Weather in Taiwan

Going to Taiwan in the summer? Better stuff your suitcase with t-shirts and shorts.

As soon as you walk out of the airport in Taipei, you’ll understand why. Even late at night, the humidity and heat can be surprisingly intense. For first-time travelers, it can be hard to understand how anyone could live here, much less go about their business as though nothing was wrong.

Summer is hot. Really hot.

Here is a huge tip for dealing with Taiwanese weather: don’t try anything too strenuous at first. Just hang in there. Most buildings (even the tiniest restaurants) have air conditioning. In a day or two you will acclimate to the temperature and humidity.

Top 3 Travel Tips for Dealing with Summers in Taiwan

1. Buy a water bottle

It’s easy to get dehydrated in humid weather, so be sure to drink up. You can get a good water bottle for NT$39 at Daiso, a department store in Taipei. (That’s about US$1.) Carry it with you everywhere.

2. Get an umbrella

It’s worthwhile to invest in another defense against the heat: an umbrella. In the US, sun umbrellas are rare, but in Taiwan they’re almost everywhere you look. Cheap and effective, a sun umbrella is a must.

A good umbrella can be purchased at a convenience store for between NT$100 and NT$150. (For those of you who haven’t installed an exchange rate calculator in your brain, that’s about US $3-5).

3. Enjoy the summer showers!

Your umbrella will keep you cool and shady under the oppressive sun. Keep it around for protection from the warm, short, and not entirely unpleasant summer showers.

Most shops and restaurants put out a box for wet umbrellas at the entrance. Don’t worry about yours getting stolen; umbrellas are so cheap that nobody will bother. Just don’t forget it when the clouds clear and you step out into the summer sunshine.

By the way…

On the subject of umbrellas, let’s talk about tanning in Taiwan. Or better yet, the dislike of being tan. Many Taiwanese women carry umbrellas simply because being tan is considered unfashionable. Forget about buying tanning creams and lotions. In Taiwan the market is for whitening creams and powders.

Until fairly recently, Taiwan had an agricultural society. The working class spent the days in the fields under the sun, while the privileged stayed indoors. Back then, pale skin meant upper-class.

These days Taiwan is much more industrial and modern, but the skin-tone distinction lives on in fashion. No longer an indicator of class, pale skin is just considered stylish.

Winter is cold. Really cold.

Winters in Taiwan are humid, but extremely cold. Many buildings in Taiwan don’t have heating. (They certainly don’t need it in the extreme summer heat.)

If you’ll be staying in Taiwan during the winter, bulk up with layers and buy some blankets. If you’re desperate for a little warmth, invest in a space heater.

When you’re ready to stock up on blankets, heaters and Swedish meatballs, you can head to Ikea. (Yes, there’s an Ikea in Taiwan.)

Weekend Drive in Moscow

As one of the largest and oldest cities in the world, Moscow has lots to see and do. Catch a glimpse of Moscow in this two-part video.

To the throb of British house and Russian rap, the videographer takes us on a driving tour through the center of Moscow, along the Moscow River front and through the historic boulevards of the oldest districts in Moscow.

As you watch, look out for major landmarks:

  • the Russian White House (Белый Дом)
  • the historic Metropol Hotel (Метрополь) near Theatre Square
  • the red brick walls around Kitai-gorod (Китай-город) and the Kremlin
  • the newly-rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Храм Христа Спасителя)

Moscow has been torn down and rebuilt many times over during the turbulent Russian history. Onion-domed churches gave way to Russian avant-garde architecture, which in turn gave way to Soviet-era apartment housing, and now glass skyscrapers.

Theatre Square, or for cheap tickets, elsewhere

The oldest theaters of Moscow are located on the Theatre Square Teatralnaya Ploschad (Театральная площадь). Dozens of smaller theaters fill the center of Moscow. Many of the historic buildings that line the boulevards contain small concert halls and stages. These houses sell cheap tickets to some of the coolest shows in Moscow.

No car? Go by metro

In case your chauffeur has the day off, fret not. You can reach all of these places in under half an hour by metro. Moscow has one of the most extensive, efficient, and easy-to-use metro systems in Europe.

Get more info about the Moscow metro system at http://engl.mosmetro.ru/ .

Vous avez des frères et des sœurs?

Who used to kick you under the dinner table? Whose clothes did you borrow for a night out? In other words, do you have any brothers and sisters? Listen as these French men and women respond.

