About Me


I moved to Taipei from the UK almost seven years ago and have spent most of that time teaching elementary school and studying Mandarin.  I began writing a Mandarin blog about two years ago whilst I was studying at Shida University.  Then in 2009, along with three good friends I took part in Taiwan’s “Best Trip in the World” competition and our team received an honorable mention in the final awards.  Through this competition my writing was picked up by several magazines, websites and the Tourism Bureau and I began to write regularly for them.

Originally I started this blog to keep track of all the writing I do but after some encouragement from friends I decided to include some extra sections to offer help to those living in or just visiting Taiwan.

Finding information can be a task in Taiwan, even in Chinese I sometimes find it difficult to find out what’s going on.  This is why I decided to start the weekly “What’s On” posts and hopefully as well as making everyone’s weekends a little more interesting, these events will also inspire others to fall in love with this island as I have done.

Recently I have been asked to create some Taipei walking guides for a new iPhone app, the first of which will hopefully be released before the end of this year.

If you have any questions about traveling in Taiwan or living here, feel free to get in touch and I will do my best to help out.

Photo by Neil Wade.


8 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Carrie November 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    Great work Phil. It looks like you’ve started out with a bang! I’ll be looking for your updates with pleasure Congratulations on a job well done and welcome to the club. Keep up the good work!

  2. Mei Ling October 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    Hey, I’m an “overseas” Chinese but have grown up in Canada. I went to Taiwan in summer of 2009 to visit family but had an extremely difficult time because I can’t read/speak anything beyond basic Mandarin. (I had a dictionary and phrasebook, but those can only get you so far…)

    How do you get by in Taipei? I’ve seen expat stories on the web and figure that some people go to Taiwan not knowing a lick of Mandarin – how do they get by?

    Do you speak Mandarin?

    • Phil October 12, 2010 at 1:20 am #


      I do speak Mandarin now, but when I first came here (7 years ago) I couldn’t even say “xie xie” properly.

      It was difficult when I first got here, even just ordering a meal was a bit of a struggle. I ate a lot of McDonalds in those days! Things have improved, but English is still not universal here and getting around the island is still a challenge for most visitors that don’t speak Mandarin.

  3. ellen_long@webmail.korrnell.com.tw December 22, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    We’re thinking about hiking Dabajian Shan and I was wondering if you can help me prepare for it.

    Water: How much water did you take? Did 99 cabin have drinkable water?

    Cold: What was the temperature at the top and how much clothing did you pack?

    I appreciate any additional advice.

    Thank you,

    • Phil December 22, 2010 at 10:50 am #

      Hi, I hiked Dabajianshan in July. It was sunny most of the time, and about 20 degrees during the day. At night it was cold, but I’d guess between 5-10 degrees. However, if you are going in the winter, you can expect the temperature to go down to below -5 degrees at night. There is no heating in the 99 cabins, so it will be very, very cold.

      I should also point out that you can’t climb dabajian shan now. but you can climb xiaobajian shan.

      I took 4 litres of water. Which was enough for the 20km trek to the start of the trail and the hike up to 99 cabin. At the cabin there is water, but it should be boiled before drinking. Again, if you are planning on going in winter you should check if there is water at the cabin before getting on the trail because the water supply can freeze.

      You will need permits – you’ll find more information about that here

      Most of the hike is quite safe, but I’m not sure how safe it would be to go to Xiaoba jianshan if it is snowing/icy. (I’m not even sure that it is allowed).

  4. alwynjong July 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Hi I really enjoy reading your blog, and am super-impressed by your Chinese!
    I wen to Taiwan and spent 10 days hoping to get a job as an ESOL teacher but to no avail. I think it’s partly due to the fact that I’m a non-native speaker of English (I speak and write Mandarin) and the language schools there do prefer native speakers (which I can totally understand but felt defeated). Would love to get advice from you regarding ESOL job opportunities in Taiwan for non-native speakers.
    Keep up the good work!

  5. Brandon August 3, 2011 at 11:37 pm #


    I just stumbled across your blog when browsing for Taiwan blogs, and I enjoyed reading several pieces. I will soon be an expat in Taiwan and have a blog of my own at http://www.lifeoutsideamerica.com and I’m hoping we can share links if you are interested.


  6. Nicole Gabler August 5, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Hi! Thanks to Internet and Google, I found your blog and its really interesting and fun to read! I will be moving to Taiwan on the 17th of August for my University Exchange Year at Tamkang. I would like to rent an appartment there but I dont know a lot of people there. I also checked out the 591 site and its good but i cant ready everything. if you have some tips or could help, that would be really great. thanks a bunch and greetings from germany. Nicole!

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