Or for the long answer…
This is a reply to a comment from a reader in the previous post about the city not being very aesthetically pleasing:
I agree; the city is not that beautiful here. Taiwan is now considered a developed nation, but it definitely doesn’t look the part at first glance. Carrie has said more than once that she finds it difficult to navigate here because of the lack of variety: the stores are repetitive, the colors are repetitive, and the building structures are repetitive. I think a lot of the difficulty comes in us not being able to read the signs, though, making them seem more repetitive. To us they’re all gibberish, so we have to rely more on a building’s appearance which is difficult and uninspiring here.
I’m not sure why the city isn’t more beautiful. Maybe the same reason that undeveloped or developing nations aren’t very pleasant to look at unless the natural terrain is innately beautiful, and you have a bit of that here in Taipei city in the parks. I guess the government has limited resources for infrastructure, and if a single company spruces up its real estate, it doesn’t do much difference because its store front is about four steps long (in other words, stores are small and it takes a lot of stores making an effort to make a noticeable difference). Or maybe it has more to do with the Chinese and Taiwanese history? This country has only been independent for 100 years I think. When I put my birthday down on the form at the hospital, Daniel told me to put 73 instead of 1984. Maybe the focus in this country thus far has been mainly on functional development?
Also, once you are here, it becomes obvious that the city is not dirty, it is just stained from the mildew and rain due to the subtropical climate. So, the sidewalk or the side of a building will look pretty gross, but upon more careful inspection, it is about as clean as it can get. I often see people cleaning their stores during the day when they are not as busy. It’s not like Mexico where you’ll see a lot of trash and rubble on the streets. The streets here are very clean. The MRT and other transit systems are very clean as well.
As a whole, I would say the people here are more clean than in America. For example, today at work I had to wear a mask because they knew I have a sore throat. Also, every time my students enter my classroom from break time and restroom time or at the beginning of the day, I spray their hands with an antibacterial solution in addition to us making sure they washed their hands with soap and water. Another example: When I visit Tabitha and Daniel’s apartment, I take off my shoes and put on a pair of the inside slippers (this part I was expecting), but then if I want to go in Daniel’s room, I have to take off the inside shoes and leave them right outside his door. One time I forgot and he noticed before I even set my foot down inside his room. I’ve also been noticing that many bedrooms and bathrooms have a bit of a step up or down to get into them. It’s like another divider to keep the dirt out.
Anyone have an idea as to why the city is ugly or… uh, “unique looking”?