Written by Kaya Heimowitz, (University of Puget Sound), Student Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Summer 2022
Trash trucks versus ice cream trucks, going to 7/11 every day, and other fun things!
1.Taking out the trash
Taking out the trash in Taiwan involves much more coordination than you might
be used to. In Taipei, the streets are narrow, so trucks cannot come and pick up the
trash right in front of your house. So instead, you bring your trash to the trash truck.
Plus, taking out the garbage in Taiwan is a social affair where neighbors take time to
catch up with each other.
There’s an app called “台北倒垃圾 (Táiběi dào lèsè)” that tells you when and
where the trash trucks closest to you will be picking up trash. Most nights, the truck
closest to my house comes from around 7:05pm to 7:35pm. Where you live, there might
only be a 5-minute window for taking out the trash. The garbage trucks take a break on
Sundays and Wednesdays, so keep that in mind.
If you hear lullabies playing in the street and think it sounds like an ice cream
truck is driving around, that will most likely be a trash truck. Also, you will need to buy
special blue trash bags! Recycling can go in any disposable bag, but trash has to go in
the approved trash bags (you can buy this at 7/11).
It is also important to note that in Taiwan, trash is pronounced “lèsè,” which is
probably different than what you were taught to say in the US!
Water view of Taipei 101
Many of Taipei’s apartments and office buildings have ancient and weak
plumbing systems, which means they cannot handle toilet paper. So instead of flushing
toilet paper, you are supposed to throw it away in the trashcan next to the toilet. At first,
this seems weird and is a little challenging to get used to, but after doing it every day, it
becomes easy, and you do it without a second thought.
3. Eating-Out Culture
Taiwan has a big eating-out culture; by “big,” I mean you will never eat at home.
Eating out is cheaper than buying all the ingredients needed to cook a meal. In the US, I
usually eat cereal/yogurt/toast every morning in my house, but in Taiwan, I buy my
breakfast every morning on my way to the bus stop. There’s a little shop run by two
ladies who make absolutely phenomenal sandwiches. So almost every morning, my
roommate and I will pick up sandwiches and iced black tea (a tea and a sandwich
usually cost about 45 kuai or USD 1.50). For lunch, the NTU cafeteria and the
restaurants in the surrounding area all have excellent food. And for dinner, a night
market is always a fun choice
My roommate and I eating sandwiches while waiting for our morning bus.
4. 7/11 is EVERYWHERE
7/11 is open 24/7 and is a cultural phenomenon in Taiwan. It is so convenient that
you can almost become overreliant on 7/11. You can find anything you need there, like
High-Speed Rail Tickets, an easy card (for public transportation), meals, snacks,
mosquito bite relief cream, etc. My housemates and I go to the 7/11 closest to our
house, so often, all the employees recognize us. We absolutely adore the man who
works late at night and always chat with him on our late-night ice cream runs.
5. Using the bus vs. the MRT
Public transportation in Taiwan is easy to figure out and the best way to get
around. But, of course, everyone has opinions about whether the bus or the MRT is
better, and ultimately you’ll decide for yourself once you arrive. I love using both, but
each has pros and cons.
Pros for the bus: all of the bus drivers I have encountered have been very nice, it will
probably get you closer to your destination than the MRT, sometimes the bus is faster
than the MRT because you do not have to walk too far to find a bus stop.
Cons for the bus: the bus schedule is super confusing (I use two apps when taking the
bus somewhere, one to navigate and one for a more accurate schedule), and the times
when the bus arrives & leaves a specific stop are not very consistent.
Pros for the MRT: very reliable time schedule, fast, easy to figure out
Cons for the MRT: you might have to walk a little far to get to a station, depending on
where you are
I hope these insights help!