I enjoy seeing how people live in other countries — it can be enlightening. Of course, the culinary traditions are what stand out the most as I have more experience encountering them. Except for life as an expat, it’s rare to experience a local’s home in a foreign country (unless you’ve set up a homestay experience).
One of the activities I find fun in foreign countries is walking around markets and grocery stores. I like to see the food product packages, even if I can’t read them. Sometimes I find recognizable products that are localized — KFC sold a spicy Sichuan chicken wrap when I lived in Shenzhen; they became known for adjusting their menu to attract more Chinese customers.
In Taipei, the products didn’t seem as unusual. Maybe I was desensitized after my years in China and time living in Tokyo (I didn’t find Tokyo to live up to the weird reputation that I had heard about). Of course, Taipei has it’s share of kitsch — there’s the Hobbit-themed restaurant and even a toilet-themed restaurant (neither is particularly good).
I’ll admit that I have an unhealthy attitude toward snacks in foreign countries that either have mangled English or ridiculous designs. I generally eat healthy, but I can’t resist trying something like Lay’s lychee potato chips (they were awful. My friend and I offered them to locals to see if they’d like the flavor; they didn’t either).
While I managed to take pictures of a lot of the interesting and/or amusing products I came across, there were still more that never got photographed.
In Taipei, I noticed these toy vending machines outside of all the convenience stores. Usually, they were really boring little toys for kids. Sometimes, they were just confusing.
On my second trip through Jiufen, I came across a chocolate shop that specialized in chocolate that resembled coal. They also had two other forms of chocolate that I wasn’t sure anyone would want to buy.
I actually bought the chocolate packaged in a condom box. The chocolates are individually wrapped and shaped like condoms. For about $5 I got a decent giggle.
I did not, however, buy this Quaker health supplement drink. They sell a variety of health supplements in Asia, including ginseng drinks. They also make an overnight oats mix that isn’t sold in the US (it was a great cheap breakfast with some dried fruit and cinnamon).
I’m not exactly sure what clam essence is good for, but judging from the box design, I can guess.
There were many more fun and/or interesting (even horrifying) products and packages around Taiwan. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of all of them. I do, however, have a collection of more amusing signs to go along with these.