What I Learned from Spending 100 Dollars (TWD) on Taiwanese Claw Machines

Yeah, so you know when I said last week that I’d be posting about biking through some rural Taiwanese villages next? Well, the plan was to take the train to Houbi, rent some bikes, and go for a ride through some picturesque farming villages. But it turns out the rental place that Lonely Planet had promised me at the train station in Houbi no longer exists.

I’ll be back, Houbi, with my own bike next time. I’ll be back.

So finding myself back in Chiayi, I decided to blow the hundred TWD dollar bill that I’d planned on using to rent a bike in Houbi on claw machines instead. Claw machines have been beckoning me since arriving in Taiwan, and even made my list of first impressions of the beautiful island, so I thought it was high time I put my money where my mouth was and try to win some fuzzy Pokemon or new headphones.


Well, why not, really?

Stop 1: Snorlax

Just look at the determination on my face. Too bad it didn’t pay off.

Gotta catch ’em all. Except these guys.

Stop 2: Innapropriate

Can you tell what those are?

They are some very hot fish.

Wait, let me help you out. Here’s a close-up.

I really wanted to win one of these.

Too bad I was skunked again. Aww, well, maybe it was for the best.

Stop 3: I can’t resist a Snorlax

I thought it was time Oscar gave the machines a try. After all, maybe I was just unlucky.

We got it!

Nope, nope, we didn’t. Sorry, that picture’s misleading, just like all of these machines of broken dreams.

Stop 4: A Go Pro!


Yeah, don’t get too excited.

This machine didn’t even bother closing when it got to the bottom.

Stop 5: Some random machines in front of a grocery store

I was getting lazy by this point and running low on coins. I didn’t even take a proper photo here…

You’re not even worth a good photo, random plushies.

Last Stop: Spirited Away

Okay, these guys were worth a proper photo.

Too bad this cute little ghostie eluded me too.

No Face just wasn’t in the mood for my nonsense, I guess.

So what did I learn from my afternoon wasting coins in Taiwanese claw machines?

Certainly not how to win at Taiwanese claw machines.

I guess what I learned is that a hundred TWD can buy you a lot of entertainment in Taiwan and that Taiwanese claw machine owners are probably rich. Next time I’ll try to spend my money more wisely. Until then, keep clawing for the stars, my friends.

I’m pretty sure that’s how that phrase goes anyway.

Comment below if you’ve ever won a claw machine, so I can feel worse about my inability to grab a darn Snorlax.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh wow, and I thought I spent a lot on arcade games in Japan! I feel a little better now.

    1. shybackpack says:

      Haha, sorry, I spent 100 Taiwanese dollars. It’s like 3 USD.

      1. Ok now I spent much more than that. I feel bad again :(.

      2. shybackpack says:

        Haha, how much did you spend?

      3. Probably much closer to $15 US dollars. Not horrific, but certainly substantial.

      4. shybackpack says:

        Not bad, haha. If I hadn’t already failed a million times, I’d have definitely spent more on the Spirited Away claw machine. 😀

  2. I love claw machines! Even if I never win anything. And I also used too much money to them while in Japan. I hope you will have luck next time you decide to try them 🙂

  3. My partner has a room full of small stuffed that she claims she won in claw machines when she was at uni. However I have seen her drop $50-$100 in the odd machine when she’s feeling covetous and I’ve never seen her win. Apparently they’re not as easy as they used to be.

    1. shybackpack says:

      Ha ha, they must be getting more difficult.

  4. Robert says:

    10 years ago there were certain machines that paid out after a bunch of suckers played. Just have to lurk better.

    I remember winning a couple of Super Mario cell phone straps(remember those?) that lit up when it receives a phone call. This particular machine was on the fritz and all you had to do was move the joystick forward twice, and it would reset in thinking that there was still a coin in it. I think I won about 10 of those with whoever last paid the machine. It was glorious.

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