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Taipei: Calling all hard hats

Kelli SteckbauerAs the capital of Taiwan, Taipei is the country’s manufacturing hub and is surrounded by beautiful mountains, vast ocean and modern and classic architecture. The city is one of the fastest growing in the world and is emerging as the new business and financial center of Asia.

The Taipei International Convention Center is located in the heart of the city, within the Taipei World Trade Center complex. It’s about a 45 minute drive from the international airport, pending traffic. There are a couple easy methods for transportation from the airport to the center. First and least expensive (about $4) is a city-sponsored coach bus. The bus station is easy to find by following the signs in the airport and they run a couple times an hour, depending upon the time of day. The buses are safe and practical, however, I have seen cleaner and more appealing buses in other parts of the world. Another option would be to take a taxi, which is metered and safe, but that will run you around $50 for a ride into town.

The currency of Taiwan is the New Dollar with the same sign as the USD, so as you remove your cash from the ATM, keep in mind there is still a conversion factor. The USD is currently worth more than the Taiwan Dollar.  Arriving late at night, as most flights from the U.S. do, I was shocked into a more awake state at the ATM when realizing that $500 was the minimum dollar amount that I could remove (forgetting it was Taiwan dollar).

Upon arriving at the convention center, you’ll be asked to pay a deposit on a hard hat for installation. Yes, these are a must before you enter the halls.  A $250 deposit is common.  You sign the book with the number of your issued hat, and upon return, your money is refunded – cash only.Kelli

Build and burn is the typical construction practice in Taiwan. Like other countries, your budget will dictate the grade of materials used. As you walk around the hall, you will notice the use of laminates, paint and wallpaper. Laminate is the premium finish, while wallpaper is the cheapest option. There is a clear difference in quality as well, so if top-notch quality is important to your program, be sure to specify and budget appropriately.

I advise caution when walking through the aisles during installation as well. There is anything from wood, to glass to tape and paper lying on the floor and it is easy to trip.

Having an English-speaking supervisor is recommended. Most of the laborers speak Mandarin Chinese. Finding a partner that understands our American culture and standards is also important. Taiwan standards are very different from what we in the United States accept as a quality, time and communication standard. Being specific on what you want and not assuming they know is a must.

There is a small food court in the center and a convenience store where you can purchase drinks and snacks. For more options, I suggest leaving the center and eating at one of the hotel restaurants next door, going to the food court in the mall across the street or trying one of the local places around the area.

As always, if you have time for a bit of sightseeing, do it.  Taipei 101, the world’s second tallest skyscraper, is right across the street from the convention center, and it’s beautiful. You can also check out North Asia’s tallest mountain, Yushan, at 4,000 feet. Other popular tourist sites include: Hot Springs, City Gates, Confucius Temple, Dihua Street and Daan Forest Park.

Enjoy Taiwan!

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