So I thought I share my experience after finishing up my 12 days of military conscription. Just to be clear, you have to get approval to do only 12 days from usually the mayor of the city if you apply. It’s usually 4 months depending on what year you were born and possibly 14 months if you are born before a certain year like me. I moved back to Taiwan about 3 years ago after being born here and moving away to the states at the age of 9. I have dual U.S and ROC citizenship so the past 3 years I have been staying for 180 days using my ROC passport and leaving and coming back with my U.S passport every 3 months. Partly for work and my mom also got sick with cancer so leaving for 14 months without working a real job and leaving my mom was not a great option. I found out they allowed a 12 day conscription for someone in my situation and applied for it.
How to get approval
I’m not 100% clear and you should read up on information and talk to someone at the military enlistment office in your district to be sure. Because IF you report for duty, and you get denied approval to only do 12 days, you will have to do 4 months or 14 months depending on what year you were born it. I got approved because i’m the only son and mom lives with me and had stage 3 cancer. So family reason is one, I believe your parents have to be sick enough, so stage 1-2 cancer would not be considered. Another example is if you are a father of 2 kids under 12 years old, so one kid would not count.
Another way to get approved after reporting is filing for physical and medical reason. Things like heart conditions like high or low blood pressure, major sugary or injury to your body that would make it difficult to serve, even things like high BMI or low BMI would count. But again, if you file for doing only 12 days and you don’t get approved, you will do what time was is normally required for you do. Also when you go pick which branch, it doesn’t matter if you got approved as you will get put in the army at the end.
What to bring
- ROC ID
- NHI card
- Your stamp
- Money/ and lots coins to use for the vending machine
- Razor to shave
- Nail cutters (they check)
- tooth brush
- body wash
- Face wash
- Underwear and black socks to throw away after (They use mass washing and extremely unhygienic in the place)
- Glasses if you wear contacts\
- Anti bacterial soap and hand sanitizer
- Black and blue pen
- pocket note book
- Phone (can not be a xiomi phone and possibly other chinese phones in the future as Xiomi apparently has a program that allows them to collect data without you knowing and send it to there servers to collect)
- Portable charger (theres like 100 of you with 30min of phone time with 6 sockets)
- Cigarettes if you smoke
Mainly bring toiletries and things you will throw away after, I will explain why…you won’t want to bring back anything you wore.
Not all schedules will be the same.
550-clean your assigned areas
750-1120- basic training and classes
2-520-basic training and classes
So you usually meet at a train station and they take you by train with other people from your area. I went to the Taipei train station and went with many other conscripts from the Taipei area. Once I got there we filled out fill out some paper work with your information. My Chinese is average, I can speak pretty well, read decently but not really write much. So I had people help me write some of the info, so be friendly and personable if this is the case for you. Know what blood type you are and the birth day in ROC year of your parents. They also took away your phone and electronic devices and inspected what you brought. So the first 3 thing I did when you get there is they shave my head really short even though I tried to get a short hair cut before hoping they wouldn’t buzz it and make me look like a Buddhist monk. No luck in that department, although it wasn’t so bad. Some people looked awful but I looked ok. And since it was hot and we didn’t have much time to take care of our hair, short buzzed hair wasn’t so bad. Next I picked up our army camo uniform. They were used and none fit be correctly as i’m about 190, the tallest person there. After that they took you to the store to buy supplies. I suggest you buy extra green undershirt and you will sweat a lot and not much time to shower so a nice change of clothes is useful. Bottles of water is also recommended. Next they drug test you so don’t think about going wild before you leave. They assign you a number and put you in classes. I was 36 and was in class 3. You will literally be sleeping side by side with your group members and doing everything with your group for the next 12 days so I suggest you try to get along with them and work together. First day they taught us how to fold the blankets and other things in the morning before breakfast, you don’t have much time and if you have a bunch of people in a room trying to fold a blanket on their own it’s impossible. No space and it’s hard to fold really neat so get your group to work together early if no one has figured it out. I’m 25 and many people are 19-23 so even though i’m not much older, I would say i was more mature and able to handle the environment compared to most people. So lead your group if they are not able to. Also I will share things that happened using nick names in number.
