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Taiwan A to Z: The Essential Cultural Guide [Paperback]



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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Community Services Center, Taipei
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9579784760
  • ISBN-13: 978-9579784764
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Book with a Big Flaw April 9 2010
By Patrick Conroy - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I agree with the other reviewers about the author's love for Taiwan coming through. However, a major flaw in this book is the lack of tone marks on the pinyin spellings of Mandarin words. Without tone marks, a visitor has absolutely no hope of pronouncing any of these words to that a Mandarin speaker can understand them. How bad it it? Try asking for "beer", but saying "fart wine" because you used the wrong tone. It would be like leaving out every third letter of an English word, and expecting someone reading the words to be understood.

This is a terrible flaw that the author could fix in a day, and that the publisher should incorporate into the next printing.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See Taiwan from the inside Jan. 30 2010
By Kathryn - Published on Amazon.com
For many of us expatriates who find ourselves in foreign cultures, working out norms and expectations without offending anyone is a really daunting prospect. I know when I first came to Taiwan for a visit in 2006 for three weeks I was petrified nearly the entire time that I would do something stupid and offend my then boyfriend, now husband's family. I was one of the lucky ones - I didn't mortally offended anyone but then I did have the best guides possible in my mother-in-law and my lovely man. For those who come to Taiwan without such an advantage, this books is the next best thing to having someone personally guiding you through the confusion.

Amy C. Liu, the author of this book, grew up in Taipei in the late 70's and early 80's before moving to the United States with her family. She completed her education there, gaining a Masters degree in Counselling Education from San Jose State University but then surprised a lot of her friends and family by returning to Taiwan. Having becoming completely Americanized during her time in the States, it was on a trip to Japan as an exchange student that Amy came to realize that she knew far less than she would like about her hone country and its rich and diverse culture. Thus started the journey that lead her back to Taiwan where she has been living and working since 1999 as a cross-cultural educator with the Community Services Center in Taipei, a center set up to assist expatriates relocating to Taipei.

Taiwan A to Z really is just what the title says it is. It covers everything you ever wanted to know about the culture in Taiwan as well as many things you'd never thought of. It gives clear advice about how to decode what Taiwanese people really mean when they say "Yes" and why they hardly ever say "No"; it looks at the important festivals celebrated here in Taiwan, such as Moon Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and of course, the big one: Chinese New Year; it introduces you to local foods and eating customs and coaches you on expected etiquette in a range of circumstances. It really is the only guide you'll ever need to navigating Taiwanese culture.

The thing I love the most about this book is the personality of it. Reading this book feels more like a friendly conversation with Amy than anything else. The advice and information is delightfully sprinkled with personal anecdotes and stories - this is the written version of the top-notch training that Amy has been providing expats in Taipei with for the last ten years.

Who should read this book? In my opinion it is not only a guide to navigating the culture here in Taiwan but a fantastic introduction to a wonderful country. Taiwan, the unsung hero of the Asia region, is so often overlooked by travelers and I really feel that they're missing out on something incredible. If you are interested in learning more about Taiwan, have an interest in traveling here (for either business or pleasure) then this is the book I would recommend.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A commercial for Taiwan April 11 2012
By MLM de Groot - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Written by a Taiwanese who party grew up in the US, the book promises a good balance between inside information and outsiders' astonishment. I was personally hoping for Taiwan-specific, in-dept cultural information in daily life. However, the book deals with a lot of rituals and obvious differences, targeting an audience that has little experience in the far east. The tone of voice is very enthusiastic, personal and a bit too positive. Everything is 'wonderful', 'delicious' and 'amazing'. I personally would have preferred a more factual description, and more about the subtle, unconscious differences when dealing with the Taiwanese, what to do and what not to do. Note that I'm European (Dutch), so maybe Americans like her way of writing better. Also annoying to me is that sometimes she considers the US and 'the West' to be the same thing, 'the way we celebrate Thanksgiving in the West'. We don't celebrate thanksgiving in my part of 'the West'.

Conclusion: A nice book if you're looking for a quick read on Chinese rituals and trivia. Not for when you really want to understand what makes the Taiwanese tick.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Guide to the People of Taiwan Jan. 25 2010
By J. H. Rosen - Published on Amazon.com
When I found out my husband's company was moving us to Taiwan, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the country. I started grabbing up the well known guides but they only told me where to go. When I arrived I discovered Amy's book. What a great book! It's easy and enjoyable and full of so much information about the culture. It's not a guide to where to go, it's a guide to the way people think and live here. It's fantastic. My husband usually grabs a book and reads a few pages before bed each night. He couldn't put this one down and finished it in a few nights. Quick, informative and fun to read too. Highly recommend for expats but it's also useful to any visitor who just wants to know about the country they are visiting.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for anyone spending time in Taiwan Feb. 25 2010
By Tyler Moore - Published on Amazon.com
This book provides an honest look at life in taiwan for expats or those traveling to this area. I lived in Taiwan for almost 1 year and found this book to include all of the important cultural information to make transitioning to Taiwanese living easier. The photos are beautiful and the layout of the book makes it easy to follow and understand. This book includes everything from food to holidays to daily tricks to living in Taiwan. It's a must-have for anyone wanting to successfully integrate into Taiwan culture.

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