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Stay Healthy

Westerners should be cautious of relatively undercooked food. Many Taiwanese restaurants offer plates of raw, sliced red meat and uncooked seafood that are brought to the table and either barbecued or simmered in a pot of stock. As this constitutes a staple of the Taiwanese diet, any bacteria that may remain doesn't affect the locals, but it can wreak havoc with foreigners. The best policy is to make sure you cook the food in a manner to which you are accustomed.

Don't drink tap water without boiling it, though it's safe for brushing your teeth.

Medicines are freely available for minor ailments at drug stores.

The quality of the hospitals in Taiwan is excellent and on par with those found in the West. Legal residents with a National Health Card can avail themselves of the very convenient and efficient national health service, which covers treatment and medication using both Western and traditional Chinese medicine. However, this service is not available to short term visitors on tourist visas; nor does it cover major hospitalization expenses

Cultural

Taiwan shares several cultural taboos with other East Asian nations.

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Do not stick your chopsticks straight up or even sticking into your bowl of rice. This is reminiscent of incense sticks at a temple, and has connotations of wishing death upon those around you. When putting down chopsticks, either place them on the provided porcelain chopstick rest (at fancier restaurants) or rest the chopsticks across the top of your bowl.

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Some Taiwanese are superstitious about anything connected with dying - unlucky things should never be mentioned.

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Do not write people's names in red. This again has connotations of death. When writing someone's English name, this is not a problem, but avoid writing Chinese names in red.

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Do not whistle at night. This is an "invitation to ghosts".

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Do not point at cemeteries or graves. This is also an "invitation to ghosts".

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There are numerous taboos dictating that certain objects shouldn't be given to others, often because the word for that object sounds like another unfortunate word:

~6~

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