We woke up and 29 was sick, he just laid in bed and didn’t clean with us. You’ll be hearing about 29 a lot. Became friends with other Andrew, chef, 34, and Gandhi.My class became friends pretty much due to geographic location. We slept side by side on the bunks, sat next to each other in order when we ate, and cleaned and sat and stood next to each other in every class and basic training drills. So we had to get along. Some of them did get on my nerves, but that’s expected as I probably would not have made friends with them normally and we were always right next to each other. I got along with most people. And they stuck to me as I told someone I trained muay thai and fought before. As the tallest and biggest guy there, people spread that around and it became like a legend. Everyone left me alone and was a bit scared of me, but i’m a pretty nice guy if you talk to be and don’t do anything to disrespect me. A lot of times my friends did get in arguments and other people backed off because they knew they were in my group. We did some basic training like how to stand the 2nd day. Make sure you shave and cut your nails as they inspect the first couple days. Basically, don’t make yourself stand out the first couple days and follow the rules and they won’t bother you much. Me unfortunately none of the uniform really fit and my Chinese name is almost the same as Jeremy Lin along with being the same height as him so I drew a lot of attention, but not in a negative way. No phone use the 2nd day, they have to inspect them. It was incredibly hot at night when i’m sleeping in the top bunk with no AC. I was sweating the whole night. We also learned that 50% of people were there for physical reasons like a injury and the other half was family circumstances. So we won’t be doing much physical activities. In fact many people sat out when we stood out in the sun because their leg hurts…I tore my knee up and it hurts often but still, I keep myself in good shape so it’s not a bad as if you just use it as an excuse and sit around saying your leg hurts. Gandhi actually lost weight to have a low BMI to be here. So it’s entirely possible for you to starve yourself or eat mcdonalds for 2 months straight and be way out of shape to be here instead of 4 or 14 months. Funny story here, we had to write our blood type, people in our group wrote O, so chef was like ok, I’m going to O too! we all laughed at him for days about this. As O is the universal donor so not what you should put in case someone needs your blood or if someone can’t find O when you need it. And it simply doesn’t work like that.
They allowed smoking during break and 30min of phone time at night. We had to turn off wifi, bluetooth, gps to use it. And the phone was kept in a faraday cage locker when not used. We did sneak one selfie on the last day because we are so bad assThey did check the uniform, facial hair and nails so people who fail lost the privilege to smoke or use their phones. Smokers were dying for the last 2 days, I worked with some people with alcoholism and drug addiction, it’s scary how they talk about smoking the same way. We had to learn some army songs, I would recommend people remember them, or else you might not be able to smoke or use your phone the next day.
29 still hasn’t cleaned once or washed the dishes and people are starting to notice and get pissed at him. I finally pooped today, most people took a couple days to poop. They only had a squatting toilet and I cant physically do the asian squat to poop. And I had no idea which way to face, apparently you face the side that has the hole, but I felt like people were fucking with me and it’s the other way. The whole experience was painful, I just cant do that with my body. These 2 guys kept speaking English with each other, ninja turtle and doctor. One was short and was bulky fat with short arms, he kinda looked like a ninja turtle with his head shaved and short bulky arms. They both went to Michigan state and spoke English so they kept talking to each other. I would recommend you speak Chinese mostly, at least to start. They obviously did not fit in well, it’s import you fit in or you’re going to have a hard time. A lot of people didn’t memorize the army song so we go yelled at. Which is pretty much the worst thing that happens. You’ll soon realize that they can’t really do much to discipline you and they are there just to baby sit and make sure no one dies. Most of these people are so physically weak. And in actuality, some of them should have been put in the regular service to get some discipline. I had a harder time in my middle school football team in Texas running 2 a days in 100+ degree weather in full pads having coaches grab your facemask and screaming at the top of their lungs in you face making you run sprints the whole practice. Some of these guys are so sheltered and weak minded it’s sad.
We marched and sang more army songs. Many people sat out, people with high BMI…it’s pretty pathetic. They are were worried about us getting hurt on getting a heat stroke. Make us drink water constantly. 29 finally clean but he clearly has never done anything by himself and was terrible at it. Don’t be this guy, people hated him and he had no friends the entire time.
