Tainan, Taiwan: Can I help you?


G at Chikan Towers“Can I help you?” is a great thing to hear while traveling. At home, I rarely hear anyone offer to help. Over the last two years on my two-mile walk home to and from school, I have called 911 several times after a traffic accident. I am trained as a first responder from working on cruise ships, at camps and at schools.

It would not occur to me not to call but each time a by-stander or someone in the accident is so thankful that I called and helped at the scene. It shocks me that someone would not call or step up but most people don’t.

I do notice while we are in a foreign country how much I appreciate someone offering his or her assistance. In Taiwan, any time we looked lost even for a moment a kind person offered to help us. From the moment we exited the Metro in Taipei, a woman appeared and walked us to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. She turned out to have family in Orange County only an hour from our home.

While walking in Tainan when we could not find Chikan Towers (which was literally one more block to our left, but I felt very lost and frustrated), a man in the noodle shop said in English, “Can I help you?”; I was so happy; I felt like someone threw me a life ring and I was no longer drowning and alone. I had been navigating our day in Tainan and just could not figure out where the next place was although I knew we were so close.

The nice noodle man helped us order noodle soup with no meat and even offered us a nearly 50 percent discount on our meal since there was no shrimp. Taiwan has been an amazing destination for the great sites and clean streets but also for the friendly people who have wanted to speak English with us and just get to know us, not to sell us anything.

Video: Tasty Tainan
At Lily’s fruit Bar, we ordered by pointing at the food of others around us but the woman did seem used to tourists and later her son spoke to us in English. He had spent ten months in San Francisco. We told him he spoke well but like all the others we spoke to in English; he disagreed with us. The red bean and ice creation was sweet and the pineapple was delicious. The food was so unique to us that we just had to video tape our meal!

Video: Towering Around Tainan

Our hostel, the Tainan Teachers Hotel, formerly Confucius Hotel (the name in the Lonely Planet and across the street from the Confucius Temple), offered us a huge discount which we gladly took and it even included breakfast and a great map of the area. I was surprised when I opened the drawer in the desk and it contained the “Book of Buddha”; and a condom called “Safeway.” You just never know what you will find in a hotel room!
I highly recommend visiting Taiwan, the people are friendly, the transportation system is incredible and the sites are superb. Our next post will include stories and videos of children we met and spoke with on the streets of An Ping and Beitou.

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Author’s Notes:
We hope to see you this Tuesday,  June 21, at Hotel Angeleno for Travel Happy Hour.
More details at www.wesaidgotravel.com

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

3 responses to “Tainan, Taiwan: Can I help you?

  1. Taiwan has a lot of English speaking citizens in Taipei. But in the rural side, you need a local companion or a guide to navigate.

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