Scooter Saga Part I

Want a scooter license in Taiwan? The first step’s a trip to the hospital…

Taiwanese driver license health exam paperwork with personal details concealed.
I passed the health exam. The stamped blue text (正常) means ‘normal’. Photo: Zhen-Kang.

Obtaining a driver’s license in Taiwan—for a four-wheeled vehicle or, in my case, an “ordinary heavy-duty motorcycle”—is more complicated than in New Zealand.

The first step requires a trip to hospital for a health exam. So, this morning I caught an Uber to Kaohsiung Municipal Da-Tung Hospital (高雄市立大同醫院), which has a 2.9-star rating on Google Maps.

Some of the reviews made me particularly curious:

This is absolutely a hospital.
In Ward 7B, the toilet is recommended to be refurbished. It is too simple.
After seeing the doctor, I feel extremely regretful like boarding a pirate ship.
The spinal cord surgeon said after a few seconds that he couldn’t do it.

At the information desk, I used my phone’s Translate app to ask where I should go. The elderly volunteer walked me down a corridor and passed me to a second volunteer, who guided me to the right counter.

I paid NT$150 (NZ$7.50) and handed over my ID card and a passport photo. I confirmed that I cannot write Chinese characters, so the administrator kindly filled in the paperwork for me. I only had to add my phone number and signature—trusting that I was actually signing relevant documents and not some dubious commitment.

I was given the examination card (above), and directed to a series of booths for the tests.

At the first booth, I had my height and weight taken. Since my last medical check-up, a month before leaving New Zealand, I’ve gained 2cm and lost 10kg.

Taiwan is good to me.

At subsequent booths I did a 30-second vision and color-blindness test, performed a single squat, and clenched and unclenched my fists. I was then directed to a consultation room, where was asked by a doctor whether I felt OK.

I said yes.

The shortest consultation I’ve ever had.

The final ‘normal’ (正常) stamps were added to my examination card, and I was done. The entire process took about 10 minutes. I did not feel extremely regretful like boarding a pirate ship. Five stars.