Of Mopeds, Mai Tais & ATM Machines
I have arrived for the first time in Tapai, Taiwan and offer these insights after a single evening from my initial observations.
These were made late at night, after arriving at 9:30 p.m., taking a bus then a train into town, walking 15 minutes to my Airbnb for the night and going out and having a drink at a popular local cafe/bar, which took me until approximately 2 a.m.
As I write this, a beautiful sunny day awaits me outside and I’m sure there will be a lot more that I will observe and learn about this Far East destination.
1.) It’s A Long Way From The Airport Into Tapai City
To get to the main part of the city, you take a bus that takes an hour. Then if you want to get to Tapai 101, for example, the tall tower with towering views of the area, it’s another 20 minutes on a train, which in this case is the red MRT line, which is at the very bottom of the main Tapai train station and somewhat difficult to find unless you have a friendly local to help you.
2.) The Locals Are Very Friendly And Like To Help Visitors Find Their Way
I’m not one to be shy about asking for directions in new places and everyone I asked in Tapai was more than willing to help me. One that I encountered outside the MRT station was so nice that she circled back twice on her bicycle to make sure I was walking the right direction to my room for the night.
3.) Mopeds Are Everywhere In Tapai
Riding in on the bus, I noticed dozens of mopeds parked – often five or six deep – on sidewalks and in the streets. There were anywhere from a half dozen or a dozen people of all ages just kind of hanging out in front of shops (one was a trio of motorcycle repair shops!). What they were doing I could not imagine, but they were doing it at 11 o’clock on a Thursday night.
4.) It’s Difficult To Find Banks That Take ATM Cards
It took me five banks to find one that would take my ATM card. A couple of times, I got tantalizingly close – put in the PIN, then how much money I wanted – only to be denied and given only a receipt. The thing is, a local told me this is primarily a cash town, so you need the local currency. I should point out that after I finally found an ATM-friendly bank, I walked by a Citibank.
5.) You Apparently Need To Be Seated To Be Served A Drink
As I was seated at the Tickle My Fancy cafe and bar (No. 8, Section 2, Anhe Road, Daan), a fellow Colonial came up and introduced himself. We were about to start a lively conversation about Americans in Tapai – he had just arrived and was going to start teaching English – but the bartender and waitress would not serve him unless he took a seat.
There were none at the bar, unfortunately, and all the tables were full. He said he would wait and they said no, and made him go outside. Understandably, he left. I don’t know if that’s Tapai policy or this one place but it seemed a rather odd to both Western travelers.
6.) The Tickle My Fancy Cafe/Bar Serves A Good And Strong Mai Tai
I had two (at 300 dollars each, about $9 USD) and got a perfect post-plane buzz. It was completely refreshing, too, more so than a beer would have been after a long trip. This is despite the fact it uses basic Bacardi, too; imagine if they put in even some decent Caribbean dark rum!
7.) The City Is Safe For Walking Even Late At Night
I went down a wide and well-lit boulevard and a somewhat dark residential street and never felt anything but completely safe.
8.) There Are No Street Signs
At least any that I could find. UPDATE: Actually, there are signs, just not one identifying the main street, Xinyi Rd. That’s a multi-lane street where Taipei 101 is located and I suppose officials figure you’ll know that street, tho it narrows into two lanes when it gets into the residential area.
9.) The City Is Divided Into Sections, But As Of This Writing I Don’t Understand Any Of It
I’m staying in Section 6 and went out up in Section 2. But I had no way of knowing because it not like there are signs announcing “Section 2,” “Section 6,” etc.
10.) You Can Sit Down And Drink A Beer In A 7-11 Store
They have tables for you to sit and drink; apparently this is for the the lonely beer-drinkers in Tapai.