My other visit here was thirty years ago, and most of all I am surprised by how little has changed. The architecture now looks all the more retro, the alleyways all the more noir, and the motorbikes have by no means vanished. Yes there are plenty of new stores, but overall it is recognizably the same city, something you could not say about Seoul.
Real wages basically did not rise 2000-2016. The main story, in a nutshell, is that the domestic capital has flowed to China. About 9 percent of the Taiwanese population lives in China, and that is typically the more ambitious segment of the workforce.
I am still surprised at how little the Taiwanese signal status with their looks and dress. The steady heat and humidity may account for some of that, though the same is not true in the hotter parts of mainland China.
The Japanese ruled Taiwan from 1895 through the end of WWII, and those were key years for industrial and social development. The infrastructure and urban layouts often feel quite Japanese.
Thirty years ago, everything was up and buzzing at 6 a.m., six days a week; that is no longer the case.
The National Palace Museum is the best place in the world to be convinced of the glories of earlier Chinese civilizations. It will wow you even if you are bored by the Chinese art you see in other places, as arguably it is better than all of the other Chinese art museums put together. How did they get those 600,000 or so artworks out of a China in the midst of a civil war?
The quality of dining here is high and rising. Unlike in Hong Kong or Singapore, Taiwan has plenty of farms, its own greens, and thus farm to table dining here is common. Tainan Tai Tsu Mien Seafood is one recommendation, for an affordable Michelin one-star, emphasis on seafood. Addiction Aquatic Development has superb sushi and is a first-rate hangout. At the various Night Markets, it is still possible to get an excellent meal for only a few dollars.
One can go days in Taipei and hardly see any Western tourists, so consider this a major arbitrage opportunity.