TAINAN (台南) 2013–2014, current roll call & new links

There is no sub-forum for “Living in Tainan”, so I am going to appeal to the patience (?) of long-time list-members to contribute to this thread, so that
(i) People living in Tainan can find each other, and,
(ii) People new to Tainan can find current (relevant) links.

Some information of this kind is spread out (thinly) within Forumosa, and even more thinly all over the rest of the internet. One of the few crossroads I found online was The Tainan Bulletin (臺南布告欄), but I assume there are some Forumosa members who know more useful websites than this.

I understand that many people try to aggregate this kind of information for the whole island, because the distances between cities are small, the speed-train is so efficient, etc. etc.; however, there are some of us who really want to find people, places and things within a 50 km radius (including websites that lead to these things!).

Let’s be honest: I am much more interested in a decent vegetarian restaurant that is two city blocks away from me than I am in a fantastic vegetarian restaurant that is in another city, and that I may never have time to visit, etc. etc.

Let’s be honest, also: the geography of every city in Taiwan is confusing enough that you could live two city blocks away from a vegetarian restaurant and never notice it (until someone on the internet tells you where to look, etc.). I assume we have all had these experiences, with finding restaurants, tailors, and many other things, “hidden in plain sight”?

Understandably, most of the blogs of this kind go out-of-date very rapidly: the foreigners in Tainan change every year (e.g., English-speaking students at NCKU (成功大學) are different every year, and so on) and websites stop being updated, or disappear entirely (or, at least, the people disappear entirely). I can genuinely say that most information about 2009–2010 (for Tainan) is already useless in 2013 (beyond obvious tourist attractions that never move). This is not a complaint: I am saying this to encourage the few people on this website who are in Tainan to at least post a “hello!” reply, so that people can discover one-another…

…and, beyond that, it would be great if you could mention sources of information in English or Chinese that will be really useful for Tainan today.

Conversely, if the moderators want to make a sub-forum for Tainan, I can say that would be useful for me, personally. Sometimes I search for information (within Forumosa) but I get irrelevant results either because it pertains to Taipei, or because it is from so many years ago, etc. etc., and it is very hard to “leaf through” forums for information organized by city.

Thanks, and to all the Tainanese, hello!

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If you want to find out about Tainan go to the tainan bulletin
here you can find all about Tainan and keep it a secret from the rest of the world so our little bit of paradise is kept that way.
For any other information go to the Artful Dodger, Tin Pan Diner, Imma bakery and you will find a friendly face to help you out.

You can find me ( Alun) at the Artful Dodger on Dong Feng road
Welcome to Tainan ( The best kept secret in Taiwan)



…so there’s almost nobody in Tainan actively using Forumosa…

…and the only website to check is the one I already knew about (“The Tainan Bulletin”).

No other persons, places, or things to be added?

Yup, the ones from Tainan are in their own little world, the ones from Kaoh are the oddballs, and most of forumosa is in Taipei… at least that’s what I make out of these forums

Don’t have too many expectations for an expat community. As I’ve mentioned several ties, there are less than half a million foreigners in the whole country, with the majority of those being laborers and caretakers from Southeast Asia.

I don’t know the numbers but would be not at all surprised if the vast, vast majority of white collar foreign workers are in Taipei and its immediate surroundings.

Part of the charm of Tainan is how “real” it is – the stuff you see is meant for your evereday Tainanese, not so much for tourists. How many Taipeites actually go to 101 on a regular basis? Sure, Tainan is less metropolitan, but it’s very laid-back and has a lot of hidden gems especially in terms of food and unique cafes. My suggestion is to get a bicycle ASAP and do some exploring. What you find is yours to keep. :slight_smile:

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Part of the charm of Tainan is how “real” it is – the stuff you see is meant for your evereday Tainanese, not so much for tourists. How many Taipeites actually go to 101 on a regular basis? Sure, Tainan is less metropolitan, but it’s very laid-back and has a lot of hidden gems especially in terms of food and unique cafes. My suggestion is to get a bicycle ASAP and do some exploring. What you find is yours to keep. :slight_smile:[/quote]

True! i think we talked about it in previous posts, the “Tainana!”
There IS an expat community there, but it’s young guys, there’s a few latinos too…but really, it’s pretty laid back and chill… it sure is a nice place to get away from the noise, the neon and all that. I’m sure that just by hanging around you can get to meet a lot of them, how much of a strong online presence they have? beats me…

Can someone list all the foreign friendly/foreign themed bars and restaurants in Tainan.

