My First Themed Cafe, Pompompurin Cafe

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Located in the Att 4 Fun building on the food court level is a cafe dedicated to Pompompurin (布丁狗 / bu ding gou), the happy Golden Retriever from Sanrio with a beatnik hat. This was my first experience with a themed cafe. I had heard about their rising popularity especially in other parts of Asia, like Japan. Nevertheless, I was…

Experiencing Taiwan’s Largest Night Market

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In the north-western part of Taichung City sits one of the largest night markets in Taiwan, Fengchia Night Market (逢甲夜市 / feng jia ye shi). It takes its name from the nearby Fengchia University and spans dozens of blocks. As parking is pretty hard to come by, each time I’ve visited has been by bus. You know you’re on the…

Stopping by Totoro’s Bus Stop

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On the way back up to Taichung from Tainan, I stopped by what has been called “Danei Totoro Bus Stop” (大內龍貓公車站 / da nei long mao gong che zhan) It’s a slight detour on the 3, between Tainan and Chiayi. It is a magical place full of beautifully painted murals and whimsical characters. Coming up to the location, you’ll feel…

Copy That, Copycat

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As much as Taiwan loves its Japanese culture, it also loves a lot of Western things. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in the branding of stores and items for sale. Specifically, there’s a sizable culture behind copying and remixing popular brands. Regardless of the legality or morality behind all of this, it is interesting to note how concepts…

A World Apart, But Still Familiar

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In another post, I explored some contrasts between US and Taiwan culture. While there are differences, there are a lot of reminders of how prevalent western culture still is. Here are some of my observations: The really popular mobile games in the US are also popular in Taiwan. Most notably, I came across a Candy Crush-themed candy store in Jiufen…

Mascot Love

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With so many brands competing for attention in Taiwan, logos often take the back seat to adorable mascots (吉祥物 / ji xiang wu). It’s hard to walk around without seeing a mascot emblazoned over windows, walls, and street signage—each, gently coercing you to come in. Even now, I don’t remember a lot of the store logos, but I do recall…

A Difference in (Cultural) Attitudes

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From the skyscrapers in Taipei to the farms in Tainan, there are numerous similarities between Taiwan and the United States. Where things tend to diverge are in little day to day details that, otherwise, might go unnoticed. Here are a few things that you probably wouldn’t see in the US: Lines? What line? The concept of a line can sometimes be…

Smartphones in Taiwan

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Especially living in San Francisco, I’m particularly aware of people stealing phones. I’ve heard too many horror stories of friends getting their phones stolen while strolling around. I was particularly on heightened alert about knowing where my phone was at all times, traveling to Taiwan. What I found, instead, was 1. most people have a smart phone and 2. crime…

English, Not so Good

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Being a mostly English speaker in a land of Mandarin (普通話 / pu tong hua), I found it nice to occasionally see English. Though Taipei has more signage geared towards English speakers, outside of the more touristy areas, most of the island is pretty Mandarin-centric. Turn on the radio and travel down the coast and you’ll even come across Taiwanese…

Taiwanese Design, Invention, and Aesthetic

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While musing over a breakfast sandwich one morning in Kenting (墾丁 / ken ding), I came across a fairly strange invention. It consisted of two loops of wires protruding upwards from a plastic base. Curious, I asked what this device was for. To my surprise it was to hold trash including boba straw wrappers. In the land that gave rise to…