Teaching English in Taiwan? 3 Must-dos in Taipei
Committing to a long stay in Taiwan’s capital can be daunting as you look for activities that keep your interest. In the beginning, you hit the city’s main tourist attractions, such as the Maokong Tea Garden, the Taipei Zoo and the National Palace Museum, where the novelty of everything makes you feel alive. But as time goes by and your must-do activity list shrinks, you ask yourself, what is there to do throughout the year that can be done many times over and still be fun? In Taipei? Quite a few things. When you want to have an authentic Taiwanese experience and escape the confines of the classroom, consider any one of these top three must-do activities:
The Night Markets
An adventurous diner? Then this is the place for you. You can visit the night markets of Taipei more than a dozen times and still not try everything the food stalls of Guangzhou Street, Huaxi Street and Wuzhou Street have to offer you. Just off the metro stop of Longshan Temple, you can make the rounds as an Anthony Bourdain wannabe and pique your palate with an oyster omelette or a plate of fermented deep-fried “stinky tofu” – just follow your nose. While the area’s food stalls are the main attraction, you can book a street massage, buy a souvenir, play a game of chance, or just watch happy food snackers go by.
A Hot Bath
Thanks to the location of Taiwan on the Pacific Rim’s Ring of Fire, there are natural hot springs to bathe in and enjoy just about everywhere on the island. A 20-minute metro ride from Taipei’s Main Station will take you to Beitou, a spot that features both hot and cold springs, and a range of facilities from easily accessible bath-houses to five-star spas. Shann Garden, in particular, is worth visiting. Built on the lush green mountainside of Beitou, Shann Garden has been spoiling visitors since the 1920s. Today, Shann Garden visitors can soak in the outdoor pool and watch curls of sulphuric steam rise from the Beitou valley, drink tea in the Japanese-inspired teahouse, or nibble on Hong Kong-style fresh abalone and Taiwanese pork stew rice.
Knick Knacks and More
The Taiwan Handicraft Promotion Centre is the one-stop shopping place for all things Taiwanese and not-so Taiwanese. The government-run centre boasts four floors of stuff, such as glass card holders, replicas of Taipei museum treasures, and a bamboo product line featuring socks and shampoo. The variety of Taiwanese-made products here is astounding.
Teaching English in Taiwan is quite a different experience to teaching an English course London schools run. But whether you’re teaching English to locals in Taipei or to foreign students at St Georges International in London, you’ll want to make sure you find some decent things to do in your spare time. Anyone spending some time in Taipei definitely won’t want to miss these three highlights.