“Then Leave, Peace Out”

Elizabeth Wang, Editor-in-Chief

With COVID-19 cases rapidly increasing in the United States, many countries have placed a travel ban on U.S. citizens from entering their borders. For those lucky enough, this ban can be bypassed if you have another passport. And that’s exactly what I have: a Taiwanese passport. 

The moment I landed in TPE airport, gone were the bustling and aggressive lines of SFO, as staff members politely guided me towards immigration. There was no stress of collecting my luggage or missing a bus and needing to call a taxi as I took the metro to the city. 

Many people in Taiwan prefer to take the metro, purchasing a card and refilling it when needed, and then walking the remaining distance to their destination compared to the congested roads. While it takes time to get used to the constant aching from walking so much, this adds a healthy step to your day. Trust me, you’ll thank it later once it balances out the many delicious foods that you eat. 

Taiwan street food is out of this world; one can buy the juiciest meat buns for $1, savory green onion pancakes for $1, and tender beef noodle soup for $6- all on the street! And even the world-renowned restaurant chains such as Ding Tai Fung, known for their infamous soup dumplings and long lines in America, is considered a regular treat in Taiwan. There is hardly ever a line, and in the rare instance that there is and you grow hungry, you can simply go to a convenience mart (or “gas station” in the United States). Three prominent chains in Taiwan are Family Mart, H-Mart, and 7/11. While they have a low reputation in the U.S., they are essentially mini-cafes in Taiwan. Filled with premade bentos, onigiris, warmed up buns, ramen — each store has microwaves and hot water stations where guests can sit down, charge their phones, and eat. But if you get too full, don’t worry, just walk out and turn right, where there’s a night market waiting for you. 

The best part of Taiwan is its nightlife. Taipei, where many of my relatives live, is the central hub of both clubbing and famous night markets. While the legal age to drink is 18 there, many prefer to go to the karaoke bars or night markets instead. The latter, I went to many, including one of the largest, called XiMenDing. Known as the Harajuku of Taiwan, this market takes over the span of many roads and large intersections filled to the brim with street performers and tourists at night. There is an abundance of different stores — anime shops, bakeries, hat stands, “hypebeast” stores where fake designer items can be found — where anything and everything can be bought. Or you can wander around the bustling streets, stumbling into one of the many neon claw-machine rooms, or try your hand at throwing darts, or catching a goldfish with a paper net.

But wait, how is this all open, you might ask. 

Taiwan has a very strict policy for returning residents and visitors — a mandatory 14-day quarantine, with hourly temperature and location checks to make sure one is appropriately quarantining. This policy enables everyday life to resume as restaurants, stores, and clubs are all open to the public — with mandatory temperature checks at each door, of course. 

So, President Trump, when you said, “If you don’t like it here, then you can leave.”

I say to that, gladly.