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Thoughts on Taiwan

when i told my friend brian i was working on this site he said to me:"hurry with your website... i want to read of your adventures. tell of the strangest things you can think of. tell of the culture shocks...tell of the beautiful differences..." well, i don't know if it is all that. but what follows are some of my thoughts on taiwan...


when i first came to taiwan i didn't really know what i was getting into. i came with an open mind and since i knew somewhat what to expect i wasn't too shocked by what i found here. when i first arrived i felt like i had stepped into a tsai ming-liang or edward yang film. it was like a dream. now i am much more used to it. seeing 4 people on a scooter and a dog doesn't seem as unusual anymore. nor does all the strays you see all over taipei. luckily there is no rabies in taiwan otherwise i would be more frightened by all these animals.

there are a lot of great things about taiwan. i think the best thing is the people. they can be the nicest people on the planet. if you look lost it is common for someone to ask you if you need help. if you get sick or sunburned everyone has advice for you. i guess that can be both good and bad.

people abroad and here in taiwan continue to ask me why i came to taiwan. now that i have been here a year and a half i really have a hard time remembering. it just seems natural to be here most of the time though i can never pretend i blend in as i will never be able to. when i first came here i wanted to learn chinese and learn about the culture. i am still studying chinese a little. but not like i should. after my contract ends if i come back i will make it a bigger goal. i have learned a lot about the culture and the people. its odd being in taipei because it isn't that much different from other big cities. as a friend of mine put it "its just like any other big city except there are scooters everywhere and everyone is chinese and speaks chinese." that really sums it up to a large extent too.

karin sophie and albert with the frog phone
i met some great people when i went through the initial training for my job. one day four of us went to explore the taipei botanical gardens.i went with albert (from canada), sophie (from canada) and karin (from the u.s.). the gardens were pretty nice. a nice escape from the chaos and pollution of taipei. we wandered around and took goofy pictures (albert is is a real goofball) and just enjoyed being somewhere a little more peaceful. besides where else can you pose for pictures next to a frog phone? most of these friends have left taiwan though. albert returned to vancouver after a year and a half in taiwan.karin even before her first year was up. only sophie and i remain. sophie was wise and quit hess for greener pastures.(sophie has since returned to canada).

there are things i don't like about taiwan. the weather for one thing. it is just too hot here. even the taiwanese complain about it. sometimes much more than i do. the pollution of course is a problem but not nearly as bad
as i expected. the other thing is that people here walk SLOW. i mean in general the sidewalks are not that large. and on any given sidewalk you will have a row of scooters parked and on top of that someone selling clothes or other paraphernelia on the ground. so this leaves just a small area for you to walk and then into the equation you have to take into consideration couples. they link arms and walk too dang slow. and on top of that is the school girls who saunter along arm in arm at the pace of a slug. but for the most part you just accept the negative for the way it is here and adjust.

one of my favourite things about taipei is the night markets. i like to wander through them and look at what is for sale and price stuff to send home as gifts. many of the people that sell stuff on the street do so illegally.it's not uncommon for one minute there to a be a bunch of people hawking their wares and the next to see it all disappearing because a cop has been seen walking in that direction.

at one of the markets you can even see them kill live snakes. they kill them and tell you about what they are doing i think. (its all in chinese so i don't know what it is they tell you). and then they cut out the heart and set it on the counter so you can watch it continue to beat...then they try to interest someone into buying a meal of snake. not for the faint of hearts. it wasn't something i really enjoyed watching. however i am fond of telling my students i eat snake all the time because they think it is really gross.





click here to read about my first experiences
at a taiwanese wedding.

or here to read about
my little trip to alishan.

or here to read about my trip to leofoo village, and amusement park not far from here.

or here to see pictures of the taipei sculpture garden.


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