Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An Introduction to Taiwan

I learn more about Taiwan when I was staying in Singapore in 2009. Mandarin is the only Chinese's official language besides, Malay, English and Tamil to be published and aired on media in Singapore. It is impossible to find Cantonese dramas and movies on television and cinemas in Singapore thus, it was a new approach for me to watch Mandarin dramas from Taiwan. I grew up watching Cantonese dramas and movies as well as listening to Cantonese songs from Hong Kong. Is there any difference between Taiwanese dramas and Cantonese dramas? Well, to my surprise, I noticed there were many good looking actors and pretty girls in Taiwanese dramas. Taiwanese girls always portray themselves with sweet voices and cute personalities in their short and sexy clothing in order to reveal their long legs. 

Taiwan was ruled under Japanese colony so it is not surprising that majority of the elderly Taiwanese are able to speak Japanese besides, Mandarin and Taiwanese (Hokkien) dialect. However, the young Taiwanese aren't enforced to learn Japanese and Taiwanese dialect thus, these languages are slowly dying culture in Taiwan. When I was traveling in Taiwan, I noticed that the Taiwanese mindset and culture are totally different than typical Chinese's mindset in China and other parts of Asia countries. This is because Japanese culture has deeply taken root in Taiwanese society. Taiwanese are not only well-known for being friendly and helpful but they also obey to rules and regulations. They dared to speak out their minds and pinpoint when someone did wrongly or disobey the rules. They even dared to show their dissatisfaction to the Government too. So, please OBEY and FOLLOW the rules on the streets, in the train (subway) stations or anywhere in Taiwan. You don't want to end up to be embarrassed when someone pointed out at you :)

Taiwan was known for its dirty streets and dirty water where garbage and trashes was piled up with rats, flies and cockroaches everywhere in 1980s. Until then, the Government stepped in and implemented strict regulations to clean up the country since several years ago. The residents were educated to clean up the streets and keep their garbage bins inside their premises instead of leaving on the streets. They were responsible to segregate the garbage (trash) as well as the kitchen waste and other recyclable materials before disposing into the garbage truck and recycling van which tagged along behind the garbage truck every evening. When you hear the similar melody played by the Ice Cream Truck in the U.S.A, it can be heard in Taiwan as well but the music are played by the garbage trucks. This is an effective method to alert the residents to bring all their garbage (trash) bags and recyclable materials to the designated streets before throwing them into the garbage truck and recycling van. For the full story of Taiwan's musical garbage trucks by BBC News, please click the link here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12242914

In order to reduce the usage of garbage (trash) bags, the Government also imposed the residents to use the garbage (trash) bags which they purchase from the convenience stalls. I feel this is a fair implementation as to encourage the residents to use less plastic bags. The residents are charged for the trash fees by purchasing the plastic bags instead of charging them the flat garbage fees. This is another method to control and reduce the plastic bag usage on the streets. It's even more surprising to see the streets are clean although you hardly find garbage (trash) bins on the streets in Taiwan. If you need to throw trash but you don't find the trash (garbage) bins around, you need to hold on the trash or keep in your bag until you find the trash (garbage) bin. 

Traveling within Taipei city and outside Taipei is becoming more accessible by depending on public transportation which connects each other like, buses, trains and subways (metro) and taxis too. There is a bullet train traveling from Taipei to Kaohsiung which takes about one hour and a half only. You can learn more about the routes through online or brochures from hotels and Taiwan Tourism Information Center.

Taiwanese have similar interest as Japanese. They love pets. You can find many adorable and happy dogs roaming on the streets. They are not stray dogs. They have owners. They are friendly and love meeting people. At times, you notice some Taiwanese bring their dogs to parks nearby shopping malls in Taipei, to restaurants and even put them on crates to board ferries or trains to other cities in Taiwan. I even had seen a Taiwanese took her dog to temple as well. How I wish more Asian countries cultivate the culture of love and respect to the animals like how Taiwanese treat their pets as part of their family members.

And lastly, Taiwan is mostly visited by Japanese tourists thus, it is not surprising that most of tour guides in Taiwan are able to speak in three languages fluently mainly, English, Mandarin and Japanese. It is quite impressive for the tour guides to be able to master in English and Japanese when their English language is only taught in the third year of elementary school in Taiwan thus, majority of them are able to grasp and understand simple (basic) English only. When you approach any Taiwanese, they are willing to help out although there is some barrier in language communication. I really enjoyed and had good experience traveling in Taiwan. I wish I could travel to Taiwan again, one day.

Walking towards the Immigration Department of Taoyuan International Airport during my arrival in Taipei, Taiwan
Walking towards the Immigration Department of Taoyuan International Airport during my arrival in Taipei, Taiwan

Dog friendly signs reminding the visitors to declare before walking out from Taoyuan International Airport Arrival in Taipei, Taiwan
Dog friendly signs reminding the visitors to declare before walking out from Taoyuan International Airport Arrival in Taipei, Taiwan

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