Any info on Toufen?

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Any info on Toufen?

Postby Kh_cincy » 10 Jul 2012, 10:09

I will be moving to Taiwan in August to teach English at an elementary school in Toufen (Miaoli County). Does anyone have any info on this town? Good restaurants, shops, night markets, etc? Also looking to meet some other ex-pats while I'm on the island. Thanks in advance!
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby Taffy » 10 Jul 2012, 11:47

Not my words, but
An American Teacher in Taiwan wrote:Toufen is a total shithole.

Although to be fair to Toufen, this is true of most "small towns" in Taiwan. If you do take up the job, serious precautions will be needed against going stir-crazy, like a regular bus ticket to civilisation.
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby the bear » 10 Jul 2012, 12:17

Toufen is basically Zhunan. I can't tell where one begins and the other ends. Good access to beaches and mountains down there. Not much else. There is no foreigner scene that I know of.
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby Omniloquacious » 10 Jul 2012, 12:49

Toufen was on my radar for some time as I searched around Taiwan for the best place to move to. I had never actually set foot in the place, but I was attracted by its location, with easy access to main road and rail transport arteries combined with quick access to some lovely nature and scenery. In our online searches, the wife and I found some very appealing-looking gated townhouse communities around Toufen, mostly on the mountain side, at very reasonable prices (8-12 million buying something very nice). I was intending to go down and stay there for a couple of days, look around, and check out a few of the communities.

But last month, while driving back from the south, we decided to stop in Toufen for lunch at Mickey D's, to give the place a quick look over. It was absolutely horrendous, as bad as anything I've encountered in Taiwan. The traffic was terrible, and parking anywhere near McD's was impossible (with a long queue of cars waiting to get into their car park). After driving round and round, we ended up parking some distance away, and the walk to the restaurant was nerve-shattering. What pavement/sidewalk existed was nearly all blocked by cars, scooters, businesses, the usual. We were forced to walk mostly in the narrow, traffic-choked road, often having to walk out into the middle of the road to pass double parkers and their like. I had to carry my daughter, and I feared for our lives with every step. I ended up running half the way, just to get as quickly as possible past the worst blockages whenever a gap in the stream of scooters permitted it. McD's was as crowded and awful inside as any fast food place I've ever been in - I suppose there aren't too many alternatives for the poor denizens of Toufen.

Anyway, that was enough to push Toufen far down and all-but-completely off our list of places to consider moving to. I couldn't bear to have to go and do my shopping, food-hunting, and the like in such a place. It was ten times worse even than Linkou!
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby finley » 10 Jul 2012, 13:06

Omni, I'm not sure it's fair to judge a place purely on the basis of McDonald's choice of location and design. If it's the one I'm thinking of, it's directly off the freeway at an interchange (a badly-designed one) of several main roads. The traffic is guaranteed to be vile. And your description of scooter-clogged sidewalks could be absolutely anywhere in Taiwan, including the illustrious capital.

The lesson to take away, surely, is "don't eat at McDonalds". Ever. The poor denizens of Toufen take this attitude, anyway: if you'd driven a bit further along and turned right onto ZhongYang Rd, there's a huge selection of (mostly new) eateries and plenty of parking. If you leave the car at home and walk around (or take a scooter if you're brave) there are all the usual things you'd find in the big smoke. The only thing Toufen doesn't have is (AFAIK) is a nightclub. There are plenty of bars (although not for expats, since there are no expats) including a nice one on the aforementioned ZhongYang Rd. If you get bored of looking at concrete, there's a lot of nice countryside within a 20-minute drive.
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This post was recommended by GC Rider (10 Jul 2012, 13:18)
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby GC Rider » 10 Jul 2012, 13:22

Omniloquacious wrote:But last month, while driving back from the south, we decided to stop in Toufen for lunch at Mickey D's, to give the place a quick look over. It was absolutely horrendous, as bad as anything I've encountered in Taiwan. The traffic was terrible, and parking anywhere near McD's was impossible (with a long queue of cars waiting to get into their car park). After driving round and round, we ended up parking some distance away, and the walk to the restaurant was nerve-shattering. What pavement/sidewalk existed was nearly all blocked by cars, scooters, businesses, the usual. We were forced to walk mostly in the narrow, traffic-choked road, often having to walk out into the middle of the road to pass double parkers and their like. I had to carry my daughter, and I feared for our lives with every step. I ended up running half the way, just to get as quickly as possible past the worst blockages whenever a gap in the stream of scooters permitted it. McD's was as crowded and awful inside as any fast food place I've ever been in - I suppose there aren't too many alternatives for the poor denizens of Toufen.

