The Traveling Birdie – Episode 5. Without Money in Taiwan


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Katalin was on her solo trip for a couple of weeks in Southeast Asia. After revisiting Bali, she headed more north, to Taiwan. She was traveling with her small backpack only, but luckily there was a tiny space for me. Taiwan is her last stop before flying back to Europe in a week. We landed in Taipei. 

Taipei and Couch Surfing

Her plan is to spend a few days in the capital, Taipei, and then head to the Taroko National Park near Hualien. But let’s focus on the capital, Taipei. A lot of things happened there. She spent a few nights CouchSurfing with a young host who likes surfing. He picked us up from the train, and we really enjoyed his rooftop apartment. The view was pretty nice over the city’s houses – even though his place far from the center.

Left without money

Without any specific plans, we visited some night markets, tasted some of the most delicious Taiwanese foods, and wandered around the center. Sometimes she took me outside of the backpack to have a peak of the nightlife. My favorite shot was on the top of Taipei 101. She is not that much fun of high buildings – especially not alone – but I tried to give her my support. She wanted to send a few pictures to Karol. And also postcards. Actually, her first worries surfaced at that time.

One of Katalin’s biggest fear was she will be left without cash when she travels alone. And it came true. Although she brought some cash with herself, she planned to use her card as she did it during the previous weeks, without any problems. The tower’s entrance ticket was quite pricey, so she decided to pay by card, but it didn’t work. She had to use most of her cash as none of the five ATM’s let her take out money. After taking me up to Taipei 101 and making selfies together, her thoughts returned to the money problem.

She considered her options in case she can’t take out money. She was traveling solo, but maybe she can borrow cash from her couch surfer host and transfer money to him. Borrowing from someone you know only for a day may not work. Or ask Karol from Singapore or her friends in Finland to send money through Western Union that she can receive in a day. Or just simply panic that she runs out of money and needs to survive 5 more days until her flight. She was close to the latter, but I did my best to support her.

She decided to forget about the problem for a day and enjoy the city as she still had enough to buy some food in the shops. The next morning had an eating-out breakfast with her host in one of the best local places: in a tiny buffet. Luckily her host accompanied her as the menu was only in Chinese, and you had to mark on it by crossing your order and then dropping the paper to the cash desk. She trusted herself to solve the problem soon as she used the leftover of her cash to pay for the meals but having good food was necessary before the big task.

After breakfast, she said goodbye to her host and planned to visit a few more banks and ATMs. She tried all of them that listed her card, but still no luck. After an hour, she typed to Karol about the money while she was putting her card to another ATMs. The ATM didn’t even list Visa cards. And then the magic happened! She got her cash and relaxed finally. Since that time, she always keeps emergency cash even for the last days of her trip and does not take granted that her card will work in all countries.

As the financial emergency was solved, it was time to hop on the train to Hualien and visit the Taroko National Park. We were excited!

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