Taiwan's 60,000 betel-nut kiosks and the young women who work in them

Betelnut girl Hsiao Chin, Taoyuan [CC. Tobie Openshaw]

I tried betel nut in Singapore many years ago from an old guy in a market off Bencoolen street. He gave me a packet with some leaves, some of the nut, and some lime (calcium carbonate). I didn't feel its purported stimulant effects, but I enjoyed preparing the quid and the way my saliva turned red. Betelnut is popular throughout Asia. Oddity Central has a short item with photos about Taiwan's betel-nut kiosks and the woman work in them:

The main roads are filled with around 60,000 such phone booth-style kiosks; they’re so much a part of the nation’s identity that they’re actually featured on old tourist guides. The women who operate the stalls are usually from poorer families, but according to news reports, the job pays more than housekeeping, waiting tables and other conventional jobs.

Tobie Openshaw took this photo of a "Betelnut girl" in Hsiao Chin, Taoyuan. He wrote:
Betelnut girls (Binlang Xi Shi/檳榔西施) are a unique part of Taiwan culture. They sit in brightly-decorated glass booths wearing skimpy outfits, and sell cigarettes, drinks and betelnut to passing drivers. It’s a controversial trade but not actually illegal. The question of whether the girls are exploited is open to debate – certainly their own perception is mostly that they are doing a job like any other, and the less they choose to wear, the more they sell. For more info, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betel_nut_beauty and follow the links to the video and pictures.
Check out Openshaw's Flickr stream for more photos. Read the rest

Man catches a fish from high rise balcony


Vitaly Petrukhin says: "In Taiwan in the downtown Keelung, from the terrace of his apartment, a man managed to catch a fish with a fishing pole while the animal is several tens of meters down in a small river. When he feels that he has made, man rewinds the wire on the reel and seems very happy with his decision."

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Bookshelf masking-tape

Etsy seller Light Life makes this book-spine masking tape for sealing up your boxes and making them look like they're libraries for tiny flatlanders. The Taiwanese seller has lots of other notable designs, too. It's all $6.78/roll, plus shipping from Taiwan. (via Tor Books Tumblr) Read the rest

Super Mario Brothers music performed on a Sheng

In this video, a young musician called Li-Jin Lee performs the Super Mario theme (complete with eerily accurate SFX on a Sheng, an ancient Chinese reed instrument) at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, as part of a lecture on the Sheng.

Taiwan Philharmonic (NSO) - "The Power of Sheng" w. Super Mario 超級瑪莉 (via Kottke) Read the rest

Rob Ford's cunnilingus quip: Taiwanese news animation edition

News of Toronto Mayor Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford's official cunnilingus policy has reached the Taiwanese news video animation people, and they've risen to the occasion with predictable insanity. The mayor-on-beaver moments are really the best here, I think. Read the rest

Prosthetic tentacle

Taiwanese design student Kaylene Kau created this motorized prosthetic tentacle for a class project: "For this project we were pushed by our Professor to push the boundaries of current upper-limb prosthetic design. Through extensive research I found that the prosthetic functioned as an assistant to the dominant functioning hand. The prosthetic needed to be both flexible and adjustable in order to accommodate a variety of different grips."

PROSTHETIC ARM (via Kadrey) Read the rest

Steve Jobs shills green tea and Sony hardware in Taiwan

Andy Ihnatko explains what's going on in the image above, which was snapped and submitted to him by a reader in Taiwan. Read the rest