Blog Archives

Life in Taipei: the Taiwan Receipt Lottery

If you’re travelling in Taiwan, you may notice that shop staff seem particularly keen for you to take your receipt; you may even notice members of public scrambling to scoop up discarded receipts from the floor.

The reason is the rows of digits printed near the top, just above the date:

Taiwan receipt lottery numbers on shop receipts

Every time you make a purchase in Taiwan,

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Life in Taipei: a Stroll Around Zhongshan

Street art in Taipei's Zhongshan District

This little bit of public art in Taipei’s Zhongshan District depicts a scene from a Chinese proverb, which tells us that though a hare may be faster than a snail, a snail will still win a race up the wall.

Street art in Taipei's Zhongshan District

Zhongshan is one of Taipei’s central shopping areas,

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Life in Taipei: Remnants of the Empire of the Sun

Rinzai Zen Temple, Yuanshan, Taipei

As a former resident of Japan who moved to Taipei, it was fascinating to see the Japanese influence on this originally Chinese culture, Taiwan having been a Japanese colony for 50 years from 1895 to 1945; this influence is actually most obviously present in the cuisine (and also if you dig in to the linguistics there are plenty of Japanese loanwords in Taiwanese Mandarin),

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Life in Taipei: Qilou Buildings

A typical qilou street in Taipei

I’m not sure why I stopped and snapped this picture at the time, but it captures a really typically Taiwanese scene – the guy doing the dishes in the gutter after the restaurant’s closed for the night, the lanterns, the other guy about to get on his scooter,

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Life in Taipei: Xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung

Xiaolongbao (小籠包, literally ‘little basket buns’) are a specialty of both Shanghai and Taipei – small dough parcels of pork and soup, they’re like bite-sized explosions of delicious joy in your mouth.

A basket of xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung, Taipei

Originally from Shanghai, xiaolongbao became a local staple in Taiwan with the wave of mainland immigrants that fled there in 1949 at the end of the Chinese Civil War,

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Ghost In The Shell: chasing ghosts in Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan

This week saw the release of Ghost In The Shell, a live action Hollywood remake of the classic (1995) Japanese anime movie (itself based on the original manga by Masamune Shirow). The casting of Scarlet Johansson in the lead role caused some controversy (as her character –

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Taipei Night Market Guide

Taiwan‘s night markets (夜市, yeshi, pronounced “yeah she”) are popular with locals and tourists alike, and you should definitely try to visit at least one while you’re there. Every night market is a good place to sample lots of different Taiwanese dishes and street snacks,

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Snake Alley, Taipei: Then and Now

Cobras on display in Snake Alley, Taipei

Snake Alley is an infamous covered shopping arcade attached to Taipei’s Huaxi Street Night Market (華西街夜市, Huaxijie Yeshi) which was notorious for prostitution (before it was outlawed in the 90s) and is known for being the place to go if you want to boost your vitality by eating the body parts of various animals –

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