Our apartment building had a Christmas party a week and a half ago. It’s interesting: most people in Taiwan don’t really celebrate Christmas (public schools and offices are open on the 25th for business as usual), much less understand what it’s about. And yet they do see it as an excuse to have parties and decorate a little. The front entryway and lobby of our apartment are nicely decked out with ornaments and wreaths, and there’s a (constantly) singing Christmas tree surrounded by poinsettias and other decorations in the lobby.
So anyway, our apartment’s party was a potluck dinner with some catered items as well. A huge tent had been set up down in the courtyard, with long tables full of food. We got there almost right on time with our fruit salad to share, and already the place was thronged with people. Someone we met who spoke English advised us not to try standing in line, but just to grab a plate, push our way toward whatever food we wanted, and to serve ourselves as fast as we could before all the good stuff was gone. After all, she said, this is Taiwan!
Well, we were a little hesitant to do that, so we just tried to serve ourselves quickly without too much shoving. All around us people were elbowing their way in, loading their plates unrealistically high with whatever looked best, then hurrying to get out of the way of the crowd. Some people had even brought big bowls or containers and were quickly filling them with enough food to feed multiple families, then taking them back home to eat. It was amazing how fast the serving dishes emptied – there was no question of going back for seconds on much of anything except for corn soup or plain white rice. There were other events after the meal, like a free drawing for various prizes, but we hadn’t RSVPed in time to take part in that. (Last year we did, and we won a little lamp and a Kentucky Fried Chicken Christmas clock.) There was also a talent show, but it was cold down there and there weren’t enough seats anyway, so we ended up just going home to watch a Christmas movie. The PA system was so loud that we could hear the music blaring even up on the seventh floor with all doors and windows shut and our movie on.
So, that was our memorable second Christmas in Taiwan!
Never take down other people’s houses.
Never have more than one house in each family.
Do not argue.
NEVER eat plants or other unhealthy things. Only eat ice cream and fish.
Make sure to throw anyone who litters or breaks a law in the garbage can.
Kid’s can’t go out of the castle themselves.
You have to take good care of your garden.
Do not go without clothes to other places.
At war times, every male 18 and 40 must report to the army.
Don’t drink wine while you drive.
No killing animals except for dairy products.
Kids can’t do work (like at a restaurant) until they’re 12 years old.
Look both ways before crossing the street.
Say hello to people you know.
If you are a dragon, no breathing fire for no reason.
Do not free the people in jail.
No going to the king’s palace for no good reason.
You can’t make too much noise.
Take discipline responsibly. e.g. If you get sent to jail that’s what discipline you get so don’t be whiney about it.
Want to read more unusual laws? Click on the links below to read my posts about students’ imaginary world projects from other years:
I just got back from a 4-day trip to Hong Kong to attend a teachers’ conference. The conference was great, but Hong Kong was even better. It was my first time there, and I had decided I was going to squeeze in all the sightseeing and fun I possibly could in whatever spare time I could scrounge after and between conference sessions. Fortunately, Hong Kong has an efficient subway system, and almost everything is in English as well as Cantonese, so it was easy for me to get around. My favorite thing to see was the waterfront (see the picture above). It was more gorgeous than any picture can show – you just have to be there to see the amazing buildings with their multicolored lights, many of which flash and swirl and change colors like a Christmas light show. Everything I’ve seen in my travels has confirmed that big Asian cities are the best in the world when it comes to making buildings works of art, and I think Hong Kong has most of the rest of them beat hands down.
On my own one evening, I decided to visit Hong Kong’s Heritage Museum. It was okay – not nearly as elaborate as most of the museums I’ve been to in Taiwan, but interesting none the less. I especially enjoyed the exhibit on Cantonese opera. (Note the life-size costumed figures on the stage behind me.) Yes, picture-taking was allowed inside the museum – the security guard herself took this picture for me!
My last dinner in the country was in a wonderful little Chinese restaurant. I have no idea what most of the dishes were called, but every one was delicious, and the style was a little different from the Chinese food we get in Taiwan. The shrimp in the big dish at the front were wonderful, but my favorite was Peking duck. (It was the last item to arrive, so it didn’t make it into this picture.) The waiter cut off little tender bits of meat and sizzling skin, and we wrapped them in things that looked like extra-thin tortillas. Add some slices of cucumber and green onions, and a dab of plum sauce, and it was just heavenly.