Monday, May 14, 2012

Taiwan and Argentina: A Comparative Tale

The last country I resided in abroad for over a year was Argentina.  When coming to Taiwan, I really didn’t know what to expect.  Most of the people you talk to these days have traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and other countries in South East Asia. 

When I immediately arrived to Taipei, I felt it somewhat resembled Buenos Aires, with the tall sky scrapers and little shops below, each with their own delightful specialty or honed craft; a furniture shop here, a cute little bread and pastry shop there.  Except everything was also COMPLETELY different.  Symbols written everywhere replacing my familiar alphabet and sweet and not-so-sweet smells in the air that I had never smelled before, that would probably have made me sick to my stomach had I smelled them at home.  The streets were also somewhat quiet for a capitol.   

So far, here are a few obvious differences I have seen:

1)   The subway system in Taiwan is incredibly clean and efficient.  They even have lines painted neatly on the subway tiles for people to file into, so that it is orderly when entering the train cars.  In Argentina, people run through the doors, pushing and shoving the person next to them and in front of them out of the way just to get in, hopefully in time for the doors not to close on them, and when inside, if you have made it you are tightly packed like a can of sweaty sardines. 

2)   The streets are SO clean; I have yet to see any dog poop, but maybe I just haven’t found the Belgrano of Taiwan yet.  A neighborhood riddled with poops that cause you to play hopscotch down the street  (although, this may have changed after a few years).

So far, these are the main differences I have seen.  I really loved the way Argentina worked, or didn’t work most of the time.  That was the beauty of it for me.  So free.... Taiwan is wonderful as well.  I  have met a lot of foreigners who have been here for 8 to 10 years, and most of them have told me that they just wake up one day and 10 years later they are still here, like no time has passed at all.  

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