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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Taiwan’s footwear emergency

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Flying Dutchman
Flying Dutchman
For detailed biographical information, please check the very first article of this blog. Thanks!

In the past I spent quite a lot of money on relatively expensive shoes. I even had more than my Taiwanese girlfriend of many years, whose choice was restricted due to natural causes. When I moved back to Spain temporarily in 2018, I even took my vintage closet with me!

Although it’s often not easy to get bigger Western sizes here in Taiwan, regularly there are special sales. For me, good footwear is much more relevant than trendy clothing, as it can directly affect your health.

That’s probably the reason why in Taipei, my adopted home town, I pay a lot of attention to other people’s feet. Especially, since I started my little culinary adventure in May of last year.

As I usually stay a couple of hours at this traditional market, where sometimes business is slow, I get the chance to take a closer look at many of the passersby.

It’s fascinating how at least 25% of all those that I notice, from older folks to kids, judging superficially from their footgear, seem to have either poor eyesight, don’t care at all about the impression they give outsiders or went for a dubious bargain.

For those unfamiliar with what was formerly known as Formosa, due to its humid climate and frequent rainfall, all kinds of (often cheap) slippers are very popular.

It’s very tempting to walk around with those all year round, making socks redundant. For far too long I had fallen into the same trap, neglecting some of the crown jewels in my extensive brogue collection.

Notwithstanding that this strange phenomenon isn’t restricted to flipflops in all its variations, some of which cost less than one US dollar, that’s where it manifests itself in the most evident way.

There are either too big or too small, which in my opinion makes walking in them rather uncomfortable, if not outright unpleasant. In any case, it can cause serious spine damage, particularly in children who are still growing.

In a culture that can pride itself of an ancient medical tradition, constantly stressing out the importance of taking care of one’s body, and how all of its parts are connected, this seems very contradictory to me.

For me, a sideline of this collective carelessness are those men wearing a nice suit, combined with shoes that don’t match at all. In this category Taiwanese real estate agents stand out, as they always try to look elegant, though hardly ever achieve their goal…

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