Tuesday, August 26, 2014

my love affair with my scooter

When we were in America for two months, I missed a lot of things about Taiwan.
But I missed one thing the most.
And that would be my scooter.

If you've never driven a scooter in Asia before, you might not understand.
But I have.
I do every single day, actually.

My scooter is petite and black + white and has the cutest circular mirrors.
And she makes my life wonderful.

So, why do I love my little scooter so much?
Read on and you'll wish you had one for yourself.

never having to wait in line at a red light
It is totally acceptable and even expected that scooters weave in between cars, buses and trucks and cut to the very front of the line. In fact, there are even designated boxes at the front of each light where scooters are supposed to congregate. Plus, there are timers on the lights that tell you exactly how much longer until the light turns, which is kinda an excuse to go 10 seconds before it actually turns if there are only a few cars coming in the opposite direction.

the chaos
I don't really think Taiwan has any real traffic laws. At least ones that are enforced. I have been driving a scooter in Taiwan for over two years now sans a license or clear understanding of the rules of the road. I've only ever been pulled over once and neither officer seemed too concerned that I had no license. In fact, they just let me go. In Taiwan, everything goes. This includes driving on the sidewalk, driving down the wrong side of the road into on coming traffic, cutting around and in front of cars, and just about anything else you can imagine. I know this sounds terrible, but it's not. I call it organized chaos. Your only job is to not hit someone or something. That's easy enough. And once you loosen up, scooting feels like the best video game ever.

the freedom
I cannot tell you how great it feels to take off on a scooter adventure. We like to head up into the hills and explore more of Taiwan. Usually we have a vague idea of where we are going but always get lost on deserted, narrow, jungle-like roads. Most of the time, if we go up into the hills far enough, we can spend an hour without seeing any other car. Just us. It feels awesome to explore places, the wind blowing all around you, and simply pull over onto the side of the road anytime something you see strikes your fancy.

the cost
Most of the time, Monday through Friday, I just use my scooter to get to work and back and run an errand or two. Because of this, one tank of gas can last for about two weeks. Do you wanna know how much that tank costs? You don't, but I'm going to tell you anyway: $3 USD. That's right. Three dollars. So that means I usually pay about $6 USD every month for gas. Doing the math, that means I spend about $70 a year in gas. I know, now you really wish you had a scooter too.

Check out these fun Youtube videos to see exactly what riding a scooter in Taiwan is like:


  1. Excellent! The places I've been in mainland China also follow the traffic law of don't hit anyone and anything goes. It is absolutely crazy! Recently my husband and I road a scooter around a giant lake and it was seriously awesome. For most of the time we were the only ones on the road and even when it started pouring down we had big smiles on our faces. I want a scooter!

    1. I have had quite a few visitors over the years I've lived here and at first they are all horrified by the scooter traffic. It takes a lot of cajoling to even get them on the back of my scooter. By the time they leave, though, they totally see that it actually works and isn't as crazy + scary as it first seems. Organized chaos works. As long as everyone is on the same page and works together to meet the only rule -- don't hit anyone/thing-- then driving in Taiwan is actually a much pleasanter experience than driving through a major US city.

  2. haha that gas price convinced me ;)
    I must say you are very brave! I mean you must be used to it after 2 years, but I would never even think of driving in countries with so little road rules like in Asia or South America!

    1. Yeah, it's hard to beat the cost of owning a scooter. Unless you have a bike, of course. But it's way too hot + humid to ride a bike here.

      It does require some bravery the first few times you hop on a scooter in SE Asia. My first scooter experience was in Thailand. My husband was driving and I just held on for dear life. Now I cannot get enough of it!

  3. You got me at $70 a year for gas :) And I thought my $250-a-year public transit pass was cheap!

    1. Hahaha. I used to ride the public transit in Seattle and I would choose my scooter and SE Asia's traffic any day over that.

  4. Fascinating read! You've got me sold on the freedom and cost benefits of having a scooter, but what about safety? Have you had any close calls?

    1. Personally, I feel very safe when I am driving my scooter. You are always in complete control of how fast or slow you go. In general, road rage is not a problem here. If you are going somewhere new and not sure which turn to take, you can inch down the street and no one will honk or get mad. They will just go around you. It feels like a no pressure situation. Also, other drivers are always alert. There is just so much happening you cannot drive any other way. After living here for two years, I have only seen a handful of accidents. Most happen at intersections and are simply bumper bumps. I have driven scooters in Thailand and Vietnam and find the safety to be much better here in Taiwan.

  5. I love the idea of a scooter culture (except... lawless roads are TERRIFYING!). We considered getting one here in Moscow but they're SO expensive and I'm not sure we wouldn't just be run off the road immediately. Nevertheless, viva la scooter!

    1. I've seen a few installments of We Love Russia (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8tppcronms) and from what I've seen, I completely understand not getting a scooter!


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