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Taiwan’s Yellow Journalism Strikes Again

The early morning of May 5, 2015, saw an article posted to The Huffington Post regarding Taiwan and tourism; as you can see from the original link, it’s been removed.  There’s not even a redirect: just a blank page.  It’s as if The Huffington Post wants absolutely nothing to do with the article. If you’re curious why, you […]

“Taiwan Should Be More Like Singapore”

A lot of people in Taiwan talk about how they want to be like Singapore.  “Taiwan should be more like Singapore.”  But the truth is, it’s much better to be Taiwanese than Singaporean, and Taiwan is better than Singapore for most people who live in either.  An average person lives a higher-quality life in Taiwan […]

Taiwan Has the Worst Culture

It’s not just the sociological issues or the political obnoxiousness, but the deep resentment they harbor for each other that hits you in the face like your first whiff of stinky tofu.  After living in Taiwan for only a short time, it becomes clear to anyone who moves here that Taiwan has the worst culture many people will […]

Taiwan Has Reasons for Banning South Park

Taiwan Has Reasons for Banning South Park South Park is a pretty popular cartoon internationally; despite this, South Park in Mandarin Chinese is Banned in Taiwan (and for good reason).  It’s known in Taiwan as 南方四賤客, which roughly translates into Four Jackasses from the South Side. I say this because Mandarin Chinese can be a very […]

“This Is Taiwan”: A Dangerous Taiwanese Excuse

A few months have passed since I wrote “It’s Our Culture” – Taiwan’s Go-To Excuse, but a friend of mine the other night brought it up and made an interesting point: before “It’s our culture” is uttered, “This is Taiwan” is sure to escape their lips first. As I stated in my other piece, “It’s Our Culture” is often said […]

Costco Taiwan Beef Scandal

Of the many food scandals in Taiwan’s recent history, the scandal surrounding Costco Taiwan butchers’ practices with USDA beef is the most recent. Taiwan has had a number of food scandals in recent years, ranging from the food scandal of 2014 to the food scandal of 2013 to the food scandal of 2011.  Basically, if you […]

Simple Stir Fry Sauce Recipe: From Scratch

One of the most important things I keep in my fridge is a sauce I’ve developed that mimics typical simple stir fry sauces I’ve tasted in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the USA. I’ll keep it all as basic as I can, using ingredients you may have in your kitchen already.   Simple Stir Fry Sauce Recipe: Ingredients 1pt corn starch 1pt […]

“It’s Our Culture” – Taiwan’s Go-To Excuse

Every culture has it’s throwaway language.  The English language, for example, explains away many things with the word “Whatever.”  Taiwanese often use the Chinese phrases “There is no reason why” and “There is no solution” in similar ways.  They all essentially mean “I’ve got nothing for you; I’m done talking about this.”  But when it comes […]

What It’s Like Living In Taiwan Without Health Insurance

I haven’t had health insurance since 2008, which is a pretty crazy thing to say, given that I live in a country with some of the most affordable and high-quality medical care in the world.  National Taiwan Health Insurance, while expensive for the Republic of China (ROC) government of Taiwan, is incredibly cheap for Taiwanese […]

Those Moments of Culture Shock in Taiwan

Everyone that’s spent some time here knows all about those moments of culture shock in Taiwan. The truth is, most people who live in a place far from where they consider “home” will have significant moments of culture shock.  These feelings can creep up on you or simply blindside you, whether you’ve been here a […]

Waiting in Line: It’s Different in Taiwan

A few years back, I commented to a friend of mine about how Taiwan has amazingly long lines and how willing Taiwanese seem to stand in them for long periods of time.  For many who first come to Taiwan – and even those who live here for years – the “Line Culture” seen in Taiwan […]

Taiwan Work Visas: Pros and Cons

A lot of people ask me about the pros and cons of having a Taiwan Work Visa, colloquially called an “ARC” (Alien Resident Card).  In reality, these are two separate things – one is a visa and one is an identification card.  But a question I often get from people is, “Do I need an ARC to […]

Free McDonald’s In Asia

Free McDonald’s In Asia   If you live in many parts of Asia (including Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong), there’s a good chance that McDonald’s wants to give you free food every day. I know that McDonald’s doesn’t have the best reputation, for a variety of reasons.  While I certainly wouldn’t advocate eating at McDonald’s […]

Taiwan Students Take Over Legislative Yuan: Live Video Feed

Taiwanese students take over the Legislative Yuan (like Taiwan’s Congress/Parliament) March 18, 2014 and, as of March 22, refuse to leave until their demands are met. Live video streaming of the event (in English) can be seen here: Live streaming video by Ustream http://m.ustream.tv/channel/longsoneng Live video streaming of the event (an overhead view, in Chinese) can […]

My Frustration With the Taichung MRT

My Frustration With the Taichung MRT   I live next to a road called Wenxin Lu (said “When-Shin Loo”), in Taichung City, Taiwan, and I’d like to discuss my frustration with the Taichung MRT.  Wenxin Lu was a six-lane road with multiple intersections with each intersection having formerly included a turning lane.  Before we go […]

The Cost of Living in Taichung, Taiwan

One of the most important things to understand when living somewhere is the cost of living there: this is my report on my cost of living in Taichung, Taiwan, as of November 2013. I think the best way to look at your cost of living is yearly, because months can vary quite a lot, sometimes. […]

Taiwan’s Child Culture

Something that always fascinates me (and also often frustrates me) is something I like to refer to as “Taiwan’s Child Culture.” The most important thing to understand about any culture is the way they raise their children.  Without question, the key to any culture is education.  Education is indoctrination: it’s where we learn what society […]

