Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Toasting in Tiawan

The small version of the Lazy Susan
After a short two days back in the US I headed back to a different part of Asia Taiwan with my work colleagues to teach a short two day seminar in incorporating technology in the classroom. So after another day plane trip half way around the world I was back in Asia.  But what a different world Taiwan is from it's sister Southeast Asia.  They might as well be distant cousins twice removed who don't even recognize each other at reunions, because Taiwan is significantly different from southeast Asia.  Taiwan is not nearly as westernized as Singapore, which is really just like visiting the Epcot version of Asia.   Taiwan has all the charms of southeast Asia and all the comforts of the westernized world.   This is really highlighted in the public restrooms where you can choose from the squat toilet, the western toilet or the western toilet with a remote that has a heated seat and a bidet. 

My professors Norm and Judy a super celebrities in the Taiwan education world and everywhere we go they are greeted like royalty.  This results in about three hour lunches with a lazy Susan the size of a VW bug filled to the brim with every type of Taiwanese food imaginable.  If you just hint at the fact that you particularly enjoy a certain type of food you bet a NT that two more would appear on the table for the next meal.  During the meal you are served micro sized glasses of beer which you raise up with both hands and look another diner in the eye and say a personalized toast, it goes something like this . . .
Selina-  Judy thank you so much for taking me to Taiwan and for showing me the best shopping
Judy - you are most welcome
Taiwan Beer
Then we both raise our glasses, drink, look each other in the eyes again and toast again.  Then someone would promptly fill up your glass with beer, so you have no idea how much you have consumed.  To add a twist at dinner a bottle of Kaoliang (which is basically like rubbing alcohol) would be produced and you would drink that along side your small glass of beer.  I spent most of the meals trying not to make eye contact!!!!!  To even further complicate the toasting traditions.  After someone toasts you and you are getting ready to drink someone can shout out GAMBEE which means chug.  Then  you must drink your whole glass (which of course will be refilled immediately)!!!

After two hours of Gambeeing and being completely stuffed to the brim you have about an hour before dinner and the festivities begin again.  Stay thirsty my friends

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