Taiwanese are for the most part creatures of habit. One of the greatest habits that seems to be pretty standard is taking a shower at night. In some households it's almost a ritual.
When I was living in China and working at a college there, it was plainly apparent that showers were taken in the evening since students went to use public showers at the same time every day. These were the only times they would heat the water by shoveling coal into the school furnace.
Getting back to Taiwan, I think that shower time is really something that parents pass on to their children. As you know, parents here have a lot of power over their kids. This forces them to conform to events that happen in the house: getting up, eating meals and washing.
Also, there are notions of hygiene and health that are built in as well. Have you ever heard the old wives tale not to sleep with a fan blowing on you? Well, for the Chinese, it would be more like take a shower before bed but dry off before you do. The bed must stay clean at all costs! Besides, that's where sleepy Taiwanese do most of their living!
So what is the impact of conforming to showers at night? Well, one thing is there are lineups for the washroom in houses with only one. I was happy initially staying at my parents-in-laws house when I came back to Taiwan because I had the bathroom all to myself in the morning. My wife told me later that her mother had cut me some slack because I was a foreigner and I had strange ways. Huh!
The second is that some people's hair is downright greasy at the end of a day of a work day and sometimes even earlier. Check out the grease smears on the MRT windows after someone has fallen asleep after a long ride. My wife always uses a cloth between her head and the window to prevent contact with it.
The third is there are many cases of bad cases of dandruff 頭皮屑, with both men and women. Lots of people evidently do not dry their hair well enough or obviously haven't heard of Head and Shoulders.
Western people certainly do have a different way of thinking about taking showers. This is evidenced in a rough survey like one carried out by another blogger. He asked people to tell him if they took their showers in the morning or evening or both. Here were the results:
"54% of you shower in the morning
24% of you shower in both the morning and evening
22% of you shower only in the evening"
I wonder what the results would be like if it were to be done in Taiwan (or maybe just in Taipei as it seems to follow the beat of a different drummer than the rest of Taiwan).
One final note. I'm glad I finally had an excuse to use this photo for a posting!