Sunday, February 19, 2012

School Supplies From Taiwanese Stationary Store

New semester begins tomorrow for most universities across Taiwan, so naturally there is need to buy pens, pencils, paper, notebooks and even a new backpack. Yeah, right. Not for me. Grab some paper, a pen that hopefully works and off to go with notes that I will probably lose the next day.
To not disappointing my blog readers, I checked for supplies in the stationary store around my house. It was rather a short trip, ending with a comment to my wife 'how about we just buy this stuff in Cosco?" A 80 page notebook went for around NT70-100, a ball pen for about NT15-NT30, paper about NT100 for 500 pages, hard cover notebooks approaching NT200 and backpacks... let just say the best way for you to shop for a nice backpack is to visit a night market and get one, solid one for NT500-1000. 

I don't want to sound cheap or anything like that, but I was disappointed that stores that make a living from selling stationary putting such a ridiculous prices. I rather go to supermarket and pay a third for supplies. 

How Much Should I Put Into Red Envelope While Attending Taiwanese Weddings?

Many friends asked me that many times, how much to put into red envelope while attending friends wedding? It really depends how close you are to the person that you attend wedding, what is your and their social status, or if you are related in some way or another.

The idea is that you try to give a sum that have those numbers: 2, 6 and 8, and make sure you avoid 4. Six and especially 8 are considered to be lucky numbers, while four sounds like 'die' in Chinese, so people avoid it. 

If you are not close to the couple that are to become officially husband and wife, you should at least offer enough to cover your food and reservation - NT1200, NT1600 or NT1800 are good sums if you arrive alone or with maximum of one person. 

If you are closer friends, start with at least NT2000 and up, depending how close you are. Again, make sure you avoid sums that will have "four" in it. Just one word of advice, giving too much might be also not advised. Later when it is your turn to have your own wedding, your friends will feel responsible to give back to you the same amount, and often - even more, simply to 'save their face.' If you already had wedding, and for some reason they were not invited - you can feel a bit more generous.

Last part, but not least - the infamous visitor book. You will have to put your name in it and the amount of money you put in the red envelope, for everyone to see. Ain't that sick? :).

Being Vegetarian in Taiwan

I am not a vegetarian. I never plan to become one, with my cultural background (full of meat) it would be hard for me to adopt, or even, I would not really want to be one. But but but this topic is not about me, but about those of you who plan to be in Taiwan and worry about if being a vegetarian will cause some major adjustments.

Well, don't. From what I heard from other expands that travel around Asia and end up one way or another in Taiwan is that Taiwan is ultra vegetarian friendly. No matter if you plan to cook at home, eat outside, hang out and eating with non-vegetarians,or even attend wedding banquet - there is plenty of food around to let you stay full without a touch of meat. 

If you eat at home, which is by far the cheapest way to nourish yourself (do not kid yourself, even if you are single - eating and cooking at home is still far cheaper than eating outside local food.) I usually get my groceries in local supermarkets, Carrefour and Welcome, or local wet markets (some are open in mornings, others at nights.) Local markets might not be necessary cheapest - that depends, but they do have freshest fruits and vegetables there directly from farmers. 

Eating out? A bit more expensive if you ask me, and it can get quite monotonous if you dine in just specific area. You will find a lot of vegetarian only restaurants almost everywhere, as well as other restaurants offering vegetarian food. In case you do dine in a local restaurant that offer meat, make sure that cooks know you do not want any meat. They often put some pork or meat sauces on the vegetables for a better taste.

If you attend any party or a wedding banquet, announce beforehand that you are vegetarian. It is not a problem at all for the host, because venues are prepared for that and you will be served special menu to accommodate your needs. 

As for the average costs, I won't mention it here, because it would be way too broad. However, vegetarian food tends to be more expensive than non-vegetarian food.