That would be good to put in here.

For English websites, you can try the following:

foreigner.tainan.gov.tw (The Tainan Foreigner Assistance Center)

As you mentioned, the websites are not updated regularly and the information can be old but you can use them for points of departure and for links to blogs in English that also have content about Tainan.

For Chinese websites, I find it easier to do specific searches. On another discussion thread on Tainan, I suggested that Tainan guidebooks and travel books in Chinese can also be very useful references.

Sometimes being in Tainan means doing a little extra work to find things.

I’d just note:

I’m neither exclusively nor primarily interested in expatriates (my original post neither used the word expat nor foreigner even once).

Normally one of the advantages of being online (in English) is that you can make connections with the local community of Chinese people who (i) happen to speak English, or (ii) who really want to make English fluency (and conversation) a part of their lives, or (iii) who have one foot in a foreign country for some other reason (business links, family link, or they went to university in the U.S., etc.).

Often enough in Taiwan, it seems that you meet more Chinese people who went to school abroad (and returned) than actual foreigners --and that suits me fine. Those are, also, very often the type of local-yet-cosmopolitan people that I’d want to meet.

I met a remarkable number of (interesting) bilingual people on the mainland in Kunming (昆明) despite that town being very much landlocked, isolated and under fairly heavy political repression at the time.

It will be many years before I can really offer an interesting conversation in Chinese, so those are the types of characters I try to seek out (online or offline).

I’m also willing to do the usual “language exchange” with university students, but it’s a tricky thing to find university students who would really find that rewarding (some think they would, but, really, they find it boring once they try, etc.).

I’m aware that I’m looking for some kind of minority of people with some kind of common ground, and I’m open minded about it. I have experience elsewhere in China, and elsewhere in Taiwan.

I don’t have much in common with other expats, for the same reasons that expats rarely have much in common with each-other (e.g., a water-quality engineer from England may have nothing in common with a land-surveyor from Denmark, etc. --you tend to get a random assortment of specific trades “roped in” by expat contracts, and they may have no special interest in Taiwan, Asian politics, etc.). It is what it is.

Fair enough. Some points of response:

Few Taiwanese people use these boards – almost all foreigners and ABCs – so it would be hard to meet the kind of people you’re looking for here. However, Forumosa has some kind of strange community feel to it even if it’s virtual, so if you post often you’ll feel like you have friends. Imaginary friends, maybe, but friends.

Cosmopolitan people tend to flock to bigger cities than Tainan. Tainan is actually huge – it’s a lot of land and has a population of almost 2 million, though both stats are utterly tiny compared to how massive Kunming is. And that’s the really big difference. Don’t think of Taiwan as a country. Its development in many ways more resembles a Chinese province than anything else. Ask yourself – outside of the provincial capital of Kunming, was there any other city in Yunnan that you’d be able to find English-speaking intellectuals with time to chat?

Young and succesful people end up south in Kaohsiung, or north in Taichung, Hsinchu, or Taipei. Tainan does however have a new, very nice technology park, doubtlessly filled with interesting and well-educated people, so you should try and figure out where they spend their time on the weekends. As for the city area, though, it’s mostly only very young or very old people, sadly, outside of Cheng Kung Unniversity. And we all know how those college kids can be.

I am in Tainan all the time, though I live in Taichung. Ifya need something, lemme know. There is a pretty good expat community there, butya, its much smaller and pretty tight knit. Dont know any forumosans from there.

