Yea, I know exactly how he must have felt. Fortunately, enough things in Taiwan are in English that I could get around. For example, street signs, monuments, that kind of stuff. The subway system in Taipei operates in different languages, with English being one of them. Movies and television shows are subtitled due to the different dialects people speak (the written language is Traditional Chinese), and some of them (movies in particular) have English subtitles as well.
The system allows me to learn to read characters and words, kind of like the Rosetta Stone. If I had to spend an extended period of time there, I'd pick it right up fairly easily.
Mainland China was the same way. I was surprised the first time I went there.