Listen carefully! Can you guess these words? Mouse over to reveal the answers.

  1. J’ai un petit frère et une petite sœur. Ils sont jumeaux.
  2. J’ai un frère et j’ai une sœur.
  3. J’ai deux frères. Un plus agé et un plus jeune.

Ready to dive into French language and culture?

Check out our France ForeignIQ service. Make the best of your trip to France by learning how to communicate and what (not) to do when you get there.

ForeignIQ is a unique subscription service that shows you how things get done in foreign places. Need to shop for clothes? Get directions? Schedule a meeting? ForeignIQ will get you ready.

How To Scoot Around Taiwan

Congratulations! You’ve landed in Taiwan. Now what? If you hope to travel around the island (or between Asian countries), keep these tips in mind.

North to south in six hours by car

There are several ways to travel around the island itself. One option is, of course, simply renting a car and driving. By car, it takes about six hours to traverse Taiwan from north to south.

Zip around Taiwan on the HSR

The high-speed rail (HSR) is the fastest — and most popular — way to get around Taiwan. Many people consider the HSR the pride of the Taiwanese transportation system. For just NT$1500 ($50), you can travel the length of the island in under two hours. (Remember, that would be six hours by car.)

Round-trip tickets will save you money. Discounts are available for groups of travelers, children, seniors. It’s best to buy a reserved-seating ticket in advance, although non-reserve tickets are also available.

For the truly adventurous

Want to keep your mother awake at night? Adventurous travelers can go by moped, staying in different hostels along the way.

Flights between Asian countries

For travel around Asia, the moped won’t cut it.

Taiwan’s largest airport is the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE, formerly the Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport). It offers international flights from northern Taiwan. Since 2008, the airport has offered direct flights across the strait to mainland China.

For international flights from southern Taiwan, use the Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH).

Automatic 30-day visa

Visitors to Taiwan carrying a US passport (valid for 6 months after entry) and a confirmed airline ticket (to another country or back to the US) automatically receive a free 30-day visa. A warning: the 30-day visa cannot be extended once issued.

Travelers who wish to stay longer than 30 days must apply for a visa before entering Taiwan. A traveler’s visa can be obtained from a Taiwanese consulate in the US, and costs around $140.

Passport stamp: ROC

Travelers visiting Taiwan should know that Taiwan is under the control of the government of the People’s Republic of China. However, Taiwan has its own government and is fairly autonomous. This is an extremely sensitive political issue. Do not bring it up in casual conversation.

  • Taiwan is officially the Republic of China, or ROC.
  • Mainland China is officially the People’s Republic of China, or PRC.

For more info

For more details on visa requirements, visit http://taiwan.visahq.com.

Pirozhki Galore

Did your grandmother sit at the kitchen table for hours each Sunday, rolling dough and crimping the edges? If not, you’ve been missing out.

Pastries and buns, called pirozhki (пирожки), are one of the most traditional and tastiest Russian baked goods. They come with all sorts of different breads and fillings.

Don’t worry about forks or knives. Pirozhki can be eaten with your hands.

Tastiest pastries in all the land.

Pirozhki can come with any number of fillings. The most common fillings are meat, cabbage, mushrooms, potatos, and apples.

pirozhok s… (пирожок с…) – pastry with…
  • myasom (мясом) – meat
  • kapustoi (капустой) – cabbage
  • gribami (грибами) – mushroom
  • kartoshkoi (картошкой) – potato
  • yablokami (яблоками) – apple

Practice your Russian: Pirozhki Stuffing 101

Check out this video on how to fill pastry dough with filling.

Watch and listen carefully! Can you figure out these words?

  1. Vot eto moyo drozhzhevoye testo.
  2. Ya ne delayu evo sil’no krutym… pirozhki ya lyublyu tak.
  3. Vot tak vy otshchipyvaite. Dal’she, razminaite.
  4. Pal’tsy predvaritel’no smazat’ ractitel’nym maslom.
  5. Vykladyvayem nachinku… i zashchiplyayem.
  6. Obychno, ya kladu pirozhki shvom vniz na protvin’.
  7. Shchas (Seichas) pokazhu kak delat’ kosichku.
  8. Poluchayetsya vot takaya kosichka.
  9. Stavim pirozhki dlya rasstoiki na protvin’. Vsyo!

