My Time in Taipei & What it’s Meant

As I look back at the last five months of my life all I can think is wow. 

It may be cliché but I can’t help but wonder how the time went by so quickly?

Seriously is there somebody with a remote control for my life and have they been pressing x2 >> this entire time?

A lot of emotions come to mind as I reflect on the past five months living in another country.

Nervousness, gratitude, growth, discovery, doubt, self improvement, amazement, shock and many more words come to mind.

I’ve met so many amazing people, seen countless incredible sights, shared and created fantastic memories and overall experienced so much; many of these experiences were things I had never thought possible before taking this trip.

 

Eye-opening.

That would be the one word that I believe best summarizes my experience abroad. Growing up in a North American society my mind has been organized and programmed to think in one way. My time spent living in Taiwan, and also travelling to four countries in between, has allowed me to see how people of other backgrounds think.

As my home base, I’ve had some insight into how Taiwanese society operates, I’ve noticed differences between this society and the one I grew up in. I’ve also noted ways in which I feel Taiwan is both ahead of and behind the game in comparison to my home country of Canada.

To name a few, the public transportation system here (comprised of subway, buses, bicycles, etc.) is extremely convenient, expansive, and inexpensive. Also when you purchase a product in Taiwan your receipt comes back with a number, this number is automatically entered into a bi-monthly lottery! How neat is that!?

There are of course other aspects of living in Taiwan that I have had to unwillingly get used to. For one, most restaurants don’t have knives here. It’s as if your teeth are your knives and for a Westerner trying to eat a large piece of chicken, this is not always practical. It’s also very common for people to very loudly clear their throats here, and at first these tendencies can seem disruptive but sooner than later you become accustom to it. It becomes normalized and then you almost forget it ever bothered you in the first place.

No one society is perfect but what this tells me is that its important to define and acknowledge difference as more of a learning opportunity than anything else. Difference shouldn’t be frowned upon as being a negative trait, but rather as a chance to learn and potentially make a positive change.

Working with Taiwanese people really showed me a lot about some of their common characteristics. They were nothing but extremely generous and complimentary towards me. Maybe I just got lucky, but the Taiwanese people I have met here are very hard working and very generous people.

Although shy at first, after a few weeks my co-workers really opened up to me and shared more about their lives. They were very curious about me and asked many questions about my life in Canada, and of course I always asked them the same questions back. These informal exchanges greatly enhanced my understanding of their every day lives and overall culture.

They also liked to joke with me more, even poking fun at my Chinese pronunciation. I’m grateful for the time they took to help me learn how to order coffee or my favourite food in all of Taiwan: dumplings (shuǐjiǎo).

I can honestly say that this experience was not exactly what I first expected. But there is something to be said about the expectations I had in that they stemmed from a lack of knowledge and also from listening to other people’s thoughts on what Taiwan might be like (it is worth noting that most of these people had never actually been to the country before). What I take from this is that, listening to what other people think about what you plan on doing is not always going to be the best thing you can do for yourself. Sometimes you need to just go for it, you might make mistakes or encounter unexpected circumstances but if you don’t try it how will you ever know?

Although different from my original thoughts, I more importantly wouldn’t change this experience for the world. I believe it has helped me to grow and mature greatly. I’ve lived with a stranger who quickly became a good friend and I’ve also lived by myself and learned more in the past five months than any semester in university!

I’ll always be grateful to this tiny yet proud country and the wonderful souls I have met in it. I will miss the night markets and their yummy snacks and fresh juices. The UBike system, the bars that stay open until 7 AM, and most of all, yeah you guessed it, dumplings.

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Yunoyado Onsen Hotel Puts You First

Recently, I have had the pleasure of working at Yunoyado Onsen Hotel located in the town of Jiaoxi, Taiwan.

I wanted to express my gratitude towards the hotel staff and also express how fortunate I feel to have been able to work in such a positive and welcoming environment.

The moment I walked into Yunoyado Onsen for my first day of work, I felt at home. Most of the staff can speak English and even those who don’t consistently go out of their way to make me feel comfortable in this new work environment.

I have been a witness to the kindness they extend not only towards employees but also towards guests. They treat each and every visitor to the hotel with the ultimate level of respect, as they greet people at the door and help them carry in their luggage. They exceed service expectations of a typical hotel, providing guests with local secrets on how to see the best attractions, bottles of water, towels if its raining, and much more.

One of my favourite aspects of the job has been working in such a beautiful building! The hotel was built one year ago and features modern Japanese style decor and design. There is a pond outside the main entrance to the hotel that features large koi fish and fresh plants.

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The lobby is sleek and exudes a natural vibe, the exterior of the front desk resembles a log and the wood is actually from Myanmar. The seating area looks as though it was freshly carved from a tree!

The rooms in the hotel are quite nice. Personally, the most appealing aspect are the spacious showers and modern style bathtubs found in the different styles of rooms the hotel offers.

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For me , Yunoyado Onsen hotel has provided a sanctuary; it serves as my retreat from the hustle and bustle of the big city of Taipei.

One of the best parts of working at this particular hotel is being able to indulge in the complimentary tea and homemade treats, which all guests are of course invited to do as well. Between the various cookies, pastries and the different types of tea, (Nepalese black tea pictured here), it’s safe to say my taste bud’s have been quite the happy bunch since I started my internship.

One of the greatest features of the hotel, in my opinion, is the rooftop patio. This space provides a great view of the surrounding Jiaoxi mountains. Each day I make sure to take advantage as during my break I often enjoy relaxing up there. After looking at screens all day long, it’s nice to just look out into the town and see the nature behind it.

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Although I have not yet gotten to take advantage of this, there are also hot spring tubs that guests can enjoy and soak their feet in after a long day of travelling. In comparison to North American hotels, this amenity is very unique. Even more interesting is that the water found in the hot springs of Jiaoxi is actually very rare because it is extremely rich in minerals such as sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Naturally, the hot springs in Jiaoxi provide many health benefits for users.

SO, if you’re ever in Taiwan, I implore you to visit the province of Yilan and in particular Yunoyado Onsen Hotel in Jiaoxi Township; the hotel is quite convenient to access as it is close to the city’s bus and train stations. Just like mine have, your expectations will not only be met, but exceeded. You’ll enjoy a relaxing atmosphere enhanced by friendly staff members, modern design, and a high standard of quality and overall service.

I am so grateful for the kind and hospitable treatment I have received and I guarantee after staying here you will feel the same. For an English version of their website visit: https://www.agoda.com/yunoyado-onsen-hotel/hotel/yilan-tw.html?

 

Jiaoxi Hot Springs 

http://www.jiaoxi-tourism.tw/Portal/Content.aspx?lang=2&p=201020001

http://enwww.e-land.gov.tw/cp.aspx?n=471BF3A523D05BB2&s=4C874B0C0A621518