Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Putting Kaohsiung on the map

How could I be a blogger in Kaohsiung and not even blog about this?!

For months I've been hearing about this quirky toilet-themed restaurant. Now, much to my chagrin, it apparently has put Kaohsiung on the map! It's been written up, put in print, circulated on the web and blogged about several times over.

So I give up, here it is officially documented on my blog. I've often heard of Kaohsiung referred to as a "cultural desert." Now you can interpret that dubious label for yourselves.

Double duty seating, err, I hope not...

Yes, people do dine here

Food designed to look like the "real thing" served up in your choice of:

a traditional squat toilet

or in a western style "throne" toilet

Just in case you'd like to extend the "toilet dining experience" to your home- there are toilet shaped serving dishes on display throughout the restaurant, which just might be available for sale...

Kind of gives a new meaning to the phrase "open door policy" doesn't it?

All I can say is that I still don't quite understand the Taiwanese sense of humor, but the success and appeal of this restaurant among the Taiwanese is not surprising. Over the past year or so I've noticed people in the night markets around here eating scoops of ice cream out of miniature plastic squat toilets. I didn't understand the appeal or novelty then, nor do I now.

The 26-year-old owner of the restaurant, Eric Wang was inspired by a popular Japanese comic featuring a robot doll fond of eating excrement in ice cream cones. He test marketed his idea by first selling ice cream served in miniature plastic squat toilets- in the night markets. A-ha! Now I see the connection.

I think that the Taiwanese have a thing for "bathroom humor"- literally. During one my conversation classes, we talked about the first day of school, the unfamiliarity of new situations and the discussion turned to funny, embarassing situations and stories, so I asked my students to come up with some funny stories of their own. Out came the stories of elementary school kids who wet themselves or worse yet accidentally defecated due to anxiety on their first day of school- what one student started, others followed with even more outlandish and disgusting tales. Soon my class was in stitches. My funny bone was decidedly disappointed, but I managed a chuckle. What's up with that?! I thought.

This tells me that I'm not immersed enough in the local pop culture here. Why? Is it language gap, cultural difference... or age?! So much of pop culture seems to be linked to cartoons and animation, which I don't really watch much of. In Taiwan there's the language gap, but even when I was in the States, I never really got into the Simpsons or South Park. And now there's Adult Swim, which is a part of the Cartoon Network. Still don't know what Adult Swim is? Click here!

Sometimes I feel behind on American pop culture! And then I wonder if it is about age, or simply being out of touch now that I live in Taiwan.

It's something to think about (Taiwanese pop culture that is) and to work on as I work on my language skills here... but this time I don't think that I missed out much. This is one dining experience that I think I'll be able to hold off on.


  • At 10/17/2005 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sad state of affairs that koahsiung has been forced to stoop to this kind of level.
    Eric Wang has some sort of sick fetish - one I'd hate to mention -but does exist.
    Being a long term resident I'll be happy when the doors are closed and the embarrassing affair is over


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