Sometimes, Taiwan just drives me nuts.
Despite being here for over 4 years to date, there are still things that I can’t understand about this country.
Therefore, ignoring the risk that you’ll be pummeling me with rotten eggs and tomatoes in exchange for my right to free speech, here goes:
1) The attack of the convenient store
Taiwan embodies convenience and ease. And what better way to do this than to have an onslaught of convenient store in almost any corner?
I have one less than a minute away from my place.
It’s THAT convenient.
Not that am complaining, but don’t you think that one in every 10 corners should be sufficient?
Talk about saturation.
Regardless, at least big names like 7-11 can keep their market share instead of losing your money to competition by not having one shop next door.
2) The Essentials of Owning a car
At least NT$40 an hour for parking, if you can even find one.
Taxis, buses and MRT available ubiquitously make traveling ultra-convenient.
Steep gasoline prices.
Hey, I know you’ll need a car to travel away from Taipei during weekends but renting may prove to be cheaper.
Unless it’s company-sponsored or you have a family, driving a car in Taipei especially when you’re single is simply impractical.
But not everybody shares the same viewpoint. Actually, correct that, not a lot of people think the same way.
My friend tells of an acquaintance that worships his car and even goes Dutch with his girlfriend because he can’t afford to take her out since he spends most of his paycheck on his automobile. Even more, during a recent trip, he was so occupied about his car that he insisted that they drive to Ilan to have it repaired after having scratched it.
What’s even laughable is that he’s driving a freaking Toyota Altis!
We can easily forgive him if it was a Porsche, Benz or BMW, but a Toyota Altis?
But who can blame him?
From what I heard, women here place a lot of emphasis on prospective boyfriends owning a unit.
No way am going to a date on the back of a scooter.
Hence, when I ask my girl-friends what type of guy they want, “having a car” is one of the key factors to a guy’s date-ability.
No wonder guys are scrambling to the showrooms to buy one!
3) Dating married men
One common theme that I’ve noticed is that women here have fewer qualms in dating a married man.
Affairs don’t seem as taboo in Taiwan, as tons of girls I know have dated one at one point in their life.
At first, I was like, “How do you feel being a mistress?” but have finally gotten used to it after hearing the same stories over and over.
Ironically, most women don’t really aim to tear him away from his legally binding wife.
Their requests are surprisingly simple:
Pay attention to me.
Treat me well.
Your wife I can handle. Your other girlfriends, I cannot.
Interestingly, there are still guys who fail on the 4th request.
One guy admitted to failing at monogamy and not being able to limit himself to one mistress.
In a sardonic twist of fate, his wife divorced him afterwards, and hooked up with another guy!
But this does show how much crap women tend to accept from their men nowadays.
4) Jump-packed New Year Eve celebrations
Ever been out at the Taipei 101 area 2 hours before the New Years?
As if the entire population has sardined itself in this small tract of life just to see the fireworks — that last a measly 188 seconds.
That’s 3 minutes.
So miss the Philippines where fireworks would last for hours.
Even better, in the U.K., heard that fireworks would go off for over 20 minutes that you leave because you’re bored.
This year, it took me an hour to journey 3 blocks, after being cursed on, punched on the side of my face by a careless man, stepping and falling down amongst throngs of people and pushed/carried by the crowds that lead to nowhere.
Ordinarily, this would’ve taken 10 minutes.
15 minutes tops.
What’s even crazier, half an hour after the stroke of midnight, half the crowd disappears.
Don’t even know where they go, but finally, you discover that you can finally breathe.
What the heck?
5) They love falling in line
The Taiwanese love fads and falling in line!
When Mister Donut in Tienmu opened, lines were three blocks long!
Same goes when a new club, restaurant or hip spot open.
Some peeps even part-timed standing in line for a fee.
Their logic, if there’s a line, it should be good.
6) Silly drinking games
You’re over 30 and you’re still playing games that people play when they’re 12.
Paper, rocks and scissors hardly count to any increase in productivity or intelligence, but people here still play them anyway.
Blame it on the alcohol but truly, what gives?
I feel dumber by the minute.
7) The obsession with anything “cute”
A lot of women here like pink.
It’s kawaii (cute in Japanese).
They see Hello Kitty, a cat that has no mouth, and they yell, “Oooooh, that’s soooo cute!”
One guy-friend even swears that his girlfriend would watch cartoons after they did the deed.
Blame it on the Japanese/Korean influence, but a lot of Taiwanese take cuteness to the next level.
Maybe it’s because they’re trying hard to look Japanese and Korean, but only appear as copycats.
It’s too unnatural.
That’s why in general, people claim that given the same age, the maturity level is still higher in the States than in Taiwan.
And why leggings, ribbons, lace and things that separately look nice but when put together look horrendous are so popular nowadays.
Cause they’re cute.
Nevertheless, if you sell anything cute, most likely, it’ll take off.
That’s why one convenient store found its sales booming after giving away Doraemon, Little Twin Stars and Hello Kitty freebies.
Trust me, people who collected the goods were mostly over the legal drinking age.
Here, it’s cool to be “cute” and it’s acceptable to act 12 even if you’re 25.
Actually, it’s even encouraged.
Shoot me now.
8) Bony-thin Taiwanese women
This I can’t comprehend — after huge servings of cake, pastries, sweets and midnight snacks, in addition to NOT working out regularly, Taiwanese women are still as thin as toothpicks.
One girl boasted she’s never been over 50 kg.
Another claimed that she’s never even been over 40 kg.!
What’s more, even after giving birth to 2 children, they’ve miraculously still managed to keep their lean figures.
Great “thin” genes?
Miracle appetite-reducing drugs?
Absolutely no clue.
