In the midst of training I was still able to go and observe part of local life the best I can. When I go out with colleagues for dinner or do errands, we got a lot of stares. I don’t know if it was because they were white or that I was the only Asian among the group, maybe both. It got interesting when an individual want something specific; the vendors were looking at me to speak Mandarin to them. Then I get locked into this stare with the vendor unintentionally, I feel like they are thinking “Do you really not speak Mandarin?” After multiple accounts like this I would here and there drift from the group to not have these “awkward” stares. The struggles are real.
I have also noticed how open the LGBT community is here. I know it has become a cultural norm in Western society. It seems Taiwan has followed suite in this area. As far as I know no Asian country has an open LGBT community. I have not checked on the facts but I have heard that Taiwan is the most liberal Asian country and possibly with be the first Asian country to legalize gay marriage. I also learned from one of my tours that there was a park back then that gays would go to to feel safe and find someone special. There are still remnants of that today in the park.
Transportation not only in Taipei but the whole country is by scooter or moped. I learned that Taiwan has the highest scooter per capita in the whole I was surprised. They are everywhere. When I was in the main office for training I would look down from the 8th floor and see a massive flood of scooters weaving through traffic and waiting a stop lights. They have a special law for scooter drivers. If you want to make a left turn you have to turn right and go into a marked box that is white. The white box is in the lane(s) that is going straight to the road you want to turn onto. This is the legal way to make left turns on a scooter, unless your bike meets the require cc power to make the left turn. You also have your bus, cabs and metro lines.
When I went to the local Taiwan banks to exchange money I ended up going to three different banks. Bank one took all the money I had and gave back most because it was too old for them to take it and exchange it. Bank two told me that the bank across the street has a higher exchange rate. Bank number three took the rest of my money to exchange it and charge a $2 fee for the unacceptable bills that I had; but still took it to exchange them. So good looking money only if you physically bring in bills to exchange in the country.
There are also temples and altars almost everywhere; more than one would think. I walk past about 3 when I walk to the huge store in my city and it’s only a 20 minute walk. Everyone the southern part of the USA is known as the Bible belt and that’s one of the best ways to describe the temples and altars. They are Taoist, Confucius or Buddhist. On the street you will often find metal can like small garbage cans outside. It is often used to burn money to ancestors. I have witnessed two in my three week period here.
If you like the comics check them here: http://theawkwardyeti.com/