From an outsider’s perspective, Taiwan is a hodgepodge of anything and everything its residents choose for it to be. Traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, happens the way participants on that particular stretch of road or sidewalk choose for it to happen. There is a cacophonous rhythm to the madness, and every once and a while, as a foreigner, I think I may have it figured out.
However, just like Wal-Mart on Black Friday, everything quickly falls back into disarray and you’re struggling against the desire to yell at the woman who just cut you off.
Away from the polish and clean lines of downtown Taipei, buildings are stacked atop one another, colorful signs jostle for attention, scooters crush against other scooters and bikes and cars and trucks.
Asia is big and busy and an assault to the senses, but after some time, it becomes the new normal. It almost makes sense. Perhaps there’s no true sense to be made of it, though, and the beauty of the country is that life can be carried on so easily in the confusion.
After a while, the Chinese characters fade into the background, the incessant buzzing of scooters is no longer bothersome, and the once wide-eyed foreigner has become the easygoing resident.
Okay, so that bit about the scooters is a tiny lie. I’ve been known to yell obscenities at passing traffic because the scooters were so loud I couldn’t have a conversation with the person next to me. Even normal can be annoying.