When we travel to another part of the world, we tend to notice many little things, and we can’t help but to compare things with “the way it is back home”.
I’d like to share some random weird things I’ve seen in Taiwan. (Weird to me, at least.) Most of them relate to the Taiwan economy, which is an aspect of Taiwanese culture which is easily visible.
- Stores really want your business. Everywhere you go, store owners actively greet you, invite you to enter the store, and show you their products. Business is very competitive. Even store personnel who are obviously not owners are enthusiastic. They probably get commission. It means that shopping in Taiwan is excellent, but it also means people end up often buying things they don’t really need. How very different than the typical Toronto store staff, with a buy-it-if-you-want-to-but-it-doesn’t-matter-to-me attitude.
- As part of actively pursuing the customer, it seems that every store has their own points collection system. The idea is that you collect points and redeem them for products. Imagine that, collecting points at the gas station, points at the mall (each mall seems to have its own points system), points everywhere. Coupled with the Taiwanese obsession with being frugal, it means that practically every Taiwanese household is filled with clutter they don’t need. Talk about being buried under materialism!
- The restaurants located in shopping malls are decent and inexpensive. A far cry from crappy food courts in Toronto malls, including the Chinese malls. Now, this is progress!
- There seems to be way too many employees paid to do menial tasks like greeting you, pushing buttons on an elevator, cleaning the bathroom. I swear that every time I have gone into a washroom in a mall, there would be a cleaning lady, cleaning away. I mean, how much cleaning is there to do? What a waste of human resources.
- You can’t get a table for 4. It’s a table for 3 + 1, since the number 4 is bad luck. (In Chinese it is pronounced the same as the word for “death”). There are many such superstitions, which is so weird given the technological progress Taiwan has seen in recent decades. Taiwan is both cutting-edge as well as awkwardly stuck in time.
Taiwan, marvelously weird and wacky!