Monday, September 13, 2010

Things you may not know about Taiwan...

Taiwan is one of the world's leading pigeon-racing nations. Immense sums are gambled on races and gangsters have been known to try to influence races by doping pigeons. Sometimes, prize pigeons are kidnapped and held for ransom.

The Taiwanese language (a dialect of Fujianese) is rich in idioms. Alcoholics are said to drink like cows (not fish). Parents are said to raise their first child to be a genius, the second like a pig (it rhymes in Taiwanese). A middle-aged man with an eye for much younger women is described as "an old cow eating young grass."

Some of the island's aboriginal tribes continued headhunting until the 1930s. It's said that some tribes still keep secret stashes of skulls deep in the hills. A handful of elderly aboriginal women bear traditional facial tattoos.

As a percentage of its total land area, Taiwan has twice as much forest as Norway and nearly five times more than the UK.

Taiwan is thought to be the source of the Austronesian language family, spoken from Hawaii to New Zealand to Madagascar.

Vehicle number plates and government-issued ID cards never end in 4, as the number (pronounced si, written 四) sounds similar to the Mandarin word for 'death' (si, 死). For this reason, many buildings - especially hospitals - lack a fourth floor; they go from third to fifth.

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