Strangely enough, the answer to this question is yes:

“Ask yourself – outside of the provincial capital of Kunming, was there any other city in Yunnan that you’d be able to find English-speaking intellectuals with time to chat?”

Although veering off topic slightly, Yunnan is an odd place; people relocate there (from other provinces of China) for a variety of strange reasons, and you meet interesting people everywhere you go (in my experience). Kunming itself has an enormous concentration of universities, but it is actually easier to meet the intellectuals in a smaller city than a big one, just because of geography, and the geometry of concrete obstacles.

In response to your closing, point, no, I don’t know that at all:

“[You won’t meet much of anyone] outside of Cheng Kung Unniversity. And we all know how those college kids can be.”

I don’t know what Taiwanese university students are like in general, and I don’t know what the students at NCKU are like in particular. If you want to tell me about this (publicly or by PM) I could probably benefit from any remarks you might have (formal or informal, i.e., sarcasm and gossip may be useful to me).

I couldn’t be bothered to read the rest of the posts, but I’ll answer the questions.

Good Veggie Restaurants:
There’s a place on Dongan Rd. Turn left from Dongning, if you hit the 7-11 you’ve gone too far - it’s on the same stretch as the 7, right next to a beef noodle place. They make the best fried rice ever, plenty of non-veggies go there all the time. Don’t think they have an English menu, but if you can’t read just pick randomly. It’ll be good.

For something a bit posher, there’s a nice one on Shulin St. Coming from the roundabout up Nanmen Rd, turn right on Shulin and it’s the brown building with the big windows next to the park. Only been there once but it’s pretty famous.

I’m not veggie so I don’t know a whole lot of others. There’s one on…Guangming St? Turn right from Donghe Rd and it’s on the left. It serves normal noodle soups and stuff and was pretty good, but I’m not entirely sure if it’s still open since I don’t live around there anymore.

Foreign-aimed bars/restaurants/yada yada.

Armoury – This is an ‘end to your night’ spot. Most fun when you’re already well wasted and everywhere else is shut. Open till 7,8,9 am; best to get a cab because the cops occasionally sit outside and wait for all the drunk foreigners to come out and get on their scooters.
Gongyuan South Rd, past the park and down the hill on the left.

Tin Pan - this place really sells atmosphere, and it has a funky atmosphere. The food is pretty good…if you get what you order for. I rarely don’t have problems ordering food there, so I feel that for the quality and the service it’s overpriced. You can literally order the same pizza twice in a row and get different toppings. I once ordered a sandwich with no mustard, only to have it come out with mustard and then be told ‘Oh, the mustard’s already on it when we get it’ …so make of that what you will. Great, fun place for a drink and a groove, though. Least creepy drinking place around.
Beimen Rd, opposite the park.

The Artful Dodgers - Great food, great drinks, great company. They’ve got all the sports and everything there. Magic, magic gravy (def. not veggie though). I can’t really say anything wrong about this place, really. It’s more of a bistro than a late-night drinking get-smashed establishment, but it’s laid back, chill and prices are pretty reasonable.
183 (ish?) Dongfeng Rd, opposite the main part of the hospital.

Willy’s - haven’t been since not long after they sold the place and opened up Artful Dodger’s. First trip there after the changeover and all of the food had gone…weird…Guess they swapped out the ingredients to save money or something. No idea what it’s like now, but should have a good selection of beers.

Dunno where else really caters to foreigners. Red Wolf used to, now it caters to college kids and sleazy men who like college kids (seriously…it felt sleazier than the armoury the last time I went there, and that’s saying something). Lots of foreigners like some restaurant called Happy Bowl down the road from Armoury, but I suggest you learn to read menus and hit up the 100NT Stir-fry places on Hai-an Rd - same food, but better and cheaper.

