45 minutes. You can have the pleasure of walking through Tongua night market on your way and buy a pair of size zero pants, socks, stickers, a purse, a pear, some dumplings, or raw meat, for example.
Disclaimer: I have not checked these facts super carefully. If this bothers you, you can submit your application for editor, pay starting at $30 NT per post ($1 USD)
P.S. Which cute man is your favorite?