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Chinese New Year in Taiwan part two: Gift giving, etiquette and more

Last week  we talked about the logistics of experiencing Chinese New Year in Taiwan (Part one : Chinese New Year in Taiwan : The Six Days of Chinese New Year). This week, we’ll get down to the business of giving gifts, visiting etiquette and stuff like that. It might get confusing, so stick with us! The Red Envelope Perhaps no single item is as associated with Chinese New Year as the red envelope or hóng bǎo. Unlike the closest analogous holiday season to Chinese New Year in the west (December’s Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa period, or, if you’re not a fan of any of those, Seinfeld’s Festivus holiday) in which gifts between family members are usually store bought (or hand-made) items, in Taiwan the standard gift is money served in a perfumed red envelope. Generally, the traditional hóng bǎo flow is from old to young; youth are the beneficiaries of…

Coffee in Taiwan – How an Island of Tea-drinkers came to love the bean!

Coffee in Taiwan  Taiwan is historically known for tea, and until the mid 1990’s visiting java junkies had few choices for a bean-juice fix outside of the cheap burnt drip served at Mickey-D’s and a small handful of Japanese shops serving pricey but excellent coffee by the cup, usually brewed using a dual-chambered glass vacuum coffee maker more reminiscent of lab equipment than a kitchen appliance. But the days of precious few choices for visiting bean fields are long gone, and in 21st century Taiwan a perfectly serviceable cappuccino can be bought at any small-town 7-11. A post shared by 7-Eleven Taiwan (@7eleventw) on Mar 28, 2017 at 11:46pm PDT The cities, meanwhile, boast a veritable embarrassment of riches for the traveling coffee lover, and though opinions vary wildly among coffee aficionados from a mix of excellent chain coffee shops like Cama, Louisa and 85° C to smaller boutique shops…

A British Barber in Taiwan

Taiwan has attracted foreign talent for decades, but to our knowledge Daniel Bullivant is one of a select few Englishmen to make his name as British Barber for Gentlemen in Taiwan. Though he came here six years ago to travel, fate had other plans. After meeting his wife in Hualien, Daniel opened up a barber shop in the charming east coast city. In the process, he’s created a most unique experience for himself and thousands of satisfied customers. Taiwan Scene sat down with Daniel for a chat about his Taiwan experience. On why he chose Hualien: Hualien was just on my list as a tourist, as a place to visit in Taiwan. So my friend lent me his bicycle and I cycled over Hehuan (mountain) to Hualien, and it was here that I met my wife and settled down. On the pros and cons of working in Taiwan: On…

Traveling in Taiwan as a woman (but not only)

Too often, a female traveler cannot experience a place in the same way as a male counterpart. There are always added dangers, prohibitions, assumptions, expectations and just those extra things women notice because experience and necessity have trained us to do so. If an exception exists, it might well be Taiwan. During an eye-opening semester in India, for example, I found myself not only experiencing it as another culture, but also as a country where I found myself sexually harassed multiple times. “What a lot of people don’t get,” I typed furiously to a friend after one such occurrence, “is how a woman traveling can’t see a place the same way as a man. It’s different in a certain way, though, it’s a not only, but also kind of different.” Later, I took the lead in arranging travel in Cairo, I enjoyed it not only as a vibrant city where…

In search of the elusive Formosan black bear

Hualien from the airplane window was lovely enough to warrant a full day’s exploration, but on that day we would only be passing through. We were headed further down south in search of the elusive Formosan black bear (台灣黑熊). Without even stopping for coffee, we left the city by train, bound for the town of Yuli. In addition to our group from MyTaiwanTour, we were traveling with Amy and Rocky, a journalist and photograph team from Alive Magazine. Like us, they were looking to learn more about the shy and reclusive creature which has, in recent years, become a symbol of Taiwan. After checking into our guesthouse, we were met by Ranger Kuo. The ranger was one of those rare people combining the boundless enthusiasm of a young man with the demonstrated life experiences of someone much older. Kuo’s passion was bears, and he’d traveled the world studying all things…