More crazy signs…

Here we go again! They make it soooo easy.

At the Museum of Modern Art:

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I think the writers meant well, but this poor map isn’t going anywhere.

At the Renai and Dunhua circle advertising a recent event:

I guess the quickest way to get the party started is to leave the verbs at home!

I guess the quickest way to get the party started is to leave the verbs at home!

On the MRT; I know they meant well but…

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One never knows when a band of ill-fitting pants might attack!

For those who love to drink and drive legally:

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Mmmm, love me some beer-flavored chocolate bars. Maybe someone got confused about which type of bars these were associated with?

See what I mean?

One year in Taiwan

I’ve officially been in Taiwan for one year! In that time, I have had many adventures, made some new friends – and here’s what I’ve learned:

  • the Taiwanese are a happy, friendly, patient people; they will wait in orderly lines (for elevators, to check out, at the MRT)
  • if you at least attempt to speak Chinese, they will attempt to speak English
  • the Taiwanese love art – painting, sculptures, and colorful signs are EVERYWHERE
  • there are two prices: the foreigners-who-don’t-bargain price and the locals-I-will-bargain-for-EVERYTHING-EVERYWHERE price
  • it is safe to walk home alone after midnight
  • many stores and shops and foot massage places are open late or 24/7
  • the Taiwanese are a generally conservative people, yet you’ll see giant billboards advertising (very) skimpy lingerie, girls with super short skirts, and “betel nut” girls in bikinis selling their wares (I mean the narcotic nuts)
  •  the few foreigners you see on the street either pretend you don’t exist and walk on by or become your best friends
  • if you are a “normal” size (not a “tiny” person) you’ll have trouble finding clothing here (size 8.5 is the largest shoe size available for women)
  • foreign (European and American) goods are vastly overpriced (I once spent 6000NT/200USD on a pair of CK jeans)
  • thank goodness for UniGlo – I was actually able to find some reasonably-priced, quality clothing
  • when they say “rainy season” they mean it!
  • most people eat out for all meals (they don’t have actual kitchens here), and the food is relatively cheap (relative to the wages that is)
  • having a clothes dryer is a luxury few can afford
  • trash must be taken to the garbage truck in official blue bags
  • taking public transportation isn’t so scary anymore (I can ask directions and understand the answer!)
  • 30 verbs
  • Google Translate and 7-11 are a godsend!
  • Good customer service is a given, as is no tipping!

Taipei World Design Expo

Entrance to Songshan venue

As a teambuilding activity, all of our company’s Taiwan-based tech writers took the day off  on Friday to go on a field trip – and what a day it was! Taipei was selected to host the 2011 Design Expo divided among three venues: Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (great name!)  and two Nangang Exhibition Halls. We met at Songshan @ 10am under gorgeous skies along with hundreds (thousands perhaps) of like-minded design aficionados. After waiting in line to get a program we entered the Expo. Much like a county fair, there were exhibits in various buildings; we opted to start in the “back” and work our way to the front, since it was obvious that the exhibits closer to the entrance were mobbed! Every type of object (for work or play) you could imagine was represented. My favorite was the floor housing the “Golden Pin” award winners for innovative design of products sold in Taiwan!

The eponymous golden pin!

Room after room of colorful, useful, imaginative products! I love this stuff! I could have spent all day there but our plan included catching all three venues in one day, so, off we went. After a wonderful lunch at a nearby pizzeria, we road the MRT (blue line) to the end-of-the-line: Nangang. The giant exhibition halls housed more industrial displays with vendors from all over the world. My personal favorites were the BMW booth with it’s upbeat music and crazy lighting and a local handbag designer:

Designer handbags

speed demon

Halloween in Taipei

Who knew the Taiwanese were into Halloween?

Walking down Guangfu (after coming out of the Sun Yat Sen MRT)  I noticed a crowd gathered around the entrance to a store up ahead. As I got closer I could see it was an all-Halloween store! WOW! Once inside it felt like any Wal-mart in America: the exact same items (made in China, of course). I selected some spider webs, face make-up, and a bright green mask. I think only my boss is dressing up so I’m not sure what I’ll do with my treasures…

First month

I survived!! No wonder I’m exhausted: I visited my entire family, flew for 17 hours across the Pacific, and landed smack-dab in the middle of a cultural conundrum!  In the past month I’ve started a new job assignment, travelled around parts of Taiwan, searched for (and found!) a place to live, purchased furnishings! When I say everything about Taiwan is different than anything I’m used to, I mean EVERYTHING. It’s not just a new country, it’s a country where I cannot read the signs or understand the words. For a directionally-challenged person who must now rely on public transportation, this is definitely an issue. I got an MRT map and have started figuring things out, but it’s slow going. A country where, thankfully, the people are very friendly; most do attempt to help when asked. I managed to get on the right bus down the street from work, bound for Nanjing E. Road, but almost got off on the wrong stop (hey, it said Civic center which is on Nanjing E. Road). The kind bus driver indicated I had two more stops to go when I started to get off the bus. It’s a country of ironies. For instance, there are clear signs saying “Pedestrians have the right of way.” but it really should read “Pedestrians must get out of the way (of any on-coming traffic, even in a cross walk, if they expect to live another day)!” The humidity here is INCREDIBLE, but on the upside, I’ve probably lost another size just from sweating, and I can save 5 minutes each morning by NOT drying my hair. (What’s the point? By the time I walk the 20 minutes to work, it’s wet again!) I will spend this weekend RESTING, maybe catch the latest Harry Potter movie, doing laundry (that’ll be an interesting experience which I’ll surely share with you), and checking out the night market (photo ops galore). Thanks for your encouraging words….the adventure continues!

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