More Curious Things About Life in Taipei

This guest blog is by Ava Apollo. When she’s not writing for MSW, she’s blogging about adventure travel at

I previously gave you some of my most curious discoveries upon moving to Taipei, but recently realized that there are more, ever so many more quirks that I completely forgot to mention before.

So, without further ado, allow me to share some of the most interesting observations I made about Taipei during my time studying there:

Surgical Masks

One of the first things I noticed after moving to Asia was the abundance of surgical masks that people were wearing.  Not one to believe it was just a fashion statement, I began to worry that there was some massive outbreak of disease that I hadn’t made myself aware of before my big move.

Because what everyone needs after moving half way around the world is a crushing case of Ebola, right?

Need I be worried?

Worried, I asked my roommate if perhaps it was SARS, which she assured me was “over”.  Well what could it be then?

As it turns out, it was nothing more than some thoughtful human beings choosing not to share their colds and flus with the rest of us.  What may have seemed curious at first was actually a quite thoughtful gesture to the rest of the community.

Little Boys Pee in Public

I’m not the first to observe that it seems common for little boys to pee in public with the help of dear old dad, but I’m equally as confused and horrified when it happens.

Why, I ask, oh why isn’t a bathroom good enough?

At least there’s no need to worry about getting a ticket for peeing in public, if we’re taking the glass-half-full approach.


Since I’ve already taken us down the path of discussing bathroom behavior, let’s also observe that squatters may very well be the reason why people choose to just urinate outside.  At least there’s some fresh air, and the probability of stepping in a puddle where someone “missed” is not likely.

But in a squatter? Best hold your breath and watch where you step.



2 best friends that anyone could have

I thought it odd at first when I saw a mother and son holding hands, or two girls walking down the street, arms around each other’s waists, appearing to be nothing more than friends.

One day after grabbing breakfast with some friends, a local girl from the group put her arm around my waist and offered to share her umbrella with me.  I tensed up at the touch of someone I didn’t know well, but then realized the problem was with me – she wasn’t being creepy!

Human touch is one of the best feelings, so why not give hugs, hold hands, and link arms whenever possible?

Clapping Hands

On my morning walks I often observed groups of elderly men and women walking around in circles in the multitude of parks around Taipei (oh, such lovely parks), usually clapping or waving their arms around.

I think it was a form of exercise.  I can’t be sure.

But I can be sure that it was refreshing to see them all outside, staying healthy and enjoying life.

Do you have some curious observations of your own? Tell me on Twitter and visit me on my home blog.

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