Driving to Save Your Life

There’s something about driving in Taiwan that is both comforting and exhilarating. You never know what’s going to happen, you have to be alert at all times. There are more slow drivers than there are fast, and people can’t park to save their lives. And don’t get me started on busy streets in city centres. Cars parked illegally, sometimes even three cars deep, right out onto the middle of the road. Rude. But you know, it keeps me on my toes.

Admittedly, there are (a lot of) times when you really want to tear your hair out. Oftentimes, the reason people park like absolute a**holes is for the sake of convenience. If I had to document every parking violation I saw, I would basically have a full-time job.

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Car getting towed for parking on a zebra path outside my work (first time in 3 months, they should come every day they’d make a fortune).

 

And then there are the scooters. In general, I believe that scooter drivers are actually better than people who drive cars. Having ridden a scooter on occasion, I also better understand how traffic works from their perspective. With that in mind, driving with loads of scooters becomes a lot less scary. But, as with every single type of group of people on this planet, there are the dickheads of the group. The ones that tear down roads without much regard for others, the ones that go through reds, the ones that go through red because they’re ‘only turning right’ without actually looking for oncoming traffic, or the ones that purposefully drive on the WRONG SIDE OF THE BUSY ASS ROAD disrupting everyone in their path.

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Dude in his BMW thinks it’s OK to park on the corner/red line of a busy Kaohsiung road while he picks himself up a Starbucks. It was there 10 minutes.

I feel that this horrid behaviour in driving both cars and scooters has something to do with behavioural culture. Taiwanese people, as kind as as giving as they are, can also have a darker side (generally speaking, of course). People can be ultimately rather selfish. Cutting in line, the way they treat people in the hospitality industry, and the importance of status and faceĀ are all examples of feeling as if they are god, and they should be treated as such. It really irks me when people come across all holier than thou. I guess I see it more because I technically also work in the service industry here. People think you need to carry them on your hands because you’re offering them a service, and common courtesy goes out the window. Everything for them has to be 100% the best or else they walk. Everything has to be better than what the other person is getting. Equality isn’t a given… someone is always better than someone else.

In my opinion, as soon as people let go of this ‘me me me’ attitude, then even driving will become a more pleasant experience in Taiwan. People that actually wait as you cross the zebra path rather than trying to cut you off, speeding while doing so. Cars that don’t park in the middle of the tiny road, blocking off traffic for the whole street on Old Street in any given town. Until we address inequality, though, we won’t really get there. One can dream, though… one can dream.

Bai Sha Wan Minus Tourists

If you’re looking for a tourist’s guide to BaiShaWan with this post… you’re halfway there. If you want a quiet beach to yourself with as few Chinese tourists as possible, then yes you should read on. I’m not going to talk too much about Kenting either… I just want to remember the beautiful weather tbh…

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What a baller. This is the first time I use baller. And also the last. #ChineseTourist #Superman
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Look at them all, pretending to love water… This was around 2pm.

I went in the beginning of November, midweek. It was a bit of a last-minute decision that we made on our day off. The sun was so hot that we happily paid the 300NTs for a parasol even though we only stayed for a couple of hours (for that price you can actually stay for the rest of the day). Both times we went, it was obvious there were lots of Chinese tourists milling around. But guess what? There’s a trick to this. Most people enter onto the beach through the ‘main’ entrance, where the campsite is with the bars (there also used to be shops). Well, if you just keep driving a little further down (as if you’re Kenting-bound), there’s a massive parking lot too, with very few cars. On both week days that we were there, there were also no people actually enjoying the beach for being on the beach. I even have photos to prove it! Below you’ll see photos of about 10am on Thursday morning, where there were no people!

It’s such a lovely place to chill out. The water was exceptionally gorgeous, too. I wouldn’t recommend trying to tan in the sun too long though… it got pretty damn hot after a while.

Top Tips:

  1. Go early. Late afternoon is Tourist High Tide
  2. To avoid Chinese tourists, try and go as far down the beach as possible (see above for how, relatively easily)
  3. Get a tent. It’s not expensive and will save you that horrific sunburn later
  4. BYOB. There are so many 7’s on that main road you might as well buy a few beers. Maybe bring a cooler bag. Also clean up after yourself!
  5. There ARE jelly fish. They’re small ones (so smallĀ I didn’t realise I got stung til like 3 days later, ha oops).
  6. Bring a snorkelling mask, or, failing that, just your swimming goggles. You just might see some ocean wildlife. The water gets deep real quick.
  7. Great place for watersports. If you go down to that middle bit of the beach like I say, there’s a few guys that’ll do some funky water sports with you. Definitely fun!