Fixing A Broken Scooter For £9.60
Riding a scooter in Taiwan can be a fairly daunting event for a westerner who grew up only driving a car.
Not only do the Taiwanese ride on the opposite side of the road, their riding etiquette is a totally different to what most people from the United Kingdom are used to. Being alert is the number one quality required to survive the chaos of inner-city scooter riding.
Surviving on Taiwan’s roads is only a concern if you can actually get the scooter to start, which brings me to the problem which occurred today. After finishing a stomach busting evening of feasting street food at Dadong night market in Tainan, I came face to face with something most of us don’t want to deal with at 10 pm at night, my non-starting scooter.
Being a 45-minute ride from where I was staying the night, the possibilities were either to get the scooter running or ditch it and take the bus home. After multiple attempts of scooter resuscitation, she was labelled a lost cause, then a mechanic was urgently sought after.
The problem was, before the scooter in question had been borrowed to me, it hadn’t been used for the full 12 months previously. So it wasn’t surprising that some issues were now cropping up. My main concern was at 10 pm, the chance of anyone being open or available to do this type work was fairly slim.
Luckily Taiwan is a super friendly island and you have no worries, even when faced with a problem of this kind. After wandering over to the shop across the road, the assistant knew of one mechanic who would still be open, but more importantly could help. To my surprise it appeared that people tend to work late in Tainan, plus even better, the mechanic was just located on the street behind. After pushing the deceased scooter to the mechanics shop, thankfully he was still around.
The difference between the Taiwanese mechanic and his European counterpart is a little shocking in my eyes. Surprisingly there’s was no mention of how late it was, no talk of looking at the scooter tomorrow or ordering in parts from far away factories. In fact within a couple of minutes of walking in, the two mechanics at the shop had taken the seat off, removed parts and were tinkering with the engine. Within 5 minutes, they had discovered the fault was caused by the air filter being clogged.
One of the mechanics disappeared into the back of the workshop and reappeared with a new filter. Fitting it, they start the bike as effortlessly as they found the problem. The air filter box housing and scooter seat was replaced in no time. All in all the whole process to diagnose and fix the problem barely took 10 minutes, now that what you call service.
Whereas a visit to the mechanic in the UK would usually equal a fairly large bill, the same can’t be said about Taiwan. The total cost to fix the scooter was 450 NTD (£9.60/$14.15US) which was nowhere near the highway robbery price I was expecting to fork out. I would even go as far as to say it was a bargain!
Sure, it’s an expense as a traveller I would rather do without, but when you/re riding a scooter which has been donated for free and only costs 100 NTD to fill the fuel tank full to the brim, it’s an inexpensive and very cheap way to travel.