Variations on a theme

Pirozhki aren’t made with just potatoes and cheese. There are lots of tasty variations. Here are few creative combinations. Try them all. (As if you could resist!)

khachapuri (хачапури)

Flakey dough with salty cheese filling (of Georgian origin).

kulebyaka (кулебяка)

Baked dough with multiple layers of different fillings inside.

cheburek (чебурек)

Flat dough with peppery ground beef inside (of Turkish origin).

vatrushka (ватрушка)

Round dough with tvorog (творог) (farmer’s cheese) in the middle.

rasstegai (расстегай)

Bread bowl or flute with the filling poured into it (usually fish).

6 Rad Places to Visit While You’re in Taiwan

There are many locations in Taiwan that allow you to both enjoy the island’s beauty while also learning about its culture.

From the huge retail outlets (like the Eslite Bookstore in Taipei) to the fun and kooky theme restaurants (our favorite: the Modern Toilet restaurant), Taiwan offers plenty of attractions.

Here are our top picks.

1. Taroko National Park

If you have enough time and an adventurous attitude, check out the Taroko National Park. Explore the park while staying in a nearby hostel or hotel. The name “Taroko” means “beautiful,” and this park lives up to its name.

Take a high-speed tour of the park in this video:

2. Taipei 101

For an aerial view of Taipei, head to the Taipei 101. This 101-storey skyscraper was the tallest in the world for a moment in time (2004-2010 to be exact.)

The building is one of the modern engineering marvels of the world. An inner pendulum stabilizes the giant structure, preventing damage from strong winds or earthquakes.

Take the elevator to the 89th floor and enjoy the view from the Indoor Observatory. Hike up a few more flights of stairs to the outdoor Observatory and restaurant.

Find more news and information about the Taipei 101 at here.

3. Ferris wheel at the Miramar Mall

If you’re in the mood for a more down-to-earth experience (or fewer tourists), try the Ferris wheel at the Miramar Mall. The ride is cheap and accessible, and offers a view over Taipei.

 

4. Tea Houses at MaoKong

The tea houses at MaoKong are a great way to get a good view of Taipei while immersing yourself in Taiwanese culture.

Order your tea (or food) from the hosts, then enjoy the show. The hosts will serve your in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Don’t fret if your hosts don’t speak English well. The menu is usually available in English, even in the more obscure tea houses.

To scale this mountain of tea plantations, visitors have two options: gondola or bus. To take the gondola (or “sky-car”), depart from the Taipei Zoo MRT stop, then enjoy the ride along a system of cables right up to the top. The gondolas close for bad weather. (Check the schedule here.) The buses run less frequently late at night.

Can’t wait to see a tea ceremony? Check one out here:

5. Taipei Zoo

The Taipei Zoo is a another must-see. Visitors with children will appreciate the zoo’s many interesting exhibits and animals. The zoo recently acquired two giant pandas from the People’s Republic of China.

Find more zoo info here.

6. DanShui Waterfront

The DanShui Waterfront features an impressive white bridge and boardwalk. Tourists can spend hours eating, shopping and playing games at the night market. When dusk approaches, the bridge is lined with strolling couples and tourists taking pictures of the gorgeous sunset.

The DanShui Waterfront is easily accessible via MRT. Take the DanShui MRT line all the way to the end, about 40 minutes from Taipei Main Station.

Rich and Famous… or Maybe Broke?

The Russian rock band DDT (ДДТ) has recently caught the attention of Forbes magazine. The magazine placed DDT’s lead singer Yuri Shevchuk number 45 on their list of 50 most influential Russian celebrities.

In their Russian-language version, Forbes wrote that Shevchuk earned $1 million last year. Shevchuk had a bone to pick with Forbes over this statement. He said that he’s actually in debt, that Forbes’ claim of his millions has ruined his reputation, and that he resents being placed on the list of Russian “oligarchs.”

In Russia, art is only done for the sake of art. It’s rude to speak about the financial worth of the artists.

“Autumn, I haven’t seen you for a long time.”

Like most Soviet and Russian rock bands, DDT’s music is non-conformist. Unlike many of today’s bands, DDT also performs benefit concerts for various charities. Last year, Shevchuck was seen singing “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” with Bono at U2’s first concert in Russia. The concert benefited the charity ONE Campaign Against AIDS.

Check out the music video for one of DDT’s most popular and iconic songs, Osen’ (Осень, “Autumn”):

DDT’s newest album Inache (Иначе “The Other Way”) comes out this year. It has already generated a huge amount of interest both in Russia and abroad.