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I'll state now that I don't know too much about temple etiquette- this is just a little bit of what I learned from the locals in Taiwan. If you note any mistakes or would like to add something, feel free.
1. If there is more than a single entrance to a temple (usually there are three), never take the main entrance. The Chinese say that you must enter through the longmen (Dragon Door), usually the door on the right, and exit through the Humen (Tiger Door), the door on the left (your right as you exit). The center entrance is for supernatural beings (meaning not you).
2. When entering temples, there will be a block/step that you must step over. Never step on top of it.
3. Be respectful of worshippers there.
Written Sep 16, 2007
For history, the "New Taiwan Dollar" was issued to replace the "Old Taiwan Dollar" in 1949 due to hyperinflation. The replace rate was 1 NTD = 40,000 TD.
Prior to that, Taiwan was under Japanese rule and the currency was Taiwan Yen. Now you know a bit of the currency history....
100 New Taiwan Dollar = USD 3.02
Coins: NT$1, $5, $10, $50
Rare $0.5, $20
Banknotes: $100, $500, $1,000
Rare $200, $2,000
Updated Aug 14, 2007
The flag of the Republic of China (as well as an emblem seen many places across the Republic) is the Qingtiangbaizhimandihong (the Chinese equivalent of Stars and Stripes, except with a different design and a much longer name). Qingtianbaizhimandihong literally translates as "Blue sky with a white sun on a land of red" (red refering more to the Chinese preference to that color than the communist preference to it). The flag shows a white sun displayed on a blue square in the upper left hand corner; the rest of the flag is red. Ever since 1911, this simple design has been the flag of this Republic.
Written Sep 9, 2006
The Republic of China usually does not use the western system of numbering years (1,2,3...2005,2006), but instead has it's own system. In the Republic of China, most years are stated as ming-gou (insert the year), which literally means, in the year of the Republic. Year 1 was 1911, the founding of the Republic of China, and 2006 was Ming-gou 95 (2011 will be Ming-gou 100). Often when you see dates in the Republic of China, they'll mostly be printed with the Ming-gou system.
Written Sep 8, 2006
National Day or Double Ten Day is the last most important festival of the year in Taiwan. Double Ten Day observes the anniversary of the October 10 1911 revolution which led to the defeat of the dishonest Ching (Manchu) Dynasty and the Republic of China. The day is celebrated with impressive parades in front of Taipei's Presidential Office Building and the other events involve folk dances, dragon and lion dances, acrobatics and exhibits of marital arts.
Updated Aug 26, 2006
Major credit cards are accepted and traveller's cheques may be cashed at some tourist-oriented businesses and by room guests at most international tourist hotels. ATM card machines in Taiwan usually need a 6 digit pin number. Try not to carry a large amount of cash.
Updated Aug 26, 2006
Four is considered an unlucky number in Chinese culture, because in spoken language the words for four and death sound similar. Consequently, foreigners are given addresses and phone numbers littered with fours because no one else wants them (an easy way to figure out your hotel room number).
Colors are also very important to know. For instance, brides do NOT wear white, they wear red. Wedding gifts are almost always money, and are definitely always presented in a red envelope (never white, as it is the color for death).
Remember, is considered rude to leave your chopsticks sticking up in your rice bowl. And when handing someone anything (such as money), you should hold it (and receive) with both hands.
Written Apr 14, 2005
Before I went to Taiwan I tried to be as prepared as possible for cultural differences and customs. I thought I was fairly ready for anything I might encounter, but I was a bit startled when I tried to tip a reflexology therapist and they refused. I looked at the therapist with a confused expression on my face and saw a slightly confused and embarrased face looking back at me.
I soon realized that I needed to offer the tip to the therapist several more times before they would accept. By waiting for repeated offers the person receiving the tip doesn't look greedy.
In theory this had all made sense. However, when faced with the practice for the first time, it definitely threw me off for a second.
Updated Mar 8, 2005
What do most Taiwan people do during Chinese New Year? On the first day, many go to a temple to pray for a better life in the following year. In Taipei, the most famous and most popular temple goes to "Lung Shan temple" , you can approach it by MRT.
Please visit my Taipei travelogue for more pics.
Written Feb 16, 2005
Anyone who has attended a Chinese banguet knows the resounding chant of Gan Bei . It is the traditional toast of the Chinese dinner party . The host usually begins the dinner by toasting his guest or guests who are seated in the place of honour facing the door ; while the host is across the table with his back to the door . Throughout the dinner , host and guests will toast one another many times . It is considered courteous to hold the glass with one hand and to touch the base of the glass with the other .
Gan Bei( pronounced 'gam bay') means 'dry cup', meaning you are expected to empty the glass . If you do not want to drink the entire contents of the glass , you say Swei Yi ( pronounced 'sway ee' ) which means 'as you please', this gives everyone the option of drinking all or part of the contents of the cup .
Updated Nov 21, 2004
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