Region:
Asia
Category:
Society
Article type:
Opinion

Lost in Taiwan

Region:
Asia
Category:
Society
Article type:
Opinion
Author/s:
By Pablo Pla
Publication date:
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Arrival and first impressions of a different and fascinating world

The Taiwanese adventure actually begins from the start of Buenos Aires on a flight from Dubai via Emirates extending over 32 hours and a circumstantial seatmate with a pronounced language barrier, I finally understood he was from Iraq.

While watching comfortably seated and served ARGO film, based on a real event actually happened in Iran in 1979, my seatmate moved his head to both sides and trying to tell me something incomprehensible. He had gone to Dubai flight and freshly understood who I was and I wanted to get to the airport in Taoyuan, near Taipei. Needed to be completed immigration form for which he gave me his passport and a pen several times to get the hint generándome pocket some concern.

Back in Taiwan, before allowing the passage to the main hall of the airport there is a strict control over Ebola. You have to fill out a form, but in fact this is the time you need modern equipment (Taiwan is a leader in technology) that detects among travelers who might have a higher body temperature of 37 degrees, as this is one of the symptoms. In that case I would point immediately to the drivers. Taiwan is committed in their country and also actively collaborating with other regions, not to allow in disease progression from Africa.

The trip from the airport to downtown Taipei Taoyuan is 40 minutes walking 30 miles a modern highway. The first thing that catches the eye are the big advertisers, bright and Chinese calligraphy posters. These posters with pictures of Taiwanese models can share the Chinese language (Mandarin actually) with English, but nothing is in Spanish. ATMs of banks, for example, have several language options, but none is Spanish. At least you have to understand English to get by quiet streets of Taipei. Clean streets, many cars but many, many more motorcycles, walking the streets of downtown. During the day it is a sight to see the large number of bikes circulating dodging cars and buses. All hull, following traffic signals with a feature: masks or respirators. Soon you realize that not only the riders use them, many young girls, old people and children have them. Some colors and children's cartoons.

Some say not to infect others, other pollution, but almost like a fashion, including the most amazing masks models sold in the shops, with bandanas, scarves or caps. An accessory. It happens that the population density is very large. There are 23 million people in an area of 32 000 km2, slightly larger than the province of Tucuman in Argentina, and travel on public transport close to each other. I do not make comparisons with how to travel in rush hour in Buenos Aires because it is out of the competition. The primary means of transportation is the subway underground and in other sections passing on the streets. Interconnects the entire city of Taipei, including with neighboring towns such as New Taipei. It is a modern, fast, efficient, well marked and frequently regular service. The turnstiles are not such, because the travel card support (a la the UP) open 2 small doors that allow passage. An average trip you make by 10 stations cost me 1 US dollar (NT $ 30). It pays for distance, as well as support the card to enter you have to do to get out, and then the trip is discounted.

What may appeal to Western and get noticed? Everything. Gastronomy, traffic, night markets, the fascination with technology and with 509 meters Taipei101 high, surrounded by department stores in the trendiest part of town, are things not to miss.

Traslation Belén Zapata