In the last of this trilogy, I shall share the lessons learnt travelling with a toddler in Taiwan. As the trip was the longest we’ve ever taken with our toddler (10days), it was very eventful.
Lessons that apply to Taiwan specifically:
1. They have no moneychangers! We initially thought we could find one at the towns but ended up hunting everywhere. The locals told us they change money at post offices and banks, so we found a post office, only to be told that they don’t do currency exchange and to go find a bank. Hence we went to Tainan Bank, and they told us they only take Renminbi, and that we need to go to the National Bank of Taiwan. Hence we went to National Bank of Taiwan, and they made us go to one counter to submit the money and another to do verification and back to the first to get the TWD. Imagine the amount of time we wasted and the amount of anxiety we had in the first few days of the trip. Lesson learnt: Just change at the airport or in the country that you’re coming from.
2. The roads are really tiny and scooters are king! If you intend to drive, get a tiny car and be prepared for scooters zipping left and right of you and sometimes swerving right in front of you. I felt like we were playing some video game with obstacles appearing everywhere. Not to mention that their main roads are small, with alleys even smaller. While we were driving from Tainan to Yilan, there were at least 3 accidents that jammed up the expressways and they only have 1 expressway going up north, which forks out past Taichung into 2 expressways. Having a major accident on 1 means you get delayed by a long long while… I was telling the hubs that HSR would have been much faster, but of course, we needed the car at Yilan.
3. Taiwan’s Garmin GPS that comes with the rental car isn’t easy to use. Best to have GPS coordinates ready, and the chinese names of the places you want to go, and chinese addresses, right down to which province and alley.
4. Taiwan’s clinics may reject you, so if it’s urgent, go to a hospital. Baby E had a fever the first two nights in Taiwan, and trying to find a doctor was difficult. One that we found on Google maps and tried calling was not in service anymore. When we finally located one, the doctor apologetically told us that without Taiwan’s medical card, he cannot treat Baby E because of tax issues, and advised us to go to the hospital.
5. It might not be so worthwhile to drive if you are new to Taiwan’s roads. We paid about SGD120 for rental and insurance, but also had to pay for tolls and petrol. The all in cost was about SGD150 per day, and that’s when we didn’t drive much on 2 of the days (we rented a car for 5 days in total and paid an all in cost of about SGD770 for the car, insurance, petrol, tolls and parking fees). With the kind of stress we had while driving, I think it might have been more worthwhile to hire a driver. That said, we did have a lot of flexibility of staying really long at a place and skipping others when we were bored, or going back to the hotel to chill for awhile, then heading out again.
Lessons that apply so long as you are travelling with a toddler:
1. Bring EVERY sort of medication that you can think of. While I did mention panadol syrup in my entry on what to bring when travelling with a baby or toddler, I stupidly FORGOT to bring. The result was a lot of anxiety. Bring a thermometer too. Very important.
2. Bring extra shampoo/shower gel for the kid to account for spills or the kid requesting to bathe THREE times a day. If not for Deely House who provided baby shower gel, we would not have enough to last the trip.
3. Bring 2 extra sets of clothing and lots of wet tissues when you’re out and about in case your child decides to take a flying leap across the farm’s toilet floor, like mine did. Urgh =.=” Thankfully we had one set in the car.
And that wraps up our Taiwan adventures. I really wanted to go through each attraction in detail but because of the number of places we visited, it is a little painful to do that. Let me know if there’s any place you are interested in and I can share more!