Tuesday, June 12, 2007

You are lucky to be alive in Taiwan

We should all feel very lucky to be alive to this day while living in Taiwan. I seriously mean it for the following reasons:
1. Pedestrians risk being killed every second crossing the street. The right of way never belongs to those who walks. You will get the honking and brutal staring from drivers and motorcycle riders if you take time to do your business of walking. And beware of the holes and unevenly paved roads that might trip you over. The best way is to watch the road as if you are walking on brittle ice.
2. Drivers are always on nerves in dodging the motorcyclists who seek to sneak into every space they can find and who never pay any attention to turn signals from the cars. Traffic rules mean nothing to them because they create their own in sliding through every crack of traffic.
3. Designated lanes for the traffic and people here are a luxury. The moment you walk out of the door, road rages await you. And the police is nowhere to be seen for law enforcement.
4. When it rains really hard in the monsoon season, you are literally walking in streams and rivers. Beach sandals go very well with my work outfits on rainy days. Everyone should have a pair or two of these if you do not want to ruin the shoes. Why waste the money when your nice shoes and clothes can easily be destroyed by hot sweat and tears from the heaven?

Every day is a maneuver and struggle in a place where human lives mean nothing. I used to love my mean friends in the states by inviting them to visit Taiwan. I threatened my American students by suggesting to throw them out to Taiwan when they failed to cherish the respect they had received for granted. It is a society where community well-being is non-existent and craps for others are acceptable as long as everyone gets what he/she wants. Hail to an orderless society! It is too late to draw city plans that should have been done 50 years ago. Regretfully, only strict laws can bring the society to order.

Everyday when I walk into my place safely, I am so thankful to have lived through another day by remaining intact.

Ohmmmm....may the Buhhda grant us some moments of peace.


  1. It's amazing that road rage is such a problem in what seems to be a Buddhist country.

    And while technically speaking pedestrians do have the right of way in the U.S, that's not something you'd be wise to stake your life on....

  2. I know it can be ironic Jeff, although I wouldn't describe this place as a Buddhist land-More Taoist religious I think. Just want you to know that I am not exaggerating.

  3. It's an obstacle course everyday, but your life is really dependent on your agility!

  4. Ha ha ha, agility may not be enough here, MIT.

  5. Taiwan traffic can certainly be hairy. I used to stay on Yang De Blvd in Taipei and I almost lost my life a few times driving up and down that road everyday.

  6. Martin, I think strict laws are the only ways to save people's lives in traffic here. Unfortunately, we do not have a functioning government. I am so glad you survived those freak-outs in Yanmingshan.

  7. One thing I do miss about Taiwan roads is zipping around on a scooter. I know motorists hate them but they are so cheap and convenient and fun.

  8. Martin, I am not surprised to hear that you loved riding on a motorcycle. A lot of foreigners do and it scares me to hear such statement from my non-Taiwanese friends, "first of all I don't like the traffic, but after a while I drive or ride like them". I didn't know if I should be happy about their ability to adapt or worrying about their being converted to the scary Taiwanese way of living.

    BUT, I am sure things would be a lot better with strict laws. AND, if the government actually cares about making the country a better place to live..