• 18/Mar/2018 at 10:00

Taiwan is always a shocking destination for me. It reminds me to many other countries in the region, but to none of them completely. The island has belonged to China and to Japan, and both cultures are still present as of today. The way they use technology reminds me, on the other hand, to Korea.

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People look at their phones all the time, regardless of what they are doing: working, driving, eating in a restaurant, or even in a date. They can be chatting with an intense use of smileys and GIFs, reading blogs or news, or simply playing a game. This makes me reflect whether this is where we are going or there is a culture factor that makes this addiction more extreme here than in Western countries.

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At certain times of the day, you can see the streets full of children wearing their uniforms and, thanks to its safety environment, returning home on their own (in groups, though) from the school at a very young age.

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Taipei is a futuristic city and the capital of a country which has a complicated political situation. China thinks that they are still part of the country, while some Chinese citizens consider it worth it to enter into a war to reconquer the island. In any case, you do not feel they are under a menace, unlike other areas in the region (for instance, Seoul).

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This last visit to Taipei offered me the opportunity to discover it a bit better thanks to some free time, and wander around Taipei. I enjoyed the tasty street food in one of its many night markets, climbed Mount Elephant to see the sunset over the city, with the Taipei 101 (once the tallest building in the world) as a key element in its skyline, and just sat and enjoyed the hectic activity of the local people in their daily routine. I also visited the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and headed to Tamsui, a small nearby town with older buildings and temples, and with a lot of seafood due to being closer to the ocean.

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One thing that keeps surprising me when I am that far from home is the amount of information they have about Spain. The driver that took me to the company I was visiting was a young guy, who had never been abroad. He had never been outside Taiwan. Still, when I said I was from Spain, he immediately linked it to Cataluña, and he was really aware of what the situation was. I think there is a lot to learn from their education that makes everyone have a keen interest on what happens regardless of how far it is. My impression is that we are only really concerned for those news that affect countries like ours.

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For instance, we are not aware at all of the typhoons they are constantly exposed to. I have been twice in Taiwan, and both times my return or some of my work there was in risk due to a typhoon approaching the island. In both cases, the typhoon did not hit Taipei in the end: either because of a sudden change of direction, or because of the typhoon weakening before arriving.

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This last time was a combination of both cases, and the typhoon brought a lot of rain, but something still manageable: companies remained open, and I could fly back home in time.

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