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Blogging Taipei

posted by Jason Swihart on October 05, 2007

Next Friday, Byron and I are off to Taipei for the next Intel Developer Forum October 15-16. We arrive a few days early to adjust to the time difference and to do some advance blogging for the IDF Taipei folks and for Bike and Snow Huggers. Unfortunately, we don’t arrive until three days after Double Ten Day, which all my Taiwanese friends have chastised me for missing.

Having never traveled in Asia, I’m inexpressibly excited. Will it be exotic? Will I learn to haggle properly in the night market? Will I be offered strange things to eat? Will my kidneys be stolen?

While we’re there, we’ll be riding our folding bikes, meeting the folks from Dahon, gorging ourselves on Taiwanese culture, and covering the IDF events. So tell us: what must we see in Taiwan?

Photo by Paogao. Used under a Creative Commons License. Some Rights reserved.

Comments (4)
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Oct 09  |  Tai Lee said:

Haggling! Start by offering to buy two for the price of one. From there, they’ll either offer to sell you two at a bit more markup, or lower the price for the one. Hold your ground on either two for price of one or one for half price. They’ll counter you one more. At that point, just be polite and take the offer, or move on cus there’s someone three stalls away selling the same thing.

No…your kidney’s won’t be stolen. But your passport might. Make sure to use smallest bills possible. You might receive change in counterfeit if you provide large bills.

Stay off the beaten path as far as tourists go. Find a local and offer to buy them dinner and take care of them for the night if they take you to the real deal Taiwanese places. Then be prepared to be stared at all night because you’ll end up in places where they haven’t seen white people in months.

TRY EVERYTHING. It won’t kill you unless you’re deathly allergic to it. Even if it sounds disgusting. You will impress your hosts and chances are it won’t taste horrible.

Have fun! Taiwanese people are generally very friendly. They usually express it by offering you food.


Oct 09  |  Jason Swihart said:

Awesome tips—thanks Tai.

Do the haggling tips apply in all contexts, or just in the open markets? And what’s the Chinese for “two for the price of one”?

Oct 11  |  Danburg Murmur said:

Do not haggle for food in the night market. Do not haggle in shopping malls. In fact, do not haggle if you see a price posted, period (locals can gauge when a price could be flexible even in that context, but you won’t know).

To test your haggling mettle, try Guanghua Market (光華商場), where someone who knows how to bargain can buy computer memory (cards, USB sticks, etc.), recordable media (portable hard drives and blank CDs, DVDs, etc.), mobile phones, MP3 players, speakers, monitors, and all sorts of other peripherals at very reasonable prices. The haggling language barrier can be overcome by punching numbers into the shopowner’s calculator. It helps to know much you would pay for what you want back home, and you should definitely shop around before buying anything.

By the way, you won’t see any denomination larger than a 1000 New Taiwan Dollar bill (worth a little bit more than thirty American dollars), so don’t get paranoid about counterfeits. However, do try to use small (100 NTD) bills or coins when paying taxi drivers or night market hawkers, since they might claim not to have change.

Oct 13  |  DL Byron said:

One thing I’m unsure on is tipping and the appropriate amount. In Beijing, I tipped driers and bell hops, but at restaurants I was told it wasn’t necessary. Suggestions?

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