Even though Culture Shock: Taiwan was published in 1995 (18 years ago!!! Whaaaaaat!?) and had a few grammatical errors, I wanted to read the book by Chris and Ling-li Bates to get a feel for the Taiwanese culture.
Here is a round-up of the best advice and quotes from the “Culture Shock” series book on Taiwan.
- Do not dress up or wear a pair of white shoes if you’re going to the wet markets (where meat is sold. Well, first it’s an animal and then right in front of your eyes it becomes meat.)
- Learn to look left, right, up and down before crossing the street.
- “‘Wild Chicken Taxis’ are appropriately named because they are speed demons who will try to get a full complement of four passengers to squeeze into their cars for a fast and risky ride.”
- “It is not unusual to see a family of five balancing on a Vespa. Junior is standing between dad’s legs, mom sits behind dad carrying the baby and big sis is clinging on behind mom.”
- “Remember the Chinese saying, “A thousand words are never as good as one look.'”
- If you want to seem sincere, you must ask a person if they want tea at least three times before they give you their truthful response.
- The saying gen pi chung means you are a fart-following insect … and it’s also an insult.
- Yang gwei means “foriegn devil.”
- Da bi dz means “big nose.”
- “Though rare now, spirit marriages do take place. [A living male] and [the ghost of a dead girl] become wed in a formal ceremony. This has no legal effect, but the groom must now put the girl’s ancestral tablet on his prayer table.”
- [Tai chi] “Taoist believe that in the very early hours (4 to 5 am) trees give off ywan chi, or ‘original energy.'” The bigger the tree, the better you’ll breathe.
- “Taoism the philosophy deals with change. It accepts that all things are in a state of flux and change is ceaseless. That is the ‘way of nature.’ The person who understands this, who can observe nature without distraction, can thus move in harmony with nature.”
- “Some Taiwanese people have added a Western given name to their [business] cards. While most of these are simple off-the-shelf names, like Robert or Simon, others are more obscure, like Jubilee, Beauty or Banjo.”
- “The Taiwanese do swear and the most frequent epithet you will hear is ta ma de! Which literally means, ‘His mother!'”
- Taiwanese enjoy puerile, slapstick humor – flatulence and food fights!”
- “[An important] step for immunization is to allow yourself to bring some familiar items with you when you move.”