If you like coffee and you study I recommend going to Masa Loft, above the 7-11 opposite the main school gate (near the entrance to the food st). It’s got great food and drinks (dunno about the coffee, I don’t drink it) and an awesome atmosphere. You can literally sit there for hours and they don’t care. You’ll discover it eventually when you have a group discussion or a tutoring session, most likely.

The Thai place in the food st is damn good for the price, has english menu and veggie options.

Can’t think of much else. But most people are pretty active on the bulletin, I don’t get involved in the discussions on it though.

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Thanks for an informative and useful reply.

At first I thought that “The Armory” might be an interesting place to show up at around 7AM (clean and sober) but a quick google search gave me some second thoughts:

Imagine the disappointment of young Chinese women who have grown up watching western romance movies, and then run into this reality check.


Tin Pan Alley: Usually a good time. Close knit bunch. Ex pat teachers and students. Taiwanese students and co-teachers. Decent to awesome food - varies. Usually a DJ from the north comes down to play 3 weekends out of the month. Hot in the summer and perfect in the winter as it’s outdoors. Pretty interesting to look at.

Tin Pan Diner: Tin Pan Alley spin off. Caters more to family dinners and a quiet atmosphere. Food is better since the owner can concentrate on delivering a quality meal. Good decor.

The Artful Dodger: Well established owners. Clientele are regulars just about everywhere else. Rarely students. Family and Ex Pat pub. Excellent food. Closes early. Not a place to get trashed but it does happen. Feels like a pub in HK.

Red Wolf: Engineers old and young. Age ranges. One night maybe a crowd of college kids and the next night could be filled with older Taiwanese businessmen. Majority of the crowd is Taiwanese so some foreigners get put off. Pole Dancers. Themed parties. Loud atmosphere. Good burgers and finger food. The decor reminds me of an American college dorm/bar.

Willy’s: Dead. Quality of food dropped and prices went up. Still a nice pub to look at as it was built with care.

Armory: Gets going after 2am. Good fun to be had at this bar if you like getting corked. No attitude just straight up fuckery. Friendly. Long history. It’s not pretty but neither are the customers come 6 am.

The Orient: Crazy assed college dance club mainly for Taiwanese. It can be outrageous. Fun. Early close compared to other places. All you can drink. Reasonably cool vibe and decor.

Muse Tainan: Taipei attitude in a small town. Flashy dance club. Still trying to establish itself. Seems to be getting off to a good start. Staff aren’t as friendly. All you can drink specials. Again…flashy.

The community of long timers here is extremely close knit. Students come and go and so goes the dynamic of the place. Enjoy.

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What I forgot to mention is that this region of Taiwan is the last bastion of massive rave parties such as the Masago beach production put on by Spunite. Look up Spunite promo company on FB. If there’s one thing that I can honestly say about the south from Tainan to Kaohsiung is that music is alive and well down here. From live bands to massive rave parties to freestyle rap battles; This is the place to be. Just check your attitude and be nice, pretty please.

Very useful advice (and thanks to all contributors, including Monster).

Much of this advice will be useful to persons other than myself, as I more inclined to meet pole-dancers at the gym than at a bar, but…

with that having been said…

does anyone have comments on the gyms within Tainan?

This is the kind of information that goes out of date quickly, as is evident from The Tainan Bulletin:

That’s actually pretty hilarious if you click through to read it, BTW.

Don’t forget Imma’s Bakery and Cafe.

Ifya get tired of lunchbox and greasy taiwanese food, its an amazing middle eastern restaurant owned by an Israeli. They got a chain in Taipei too.

Great food, good prices and super awesome staff who speak English, Hebrew and Chinese. http://immabakery.com/

I go there every chance I get.

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Reporting for roll call.
Recent transplant to Tainan, looking to be your new housemate! 27 year old American, was working as a teacher in Spain but got a scholarship to study Chinese at NCKU, so here I am. If you or anyone you know is interested in having a great new roomie shoot me an email at mathias.dean.shaffer@gmail.com


good to see you’re still around, M0NSTER.