Sunday, August 30, 2009

Travel Fear

100_4071, originally uploaded by islaformosa2009.

This poster perfectly represents the typical Taiwanese family on their vacation, totally carefree and innocent while the masses of criminal types zero in on their kill.

Taiwanese travelers are most likely targeted due to their lack of street-wiseness.

This poster takes advantage of Taiwanese fears by advertising safety deposit boxes to prevent armed bandits from spoiling vacations.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Betelnut Girl Commentary

Found this really screwed up web page selling shoes and boots doing a bit on betelnut girls from an article that appeared in The Los Angeles Times.

Thought it was interesting to get someone's comment about the phenomenon who has never been here. He seems to be getting his jollies from the article...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Google Street View Arrives in Taipei

BIG BIG NEWS! Google Street View is HERE in Taipei FINALLY!

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Only for Taipei central area so far. Drag the little man over the map to see the extent of the coverage. Parts of Taipei county are in there too.

Read earlier Google Street View Post featuring pics of the Street View camera car:


Forumosa chat

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ingenious Bending of the Law in Taiwan

This picture of a plain looking table in a night market may seem on the boring side but, in fact, it you are looking a little bit of Taiwan ingenuity when it comes to the law.

On this unattended table can be found DVDs of films like Terminator Salvation and all the very latest movies in the theaters. So you've figured out that this is a table full of pirated videos. The only thing is they are just sitting there unattended.

Taiwanese are smart and always find ways to get around laws. In this case, were the table attended, the police would have someone to arrest. No attendee therefore no arrest. The DVDs are just sitting there. However, customers can't just take them. They are expected to make a 'donation' in the box in the middle. And the box just stays there unattended. Or so it seems...

In fact, the table and the box are monitored by someone but in a crowded night market, it's hard to know just who. Most likely gangsters working in the area. So, if you choose to help yourself to a copy, don't forget to make your donation.

So, as you can see the secret attendants are protected and the customers help themselves to the DVDs, self-service style. It's an ingenious way to keep the law-breakers out of harms way. And, it seems, the customers seem not to be at fault as 'unwitting' buyers of such illegal movie copies.

Teaching Kids the Lowdown on Poop

Enjoy the stool world at the Taipei Zoo.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fallout: NIN's 'Formally Abolished' Taipei Concert

I should explain. After the NIN concert was canceled I went to the website of the promoter. There were two way to refund: go there on the night of the performance to be or send in your ticket by mail and have the money wired to your account. Thinking the second method very scammy, I went in person. I'm glad I did and I have a fantastic story to go with it.

What greeted me was exactly as this post suggests, the back of a very hard to find pitch dark parking lot in the middle of a non-descript NanGang neighborhood with a table with an umbrella as in the picture (right out in the open with money in piles on the table).

As I was walking up to the table, though, a foreign guy said to me be careful because someone will tell me to F*** Off. Jesus man, I thought, don't drag me into your fight man. I just wanted my money back.

I went up and they (3 or 4 people + 2 security guards) checked my ticket with a flashlight and then gave me my money back. No problems. Phew!

Little did I know there was more to the story,807431,page=5

Reading this all, though, I really feel that everyone is overacting a little. Both sides seem to have their points, however hreatening to sue people left and right really doesn't seem the right way to go though. We'll see what becomes of this all.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shark's Still on the Table

Someone recently posted an article about how an aquarium in Taiwan is hosting a whale shark. The article seemed to suggest that the Taiwanese are becoming more environmental, especially when it comes to sharks.

I laugh at this suggestion. Don't be fooled.

As much as we wish Taiwanese would take more of a serious look at environmental issues, the fact remains that their old habits die hard, particularly about food, which Taiwanese are obsessed with. Shark fin is and will be on the table for some time to come. Taiwanese brutally slaughter sharks by the hundreds to get these fins for Chinese restaurants all over.

Read my previous shark blog entry

To understand the Taiwanese position, take for example some discussions I have had. I have talked to Taiwanese friends on numerous occasions about Canada's seal hunt and Japanese hunting whales for 'research' purposes. Why kill the cute little seals they say? I say it's to control the seal population so that fish stocks don't get too low. Still not ok. When it came to Japanese whaling, they said this the right of Japanese since whale is tradition food for Japanese (which flies in the face of what Western people feel about the whale hunt).

When I turned to shark hunting, the Taiwanese also turned a blind eye. They've always caught sharks. Sharks eat us so why shouldn't we eat them first, they said. Besides, they're delicious in soup.

To top it off, I'll leave you with a comment I heard from an avid young Taiwanese surfer friend. I asked if there were worries about sharks in the water around Taiwan where he was surfing.

To this he answered, with a smile that conveyed that it was a typical Taiwanese answer to the question, that there are no sharks in the waters around Taiwan. Taiwanese sharks can only be found on Taiwanese restaurant tables! (I am such a silly guy, of course I should know this.)

He continued to smile after cracking the 'joke,' perhaps thinking of chowing down on that perfect bowl of shark fin soup. Unknownst to him, he had given me a perfect example of the mentality Taiwanese are up against when it comes to the shark fin trade that they are unwilling to give up.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Taiwanese are Dense

Talking with a friend of mine last night, the topic of population density came up and the often quoted statement about YongHe being the most densely populated area on Earth. I live in YongHe so it was of immediate interest to me when I had heard first heard this.

I remember hearing or reading (in the Lonely Planet?) that YongHe held this record many years ago but I have never been able to corroborate it with data until now. Turns out it is wrong. Although not the most dense, YongHe does rank among the densest populated areas on Earth though:

YongHe 41,139 per km2 making it 37th on the list
By comparison to the densest:
Marine Lines, Mumbai, India 114,000 per km2

Taiwan island ranks 6th among islands at 636 per km2
By comparison to the densest:
Ap Lei Chau HK 66,755 per km2

The Republic of China ranks 15th among 'countries,' also with 636 per km2
By comparison to the densest:
Macau 18,405 per km2

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