I’m in Taiwan!

By Confused Laowai | Date: January 7th, 2013 | Category: Taiwan

It’s been more than a month and a half since I announced that I’m heading to Taiwan for 2013. I’ve been here now for three weeks. It’s been quite the ride and my blog is way due for an update!

Here’s what I’ve been up to so far.

Two Weeks in a Hostel

My girlfriend and I arrived in the middle of December. We stayed at a hostel right next to Shilin market. It was busy and chaotic, but we soon adapted. We’ve been slowly edging our way into all the delicious foods on offer in Taiwan. My first impression of Taipei was a bit mixed. Due to the rainy/humid weather here, most buildings were a bit more grimy and dilapidated than I expected. But I got used to it very quickly.

We saw this amazing rainbow one afternoon from our hostel window. [It even made the news that night on TV!]


My girlfriend was really lucky in finding a job teaching English to little kids quite quickly. I’ve been hunting for jobs, but have been going slowly. This week I’m going to pick up the pace a bit. I’ve got a few leads to follow up soon. I use Tealit and then just go schools themselves to ask if they have vacancies.

Finding a place to stay

During the two weeks in our hostel, we looked for jobs and also an apartment. By some lucky chance, my girlfriend found this beautiful place with an amazing view on a random Taiwan classifieds website. The landlord speaks pretty good English. The timing of the previous tenant leaving was perfect for us. We could literally go with our bags from the hostel straight to our new apartment.

It is situated in Zhuwei, which is a suburb of Danshui district in New Taipei. So it’s a bit north and bit more from the city than I expected to settle in Taipei, but the view and modern facilities is a nice comfort. My girlfriend works close by in any case and the subway trains give easy access to the city.

Here’s our view:


Xmas & New Years Eve

It was the first time spending the festive holidays away from my family, so I was a little bit sad. Luckily, I had my girlfriend with me who cheered me up. We ended up going ice skating at Taipei Arena, which is not our normal Xmas tradition. In South Africa it’s full on summer during the festive holidays. After that we went Christmast lights in Banqiao District.

Taipei 101

For New Years Eve, we did not make any plans beforehand as we just moved into our new place and have been very busy with exploring and hunting for jobs. We decided to just head down to Taipei 101 and see the fireworks. We heard there were going to be lots of people, but did not expect THAT much people. Wow. It was unreal.

We wanted to get into a club, but all was sold out and way too expensive. We just drank some beers from 7-11 on the street and watched the festivities around Taipei 101. The fireworks in the end were beautiful. We then tried to head home… woops. Mistake. We only ended up getting home at 2h30am!

It did not spoil the evening, but for future reference we will try and organize something before: like a club, or a party at someone’s place.

Meeting up with Jake & Olle

One of the big reasons for coming to Taiwan, and specifically Taipei, is because I knew that there are like-minded Chinese learners here. Two of these are Olle (Hacking Chinese) on the left & Jake (iLearnMandarin) on the right.

Jake & Olle

I met up with them in the first week that I was here. We went for some delicious 热炒 and 啤酒. It’s fun to talk about languages and linguistics with them as they are both more advanced than I am. I learn a lot. We might consider starting a project in the future. You’ll have to wait and see.

My Mandarin

Now here’s the topic you’re all probably most interested in.

For the first three weeks, I’ve been slow in my Mandarin. I’m still settling in and try to find my routine. However, as everyday goes past, the language around me is slowly becoming clearer. It’s as if all the knowledge that I have learned up until now is slowly waking up and getting ready for action.

The switch to traditional characters has been no problem for me. I know enough simplified characters to understand the traditional characters in context. I still have to figure out my exact plan of action (I need a job first!), but as soon as I get one I’ll let everyone know.

I’m excited for 2013!

Related posts:

Taiwan 2013
Year of the Snake!
Is immersion the answer to all language learning problems?
Where in the world is Confused Laowai?

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  • http://mykafkaesquelife.blogspot.com/ My Kafkaesque Life

    Welcome to Taiwan. You basically arrived at the worse time when it comes to weather. Well, some might say second worse, because the humidity in July will probably make you more depressed than the rainy winter. Tamsui is also famous for being even colder and rainier than Taipei – for most Taipeiers it’s a great getaway, but they would not want to live there.

    I think February and March will be perfect – sunny but not yet humid. You can explore the city and it’s surroundings. I especially recommend you to explore Yangmingshan – it’s heaven on earth.

    Best of luck to you!

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    I actually don’t mind the weather that much. We arrived in a week where it was surprisingly hot for winter, which scared me, but it’s cooled down at least. So I’m happy.

    I’d rather be a bit colder than warmer. In any case, I’m just glad I got a great view :)
    Yes, going to do quite a lot of exploring!

  • http://twitter.com/HackingChinese Olle Linge

    Yeah, this time of the year is really not the best for new arrivals, it shows Taipei’s worst side. However, you’ll probably find that the ugliness of buildings aren’t related to the weather as such, they will remain as ugly throughout the year. :) Welcome anyway, none of us are here for the weather or the buildings. :)

  • John Patrick Villanueva

    Niel, 加油!

  • lily


  • Greg

    Glad you’re there safely and getting settled in. I hope to pop in for a day or two later this month, will give you a shout if I can get it organised.


  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Hey Greg,

    thanks for the kind words! Yes, let me know.

    Vasbyt verseker :)

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  • deanne

    hi Niel, find your blogs and ideas very interesting. Originally from SA but now in Australia. My son lives in Tapei. His wife is a local. Trying to teach mysellf Mandarin with books and CD’s after a very frustrating trip to Taiwan. Very slow but better than nothing.

  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Hi Deanne,

    yes it takes time. Definitely does! But like you said, slow and steady is a lot better than nothing. Good luck!