I think there are two lessons to be learnerd here:
#1 Don't drive a car if you don't like traffic congestion
#2 Don't eat at McDonald's
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby Omniloquacious » 10 Jul 2012, 13:45

You're right, of course, Finley. I'm used to the inconveniences and dangers of walking around small towns and the more chaotic parts of big cities in Taiwan, but what we experienced in Toufen was as bad as anything I've ever encountered during my 26 years in Taiwan. However, if we did move to Toufen or nearby, I'm sure we'd soon learn which parts of the town are best avoided, and keep well away from them. I'm glad to hear your assurance that such horrors do not represent the whole of Toufen, and that there are much better alternatives. Maybe I will still go to take a look at some of those communities.

GC Rider wrote:I think there are two lessons to be learnerd here:
#1 Don't drive a car if you don't like traffic congestion
#2 Don't eat at McDonald's


#1 Ah, but it wasn't the sitting in the car part of the traffic that I objected to: it was the walking from A to B part, once I'd finally found a place far from B in which to park. And since I was stopping by en route from Kaohsiung to Linkou, it would hardly have been feasible for me to do without the car and walk the whole way. I could probably manage the walk, if I had a sufficient number of days available; but my wife and 4-year-old daughter most certainly could not. And I'm pretty sure that, if we were living in or around Toufen, a car would be absolutely essential, since I very much doubt that there's much in the way of public transport available, and my 20 years of motorbike and scooter riding in Taiwan came to end when my daughter was born (I would never even dream of carrying her or allowing her to be carried on two wheels in any urban environment in Taiwan).

#2 Not knowing Toufen at all, having absolutely no idea about any of the eateries there, and needing to get our daughter to a toilet, food and rest stop as promptly as possible, all we could do was find the location of a McD on our satellite nav. and make a beeline for it. I'm no fan of McD's, and hardly ever set foot in one for many a year when I didn't need to (especially since they have almost nothing appropriate for my strict vegetarian diet), but one can't be so picky when small children who need to be tended to come into the equation.
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby superguavaguy » 10 Jul 2012, 13:48

I lived in Zhunan for 3 years, which you could say is the better half of Toufen. The McDonalds is situated in a terrible place, which also happens to on a road that has a huge strip of bettle nut shops (complete with girls in lingerie). Zhunan is much nicer than Toufen in pretty much every way. I never liked Toufen, and never went there. The train station is in Zhunan, not Toufen. Toufen has it's own bus station, although all the busses start in Zhunan and pass through Toufen on their way to the highway. Zhunan is more spacious, cleaner, more pleasant, has beaches and pretty much everything you need to live right there. Zhunan is an exception when it comes to small town in Taiwan in that it's actually a very pleasant place, but it would probably be a very boring place for most foreigners, and it's very hard to get a girlfriend there. Toufen does not have a night club, and the "bars" are mostly sleazy karaokes/brothels.

Just before I left Taiwan I met a group of 10 foreigners who had all been living in Zhunan and Toufen for some time, but somehow I hadn't met them during the first 2.75 years in Zhunan. They were a cool bunch, but most were on their way out, or have already left. Anyway, most people go running screaming from Zhunan/Toufen, so I wouldn't recommend it to someone unless I knew they could handle it.
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby cranky laowai » 10 Jul 2012, 15:05

I lived for six months in the Zhunan science park, which is closer to the main part of Toufen than it is to the main part of Zhunan. The science park is nice enough for what it is. But I hated going into Toufen, which is hideous. I wouldn't say that it's ten times worse than Linkou, though. That would take some doing!

Zhunan's not as bad, but still not a place I'd want to live.

Nanzhuang, on the other hand, would probably be a fairly nice place to be if you could stand the isolation.
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Re: Any info on Toufen?

Postby the bear » 10 Jul 2012, 15:47

cranky laowai wrote:Nanzhuang, on the other hand, would probably be a fairly nice place to be if you could stand the isolation.


Nanzhuang is super if you like mountains. Its my regular weekend base for cycling and hiking (the hills get as high as 2000 meters round there). It does however get swamped by mouth-breathers at the weekends.
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