Not sure if you're still on the road to a Taiwan job.... and by this point you've probably researched quite a bit about the country but I'll throw in my 2 cents... or maybe 2 dollars
I lived in Taoyuan city (Taoyuan county) for about a year about 40 minutes from Taipei. If anyone has read the Lonely Planet Taiwan and looks up the city I lived in it's basically described as the asshole of Taiwan and gives you ways to avoid visiting there
I won't argue though... I lived two minutes from a park full of drunks and druggies, I would see 3 hookers at least on the way to my morning kindergarten every day and I didn't see the sun much living amongst the urban sprawl.
In no way do I wanna bad talk Taiwan, I have a lot of great things to say about the country but ya, it's probably best to avoid living/working in Taoyuan. Odds are you probably won't end up there anyway. You will have choice where you work if you look, I recommend Kaohsiung (pronounced Gowshung) in the southwest.
I've heard it's great for outdoor sports, the beach, and it's not far from Kenting which is the touristy spot of Taiwan for good reason, the nicest beaches in Taiwan in most people's eyes. I've been to both of those places once so I don't know much about them but I would pick the south over the north if I was to go again. I'm not up to date on the running of their new bullet train imported from Japan but it runs from Taipei to Kaohsiung cutting about a 5 hour journey down to an hour and a half. It was nice that I lived near Taipei cause there a lot to see and do there...
I also recommend working for Hess which you've probably heard of and I've heard has foreigners running a teacher support group if you have problems with any co-teachers or are frustrated with things at school... and believe me it happens. I worked at an organization that has 12 branch schools and I worked at 5 different ones (which I believe is illegal, but even hiring foreigners at kindys is illegal but everyone still does it) Hess doesn't make you jump around as much and they train their employees. We just basically got thrown in the class blind. I could easily get any of my Canadian friends a job in Taiwan overnight with my organization (I won't mention their name) all it would take would be one email. They are always looking for teachers. But when it comes down to it I wouldn't do it cause of where I lived and how the school operates - it's actually quite well known and it's not as shady as it sounds but I would recommend Hess to avoid headaches. Plus most schools make you work Saturday but Hess usually just in the morning and I (for a long time) worked along with others until 9:30 on Saturday nights.
An awesome link before and during you teach English in Taiwan is:
Teaching English and Living in Taiwan - http://www.tealit.com
The mother of all sites for foreigners in that country, it's visited quite often. If and when you get there and want to learn some Mandarin for free, post your email at TEALIT saying you want language exchange and you'll get about 50 emails the next day, half from ladies wanting seriously to better their English and half wanting more of a fluid exchange than anything else
It's true, but when it's all said and done you'll probably meet good people through that site whether it's for learning Mandarin or going climbing with someone. Teaching is great cause you meet SO many people right away, especially if you are put in a school dorm. Right away I had 4 roommates and was living for free in a decent dorm. Three from Canada and one from New Zealand. Then on the weekend usually so many teachers get together and it's friends galore... about 85 of the 100 teachers working at my school were Canadian if I had to make a guess, and most from the east coast - was cool to meet everyone.
I loved all my time in Taiwan and met awesome people and partied even too hard at times (you almost always work nights unless you have a kindy so you can get trapped in mad cycles
This is a crazy long post
I guess I like talking about my time there... some more info:
- Check out Dasi beach in the NE - one of the only decent spots in the north to surf, check out hiking their too (Taoyuan valley trail)
- Gotta see Taroko Gorge, unbelievable, and the hot springs there
- The Ministry of Sound is the craziest club I've been in:
- You'll never get a ticket on the scooter (or motorbike) even if you cut off cops and tried REALLY hard to - anything goes - if you can make it through that gap, you do it!
- If you get in an accident it's always your fault
- Don't overstay your year (or two)... Too many people stay too long in that country cause they have Taiwanese girlfriend, a job that pays them cash everyday with a $25-30CDN wage per hour, and it's easy as hell.... but move on with your life after I say... do what you REALLY want to do - plus breathe some nice air
- Don't mind the ugly as sin foreigners with the really hot Taiwanese girlfriends
- Book off the week before and the week after Chinese New Year and explore SE Asia! It'll be cheap and such a good time
- Visit Green Island - not many people go there (off the SE coast) but it's the real Taiwan in my mind - quiet, cliffs covered in vegetation, little development, goats roaming around, really nice - don't find the campground, sleep in a cave
- For a big party go to Spring Scream in Kenting... crazy
Bottom line, it's a great time - if you have any questions I'll definitely blab some more to you
I think Japan and Taiwan are the best places to teach, Japan is crazy expensive but you make crazy money, South Korea I've heard more than a couple bad experiences there (and if you think Taiwan's busy) and I think Taiwan falls somewhere in between with awesome people, great hospitality from the Taiwanese and good memories. Hope you're not sleeping by now