Ten things

Ted and I have been talking about it, and we’ve come up with this list:

Ten Things You Need to Have to Move to Taiwan

  1. A liking for bok choy In the lunch cafeteria every day, included in soups and all kinds of dishes. A dark leafy green, so it’s even good for you.
  2. An English-speaking doorman This was not on the list when we looked at apartments, the guard at our place speaks prety good English and it’s been hugely helpful – he’s able to do things like call a cab and tell the driver where we want to go, or tell us where places are. He’s also very nice.
  3. Spot remover For what inevitably happens to your shirt when eating noodles with chopsticks.
  4. The ability to not think about what you’re eating In case it turns out to be beef tendon or pig intestine.
  5. Strong thighs Some places only have squat toilets, or have a mix of some squat and some “seat-type” toilets.
  6. A quick foot on the brake pedal For when people pull out in front of you. The pyback is that they will also let you pull out in front of them.
  7. A good sense of direction Because the GPS is not always reliable.
  8. Skill at pantomime It’s amazing what you can get across without using words.
  9. A willingness to look like an idiot Pantomime may be effective but it’s not always dignified. Also, there will be an astounding range of the things “everyone knows” that you don’t know, anything from what’s on your plate to what size shoes you wear to the polite response when [fill in the blank here].
  10. A notebook What you can’t communicate with gestures, you might be able to draw. Ted’s U-bolt and my alarm clock were particularly well received. Also useful for having people write addresses in Chinese that you can show to taxi drivers (never go out in a cab without being able to show or say your home address!) and for the lists necessary to track all the minutiae of an international move.

We’re back in the Netherlands now for two weeks (we were luckily able to time our business trips together). Don’t tell anyone, but we’ve decided that the Netherlands are actually prettier than Taiwan. They shouldn’t be; they’re all flat farmland, while outside the city Taiwan has tree-covered mountains. I think it’s mostly because of the quality of the light; the slanting northern light of Holland makes colors glow in a way that tropical light can’t match. (However, there’s not much to choose from on the overcast days both countries have most of the time.)

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