This Day and Age

I think people have been saying “this day and age” forever. Even Ancient Romans were disappointed in the way things were headed, even though we now know that their dismay at perceived degeneration was actually substantial progress, in the long run. It’s easy to become disillusioned with it all. For me…I write people off as […]

Bystro Taiwan – Best Restaurant in Taichung

Bystro Restaurant Grill is the absolute best restaurant in Taichung.  [EDIT: was the best – they are now gone]  For me, it’s not just the best restaurant in Taichung, or even Taiwan: it is my favorite restaurant in the world.  And I have my reasons.  The husband/wife team of Patrick and Anita really have it […]

My Little Taiwanese Kitchen: A Beginning

Back in 2009, I had the idea for a web-based cooking show called “My Little Taiwanese Kitchen.”  At the time, I was living in a fifth-floor walk-up with a kitchen the size of many Americans’ closets.  While my apartment situation has improved significantly, the kitchen is around the same size.  To see what it looks […]

Traffic Deaths in Taiwan: Know the Truth

Many of us wonder about traffic deaths in Taiwan; statistics are difficult to find (most of what’s reported is in Chinese).  One of the only decent raw resources can be found here, and it’s from 1993. So what was Taiwan like twenty years ago? A study was done of 4,329 traffic injury reports and the […]

Making Soup in Taichung: My Minestrone Recipe

I don’t eat soup, but I know a lot of people do.  Without a doubt, my favorite soup is a minestrone.  It’s hearty and flavorful; it’s rare to hear someone say they dislike minestrone, so it’s a very safe bet. One fun thing about Taiwan is getting ingredients – for example, I couldn’t find celery […]

ChinaTrust Banking Policies

I recently had some issues at ChinaTrust bank, finding information that would be relevant to foreigners in Taiwan.  Hopefully, conveying what I learned can save you some time. My situation is a common one: I wanted to know how much money I could withdraw from my Bank of America account using one of ChinaTrust’s ATMs.  […]

Teaching in Taiwan – The Basics, Before You Come

There’s many routes to take, regarding teaching in Taiwan.  Since there are a lot of outdated resources out there on the subject, I thought I’d write about a few of them, to give people some idea what to expect in 2012 Taiwan. First of all, I live in Taichung – that is my perspective on […]

Foreign Drivers in Taiwan: More Fun Dealing With the ROC Government

As I wrote yesterday, dealing with the government in Taiwan can be a little absurd.  Today’s example is their motor vehicle regulations. First of all, unless you have a Resident Visa (ARC), you can not register a vehicle in Taiwan.  Nobody can explain why.  The funny part is, if you register a vehicle under your […]

Visa Extensions in Taiwan – Another Example of Asinine ROC Bureaucracy

There are a lot of great things about Taiwan.  But this isn’t gonna’ be about those.  This is about how annoying Taiwan’s Bureaucracy is. You have to understand that the concept of “majority rules” goes haywire here.  Nails that stick out are hammered down or, as the Taiwanese put it, the fattest pig is the […]

My First Ride In A Police Car

I was driving north on WenXin Lu, Monday, August 20, 2012, at 10:45am, on my scooter.  Coming off the traffic light at Daye Lu, heading towards Dalong Lu, I attempted to merge right (from the right-hand lane into the scooter lane).  I felt something hit the right rear of my scooter and turned my head to see […]

Caught With My Pants Down

Taiwan has a pretty significant amount of earthquakes.  Most of them are pretty mild, but usually I can feel one or two each month – just enough to notice I’m not dizzy and that the room is, in fact, vibrating.  But every now and then, something a little bigger comes along, and you’re faced with the […]

Traffic, Shopping Carts, And Saving Face

It has always fascinated me that a culture so aware of public perception can also be so completely self-absorbed.  In Taiwan, there is a great emphasis on “saving face,” and yet, it only applies to certain facets of life.  I have yet to fully grasp the concept, but I have made some observations. Generally-speaking, Taiwanese people prefer […]

How Carrefour in Taiwan Hates Foreign Customers

While the people of Taiwan are often the nicest and warmest in the world, their cultural indoctrination leads to a dependence on bureaucracy, often to the point where people are unable – or unwilling – to make any decision without it being written as law or being directly authorized by a superior.  As a culture, […]

Missing Macaroni

One of the things I miss from back in The States is Kraft Blue Box Macaroni & Cheese.  Yes, I know it’s processed crap.  I don’t care.  And I’m willing to bet a lot of people reading this right now feel the same.  After being served it since children, we develop the taste for it, […]

The Reality of Living In Taiwan: An Introduction

Living abroad in a land where I don’t speak the language very well, questions abound and answers are not forthcoming.  It’s my own fault, obviously; you should become literate in the language of the place you are in, not simply as good manners, but also as common sense.  What happens when you need to find […]

Pesto, As Promised

You have one big problem making a legitimate pesto sauce here in Taiwan: pine nuts.  Everything else is so easy it makes my marinara sauce recipe look difficult. To make a pesto sauce, you need nothing more than basil, olive oil, Parmesan, and garlic…and that elusive pine nut. I’ve only seen pine nuts at Costco and, […]

The Long Winter of My Discontent

I talked before about peaking in high school, and that I could never be accused of such a thing.  University, however, is a different story.  It was one of the best times in my life and I had major accomplishments.  I served all four years in student government and, along with my best friend at […]

Eating Italian In Taiwan

Taiwan has a lot of great food.  But both Italian and Mexican food are not on the list of things they do well. Traditionally, the Chinese like noodles served in a much more broth-like sauce – even their Italian versions of cuisine are noticeably loose.  Think when you go to a bad Italian joint in the USA […]