From December 24 to January 1, I partook in a 9 day 900K+ bicycle trip around the island of Taiwan. It's hosted by a wonderful company called 鐵馬家庭. It costs $25,000 NT and includes lodging, food, snacks, bicycle, helmet, gloves, gps, insurance, medical follow vehicle and any repairs necessary. I ended up still needing an extra bike shirt, rain gear, padded bike pants (highly recommended) and other extra materials. You start from Taipei and ride for about 8 hours a day with 5-6 checkpoints (rest periods). You end up riding on average 100+ km a day. I chose to join this at the last minute and had minimal training time. But my father was in town and I don't know when the next opportunity for quality time like this is going to happen now that we're living continents apart. In the end, it was an experience and a challenge, but something I never regret.
The scenery. If you have the time to join in on this journey, I'd highly suggest it. It is by far the best way to fully experience the many sceneries of Taiwan. Speeding by in a train or whizzing by in a car is not the best way. Via bicycle, you get to experience the smells and climate too. You take it slower and have more time to take in the sights and sounds. You have the freedom to stop whenever you want. Finally you get to visit far more towns and country roads that you ever could using a car. We must have passed through and stopped at over 40 towns in 9 days. Each unique in their own way. Some of the major towns that we had the pleasure of visiting, were Taichung, Tainan, Taidong, Chiayi, Pingtung, Taitung, Miaoli, Taoyuan, Hualien, Yilan.
The food. Arriving at most checkpoints, we were greeted by friendly faces and rare local snacks. Sometimes it was fruits, sometimes it was candies. But throughout the trip, 鐵馬家庭 has it well planned to introduce some of the local snacks that can't be found elsewhere in major cities. It's not just a biking experience, it's a food experience too. Some of the members were locally raised and help introduce the local snacks, which is something I think you can't get out of a road trip.
The experience. I joined into this activity thinking it'd be a huge physical challenge. While it is no doubt a physical challenge, you do not have to be a tri-athlete or marathon runner to attend. We had members that may not have been in the best physical health, but had a strong heart and a strong mind. And that sums it up right there. You have to have a strong heart and a strong mind. Through the arduous 24km lengths of open road, through the grueling cold, windy and rainy stretches of road on the east coast, through the torturous up mountain climbs...you have to have a strong heart and a determined mind. There were so many times I wanted to rest and curse myself with regret, but it's all just a mind game. You don't have to be fast, just take your time. Mind over matter and that's what I experienced!
The camaraderie. Our group had over 60 riders. Through the trials and tribulations of this 9 day trek, you have no choice but to form friendships and bonds with your fellow rider. We watch out for each other and encourage each other. We laugh together and cry out in pain with each other. We do everything as a group, from waking up early in the morning and doing morning stretches to lunch time naps to evening dinner together. They are there for you cheering you on up that hill, across the day's final stretch. And it is so well organized, there's aways a hot bowl of soup or cup of water for you as soon as your off your bike. I won't forget these steadfast group of rider's for the rest of my life.
I encourage anyone with the time and heart to spare, to definitely join this activity. 鐵馬家庭 holds about 11 of these activities throughout the year. December being one of the better months to choose, as summer would be too hot. I experience more of Taiwanese scenery, food, snacks, people, culture and challenged myself more physically and mentally than I have in the past 18 months in Taiwan. It's an experience I will never forget! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Everyone!!!
$25000 means roughly $830 usd. That's should be pretty pricy in the local Taiwanese point of view. What are the people who signed up? Are they mostly foreigners?ReplyDelete
Yes, that's pretty pricey. $25,000 could be somewhere between 50-75% of the average monthly Taiwanese paycheck. Still worth it though. Majority of the members were from Hong Kong, some from China, less from Taiwan, Singapore, USA.ReplyDelete
Which means the majority are tourists? My educated guess is right, not many local Taiwanese folks would take out 75% of their paycheck for this. LOLReplyDelete
you are right. outside of Chinese New Year, there are no other holiday that gives you 9 days off. You're either in a very generous company, a higher exec or a foreigner. Which means it's great for networking!ReplyDelete
Can I ask you have you successfully landed on a job that is in your field at Taiwan. I have two more months before graduating from college. I consider joining that MTC program in Taiwan since it seems pretty fun after reading your blog.
However, I doubt I can get a job in CS(Computer Science) due to the fact that Taiwan has excessive amount of CS folks. My limited Chinese literacy is also a concern.
Are you fortunate enough to hunt a job in your field of interest?
