Cultureshock: Taiwan

I’d never been to Asia and as my first ever Asian destination I chose a week in Taipei, Taiwan. I had no idea what to expect apart from the fact that I wouldn’t understand a word people were saying. I loved observing this culture that’s so different from what is normal to me. I’d like to share some peculiar things my Western eyes came across.

The Taiwanese are orderly. In the subway you’ll see lines painted on the ground. They look like tracks, the kind athletes use when running in a stadium. They are used to indicate where to wait in line for the trains and how to enter them. That is after everyone has exited of course. And in line they wait. The Taiwanese enter the subway train like a drilled army, exactly following the tracks as indicated. Maybe it has something to do with the guards that are checking if everyone is doing the right thing.

There are special waiting areas for women at night. Safety first. I must say, even though I was in a country where I didn’t even know what I was eating, I’ve never felt unsafe. The people are all so friendly and ready to help whenever you need it. I felt like most people were even happy to meet you.

Food at the night market

Food at the nightmarketEven as an English speaker you can find your way around. In the trains the destinations are mentioned in four languages, including English. Most signs are at least bilingual and tourist destinations are easy to find.

Where my country is filled with bicycles, Taiwan is filled with scooters. In traffic they totally dominate and as a pedestrian you might want to be careful. Then there are dozens of special scooter parking places and they still don’t suffice!

Scooters dominate the streets

One of the best things about the city were the many markets and night markets. What a brilliant concept. The shopping continues till late at night and you’ll find food from many different cultures for a very cheap price. Skip the local Subway or McDonald’s for you are way better off at the market. Eat like a king.

Everywhere around you is advertising in big neon letters. All of a sudden there is a street full of bird cages. Every single shop in the street sells different kind of birds. Salesmen are showing happy shoppers their merchandise, which is chirping away. You can even hear it above the busy traffic noise.

It seems like half of Taipei’s life happens underground. The metro stations all seem to be linked by underground shopping malls and big open spaces. Here, dance groups and cheerleaders practice their routines while commuters rush past.

Taiwan was eye-opening. Hopefully I’ll see some more of it one day.

One thought on “Cultureshock: Taiwan

  1. I really liked this post! I am an American expat and I have been living just a little south of Taipei for almost two years now and I so went through your culture shock experience! For me, the hardest thing to grapple with is the stinky tofu. If it smells like sewage, why would you put it in your mouth? It’s perplexing!

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