Many people praise and love Taiwan, but they probably are not very aware of the hush-hush topics on the downsides of living in Taiwan.
Even though Taiwan has numerous benefits, but just like any other country, it does have its negative sides.
If fact, ANY country has its own drama and things secluded from the public, don’t you think?
The things I discuss below should not leave you to just think about the bad impressions about Taiwan, instead, it should make you think about wherever you are right now, how much do you know and how much you don’t know.
With all the benefits I praised about Taiwan in the previous post, now it’s time to hold your breath and bear with me as I walk you through the downside of living in Taiwan, warning: hand holding may be required, sit in a chair so you don’t faint and fell on the floor.
Note that a lot of information are collected from local Taiwanese with many things tied to one another with cause and effect.
Downsides of living in Taiwan
1. Natural Disasters
This is unavoidable, sh*t happens.
Taiwan, given the location, has earthquakes, typhoon, flood, landslide, drought, viral disease…what have you.
Here’s a list Wiki’s List of countries by natural disaster risk if you are interested.
And because there are questionable buildings, lands being used improperly, trees being massively destroyed, uncleaned gutters and so forth, landslides and floods just worsen from man-made problems.
We humans are more fragile than we think, we just don’t like to admit it.
2. Potential Disease
Bats, rats, wild monkeys oh my!
H1N1, malaria, dengue fever are not new.
Taiwan is a tropical country that is usually very humid and hot.
Last time I remember learning from biology class is that bacteria and virus are highly cultivated in warm climates.
Being high traffic country where travelers flock in from all over the world, let’s hope the airport disease control team is on their toes.
Taiwan has a lot of buses, cars, motorbikes, scooters, trucks, factories and so forth. There’s not enough ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ transportation to outweigh the pollution that is being released into the air and there are not enough factories that care enough to ‘go green’.
4. Environment Not Very Clean
I’m not sure why but there are stray dogs everywhere. They don’t look healthy and they poop everywhere.
Aside from stray dogs, there are lots of open door food eatery markets.
Not that there’s anything wrong with outdoor eating, but there is trash everywhere, air is polluted, a lot of scooters and motorbikes driving next to the chief’s food stall.
But then, to Taiwanese, this is completely normal.
If you compare to first world countries, like Japan or Switzerland, Taiwan is a filthy place.
If you compare to third world countries, Taiwan is so modern and clean.
Well, I guess, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Maybe one should eat everything from the street and develop their own super-human immunity with kick-ass white cells to stay alive to the very end of the world like roaches do.
5. Too Noisy
High traffic, Taiwanese talk loud, constructions everywhere.
Any real estate where you see night markets and heavy business areas are being zoned, don’t expect a peaceful sleep.
Invest in earplugs and sleeping mask.
6. Questionable Food
The food industry is HUGE in Taiwan. In fact, I’d say quite a lot of Taiwanese are very business minded.
To older generations, they prefer to have their kids be white collar because of the steady salary, perceived as more educated and ‘seems smarter’.
Younger generations, some likes the steady salary and mingling with the office culture, some not so much, want to start businesses and execute their ideas. No good or bad, no right or wrong, just whatever one prefers.
There are lots of new businesses being found and closed every day.
People are usually not aware what’s behind the curtains because things are nice and glamours on the outside.
Do they adhere to the code of conduct, food hazardous regulations, hygiene standards, food grade system and so forth?
I’d say, skeptic.
A while back there was a scandal about gutter oil being sold in numerous stores, bakeries, within products and restaurants all over Taiwan, so…what other questionable things we have yet to discover? The things you buy in supermarkets in the country you live in, are they trustworthy?
Guess time will tell.
Okay, even if the oil is safe and all ingredients pass the “standard”, Taiwanese dish tends to be overly processed for the taste.
Deep fried, heavily sauced, processed seasonings, low-grade ingredients, sugar loaded pastries and added preservatives, all these silent killers could potentially charge you a big chunk of debt in your health credit card each time you enjoy them.
7. Questionable Buildings
There are lots of constructions going on in Taiwan.
Different places have increased in population, prospering with new business, moving on with the pattern of supply and demand.
Some of the older buildings have been remodeled, renovated or add-on. Some done their construction due diligence such as meeting the city hazardous standards and safety requirements, however, a lot of old ones or remodeled ones, did not.
Here’s Taipei Time’s article on Contractors blamed for deadly building collapse.
8. Questionable Government
Questionable government system…Taiwan is certainly not the first.
Back in 2004, President Chen Shui Bian was accused of corruption bribery charges.
Taiwan’s legislature seems to get into physical fist fight more often than needed.
Some more other scandals here and there, it’s hard to keep up.
Were the problems solved? Not really.
Did everyone enjoy the drama? Maybe.
9. Odd Relationship With China
The tension between Taiwan and China is not new, it’s just been hanging there.
From the very first time I visit Taiwan until now, many years went by and it’s still like this.
Some told me China will attack Taiwan anytime, some said Taiwan will eventually become part of China, some said other stuff.
Well, ISIS threatens the world and Taiwan are on the list too.
Great, besides natural disasters, we have to battle with man-made disasters.
Isn’t that very similar to like, not only we have to battle criticism from the outer world, we have our inner voice to deal with?
All these lead me to think:
“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.”
― Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes
10. News Not Real News
A Taiwanese friend told me, quite a lot of Taiwanese news channel are very much for entertaining purpose.
There are lots of delicious food recommendations, the cute girl spotted working in McDonald, so-and-so celebrity’s boob was fake, government drama, scandals and so forth.
The reality is too painful at times and the entertainment ones are too brainless sometimes.
Yes admit it, we humans are so hard to please.
Some people are very much into these type of ‘news drama’ and would spend a lot of their precious time ‘discussing’ about the events on TV.
Some people, like me, choose to turn off the TV.
11. Pressuring Society Norms
Taiwan is a collectivist country that values heavily on obeying the social norm and obedient to the authority and some elderly.
Many older generation taught the belief of:
You must get an education to find a good job.
You must get perfect grades because that determines your life.
You must be respectful to the elderly.
You must take care of your parents.
You must be loyal to your family.
A woman should be housewives and husband should be the breadwinner.
Students, workers, families and a lot of people live in a tight niche of their own, wanting to fit in so they don’t stand out.
If they do, they will face some severe discrimination, shaming, attacks, and hardships.
Stress intensifies, one may feel complacency and dissatisfaction.
When they are not able to control their mind, chaos may erupt.
While the pattern replays, one’s mindset are preconditioned to follow.
12. People Don’t Care
‘Since someone already throws trash on the floor, it’s okay for me to throw it here too.’
‘Since the floor is dirty anyways, it’s okay for me to do more damage since I’m not the only one.’
‘Since everyone is doing it, it’s okay for me to do it too.’
Now that you’ve seen the hidden side of living in Taiwan, let’s do an interesting exercise.
Replace the word ‘Taiwan’ in this post to the place where you live in right now and see how many were not true.