But they sure are thin, especially compared to their voluptuous Filipino counterparts.
In fact, they make me look fat.
It’s indeed a losing battle.
9) Obsession with fair skin and beauty
In general, women here pride themselves for their fair, pale skin.
As a result, they carry an umbrella even when stepping out on a cloudy day, because “the streets can still reflect UV rays to your skin.”
This I kid you not.
Some women claim to not have learned how to swim because going outdoors make them dark.
They should get their priorities straight — What’s the use of having pale skin when you’re shipwrecked and drowning?
No wonder women would rush to the stores during a Sogo sale to purchase the latest beautifying product.
And they have no qualms in throwing over NT$30,000 in purchasing a small lotion as well!
No price is expensive as the cost of beauty!
10) “It’s special here”
Talking about food, Taiwan knows how to promote its local delicacies.
Regardless on where you are in this island, each area has their own specialty.
In Ilan, it’s a biscuit shaped like a cow’s tongue.
In Jiaoxi, it’s their chicken rice.
In Alishan, it’s their bento box.
Sometimes they’re really good, but oftentimes, they’re just blah.
How many times can I learn excited Taiwanese peeps shriek that we should try this or that because it’s special in the area?!
But it’s something we Filipinos can learn to promote our very own trade and tourism.
11) Crazy Doctors and Crazier Pills
When sick, Taiwanese peeps usually rush to the hospital for a check-up where you line up for hours seeing a random doctor you don’t even know.
Gimme a break.
Instead, they give you bags over bags of pills.
Heck, you don’t even know what you’re taking. My guess, a lot are mere placebo drugs.
What happened to good ol’ Tylenol when you’re experiencing pain, and Benadryl when you have a cough?
Those work perfectly fine as dozens of pills do.
12) The powerful influence and implication of Taiwan news and media
In the Philippines, the newsfeed are full of stories on crimes, rape, robbery, graft and corruption, the Iraqi war, the recent elections in the U.K., business news from around the world, among others.
It’s the 300-people rally near the government office, another poor heart-broken fellow committing suicide, some healthy tapioca chewy eats available in Kaoshiung, one politician socking another in camera, one guy not taking care of his grandmother, a special flower in Taichung, a talking dog/cat/bird/whatever, and maybe, an ongoing affair in the celebrity arena.
Note the common theme?
Sometimes, I believe that a lot of Taiwanese live in a bubble, where the sun revolves around Taiwan.
Limited mentions are made by news overseas, and many Taiwanese believe news from the media as if they were words from God.
Hence, stocks have risen and fallen, government officials have backed off races, policies have been changed, reputations destroyed just because of media.
My Taiwanese aunt quotes the news reports as if it’s part of the Bible.
It’s great that people here aren’t as apathetic as Filipinos, who can’t even manage to jail a corrupt official even after accepting a bribe and caught on tape.
But would hope in the future, they’d focus their energies more on international than local news.
Seriously, it’s been quite a while that I’ve seen the Iraqi war heavily featured in Taiwan media.
That’s how local news and media here is.
13) Intense Political loyalties
Green and blue.
Basically, Taiwan politics is divided into two parties, and they’re intentionally passionate on where they stand.
In general, Taipei’s more Blue, while the South is more Green.
Green is incumbent Chen Sui-Bien’s party and heartily pushes for Taiwan independence before the elections but once they get elected, and then they get real careful on what they say.
What I found funny however is how passionate Taiwanese peeps in genereal really are on local politics.
One long-term couple broke up due to political differences (shouldn’t they figure this out before they go steady?).
A taxi driver almost fought with me after I nonchalantly said that the new Sogo department store should be painted blue (due to aesthetic reasons and simply, because I love blue) because he felt that the color of the new store signified a strong support for President Chen.
14) Weird Hobbies
For both men and women, sleeping here count as a hobby.
Specifically, for adult men, video games are a key hobby.
For women, shopping is a hobby.
Actually, for many women here, that’s their only hobby.
Maybe it’s just me but I’ve previously believed that hobbies mostly include reading, singing, surfing, playing sports, etc.
Somehow, the notion of mindlessly walking around the streets of Taipei blowing off your salary isn’t really my idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon.
Don’t you girls have too much clothes already?
15) Too much practicality
A lot of peeps here think more with their brains than with their heart.
One former student of mine chose Math because her parents wanted to and ensured her of a better future than art, which she’s more passionate about.
One friend took up economics and finance because of a better career path than music.
People marry because their partners offer stability and money instead of love.
Kids go home to visit because of obligation despite hating their kin.
Something Taiwanese can learn from the happy-go-lucky Pinoys: Sometimes, it’s good to use your heart.
You may not make the most money, but at the very least, for some insane reason, you’re most likely to be happy.
And am sure that the Taiwanese people are scratching their heads about that.
16) A lot of Taiwanese can’t swim
Isn’t it insane that despite being an island surrounded by water, a lot of Taiwanese can’t swim. They can paddle in shallow waters like toddlers, but put them in deeper water and they scream and squeal. My Taiwanese friend said it’s because as young kids, learning how to swim wasn’t really a priority. Guess moms believe that getting high grades or learning how to play the piano are more important than learning a survival technique.
But then again, how often do a ship sink and you have to fend for yourself in shark-infested waters?! Ha! If you think about it, when do we need how to learn to swim anyway?
That’s why when we did a surfing discovery class, a few good women had to stay onshore because they can’t swim much to the chargin of their foreigner boyfriends.
So what make your crazy about Taiwan?
Mind you, this is my blog so if you read something offensive, please blame it on my ignorance as a foreigner and leave it at that.
Anyway, I’ll be posting another entry on why I love Taiwan to even it out soon, so stop complaining.
All’s fair in love and war.