Some things about Taiwan

When you’ve lived in a place for a while, and then left for a while, there are any number of details that you haven’t exactly forgotten, but don’t often think about. And when you go back, you notice the un-remembered (but not forgotten) details of everyday life with a reaction that fits somewhere between remembering and discovery. During my first few days back in Taiwan, I kept a list of all of these everyday details that jumped out at me as familiar but rarely thought of since.

  • Roaches- they love the sub-tropical climate. I see them out on the street almost daily.
  • No plastic bag in the convenience store- costs extra by law.
  • The ubiquitous Taiwanese style breakfast shops Chinese/American fusion breakfast shops.
  • Trash: categories of separation, daily pickups, having to bring it to the truck yourself if you don’t live in a building with dumpsters.
  • Gas powered water heater on the balcony- gas canister delivery instead of gas utility. (This works because it’s only needed for hot water and cooking, never for space heating.)
  • The styles of doors and gates.
  • Indoor/outdoor footwear customs influenced by Japan.
  • They LOVE their sweet tea here. You have to really remember to check the labels in the store to get even unsweetened green tea, and restaurants always serve sweet black tea.
  • Binglang (betel nuts) EVERYWHERE. Selling, chewing, blood-red spit stains and dried nut husk.

Next: some photos, then writeups of my visits to Aboriginal villages.

5 thoughts on “Some things about Taiwan”

  1. They love it in S’pore as well – got a nasty shock the first time I unsuspectingly bought a can of green tea there. And we get gas canisters in Japan too, for areas that aren’t city gas. Probably not common in Tokyo, mind you.

  2. I live in Kyoto, and we have city gas here. In Taiwan the canisters are used even in Taipei-I guess city gas just isn’t worth the investment.

  3. My building in the Tokyo burbs (Adachi-ku) was just refitted for city gas a few weeks ago. I see canisters outside MANY buildings around the neighborhood.

  4. Its hard to find a plastic bag in Moscow and many European countries. I remember there was actually shops of canvas and higher “quality” plastic bags when I was in Moscow (in 98) and the most popular bag was Titanic (the movie). If the store did have plastic they charged for ’em.

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