I have not yet landed a job in my field. However that doesn't mean no company wants to hire me. It's the Taiwanese government and their rules that prevent the hire. You can get a job in CS. Taiwan is very computer and electronics centered. There are plenty of CS jobs that don't require the best of Chinese literacy, and where English may be a plus.ReplyDelete
Are you working as an English teacher as part time? When I was studying abroad at Beijing half yr ago, that's the only type of job I can get. I feel like those local folks treat us American nothing but English teacher. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!! (>_<)
Anyway, that was how I earn fast cash. The good thing is it pays decent. lol
You know the exact feeling and situation. Which is exactly what it is here too. However I do have foreign friends working career related jobs, you just have to find companies willing to use "loopholes".ReplyDelete
just curious...what's the general requirement (years of work experience) for bachelor degree holders and pay scale b4 the taiwanese govt grants a foreigner a work visa?ReplyDelete
As for ESL teachers isn't there a bias for white faces only even if their English is sub-standard? Are locals receptive to foreign born Asians to teach English?
Just wondering that besides treating the westerners as English teachers, do the local Taiwanese also have this type of culture as well? Watch the video, are women materialistic in TW?
2 years and $48,000 NT+. Yes, White and european schooled (and in some circles, female too). Some are, some aren't. To sum it up, it'll be an uphill battle.ReplyDelete
@Dan Yip. Yes, women are more and more materialistic in Taiwan. Taiwan hasn't developed as fast as China, so the issue mentioned in the video isn't as common. But the video and the recent incident with the child being run over in China makes me view the Chinese (main land) as becoming very disconnected with humanity. But Taiwan is largely influenced by China, so I hope Taiwan doesn't become like that.ReplyDelete
Speaking of mainland folks disconnected with humanity, it reminded me the recent hate speech from a professor at Peking University. These two videos explained it all if you watch it chronologically.ReplyDelete
$25K is a lot to people, but even if only 10% of people can afford it, it means there are 2.3 million of them there. If you stroll around those shopping center there, you will have a feeling that they are rich and they do shop not just window shopping. Restaurants there are full of people, cheap or high end. Especially those relatively younger people they shop, eat and dressed very stylish. Sometimes you wonder where is their money come from.ReplyDelete
That last Dec. bike group was an exception by a big group of HK people. Usually thegroups have only around 40 people and mostly local between 20-50 years old. The record is young 9 and elder 81 years old. The 9 days trip is designed for one week off plus two weekend each ends for working class people. People can afford it if they have saving habit.
There seems to be more Hong Kong-China-Taiwan hatred than I thought. I can't believe newscasts would spout such opinionated rants about a specific group of people.ReplyDelete
@Anonymous, I have that same question. Despite the low income, the Taiwanese youth still shop and walk around with trendy and expensive attire. (ie. high school girls with LV bags).ReplyDelete
Well, I look forward to attending another bike session around Taiwan in the future. Hopefully I'll have work by then and my company's policy and savings will allow me to take a week off to attend. However I still believe most Taiwanese cannot afford the time or money to attend this 9 day event. Perhaps it's because most of my Taiwanese friends are still young and don't hold a high enough of a position in their companies to warrant a week off. Everyone seems to be too busy working overtime and weekends to even spare 1-2 sicks days let alone an entire week. I believe maybe only the more fortunate that were able to snag a position with a westernized company that has more lenient use of vacation days.
working overtime and even weekends!!!!! Darn!!! LOLReplyDelete
Do u plan to come back to the States then, since it seems like Taiwanese's culture expect working overtime and I assume you would not like it. =PReplyDelete
so what are Taiwanese's attitudes and reactions to China nationals who come to study or visit?ReplyDelete
as for the branded goods obession, how many youngsters are really using the 'real' thing?
Think that in some fields even the salaries are higher in Mainland China compared to Taiwan? And lots of Taiwanese working and living in China, so what's up with this?
I have no problem with overtime. My first post-college job was with a game company, overtime was common. However I've talked to a few Taiwanese, any they do overtime just for the sake of it, despite having nothing productive to do. More hours means your working hard, despite efficiency or productiveness. So yes, I'm against pointless overtime. I will return to the States, eventually.ReplyDelete
@Anonymous, I've only heard minor complaints about mainlander's lack of societal etiquette. IE. In the MRT, Cutting the line and pushing themselves into the train without waiting. Standing on the left side of the escalator (left is express lane for walking up). Main landers litter.ReplyDelete
True, I'm sure some use the real thing, and most use fake. However from what I hear, Ximen is still active in youth prostitution in trade for name brand handbags, a similarity to the Japanese culture.
I'm not sure. But the Taiwanese standard of living is low here, so perhaps the youth don't see future potential with staying in Taiwan. Hence the desire to find jobs internationally, find a foreign husband, go to college in another country and find a job there. I love Taiwan but I even don't plan to stay here forever.