1. Street Food – Americans like their corn dogs and funnel cakes at county fairs, fast food is omnipresent in our culture, and gourmet food carts are becoming more popular in big cities, but we have nothing like the giant night markets full of food stalls prevalent in Asian countries. Maybe it’s too hard to regulate or doesn’t seem clean or we just don’t have the space to designate for it in our cities, but whatever the reason is, it’s a shame, because it’s really fun to stroll down the street and taste a little bit of this and that. If my husband and I lived in Taiwan, we’d probably never cook at home again because inexpensive fresh food is always at hand.
2. Nursing rooms – Every mall, airport, train station, museum, or other such public space in this considerate country called Taiwan has special rooms designated for nursing mothers. They are large and clean and have changing tables and comfortable chairs to nurse your baby in. Some have bathrooms with a seat you can safely put your kid in while you take care of your own business. One even had a mini toilet next to the parent’s toilet. Some have hot water at the ready so you can make a bottle. Why don’t you see these more often in the States? I just went to a museum near San Francisco designed for small children and they didn’t have any of these amenities! How hard is it?
3. High Speed Rail – Come on, America! I want to be able to hop on a train in San Francisco and be in L.A. in a couple hours. Let’s do this already!
4. Kids in Fountains – We went to an aquarium that had this amazing whale fountain to play in with changing rooms next to it. Why is it you aren’t allowed to play in fountains in the U.S.? I’m guessing it’s because we live in such a litigious society, but in Taiwan if a kid slipped and fell, instead of suing, his mom would say “I told you to be careful.” As it should be.
5. Smart cards – In Taipei, you can go to a 7-11, load up an Easy Card (“You-You Ka”) and use it to ride the subway, buses, taxis, rent the bikes you see at various stations around the city, pay for street parking, even use like cash at certain coffee shops and supermarkets, and all without even swiping it. They’re contactless, so you don’t even have to take it out of your wallet, just pass it by the machine and it’s done. Amazing. The Taiwanese even use another smart card to keep track of their health care. Yep, health care. That’s another thing you don’t see around these parts.
6. Universal Health Care – Taiwan’s system isn’t perfect, but from an outsider’s perspective it appears to be working a helluva lot better than ours. While I’m getting all liberal and socialist, here’s another doozy Americans wouldn’t stand for:
7. Gun control – In Taiwan, that means no guns owned by civilians at all. Period. I know that would piss off a lot of folks who value that as a basic right (i.e., most of my family), but this is my list and call me naive or an idealist, but I wouldn’t mind living in a world without guns.
8. My New Family – Ok, I’ll get off my soap box for a minute and talk about the best thing about Taiwan, my family. I had a great time meeting all my husband’s relatives in Taipei, and would love to see them in the U.S. someday. Come on out for a visit anytime!