Japan with Chinese Characteristics

As I step into my last Taipei taxi, heading for the airport and home, I look out on this amazing city and think about how it compares to mainland China and other Asian nations in my travels. That’s when it hits me.

Taiwan isn’t China. Taiwan is Japan with Chinese characteristics.

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Scooting by Taipei on a Moped

Who knows what the difference between a scooter and a moped, and who cares? They are not motorcycles and not bicycles, they are that fuzzy areas in the middle and they are everywhere in Taipei. And I mean everywhere.

In every street, on most sidewalks, and close to killing you at any time, they are the most ubiquitous transportation in Taipei. While not approaching the density of bicycles in Beijing, they are none the less overwhelming.

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Tonghua Night Market

You know you’re close to the market by the neon signs that line the streets around it, calling to the late-night shoppers like I. Then, when you turn a little corner, you’re in the night market.

There, squeezed down a long, narrow alley, is an Asian market – the kind you’ll find from Beijing to Bangkok, where you can snack on tasty foods while you shop for all your daily needs.

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