Songshan, Taipei, Taiwan, April 2015. Money, that’s what I need and I’ve got to get it from downtown. A google search suggests I need to head for the Songshan district where there seems to be a cluster of banks and financial institutions – so, if I can’t get money there, well, there’s just no hope.
Taipei is well connected by an underground metro system and thankfully pretty idiot proof to use! Just 5 lines, all colour coded, numbered and labeled in Chinese, oh and English -which is good because my level of Chinese language skills can be determined as zero. A couple of line changes and T$20 (43p) for the 15 minute journey from Ximen Station to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station and another 10 minute stomp north to the Standard Charted Bank – yes, I can almost smell the money now.
Standard Chartered Bank, a good reliable British institution that will hopefully recognize my British bank cards (yes, I brought 2) and give me access to my money. Oh would you Adam and Eve it! Transaction cancelled. I stomp up to the cashier desk and ask for help. They look somewhat confused and ask me to wait, and wait. finally a nice young lady, slim, about 21 I’d say, arrives to tell me there’s nothing they can do and I should try another bank. Looks like I might have to get someone in the UK to send me cash via Western Union as I stomp away somewhat frustrated with the whole business and thinking ‘why did I come to Taipei anyway’?
Then a red HSBC sign appears quite unexpectedly, well, lets give this a try. Yes, success at last. This good old British institution has saved the day – I need a coffee, a Mr. Browns coffee shop located almost next door to the bank and with a feeling of relief I sit down and contemplate the experience.
Warning: based on my experience, local Taiwanese banks and Taiwanese branches of International banks in Taipei may not give you access to your overseas bank accounts. Have a source of emergency cash available!