TAIWAN = HEAVEN… at least it does for me. Where else do you get an ultra modern city like Taipei and in less than 20 minutes be hiking in the jungle? It’s where ocean meets sea. Mondernity meets ancient culture. You’ve got 3000 meter peaks to climb and triple overhead typhoon waves to surf. It’s got delicious food, beautiful girls and a people who are curious about you as a foreigner, and are trusting almost to a fault of strangers.
These are the experiences I’ve had in Taiwan and that’s why I’m proud to say that 2019 is my tenth year, working and living here on this little known island and I’ve no plans to move anytime soon.
As good as living in Taiwan is, I wouldn’t have seen half of what Taiwan has to offer without my main girl, “Sweetbaby.” No she’s not my girlfriend, or my dog. But she is my 27 year old, 1992 Mitsubishi CMC Delica minivan.
Some say she’s ugly but I say it’s what’s inside that counts. Her body is rusty as can be but she purrs like a kitten and still gets about 40 miles to the gallon. I’ve ripped out the seats in the back in put in a bed with storage space underneath. I keep all my gear in there for any outdoor activity you can think of.
Having a van and living the vanlife opened up opportunities I never even thought about. Having a van you can sleep in, means instant mobility with no reservations. If you’ve got an itch to go surfing in Taitung, you can scratch it at 3:00 in the morning, jump in the van, press the gas pedal and just go. It’s the very definition of freedom.
One of my first adventures in Sweetbaby was surfing in Taitung. I work long hours on the weekend and would finish at 9:00 at night. I’d jump in Sweetbaby and drive all night until I got to the Donghe Rivermouth by sunrise and catch the early morning session before the onshore winds picked up.
I’d sleep in the van in the parking lot right next to the break. The sign says no camping but nobody seems to care if you sleep in a van.
And one of the most amazing things about Taiwan’s vanlife lifestyle is that there are Buddhist temples everywhere. Now I’m not religious and I’m certainly not Buddhist but one advantage to these temples is that each one has a bathroom, usually has running water and will sometimes even have drinking water. All this saves a helluva lot of time and hassle when living in a van. There’s usually an old monk who takes care of it and as long as you’re respectful, don’t make a mess and aren’t too loud, they’ll let you camp in the parking lot.
I’ve even done it in elementary school parking lots because most of them have outside bathrooms to use. Now if a heavily tattooed, bearded foreigner in a shitty ol’ van were caught sleeping in the parking lot of an elementary school in the States, he’d have the cops on his ass before the engine even cooled. But not in Taiwan, people here are so trusting that they just look at you with curiosity.
Between Sweetbaby taking me all over the island, and Taiwanese people’s allowing me to stay pretty much wherever I want on the island, I’ve been too some pretty awesome places.