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It’s been a week since I have been in Taiwan now. I should have written a blog post sooner than this, but multiple things kept that from happening. First of all, I think as I get older jet lag really starts to hit me worse. Usually I can get over jet lag within three days when coming to Asia, but this time it took me a good week before I finally started adjusting to the times here. I think the lack of sleep and me not being careful about touching my face with my hands contributed to me contracting the flu this week. Okay, I found out now it may not be the flu, but it was certainly a rough little virus that got me. The tiredness mixed with me still trying to see a lot of things in Taipei added to my exhaustion and just wore out my body’s defenses. I’m starting to feel better now though and should be good to go in a few days!

My first impression of Taiwan is one that I was quite surprised to have initially. Honestly, I expected it to be very similar to Mainland China, but I was very wrong. Although I haven’t been to Japan, from what I understand from hearing from family and friends who have been, Taiwan is a mix between Japan and China. I say this because one of the first things I noticed when arriving in Taiwan is the lack of trash on the streets and the overall respect that everyone treats others with in public. When a train pulls up in the subway station, for the most part everyone waits patiently behind the line until people exit and then orderly enter the train. This is much different from my experience in Mainland where people will push and shove and block you out of the way so as to ensure they got on the train before you. While I can only speak for Taipei, overall Taiwan seems to be much cleaner and greener. When you can find a trashcan, there is almost always recycling bins. And I’ve heard that even if you don’t put your plastics in the correct bin, they have people that will go through it and sort the trash; again a big change from Mainland China.

For anyone who has experience speaking Mandarin, then Taiwan’s Mandarin is a whole new experience. Instead of the very harsh sounds that occurs due to the tones in the language, people here often end their sentences with sounds similar to the “ah” sound that make sentences seem kinder and more welcoming. This isn’t to say that people in Mainland are angry when they talk, it’s simply the nature of the language, but the Taiwanese have found a way to make it less harsh to the ear. In general actually, people are quieter here. There are signs on the train that say to keep any phone conversations quiet and short and to be polite when on the train and people actually follow these rules. When in Mainland, it is typical to have many people yelling into their cellphones while on the subway or a train. I’m not trying to bash Mainland in any way, it is a unique culture that I still love; I have just been surprised by the cultural differences here in Taiwan. They both have their good and bad sides, and I’ll let you decide what those are.

Hopefully with the sickness being gone, finally getting settled into an apartment, and no more jetlag I can post about more specific events more often. Until then…

These guys were some street performers who picked me to be part of their act. Crazy talented acrobats. I love just running into this kind of thing on the streets.

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