Monday, October 11, 2010

An American Presence: What I Don't Miss in Taiwan

One of the things people ask us a lot is what we miss living in Taiwan. Each of us has things we can’t get here that we miss. The kids miss their "Hot Cheetos” among other things. I miss Corn Tortillas and my favorite Mexican restaurants. Brenda misses being able to easily buy English books and some other things, but, all in all, it isn't like we live a deprived existence here.

Taiwan is pretty much a first world nation. There is a great deal of choice available in most products. Stores are well stocked and it is much the same as the US in that regard. The difference is that the products as you may have guessed are geared toward the tastes and culture of Taiwan.  There are many things you can get here that you couldn't get in the United States. Taiwanese people who travel and live in the US feel much the same way.  My Chinese friends in America shopped for food primarily in Chinatown.

There is a large American business presence in Taiwan. We have many American brands, products and stores to choose from. McDonalds is hugely popular in Taiwan. They serve many of the same foods that you get in America. Big Macs, those famous McDonald's French Fries and shakes, but in addition to those they also serve rice and fried chicken. Ford Motor Company has a plant in Taiwan; they make the Ford Mondeo, a car sold both on the island and in Europe. Costco has a number of stores on the island, they do things much the same way as in America. In other words, you buy massive quantities of whatever you buy.

7/11 is everywhere. Near my home there are three 7/11s within a 5 or 6 block radius. But it isn’t the 7/11 you're used to in the states. At 7/11 in Taiwan you can pay to park, pay your taxes, arrange for DHL international overnight delivery, and get phone service for your cellular phone. 7/11 is the place to go around here. They also sell those delicious and famous 7/11 Hot Dogs. But they're not delicious. I don't know why, but they just don’t feel like hot dogs. They do however sell a delicious Taiwanese soup, which is one of my favorite things to eat. I can't believe I just said I like 7/11 food…. Amazing.

We went to Costco this week; this is the only store I've seen here that sells Christmas Trees. You can buy Beef at Costco in all the cuts that you get in the US. Most butchers can't sell you a rib eye steak (if they even know what it is.) That's not how Taiwanese people cut and serve meats. If you want a real barbeque…I'm talking a man-sized outdoor grill, just about the only place you'll find one of those bad boys is in good old Costco.

Just yesterday I was downtown and saw, for the first time a store that sells CROCS, and guess what, people here think they're just as ugly as you do back home. The only real advantage to Crocs is that they're easy to slip on and off. (People take their shoes of before entering the house.)

Circle K was a very big convenience Store in Taiwan, but now they're called OK Mart. The first time I came here they had signs and logos that looked like the American Circle K Store, but the people called them OK mart. Now that logo has changed, apparently, control of the Taiwanese division of Circle K was wrestled away from the Circle K corporation by the president of OK Mart. I'm not sure of the details but it was in court here for a number of years and the courts finally awarded ownership to OK Mart with the provision that they change their logos.

Charlie Wang
So it's not that we miss that much. Mostly, what we miss is food that is exclusive to our region of the US, and it would be nice to be able to find books written in English without having to order them and have them shipped. We find ourselves beginning to enjoy some things that are exclusively Taiwanese. For example, I have had soda here maybe twice, But I drink a lot of cold Green Tea. You can buy that in the states but it always has either sugar or Aspartame in it. In Taiwan, unsweetened tea is sold in just about every store. My favorite brand is called Cha Li Wang (literal translation: Tea inside kings we would call it the Tea of Kings). I always refer to it as Charlie Wang



  1. There are even costco in Taiwan :D Nice~

  2. Great blog, but did you ever find those hot cheetos?

  3. Nope, No Hot Cheetos here. We have to order them in when people come to visit us. Unfortunately, they don't last a week once they arrive.

  4. There is definitely a Spicy Cheetos flavor here in Taiwan. Are they not the same thing? I don't eat Cheetos often, so I wouldn't know.

    1. The article was written five years ago. Things have changed a bit since then. There may very well be Hot Cheetos here now, I don't eat them either.. Thanks for reading the Taiwan Adventure.