Art is everywhere!

I began noticing it when I went to Yingge several months ago: someone had painted the utility boxes to look like a bucolic mountain scene.

Check out the cherry blossoms...

This is common; I haven’t seen a single utility cabinet that wasn’t painted. The construction barricades have cheerful messages and bright colors painted on them. The freeway buttresses are adorned with all sorts of ocean creatures in little vignettes. Taiwan is, after all, surrounded by oceans!

Then I noticed the sculpture – it’s EVERYWHERE! Strange and wonderful shapes in the most unlikely of places. People just walk past them without a sideward glance. Although you’d assume that space is limited it’s because we’re on an island, there seems to be space enough for surprising reminders of an artistic nature. They even transform walls into vertical gardens!

Living Wall

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Look down when you walk….

Headed down Jianguo to return my library books, I wasn’t paying attention to the sidewalk.  It was there; I was walking on it. I was thinking about what flowers to get at the Holiday Flower Mart. Then, about 100 yards in front of me I saw two ladies – it looked like a Mother and a daughter – look down and swerve when nothing obvious was in their way. Hmmm, maybe a bad dog owner not taking care of his pet’s “souvenir”? ewww! As I got closer to where they had swerved I nearly jumped back! On the sidewalk was a greyish-brown SPIDER as big as my hand (I kid you not)! Had I not looked, I would either have stepped on it or…..I hate to think of the alternative. It might have been a tarantula although I wasn’t getting close enough to see how hairy it was (it looked kinda hairy) or even take a pic (though I wanted to). The thing had FANGS. Maybe it was an escapee from a nearby pet store? Maybe it was disturbed when the storefront it was in front of got cleaned out? Why was it out in the sunlight, albeit in the shade on that side of the street? Who knows. What I do know is that I will be a whole lot more careful in checking out the ground where I walk, especially when wearing sandals.

Watson’s

Junk mail is not an unknown concept in Taiwan.

Everyday when I get home, I check my mailbox for something other than a Chunghwa bill but all I find is junk mail. Most of it is colorful and looks interesting; sometimes I can tell by the pictures what is being advertised. (Written Chinese still looks like a foreign language to me!)

Last week a multi-page flyer arrived, with the recognizable white-lettering-on-aqua-banner logo of Watson’s on every page. Watson’s  are like 7-11: everywhere! There are two in 1/4 mile from my Lane 39 down to Xinyi. They sell cosmetics and personal items. Like CVS without the pharmacy.

SALE!” the flyer proclaimed in bold letters. Now that I can understand! I flip through it, matching the pictures to the numbers next the “yuan” (money) symbol and find ads for products that:

  • “whiten” the skin
  • help you lose weight
  • promote good health (herbal supplements and drinks)
  • help you enhance your beauty (cosmetics in a dazzling array of colors and packaging).

How’s a girl to know what to purchase? So I look for the prices. Strangely there are numbers that couldn’t possibly be the price for, say, a well-known high-end brand of face cream (85 = 2.50USD). At first I think the item is 85% off – wow, what a bargain! Then, I realize that that 85 actually means 15% off (so the item is 85% of its original price). Why not just say 15% off? Now that I’ve figured that system out, the  numbers next to the yuan symbol start making more sense. I can do the math, then divide by 30 to get the price in US dollars.

As I’m checking out, having purchased Naruko “Night Repairing Dew” (made with narcissus, smells wonderful, and at 80NT, it’s a bargain) and some blueberry tea bags in glass jar (Made in Germany) for 90NT, another bargain, I notice people using what looks a “frequent shopper” card. When it’s my turn to pay, I point to the poster for the card and am handed a beautiful silver packet containing said card and several informative brochures in Chinese, along with a package of cosmetic samples (for “sensitive Asian skin” which, let’s face it, does NOT describe me or my skin). It was a nice gesture though. I’m made to understand that I need to go online to register the card. Of course the entire site is in Chinese and even trying Google’s Chrome browser to translate isn’t helpful. Ah well, guess that explains why no sales associate ever offered  me a card…

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…