The standard of living in Taipei

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The standard of living here in Taiwan is pretty low ... since Taipei is its capital, things are already considerably more expensive here than, say, southern Taiwan. The things that are most expensive are imported goods and foods, and many dairy products (cheese, milk). Yet hot foods are really, really cheap here and if you shop at the night markets, shoes, clothing and accessories can be had for not much at all.

I met up for dinner with a family friend last week and he told me that a Korean rice dish which would go for about $13 or $14 in Manhattan is about $4 in Taipei and about $2 in southern Taiwan. Incredible, huh? I have lunch at sit-down restaurants every afternoon with my friends, and the average meal is about $3 or $4, with the most expensive one I've had topping out at $6. And this $6 meal included: a full red curry entree with chicken, 2 kinds of vegetables, rice and a fried egg, an iced Thai tea and "dessert" (sweet red bean pudding). I once had a $2.67 meal that consisted of half a roast duck, rice, veggies and unlimited sweet tea. I've noticed that many restaurants here tend to place a fried egg over your entree (and it's not noted in the menu). Very curious.

Here are some of the things I've bought from the night markets recently:

Faux-suede oxford shoes for $13
They didn't have many pairs left, so I took the only larger pair remaining (the average shoe size here leans towards the low end, about size 5 or 6 and I'm 7-8). I would say this is about a size 9, and paired with skinny jeans, they actually look a little like clown shoes, but otherwise, they're great.

When I was a kid, my friends and I would joke about the new clothes our relatives overseas (Hong Kong, Taiwan) would send us, because they were sure to contain some kind of "Chinglish." It seems the general grasp of English has improved, but using software jargon in the design of the footbed is still "Chinglish-y."

Lick the what? Sdarch button!

Adobe grants me permission to their software?

The women's clothing here can be extremely girly and cutesy. I admit to having a thing for big bows (and big buttons), so when I saw this, I jokingly said I could see myself wearing it. It was part of a "buy 3 for $400NT" (a little over $13) deal and my friend had chosen two other tops, so I bought it for kicks. It's a thick but soft fleece/sweatshirt-like material, and for about $4, if I hate it, I can just wear it at home.

Last, but not least, it's gotten quite cold here (not for NYC standards, but the dampness here makes 61* feel closer to what 48* feels like in NYC). My toes get really cold even just studying in my room, so I decided I would go searching for slipper-socks, not knowing if they even sold them here.

They do, but they're not cheap ... at least not compared to everything else! These were close to $8.50. I bought full-length slipper-sock boots from Old Navy two winters ago for just $5. It may have been the weekend of Black Friday, though ...

It all looks like the same color, but some of the pattern is orange while some is light pink.

Actually, I've found that their winter accessories are more "hardcore" than most of the stuff sold on the East Coast! I found angora wool socks for $3, double-ply wool gloves (I usually use the cheap $1/pair kind from Target that last about a season, unless I'm shoveling snow), thickly-knit yarn hats, ear-warmers ... I think they probably like the idea of winter too much to let the actual temperatures get in the way of wearing some cute winter accessories. Uggs (or "Uggs") are extremely popular here. 

I'm trying not to spend too much money on unnecessary things, seeing as I have no source of income and I would like to spend most of my money on traveling. It's not too hard to not lust after the clothes here, though, because the style is pretty different from what I typically wear. I'm sure it'll all grow on me in time.

Meanwhile, I am lusting after this French Connection coat, which, even on sale, is over $200. It's got a huge bow-thingy!

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