Here’s some things I’ve learned about Taiwan in the short time I’ve been here:
- Shower curtains: who needs ‘em? I have yet to see a bathroom with a shower curtain. Basically, the entire bathroom is tiled, so when you shower and end up spraying water all over the place, it doesn’t matter. The water will just run down the drain in the floor. The first couple times I showered at my hotel, I attempted to angle the shower head in a direction that would create the least splash. However, since I was far too tall for the bathtub, I had to kind of crouch down and use my yoga poses to get properly rinsed. All of my efforts to keep the bathroom floor dry were in vain, so I quickly abandoned the mission. It’s actually quite freeing now, not caring how many puddles I make. Also, I don’t have to practice contortions to get clean.
- Give me back that filet-o-fish! In Taiwan, McDonald’s has a Shrimp Burger. No joke. While I think most Americans would be a bit skeptical to eat shrimp from MickyD’s, here in Taiwan, it’s advertised prominently around town. I’ve talked to a few people who have eaten the Shrimp Burger, and they lived to tell about it. At some point, I will order the delicacy and report back. But for now..... I’ll pass.
- Safety first. I thought driving through Chicago was scary. Now, I know what it is to truly fear for my life. The traffic here in Taipei is amazing to me. There are lane lines and apparent rules of the road, but they are loosely observed at best. People merge without blinkers or any notice really, pass on the right shoulder, and turn left from the right lane. Scooters weave in and out between cars and buses like it’s no big deal. Children ride in cars with no seat belts or car seats, and on scooters with no helmets. I’ve even seen several kids riding on the scooter by standing up in front of the driver. But no one seems to be phased by any of this. I rarely hear horns honking and haven’t seen anyone getting flipped off. All of this willy nilly driving is accepted as normal, and people are not upset about getting cut off or pushed nearly into the divider wall of the freeway. I, however, from the back seat of the car, have to close my eyes and pray.
- “Samanta.... Que pasa? Why are you so white?” In Mexico, I was asked more than once what was “wrong” with me because I’m such a pale face. I even had a Mexican suggest I rub CocaCola on my skin before I lay in the sun to increase the intensity of my tan. Since I prefer to sit in the shade and regularly reapply my SPF 110, the notion that tan is better than pale has always been sad to me. Here in Taiwan, I’m among friends. A lot of people seem to want to avoid sun exposure even more than I do! Many women walk down the streets with umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun. In the drug stores, you can buy skin whitening cream, sold right next to the sunscreen. And at the beach, lots of people swim in their t-shirts to protect themselves from the evil rays of the sun. Me likey.