Monday, October 27, 2014

It Has Been a Long Time

I haven't post here for a long time. Life went chaotic, baby was born, work became very busy and I kind of totally forgot about this blog.

I was going today throw my Google account, and Adsense account and I was wondering how come it generates some ads revenue. Now I remember - my blog about cost of living in Taiwan!

I checked it and actually it has stable traffic and people are still  commenting here and asking for help, after almost 3 years without update! It is amazing in one way, but also embarrassing I did not come back and help those in need.

So I'll do my best to write here from time to time. I don't promise I will update it daily, but I will find some interesting topics that many expats always searching for and update some cost of living in Taiwan. I remember few years ago I needed a lot of information before I came to Taiwan, and I would really appreciated if someone had provided it to me. I'll guess since I started my little blog, I should take responsibility to keep it going. Adsense or any product selling is not what I am after - I don't need it, I am financially independent. I want to make this place a helpful guide to all of you who is planning to come to this beautiful island. 

I'll start tomorrow - got to first reply to all the comments, even if some replies are long pass due.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Polish Restaurant in Taiwan - Oak pod Debem

Oak - Pod Debem - is newly opened Polish restaurant in Taiwan and it is currently the only restaurant on the island to provide Polish food. I was very excited to hear that I can finally eat food I remember from childhood. Nothing, absolutely nothing stopped me for giving it a try - not even 40 minutes drive by car from Taipei. I was very eager to try it and I must say it - my expectations were quite high. Most of expats do miss 'mama' food, so you know I am writing about.

I went to Oak during the lunch hour and - let pictures not confuse you - the place was packed. I got a table by the window, in the corner - so it was actually easy for me to explore the entire restaurant. Visually - it is quite nice and relaxing. Tables are separated from each other so you do not feel like stepping on other tables, and while waiting - you can check some Polish sovereigns or travel books about Poland.

The menu offer some traditional Polish food. Even though menu does not have many choices - they do offer many specials - just ask for them. I wanted to try as much as possible, so I have ordered quite a lot - potato pancakes (placki) in mushroom sauce, delicious Flaki (beef tripe soup), a portion of Hunter Stew (Bigos)
and Apple cake. I did not know that every portion of the main dish comes in form of a meal, so you can imagine how much food that was. The meal consist of drink, soup, potatoes or french fries and a desert. Nonetheless - somehow I managed to eat all - it was very delicious.

The staff is great and friendly atmosphere makes you feel relaxed after whole day of studying / whole week of working. I met some other foreigners there and we join tables together with owners of the restaurant. I can really say that this can be a place where you can have a lunch, tea time or dinner, hang out there and meet new people. The great additional of live music during some evenings and able to order some Polish shots or beer - gives Oak even more thumbs up.

What shocked me the most are really low prices on the menu. It must be due to the proximity to some major universities, but still. I was expecting to spend a lot, but I am glad I was wrong. You can get a healthy portion of food here, very delicious with materials imported from Europe for price lower than MC Donald's set.

A meal that cost from NT65, Beef tripe soup that goes for only NT40 and my favorite of all times - Placki with meat or mushroom sauces for NT115 (I might be wrong here +/- NT10, was too happy ordering food) - you simply can't go wrong with at least giving it a try. I learned that some locals go there almost every night, and why shouldn't they? It's good and extremely good priced. I got food to go.

The only issue I have is the location, or I would go there pretty much every couple days. Perhaps owners one day decide to open branch in a large city?

The address is here: 桃園縣中壢市中央路216巷8號
Phone: 886 3 4202599
Open: Tue-Sun from noon to 10 pm, kitchen close at 8 pm.

(some picture borrowed from their FB page, you can check the album for the rest)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Instant and Microwave Food in Taiwan

In the recent post I have been complaining that food in Taiwan is getting more and more expensive. The money that I spend on food takes a large portion of my budget, and usually eating out is the first thing I cut when I need to save money. I like to eat at home whenever I have a chance, but when everyone works full time and have other responsibilities between work and sleep, there is hardly enough time left for cooking, the first choice is to grab some lunchbox or noodles from stands, or some burgers from some fast food chain.

Then it really hit me. I really enjoy microwave food. It might not be the healthiest of choices out there - but it does its job: get me from starvation to normal functioning again. If you are not that picky, and take your time with choosing which microwave food you prefer, you might be really surprised with the quality of the microwave food and how really low it is priced.

I go to do my grocery shopping about once a week both to local Cosco and Carrefour, here in Taipei city. I always buy so much frozen food that I have dilemma of stuffing it inside my freezer. I do have additional freezer at home, but I do not want to turn it on to save on power, but anyway,  probably when summer comes, need that extra space for ice creams. In Cosco I love their frozen pizza - there are 2 choices, 1 party size pizza or 4 large pizzas together. They also have meat and vegetable burritos which I also enjoy quite a lot, and German sausages. If you really have huge freezer, get their french fries. For around NT230 you get like 4kg of fries - its just really cheap. I stay away from their frozen Pasta, because it is... not good enough for the price they ask. In Carrefour, I look for the deals. Every week they have different frozen food on sale. Wait till the one you like is on sale and then buy it. I love the pasta (as on the picture) which normally sales for around NT50, usually on sale for NT35. Frozen fry rice is also awesome, but I think the best are the soup pots - like lamb soups, chicken sops, and beef noodle soups.

