Trip in Asia- Undercover series in Taipei, Formosa Taiwan Part I

Fresh eyes on puzzles from the homeland

Surely it was not an easy trip for me since I volunteered to take care of my sister’s baby who is only 9 months old, which is completely new to me! but we always welcome with excitement the new member of the family.  Also, I got a chance to embrace the culture again and look with fresh eyes at small things that inspired this post today. Let’s see some fun things about Taipei that may puzzle visitors:

click here to see Prologue: a brief history of Taiwan for busy westerners

  1. Long lines for WHAT?

yes, this is a very common case in Taiwan, and many foreigners ask about. Why people love to make lines? doesn’t there is another similar store just 10 steps away?

there is no doubt I will put the patient of Taiwanese on doubt about something they like or is fresh off on the market. People may make lines for a restaurant for hours, or an early bird promotion for overnight, or waiting in a line blocks away for a limited edition of pair of sneakers. truth is, people believe what cause to a long line are often means good, and the feeling of joining a trending event is a thing, or the economy of buy and resale is investable. so the effects are like a snowball, everything can be a hit in a short period, but whether it can be held for a long run, it always relies on time to see.

  1. Kitty, kitty, I see you

Is Taiwan a big cat people country? hehe, I will say yes, it is.

you go everywhere, and you may see some cartoon or animation designed with cat characters. people love cats for they are easy to maintain, less noisy, and their adorable faces always melting people’s hearts. from the earliest cat crush- Hello kitty from Japan to recent year, the cat cafes, cat village and with social media broadcasting the adaption to help stray cats, sharing the love with furry friends is a trend, but I really hope this will not only be a contemporary thing.

cat asia Taiwan Taipei why so many cats cat people
  1. Cutsie culture

If you ever notice the advertisements or flyers are full of cute characters or fonts. teens dress up all pink with cute character t-shirt, 30ish girls wear cute makeup which makes them look like have dog’s round eyes. you are not wrong. It’s a country of cutsie influence from Japan for a long time. everything can be cute for no reason, people believe it’s a friendly, less aggressive approach. you may hear also a lot of time girls will say: CUTE! 可愛{keˇ aiˋ} for anything, it just really means that thing is adorable, lovely. but it will cause some culture clash since in English, between women and men, saying cute will be with a hint of sexual interests.

  1. K-pop is real here!

Yes… I am really impressed with those Korean influence in Taiwan these years. Start with Korean soap operas about 20 years ago then form the early boyband- Super junior, Gangnam style to endless girl bands. K-pop indeed effects Taiwan young generation in every way. every year I went back to Taiwan, I noticed the fashion trend is bond to Korean more and more. young girls love Korean clothing and makeup style so that also create a big market for import goods from Korean. Not to mention the K-pop songs are played everywhere.

K pop in Taiwan, Taipei Asia
photo from:
  1. What Is the beauty standard here?

Ahhh…. this question is always interested in those who have been to Asia countries, especially North and East Asia. well… though beauty standard is different from the person. but the general ideas are still pretty similar: fair and glowing skin, big eyes, thin/fit body, long legs, a little mixed, exotic look is always a plus. The big idea difference will be about the fair skin, in almost every Western country, they love getting a suntan, which means healthy and luxury lifestyle, however, in Taiwan, girls love to be looked has fair skin that is more gentle, soft, elegant. that’s why there is a huge market in the beauty industry, the whitening products are always on the top shelf! Although now some people tend to get the more western look of getting sun tan. It’s still not as popular as the other.

       6. The friendly actions, kindness is in the air

Often do people feel this is a big feature in Taiwan. And we are also very proud of this part. The moral and virtue education is tied to history and religion (Buddhism, Daoism), doing something good, helping people out is always on our minds. It’s very common cases that you lost your wallet or phone or metro cards but you can still find it back at the police station or any service center in the facility you were in. The priority seats on the metro and bus are also very reliable if you need it. Also, if you need a direction on street, sometimes you don’t even open your mouth, but people will be aware you are lost and will be willing to help immediately. Part of the reason people are voluntarily doing it because we understand the language is not easy to get for foreigners, Chinese is a challenge even from the writing and some translations may cause misunderstanding. Even though the language barrier may happen, but Taiwanese will try to use basic English or body language to help you out. Why so kind? it’s simply our nature.

  1. What are the religions in Taiwan? are people religious, superstitious? Why?

There are multiple religions in Taiwan, mainly are Buddhism, Daoism, and Yiguandao. but with the old colony influences, the Christian group is also not small, Muslim temples can be found as well, and a lot of religious groups with a small population are acceptable in the culture. Why? Mostly because the religions Buddhism and Daoism are Polyethism, people respect the other’s religion without violent confrontations. Not to mention in China during the Cultural revolution 10 years, most of the religious group, churches, and temples are banned or cleared out. some of the activists moved to Taiwan and still protest for their religions in the liberal environment.

You may have the experience of asking a Taiwanese especially the young generation, “What is your religion?” they may answer like: “ I don’t have, but my family is Daoism or Buddhism so I go to temples.“ or “I don’t know, but I go to temple with my family.” Chances are they are Daoism so they will worship the deities subconsciously. And Daoism is not restricting of worshipping, so people can also go to Buddhism temples without guilty. People in general, are religious, even though not specifically about their religion they have due to our culture form from ancient Chinese- Confucius, Daoism, Buddhism 儒,道,佛 three of them bond to each other as the basic structure of society for hundred years.

Now about superstition, yes, people are superstition, but out of the heart of respect and the idea of spirits is from ancients, or relatives so they have their needs and characters that we have to pay attention and be respectful. this could be a big topic for the whole post I should write some other day, but in short, people believe things, especially something will make them feel good, lucky, and auspicious idea are always welcome. Btw, Western astrology signs are huge in Taiwan nowadays too, people love to talk about it, this trip I meet up with four groups of friends, and three of them are talking about this topic. It maybe is close to the Lunar New Year, so people would like to have new year resolutions, and tend to get a general guideline from astrology’s recommendation for what can be improved.

Longshen temple Taipei Taiwan culture history religion question mutiple religions country Asia Daoism.jpg
  1. How is family relationships like in Taiwan?

I got this question a lot of time since everyone is curious about how Asian people in general with their family. well, although it really depends on the individual, education …etc. But there is a root deep in a lot of Asians’ hearts, especially countries had gone through ancient Chinese influence, such as Japan, Taiwan. Usually, parents will devote and sacrifice for their offsprings with everything they have, providing education and a nice environment are the basic line parents should do, very commonly a family will support the child until they finish school and got a job. then how about children to parents? Filial love is the biggest force form the family relationship in the cultures. This is a serious big topic and to some degree, it sounds alien to Western for most of the time. Filial love 孝 means the relationship of child or offspring to parent, with love, respect, obedience, compliance. Respectful of the duties and attitudes of offsprings toward their parents. It all sounds very positive, but the real way of following and applications can be also very tricky. That really depends on an individual, and how they handle with family tradition. Filial love is and can be, a big obstacle when someone wants to do revolutionary works since it contained a majority of caring and compliance. Often when the youth want to change, the elders will reject it… with the reason of tradition, financial issue, distance away from family…etc. a lot of details that can be very overwhelming to people. Does this new term sound interesting to you? let me know and we can talk more about it!

Alright, I really wish these 8 common questions get you some ideas of how Taiwanese life are. there can be so much to talk about, and even deeper with examples. And I wish this is just our beginning of this undercover series!

See Taipei city two day trip here.

See southbound Sunnyland Kaohsiung city, Taiwan one day trip here.

See brief history of Taipei Taiwan here.


Gabrielle 🙂