29 didn’t fold his blanket this morning and people lost their smoking privileges. Everyone was already pissed at him, so bunch of us went back and messed up his bed and threw his things around. Don’t mess with people’s smoking a free period. People started to get sick. And the reason is simple, we are all in a room sleeping side by side. They tell us to clean but with no cleaning supplies, so we just spread the germs around especially in the bath room. I’m surprised no one got staph infections. The things we clean the bath rooms with, we use to clean the living quarters… No soap in the bathroom so people just washed with water which just spread germs around. Mass washing, just spreads more germs around. We started to wear masks but it didn’t really help as we are all living so close to each other. About 10% of people were sick at this point. And they told us not to use the fan after being outside and cover our bellys from cold…you know, the usual Taiwanese BS myths. Instead of maybe washing our hands maybe or having cleaning supplies to actually clean with. I had to explain to 34 that being cold doesn’t make you sick…bacteria and viruses make you sick. It’s like they never learned this in school or something. Also, this isn’t exactly the most healthy bunch I was with. Most of them have been holed up playing video games and have high BMI and other things. So this was honestly a perfect storm for illness to spread. As I’m guessing their immune system wasn’t the best. Stupidly, I actually ran a lot and did a lot of push ups and pull-ups as I thought we were going to be doing that. I was already in shape but I expected some sort of physical fitness throughout the 12 days. We did 30 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups and ran one lap on the track 2 different time during the 12 days. I would do push ups on my own there and sit ups. It was pretty miserable as for me, not working out is like a smoker not being able smoke. Also, many are here for family medical reasons. So people have family members who are doing or finished chemo, so any sickness they bring home could be dangerous for someone who almost no immune system to protect them.
Chef woke up grumpy for some reason. I think it was because people were talking during the night, he actually went and told on them and one of the soldiers looking after us in the night shift came and told us to shut up. It was awful wearing the masks when it’s so hot already. 3 more people got sick this morning. They told us to clean our living quarters with alcohol…but they used 1:5 alcohol to water ratio…and it was like 70% alcohol so it’s basically like pouring beer around our rooms. They seem to cheap out on every thing possible. We now started to wash our own plates and bring it back. I’m not sure that’s the best idea as the wash area is outside and dirty, and bringing it back to where people are getting sick seems like a awful idea. They have zero clue on how to prevent sicking from spreading. An high official came to talk to us at night…he seemed like a complete moron and really didn’t say anything. He would laugh at his own jokes and seemed like the person that would be the first to surrender during war time. Complete waste of time.
We watched videos all day. About not doing drugs and drinking a driving. I guess this is a huge problem in the military as we see a lot of posters around about it. Gandhi got in an argument with 37 who is in class 4 but sleeps next to our connected bunk. He was doing push ups and sit ups in the middle of the night for no reason…the bunks are connected that if one person makes a small movement we all felt it. 37 was an idiot and said he was trying to lose weight…he was overweight and socially weird.People didn’t really like 37, even in his class so no one backed him. And also, no one really messed with my class or me. In fact, many of these guys are really weird. One guy was called the dick shaker…he would shake his dick profusely after he finish peeing where his entire body would shake… The next 3 days are the dog days.
Watched more boring videos all day.
More videos about drinking and driving and drugs.
More videos, but everyone was excited to leave. I had to use the bathroom really bad, but unfortunately I just can’t do the asian squat and some of my poop did not make it in the toilette. The captain of our unit came to talk to us about it and asked whoever did that to clean it…so i snuck off to clean it. While I was trying to clean up my mess discreetly, dick shaker popped his head into the stall and asked whos poop that was… and proceeded to try to make small talk with me while I tried to clean up.
Last day, we turned our stuff in and did finale cleaning and finally left. We actually got all our leftover body wash and shampoo to clean the bathroom with. There was so much black and green mold and it might be the first time in ages where anything was actually used to clean the whole bathroom in ages.
So it was honestly a complete waste of time. The only benefit I got out of it is I was forced to use my chinese and improved it. I don’t know any place like Taipei where you can get away with not using any chinese honestly.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’m sure I left things out, i’ll try to add more as I remember it.