Taiwan and it cultural quirks: Part V

On our last full day in Taiwan, we went to the National Palace Museum. Having seen the Smithsonian last year, we were ready to be amazed, as it we were aware NPM was known to be one of the largest displays of Chinese imperial artifacts in the world.

From the outside, it was spectacular, with its brilliant grounds and architecture, nestled amongst the picturesque mountains. We made our way through the rabbit warren of rooms, learning about Taiwan’s different dynasty’s as we went. The jewellery that was on display was special, and so vibrant in colour. We learned that jade is Taiwan’s national stone and is meant to bring the wearer good fortune. I was fascinated by the traditional scripture and how the writing is read and written vertically, rather than horizontally, as it is in English. Each character was so delicate I couldn’t imagine how anyone (let alone a young child) would remember each symbol and be able to differentiate them at the speed that we read and write.

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We saw many temples and admired their cultural significance, including the Confuscious Temple, the Longshan Temple and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. They were busy places but worth visiting. Tourists attempted to fit the front of the temple and a face or two into the screen of their mobile phones, which reminded me of an article I had read on Mount Everest, and the crowds of people at the summit. It felt like the wrong place (at least to me) to be taking selfies. After seeing these, I must admit, the temples in Taipei were some of the most beautiful that I have ever visited.

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I recently read that protests similar to those that are happening now in Hong Kong could possibly break out somewhere like Taiwan. The anti-government protests are against extradition laws held between Hong Kong and China, China being a communist nation. Protestors do not want this law to pass, fearing that it will be the end of civil rights for Hong Kong. I can’t imagine the beautiful streets of Taipei full of protest. It seems such a peaceful, organised city, much different to that of Hong Kong, which we visited on our way home back in April. But who’s to say what is likely to happen anywhere. We can only hope that something will be learned or changed as a result.

This is the last post in my series on Taiwan and I don’t like to leave it on such a serious note, but it is important that people realise that these protests are not so far away, and they involve people just like us fighting for what they believe. How would you feel if you were in a position like this?

Those of you who have read Part I, II, III and IV, I hope you have enjoyed reading what we got up to on our trip. Taiwan is a beautiful place, with so much to do and see and I would love to go back one day soon.

Life is recycled

Many aspects of our lives have always been recycled and a particular object or building may have a great history, whether it is known to the new owner or not. Other aspects of our recycled culture are new and quite interesting as they present many environmental concerns.

Whether it is homes, cars, clothes, food scraps, jobs or previous partners, there is an emerging need to recycle everything in life.

Some things we recycle have always been that way – they present an undeniable recycling truth.

Take a home for instance. Homes are recycled time and time again and sometimes transformed drastically before the next round of recycling begins.

I am quite comfortable in the house I live in at the moment but when I think of how many people have been happy here before me, I wonder exactly what they loved most, and what they changed to suit themselves better.

Second hand cars make perfect sense. If a car is in good condition but the owner has outgrown it, why not sell it to someone who it suits more?

Recycled clothes are also exciting. Trash or treasure, the fact that these clothes once belonged to someone else may make the new wearer curious about the stories they contain. Did someone outgrow them, get tired of them or have to get rid of them for another reason altogether?

I have gotten better at reducing wastage of clothes and shoes over the years. I try to just buy what I need and make do with what I’ve got.

Minimising food wastage has become a necessary trend in today’s dining scene, and when preparing food at home. Most of us recycle leftover food and many of us use every bit of a vegetable when cooking, including the peel, sprouts and leaves.

Jobs are another interesting element of life that is recycled, especially when the modern workplace is so volatile, and knowledge is readily available.

A person may finish a job that they fitted well, that they had adapted to suit their skills and their life. When the person leaves, and a new person comes along, they will bring new ideas and a slightly different skill set, so the role may be adapted again to suit the new person.

Of course, this doesn’t happen everywhere. Many professions are black and white. It is clear what is expected each day and tasks may be somewhat repetitive. The people encountered on a day to day basis require the same amount of effort and the priorities rarely change.

I am certainly not underestimating the vital role such positions play but I’m not sure I could stay in a job like that for long.

One last topic I want to consider is the recycling of partners. Sure, there are some people who settle down with the first person they meet but most of us have had past relationships. We have all created different memories with another person, shared different jokes and been to different places together.

I think when it comes to recycling, people are the most difficult. Finding someone ideal for a job or finding a new partner or friend will always mean that the replacement has a shadow to fill.

When this shadow is filled, and a similar pattern of behaviours begin to occur, it can be decided if it fits.

People may be the most difficult to recycle, but they are not the biggest problem.

With waste management so topical today, I think it is important for this issue to remain front of mind.

We have it instilled upon us that waste is bad, which is a good mentality to have.

But most of us are guilty of creating unnecessary waste.

The first thing I am going to stop buying is coffee pods. These add up quickly and are not easily recycled and when there are so many other options available, it makes perfect sense to cut them out of my life. But the convenience of popping a coffee pod each morning is what makes me still use them. In minutes I have a delicious cup of short coffee to enjoy with my breakfast.

If we step back and allow ourselves to become slightly less self-absorbed and think about the real issues at stake, we can consciously make an effort to do something about it and reduce (or recycle) waste whenever possible.

That’s it, no more coffee pods for me!

Looking out for new ideas and bright colours

I enjoy so many different aspects to culture, whether it be the most recent art or exhibition, an up and coming hangout, or the best place to grab a bite to eat. It makes me happy that I live in a city like Melbourne, with so much to offer.

Culture is everything that surrounds you at any given point in time. I enjoy watching people and taking in how they dress, walk, what they are doing and what they are talking about. I like to see how they do ‘them’.

As many of you already know, I enjoy attending the odd exhibition. I posted about MoMA at the NGV on my other blog and am looking forward to my next trip to the gallery already. If anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

I also loooove eating out. Whether it’s a lunch break at work, catching up with friends in the city or going out for dinner in the suburbs with my husband. A city like Melbourne is always alive with its plentiful laneways and never-ending choice of places to dine.

Morning peak hour is one of my favourite times, as everyone is rushing around to do whatever it is they need to do that day, and everyone’s days are so unique.

I try to get a fair distance covered before I reach the office, as walking clears my head and helps prepare me for my workday because, as I’m sure you will appreciate – there is just so much to think about!

But having an active mind and being busy has its upsides. Some people find that keeping themselves busy ensures that they prioritise effectively and don’t dwell on things for excessive periods of time. Our overall happiness often comes down to the way in which we operate when we are busy.

On my way to work, I watch the people I pass and think about what may inspire their lives; what gets them out of bed every day. I like to see the different styles, from bright coats to chic hats to faux fur or platform shoes.

I’m not rushing to judge these people, I just find it interesting. I really just look out for things I like, new ideas and bright colours.

Crazy and adventurous or plain and simple, whatever you prefer.

I also really enjoy my coffee and Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world for people who love coffee. It’s so easy to find a cosy café to sip your favourite beverage in, while staring out of the window, or scrolling through your Twitter feed. It is refreshing to be around others who enjoy the beverage as much as I do.

While Melbourne is smaller than other comparable cities such as New York and London, and even Sydney, the cultural significance that this city has to offer is hard to find elsewhere.

The people, the food and the coffee are aspects of culture that stand out here and continue to ensure this city is still entirely liveable for me and many others.