Unfortunately, you will not see many (or at all) western style TV Dinners, that usually have some veggies, meat and mash potatoes, but for that the closest choice you can get is in any local convenient shop. A bit pricey (NT50-80) but that really hit the spot when you are craving for some other food.

Totally another story goes with instant food, like instant noodles. There is no better place than Taiwan for the variety of choices and it is incredibly cheap. You want to have some instant noodles? What would you like? Regular? Vegeterian? Chicken, Pork or Beef? Maybe craving for seafood? Or more Oriental taste, like Tom Yum, or spicy Kimchi? Do you want just noodles, or with meat inside? Tons of choices, and instant noodles are really cheap, starting as low as NT8 per pack.

Here is my shopping list of the frozen food that I do every Sunday when my freezer can still fit:
Pizza 1 pack (4 large cheese pizzas) NT399 - 1 large pizza is 3 meals for me.
Party pizza is NT270, but the pack is much much better deal.
Burritos: 1 cost NT39, but you need to buy a dozen
German sausages: For about 2 dozens, NT220  I love them, quick breakfast with eggs and I am full till dinner. You can freeze them
French Fries: 4kg for NT230 (those are tasty fries, the curly ones. You will do good owning an oven)
Beef noodle soup: 4 pack for NT399. It might seem expensive, but 1 pack is good for 2 people. It is really delicious
Tom Yum instant noodles: 1 costs around NT14, you need to buy whole box, I think there are 24 inside.
Red Pasta- 4 servings, NT159. I stay away from it, I don't really like it, but maybe it is just my own preference.
Hot Pockets: Sometimes they have it. If they do... snap it. NT20 for a hot pocket, in the box total of 20. Usually they have cheese and ham inside.

Frozen fry rice: I wait till price drops to NT30, then buy at least dozen
Pasta: Green, Bacon and Red, I wait for at least NT39, then buy like 2-3 dozens
Rice with cheese, curry, mushroom, etc: Same brand as above, so same price.
Sometimes when you see promotion lady, ask if they have any freebies. I usually get some extra freebies for every 3 items I buy.
Instant noodles: Like I said, countless possibilities. NT8 to NT50 per pack

7/11 and other convenient stores
Most of the food you can think of that can get into microwave, but its expensive. Just if you are on the go, or don't own a microwave :)

If you only feed yourself on instant food and microwave food (please don't do it) then the monthly expenditure on food would be no more than NT1000.

When I eat outside, and do not care about saving money, each month spending on food can reach NT20,000!

Its delicious, its fast and is convenient. As long as you keep it in balance, its good way to save time and money.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Inflation vs. Salary in Taiwan for the Past Few Years

Recently on the Taiwanese news everyone is blaming current president Ma for prices of goods and services to be increasing too fast. When he was elected for the 2nd term, he promised an economic stability and better living quality for Taiwanese people. So far, all I can say these promises were false, probably spoken as a election talks to get enough votes to secure his position for another couple years. Since president here can only be elected twice, now the fruits can be observed.

How bad does it get? Bad, to the point many voters want to vote for President Ma to step down. Will this happen? Hard to say, but in my opinion, no - it is really too difficult to push it, and while most poorer folks are loosing due to price hikes, some do profit.

What is my take on this? Well, this is the way I see it:
- Gas prices went up by 10-15%. That's about extra NT1000 for me a month spending
- Coffee in 7/11 went up by 10% from NT50 to NT55. What I do? I don't drink it anymore.
- Coke in 7/11 went up from NT25 to NT29
- My favorite fry rice from NT70 to NT80.
- It get worse, 5 years ago I could buy 10 dumplings for NT35, today? NT50-80!

I go to supermarket, like Carrefour, or market, vegetables, fruits, meat all went up (mainly due to prices of gasoline.) On average, everything cost much more than just few months ago.

House market? Tripled in last 3 years. That means higher rent to pay or higher mortgage if you buying a house.

Now, what about the salary? Usually when the price go up, salary slowly increases as well. Unfortunately, for locals, the salary stays the same. What about foreigners? Suppose you are an English teacher - 5 years ago without experience you could make about NT600 per hour. Today? Same or less.

If couple years ago you were making here NT50,000 to NT70,000 a month as English teacher, that would be considered a lot. Today? Try to stay home, cook, have some entertainment - maybe you will save up enough for tickets back home. Compared to locals, who usually make NT25,000-NT35,000 after graduation, it is a lot, but considering they are staying with their family, so no need to worry about food and all the bills, it is really hard to save now.