February 26, 2010

The toughest part of writing a daily blog, is trying to find that one topic that you think you can write about.  As usual, again I have to think.  I try not to do a lot of thinking before the coffee kicks in, because quite simply, I can’t.  Ah, the coffee is done!  BRB!

Taiwan is an interesting country.

I’ve now lived here, going into my ninth year, and in case my Taiwanese friends don’t think so, if I didn’t like being here, I would have left a long time ago.  As it is, I’ve learned to adapt to the culture, the lifestyle, and in some cases, even the food!

As with any other person on the planet, unless you are living behind bars or trapped in your home, you deal with two kinds of people:  kids and adults.  Let’s start with the kids.

Kids are kids.  I’ve noticed that, aside from the fact that I didn’t have a computer as a child, and today’s children don’t know a life WITHOUT a computer, kids are the same everywhere.  They live for playing games and not doing homework.  Yes, there are the odd exceptions, but there were when I was kid as well.  What more can I say.  They are little people who are still learning about their world.  For the most part, their world consists of home and school, and the occasional trip to 7-11 for a hot dog.

Adults.  Okay, this is where it gets a little tricky.  I have to be careful of what I say, else I insult someone.  Let me start by saying that this is my blog, these are my words, my opinions, and I can say what I like.  You don’t like it, write your own blog!  You want to tell me what you think, I encourage you to write a comment.

I could go further and break down the adults into sub-groups: young men, young women, old men, old women, etc.  Each group of people have their own characteristics, and it depends on what I’m writing about.  Please also understand that, what I’m going to be writing about, is a generalization, and not aimed at any ONE person.  Taiwan has over 23,000,000 people – I know less than 1000!

I have found that Taiwan people, like Canadians are proud and not proud.  The love their country and hate their country.  They love their leaders, and hate their leaders.  Everyone has an opinion about something and everyone doesn’t care what happens.  Sound familiar?

In Tainan, I get around on a scooter.  Kind of like a souped up lawn mower.  They’re made to carry one or two people, and even though the speedometer has a reading of 180 as it’s top speed, I doubt very seriously you can get much more than about 120 off the thing.  After that, it would either fall apart, or the wind would be so strong it would blow you off.

Driving in Taiwan is an adventure.  If you thought that driving in Canada was bad, well, you ain’t seen anything till you’ve seen Asian driving.  Now, again, this is generalization.  As with most other things in life, we tend to remember the stuff that sticks out… the bad breakups, they day our pet goldfish died, the way the other idiot on the road just cut me off… we tend to forget the norm, the regular, the accepted behaviour things that happen.

Back to driving.  I spend on average, about 1/5 of my waking hours travelling between classes.  It may be less, it may be more.  The point is, I spend a lot of time driving.  My first comment is, with the number of people living in this country, and the fact that EVERYONE is always late, or seems to be late, and everyone wants to have their own mode of transportation, why on earth would you want a hummer?

I have seen short Taiwanese women driving monster vehicles around the city.  Okay, maybe not hummers, but SUV or whatever these gas guzzling, houses-on-wheels are called.  I’m not up on the names of vehicles.  When most guys can tell you the make, model, serial number, various colours available, what  of engine, who designed the bloody thing, the most I know is:  black car, white car, yucky blue car… okay?

When I drive the scooter, I like to do things that tend to help the other people on the road.  I don’t do it for me, I do it for the person behind me.  I signal when I cross lanes.  I signal when I want to turn left or right.  I stop at red lights.  I go at green lights.  I stay with the flow of traffic.  I don’t try to go faster than the posted speed limit, unless I know I am in no way, endangering anyone else’s life.  I use my headlights ALL THE TIME, day or night.

It is a common belief, and even a lot of younger people believe this, that using your lights uses up your gas.  Well, unless you’ve got gas lamps on your scooter or car, there is no way that the electrical system in the vehicle is in ANY WAY connected to the fuel system.  Otherwise, there would be bombs going off all over the place.  Try to get that through to some to some people is an effort in futility.  I have been stopped by police officers to ‘remind me’ that I left my lights on.  I ask, “Is it illegal to have them on?”  They look at me, say no, and I say okay, and carry on.  Once, at a red light, someone reached over and shut my lights off for me.  I looked at them, and turned them back on.  In Canada, it is the law to have your lights on all the time you’re driving.  I’m not trying to change the law in Taiwan, because, simply put, there is no law.

I try to stay within the speed limit while driving.  Sure, like everyone else, if there is a stretch where I know that it’s quiet, I may get the scooter up to max, but there is no one around.


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