As noted in this post, Jason got a big betel nut boost during our ride around Taipei with Dahon. Betel nut is a chewable stimulant sold in stands, similar to cocoa leaf, and it’s dispensed by girls in lingerie.
Also available on the Huggacast.
If you like the betel nut girls, Seattle now has it’s own in the form of drive by latte stands with scantily clad girls. There’s one up in Cap Hill and another one Lake City Way.
There is so much 3000yo Chinese culture and an outstanding cycling friendly city and true educational venue’s to see in Taiwan. It is unfortunate that you wasted so much time and energy on a lousy and poor example of Taiwan Asian culture. Betel nut-do you smoke cigarettes? Don’t all you yanks do? How about porno? Keep a few mags? Why the interest in this poor facet of Taiwan culture? What about Taxi’s? Air-water-sign-noise-radio wave pollution? Lets concentrate on all the worst?
Betel nut was part of the moment, the experience, and the zeitgeist of blogging Taipei by bike. We made no judgments about it at the time and we’re not cultural propagandists here with a particular agenda, we’re sharing what we saw, did, and rode. Like say, [Helmet Land](http://bikehugger.com/2007/10/helmet_land.htm) (I’m surprised the anti-helmet crew hasn’t attacked over promoting helmet use) . . I said this to Fritz, in [another comment](http://bikehugger.com/2007/10/bike_hugger_betel_nut.htm),
“When in Rome â€¦ and maybe since youâ€™re last visit you didnâ€™t know how it was on every corner, even in brightly-lit shopping districts. I understand farther away from downtown more services are available in the Betel nut stands, but we donâ€™t know much more than that.
Our hosts thoroughly enjoyed the Betel nut stories and we connected with them by doing some culturally relevant to them. Like say, having a pint of the black at Elysian when visiting Seattle”
It’s interesting that you identify those things as bad—I don’t think you’ll find that assessment in anything we wrote.
Taipei is a gritty, noisy, smelly, cosmopolitan city. Speaking for myself, I think it’s vibrant and wonderful. If you couldn’t tell from the video, we were having a blast—I’d call that good.
There is not only one way to experience culture. Education is everywhere—in the cultural institutions, the office towers, the shopping malls, and in the street with scantily clad betel nut girls.
I’m here to drink it all in, so please don’t tell me what I’m not allowed to experience. Tell what else would be fun/interesting/enlightening to see and do.
I have to address this…
Do you think that some random foreigner coming to Taiwan and passing judgment on what is ostensibly a bad habit of the local people will have any positive effect whatsoever?
If you do, I only suggest that you go and try it.
Go to Mexico and tell the local fishermen in some tiny tar-paper shack village that eating sea turtle meat is bad.
Go to Colombia and argue with the farmers that growing coca leaves is fueling the trade in cocaine and they should dismantle their fields and try something else.
Go to Afghanistan and get people to quit growing poppy.
Man, get off you high horse. Betel nut is obviously not the most healthy thing in the world, but “when in Rome…”
And one more thing… that 3,000 year history you were talking about is on the other side of the Strait; it’s called China. This is Taiwan, a provincial place at best, with at the most, 400 years of Chinese history that started when the Dutch brought male Chinese peasants from Fujian province to the island to serve as virtual slave laborers.
Before that it was an aboriginal island.
For some context, as this somehow turned into a negative thread, we tried Betel nut with our hosts and it was a fun, culturally relevant experience and a topic of much discussion with the people we met.
I think the point ‘Global rider’ may have been trying to put across is that betel nut is a massive social and environmental problem in Taiwan, and for bikehugger to be (albeit not informed) associated with it maybe rubs the poster with a hint of hypocrisy.
Taiwan is a magical place and whilst betel nut and the ‘culture’ around it is always interesting to newcomers, once you live in the country for a while it is apparent how foul it is as an industry. I am sure when GLobal rider first was in Taiwan betel nut was seen as weird, new and interesting. But he right in pointing out that the place offers so much more. Two sides to each coin, or something like that :)
See the rest of our posts, photos, and videos about [Taipei](http://bikehugger.com/tag/taipei). For a total contrast to the evils of Betel Nut, check the [Temple Photos](http://flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/1585231058/).
Also for different coverage, see [Industrial Art](http://texturadesign.com/blog/2007/10/industrial_art_in_taipei.htm) in Taipei.
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