Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taipei Sand Witch

I've been on a bit of a jolly trip to Taiwan covering a healthcare trade show in which various manufacturers tried to convince me of the merits of their prosthetic legs, facial-muscle controlled wheelchairs, pill boxes and such like. It was an interesting experience not just because I found out about how wireless technology is being applied to healthcare but also because Taiwan isn't somewhere I would have thought about visiting had I not gone there for work. Having gone there, I would like to go back one day and go outside the city to visit the Sun Moon Lake and check out the beaches.

It's a melting pot mixture of indigenous people, Chinese and Japanese.  I had a little bit of time for sightseeing in the evenings. I steered clear of the art galleries and museums and instead went down to the night markets which are packed with stalls selling incredibly cheap snacks such as fish dumplings, fried chicken, chicken feet, Chinese stews with rice, shellfish, water melon juice, tea and tons of other stuff.

The Taiwanese people are incredibly friendly and kind.  My map reading skills are not legendary and I found myself in an interesting situation when I hadn't learnt the Chinese words for the name of my hotel and had forgotten to bring the piece of paper with it in Chinese characters that one of the trade show press officers had carefully written out for me.  The idea being that I could show it to taxi drivers.  The Metro signs are in English as well as Chinese so I managed to get within half an hour's walk of my hotel but unfortunately the street sign system is laid out in a way that's confusing to a European.  Luckily, as I was standing on the corner of various streets clutching my Rough Guide and looking bewildered, people stopped and helped me find the way. 

It may have been due to the fact that they wanted a favourable write up for their trade show, but I had to just express the slightest interest in something, ie some Taiwanese wine to take home for the Sand Warlock to try, and it would turn up gift wrapped.   

He carried a water melon

Other things I learned about Taiwan include:

1. Taxi drivers and professional drivers love instrumental versions of soft rock and easy listening.
2.  No one has told the Taiwanese that things like God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman and The Little Drummer Boy are generally played in the run up to Christmas rather than in June.
3.  If you order "field chicken" you will be eating frog.
4.  Taiwanese people voluntarily eat pies filled with minced pig eyes.
5.  When Taiwanese people refer to China, they will point upwards and say "PRC".
6.  Taiwanese people, in common with Chinese people, will choose an English name if they are going to be in regular contact with English speakers.  I met one software engineer who told me his name was Mr Lu because he didn't have an English name and he thought I wouldn't be able to say his first name.
7.  Taiwanese manufacturers are very worried about being undercut by cheap Chinese products.

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