Since I left Taiwan (20 years ago) I haven’t really gone back to experience and understand my culture fully – that’s why, this family trip is very important. Our first stop was in Taipei (North of Taiwan), the main airport is there and we had some family friends who were going to take us around for the day.
The drive was long, but I realised that I was a tourist in my home country. It’s quite embarrassing because I’m quite patriotic about the fact that I was born in Taiwan; yet sadly, I know the bare minimum.
Here are 10 things I found unusual, compared to South Africa:
- We were attended to by an Asian fella at the petrol station.
- Not being able to read 99% of all writing, the 1% consisting of basic words I learnt as a youth, numbers and English letters.
- Being just over the average height (I’m 158cm tall, that’s not very tall now, is it?)
- It’s US road works – drive on the right, driver’s seat on the left.
- The robots are horizontal, not vertical.
- Motorbikes are the second most-used mode of transportation, cars being first.
- Taiwanese car drivers are hardcore. Everyone drives peacefully, no hooting and no road rage, yet drivers here drive similar to South African taxi drivers.
- There’s a thing or two South Africans could learn about the quality of service, even if you simply work in a shoe store.
- Robot lights here in some areas only blink yellow after 11pm as a precaution rather than a stop or go zone.
- Toughening up your leg muscles is crucial, some public toilets are old school. Old school in Taiwan, means squatting over a toilet hole in the ground. I find myself using disabled person’s bathrooms because there is a toilet bowl with seat.