Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You Ain't From Around Here, Are Ya, Girl?

Lots of disjointed thoughts for you peeps today. We'll see how many I get through before hunger drives me to leave my hotel room in search of food. Not many, I bet.

First, I'd just like to say that it's really odd to go to a web site you know -- pick any web site -- and see it covered in Chinese characters. Pick one you know well. Heck, I'll pick my own blog.

I gotta tell ya, I really had to think about it before I could remember which of these was "Sign In." Good times.

In response to my sister's comment about toilets from yesterday, I did get a little surprise yesterday on my first trip to the ladies' room. The whole experience is a little odd. The entire room is pink. There is a row of stalls to the right and one to the left, but on the left there are two steps before you enter the stalls. The stalls on the right seemed to be more popular, and they were full, so I went up the steps and into a stall on the left. Surprise, Texas girl! There was a urinal mounted on the floor. After that I cued into the sound difference between the two flushes, but it was too late.

Other small strange things: I did a fair amount of cultural research before I came. One of the things I read (and promptly forgot) was that the Taiwanese version of "How are you?" is "Have you eaten?" Turns out they're not really inquiring as to the state of your stomach. The idea is that you answer "yes" and move on, just as in the U.S. you answer "fine" and move on. I completely forgot this yesterday and could not for the life of me figure out why so many people were interested in my breakfast arrangements! I figured it out this morning and slanted my forehead. D'oh!

Lots of interesting things around lunch:
  • Everyone eats in the company cafeteria every day. It gets quite crowded.
  • The food, unlike many company cafeterias in the U.S., is pretty good.
  • There were a number of unidentifiable things on my plate today. I took this to be one of those "you must try everything on your plate before you decide you don't like it" type things. I liked everything but one thing, which almost triggered my gag reflex because of the texture. I later found out it was eggplant. The other strange things were something that looked like cooked spinach but tasted like steamed spinach, and something that apparently was fish-based and was shaped like a small fish stick (quite tasty).
  • No one has any sort of drink with lunch. This kind of upsets me.
  • There is always soup with lunch, often a sweet dessert soup. Today's had a very familiar taste to it, almost like a licorice or root beer kind of flavor. Quite yummy, but unusual for a soup.
  • It's quite difficult to eat corn with chopsticks.
  • It's even more difficult to eat a chicken leg quarter with chopsticks. I watched my co-worker (and lots of other people) pick it up and chow down, no problem. I confessed that I just am not quite that skilled with the chopsticks. Being the good Texas girl I am, I consider a nice leg quarter finger food. Not the case here! When the two portions of the leg quarter separated, my co-worker picked it up with a napkin to finish eating it.

Which brings me to my next point: these people are a LOT cleaner than us slovenly Americans! I have yet to see (or hear) a woman leave the restroom without washing her hands. And when everyone drops off their plates and silverware (the chopsticks are silver here), there are sinks and everyone washes their hands.

Also, before we walked upstairs for lunch (the cafeteria is on the 5th floor, not the first -- how wacky is that?), all the lights had been turned out from noon to one because it is ok to nap at your desk at lunchtime here. If there were Dr. Pepper and Tex-Mex here I might never come back. Ask my former co-workers how many times I asked them where the corporate nap room was!

And oh hey, those stairwells? Not air conditioned. Can you say steamy? I can!

One last interesting thing: there ain't no ADA here, y'all. There is a small sill or shelf in every doorway, about a couple of inches tall. I've tripped over them a few times because I keep forgetting they're there. I don't know what their purpose is, other than tripping stupid Americans, but I know darn good and well you can't get a wheelchair over them.

And that's all I have to say about that. Yes, I know I still owe y'all a pic of my hotel. It was too dark to take it when I got home tonight. And I must go in search of food. I have a map to a night market -- wish me luck!


Coach J said...

Ok, I'm definitely playing catch-up here, but you had me in stitches!! I say, yay to naptime! Nap away.
And I never could eat with chopsticks either, so I'd probably lose a few pounds before I decided to heck with it all and offend every person at my table.
It sounds like you are having an experience of a lifetime!!

Cindy said...

Love all the random observations!! Naptime at work - I LOVE IT! Sign me up! Good move with the toilets sis.

BTW, I too, am playing catch up.