After eight days in Taiwan I realize I’ve only heard one car horn. And I’ve been in cities – Taipei, Tainan, Taichung – with cars and scooters galore. Not to mention pedestrians. A Taiwanese woman told me that the Taiwanese are a very orderly people. Maybe that’s the explanation for the unexpected quiet of the city streets.
It’s a contrast to the energy in the air that is difficult for this LA native to fathom. I’ve always equated quiet with dull but Taiwan is anything but dull. Is it possible to be both driven and relaxed? Go to Taiwan and you’ll see that, somehow or other, the surprising answer is ‘yes.’
The metro in Taipei is another example of this relaxed orderliness. On the escalator down to the boarding platform I see that my train is there with its doors open and people getting in. In LA this is cause for everyone on the escalator to start scrambling down the escalator and pushing their way onto the train. Not here in Taipei. Logic alone tells me that I can’t be the only person who is supposed to catch that train yet there is no mad dash. I calm myself with this thought.
These people know something I don’t. I reach the platform level and notice there are lines on the floor. People wait within these lines for the next train which comes along shortly. So civilized. I’m going to try to remember this sense of calm when I get home
Marsha Lenox is a writer and freelance editor. Her articles and essays on travel, roller derby and homeschooling have been featured in newspapers, magazines and on numerous websites and blogs. Marsha writes and performs creative non-fiction stories for Story Salon, the longest running storytelling venue in Los Angeles. She is also a roller derby referee.