Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Taiwan National Healthcare Y'all

Hey, kid, want some pills?

This is how I feel every time I go to a hospital in Taiwan.  I usually depart from the doctor's office feeling like they have no idea what ails me, so they just give me pills upon pills upon pills.  

The above picture is what was prescribed to me after going in to the hospital with what I thought was a broken foot (from dancing...).  My hospital visit went a bit like this: they told me to walk on the yellow line of tape to the x-ray room, took an x-ray, saw that my foot was not broken, suggested I get a boot, prescribed me three different pills to be taken three times a day and booked me an appointment with a specialist the following morning.

Mind you, the specialist only comes in on Mondays and Fridays between the hours of 9 am and 12 am.  Very convenient.  What is even less time savvy is that when you show up you are given a number.  I arrived around 9am and received number 33.  I ended up waiting three hours and was one of the last people to be seen.  After seeing the specialist, I was prescribed to three more types of pills to be taken three times a day.

WTF is all I have to say. 

Maybe Western medicine just isn't their forte?  

An obscurely insane system; the amount of pills you are given for your specific ailments, and the insanity continues with the strange misdiagnoses in general.  

My roommate had an ear infection.  On her primary visit, she was prescribed EYE DROPS for her ear.  No joke.  Eventually, she was able to get antibiotics by going to the pharmacy and was healed a month later.  Seriously?  Eye drops for an ear infection? An ear infection for a month?  She isn't a dirty 12 year old for crying out loud.   

Another friend of mine had a sun rash, which I can only assume would be common in a humid, hot climate like Taiwan.  First, it was diagnosed as an allergic reaction by a dermatologist, and she was prescribed allergy medicine.  Second, it was diagnosed at a different hospital as eczema, and she was prescribed lotion.  The final stop was to the leading dermatologist in Taiwan.  Here, it was finally diagnosed as a sun rash, and she was given the proper medication. 

My health care experience, although horrible, has been very cheap.  One night while in excruciating pain in the ER and receiving pretty much every test under the sun, all night long, only cost me NT $800.  The the equivalent of $23 US, and the pills upon pills upon pills that I have been prescribed, usually end up costing only about $10 US.  

Cheap is not always good and according to a Taiwanese friend of mine, National Health Care is why the government is going broke. 

I think its time to take a step closer to acclimation and start stepping into the offices that offer Chinese medicine.  

Tomorrow's mission: acupuncture! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Taiwanese All Hallow's Eve

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  In fact, I usually partake in all types of acts of heathenism as much as possible around All Hallow's Eve.    

This year I celebrated the weekend before when the proper Halloween parties took place at the Red House Theater in Taipei's GLBT district called Ximending, after walking in the Pride Parade of course.  Then I celebrated again on the true day, October 31st.  I must admit that, although on a Wednesday, I had much more fun on the true day.  Must be something about the portals of Hades opening up and letting all the wild and unruly spirits out for the night to play.  

My first costume was the end of the world.  My roommate and I dressed up like Mayans with a Calendar with December 21st circled and carried signs reading "The End is Near".  For those of you who don't know, the world is ending in a month, so enjoy life as we know it while you can! 

My second costume was "Open Ja" or Open for short.  Open is 7-11's mascot.  Aptly named, because 7-11 is always open.  This costume was a tribute to Taiwan's and basically all of Asia's obsession and need for 7-11.   You pay your bills at 7-11, buy concert tickets, buy food, get beer and wine, mail packages, make copies, and the receipts (like all of the receipts in Taiwan) are lottery tickets!  

Happy Halloween (late) everyone!! I hope yours was as wonderful as mine!

We are Bazaar: End of the World, Bowzer, The Pink Panter, and a Mayan. 

Open and a Pirate!
Open in 7-11!


 Open Ja! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hitchhiking the East Coast of Taiwan

Last weekend, my roommate Kate, friend Estella, and I decided to explore the east coast of Taiwan.  First, we took the train from Taipei to Hualien, and hitchhiked down to Dulan with many stops along the way. 

After arriving in Hualien, we searched for a place to stay.  However, things were not to go our way.  It just so happened to be the weekend of the Toroko Gorge Marathon.   Every hostel and hotel in the area was booked, but we three ladies happened to be in luck: a love hotel, with its blinking, vibrant, 80's colored lights was patiently awaiting our arrival.  Thank god for Kate, who was immediately entranced like a moth to a flame.

We checked in and decided to watch TV for the first time in forever.  Unfortunately, all there was to offer were various racially charged forms of pornography.  We opted to turn the TV off and have an early night, which lead to an early morning, and we were off to our first destination: Jici beach.  We barely put our thumbs up in the air, when a blue truck came to our rescue.  He was happy to do it.  We arrived to the beach, and of course it was closed.  So we hopped the fence and enjoyed some time on the beach after outrunning the lifeguard.  

Next we scoured the highway, thumbs in air, for a ride to see the Tropic of Cancer.  Our next faithful stead was a mini van packed full of middle-aged Taiwanese couples.  We struggled to the back in between a man and a woman.  They dropped us off at the Tropic of Cancer with smiles on their faces.  

After taking in the sights, and enjoying a beer and some whiskey shots with some lovely Taiwanese gentlemen slinging betel nut, we were on our way to Dulan.  

We arrived to Dulan in an 18-wheeler.  We rode in comfort and luxury.  I had the big seat in the front and I am pretty sure Kate and Estella got the young mans comfy bed in the back.  In Dulan, we found a rustic place to stay in the forested treetops encompassing the beach.  

Dulan is a great town.  Every Saturday they have live music playing in an old sugar factory aptly named "The Sugar Factory".  So we finished out day dancing the night away, drinking cold beer, and reveling in our successful trip down the coast. 

In the morning we hitched a nice ride to Taitung, where we took the train back to Taipei.  I was not ready to leave the warmth and sunshine of the southeast and will most definitely be back. 

Hitchhiking photo journal below:

Our first hitch - the blue truck. 
Beautiful coastline.  At times we felt a little bit afraid for our lives, swangin around these sharp turns up a mountainside in the back of a truck, but we had faith in our daring driver. 

Pictures of my friends taking pictures.  I think I'm turning Taiwanese, I think I'm turning Taiwanese, I really think so!

Thanks dude!

We snuck onto the beach and enjoyed about 10 minutes of sunshine before the clouds came. We stayed and sunbathed anyways. 
Tropic of Cancer... Thank you mini van people!

We ate lunch at this harbor.  Fresh seafood, delicious.

Boats on the water.

We hiked up part of a mountain to see this view!

Estella, my love!

18-wheeler!  This guy ended up taking many pictures of us.  Spicing up people's lives is what we do best.

Tropic of Cancer.  Looks like the apocalypse.

A long and not-so-lonely road.

Kate and Estella scrambling into our trusty stead. 

Boat on a beach.

Dancing in Dulan.  Listening to some local tunes.