Taiwan in Hindsight

Sheesh, time flies when you’re having fun!

Having arrived in Taiwan seemingly just yesterday, five days zoomed by, and I’m already en route back to the Continent. People do refer to Europe as “the Continent”, right? I feel like I’ve heard that before. And if not, let’s be clear: I’m currently amid the sluggishly long travel back across the world to Europe right about… now.


Immediately upon arriving to Taiwan, I felt like a fish not just out of water, but like a fish out of water and flopping helplessly on the moon! That is to say, it was abruptly foreign in every sense of the word. In all my previous experiences overseas — beit in Italy or France, even Canada or Chile — I can milk my way through any language barriers, read signs, order coffee, and all in all feel acquainted. Touching down in Taiwan, boy oh boy, I was out of my element. And truly, man oh man, how things have changed over these brief few days!

To begin, I’ve learned a variety of words which assist in my social lubrication. My hello and thank you have been joined by the likes of both yes and no. No is interesting, as it’s actually two words which amount to “not yes”, if I understand even mildly correctly. So I think I can say not thank you and not hello; the former I use to say “You’re welcome” and the latter I use to say “Goodbye”. Which I’m nearly certain is entirely incorrect, but that’s besides the point. Saying it with enough confidence, I gain satisfaction in pretending to know what I’m doing.

In practice, I do say thank you about a billion times per day which is a testament to how friendly and hospitable the Taiwanese are. This race has been a distinct pleasure and I can’t thank the local liaisons, sponsors, race officials and directors, fans, and everyone else for making it so enjoyable.

The following can be tallied on my Things I’ve Learned column and are a final installment for Taiwan’s Out Of the Saddle News:

–There is no such thing as too much fresh sushi when in Asia.

–Breakfast buffets offer a fascinating glimpse in cultural cuisine. Cabbage for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is great; that much I expected. The chicken nuggets, though, came as more of a surprise served three times per day. From left to right, mysterious and succulent sauteed mushrooms, boiled eggs — maybe chicken or perhaps goose — I had both this week. Next, creamed potatoes and fish, the ubiquitous chicken nuggets, and I believe that final flash of color is the Taiwanese take on collard greens. Yup, this is breakfast.


–The iPad and iPhone have had their time in the spotlight for years now. And in techno-time, years may as well be an entire a millennia. Ladies and gentlemen, I present unto you the PadFone! Now on sale for just a hair under nineteen thousand bucks…


–Coffee cultures feature a vast variation from nation to nation. Italian coffee is utterly distinct from French, American, Turkish, et cetera. As a coffee lover but far from a coffee snob, I declare Taiwanese coffee culture among the best. That being said, I am just a touch remiss I didn’t visit this all-under-one-roof establishment.

–When enjoying an evening stroll through city streets, you may pump the brakes on your excitement when the enticing ice-cream-truck music comes within earshot. Those alluring tunes are announcing to locals to bring out their trash — yup, that’s the garbage truck.

–Airport bathrooms often feature a dramatic, big, red button on the wall, akin to what the evil antagonists in James Bond movies have to launch nuclear missiles. No nuclear disaster here folks; when pushed they announce, “Please do not smoke in the bathroom! Please do not smoke in the bathroom!” Disaster averted.

–It is very windy in Taiwan. Stage two was a mighty gale and yesterday I reckon was a categorical hurricane. Albeit a welcomed warm and dry one.

–I already mentioned in a previous entry that 7-Eleven is iconic in Taiwan. Last night from this one vantage point in which I’m standing, I could see four different 7-Eleven stores. Fact.


–Taiwanese pickle everything. I have a broad and accepting palate for most things, but from my experience they’re all delicious.

–Much like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, there are Ted&Cameron and the Three Beers. Pineapple was far too sweet; liche fruit was simply too subtle; Honeydew Melon, however, was refreshingly just right.

And on that note as I bid you a sleepy adieu, if you don’t want Melon beer, you could practice your Taiwanese, point at the fruity beer in front of you, and proficiently say “No, NOT Beer”. You might then end up with this, THE Beer.



  1. Burton

    Your no idea is lotus root.

  2. Damon Parke

    This might be handy during future cultural excursions.


  3. son of strongbad

    my inability to grasp any semblance of cultural awareness in asia always made me feel lost as an illegitimate child on father’s day. I could never tell if people were inviting me to dinner or mugging me.


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