Chaotic Order vs Tranquil Organization

Toto, I have feeling we’re not in Shanghai anymore! 

Palm trees? Clean air? No blaring horns? And “excuse me” ‘s? What is this?? Where am I??

Surely not Shanghai.

Who knew a two-hour flight across the East China sea rests an island of total tranquility? A mere 427 miles and you escape the merciless city of Shanghai and are transported to the serene scene of Taipei. Immediately after our arrival, evidence of distinctions was everywhere. From the use of traditional characters, to the immense Japanese influence, the essence of Taiwanese uniqueness is even visually clear. But what was truly astonishing was the level of civil order that contributes to Taipei’s overall peaceful atmosphere. The stark differentiation between Shanghai and Taipei is largely cemented in this distinctive civil behavior.

At no other place have I ever experienced an entire population of modern urban citizens all abiding to the law. Contrastingly, as my fellow classmate, Lincoln Davidson, previously noted, China is a country that operates on the idea: rules that aren’t rules. Taiwan on the other hand, has explicit instructions everywhere and everyone follows them. Lining up in the correct location in the metro; waiting patiently for the passengers to descend; and fastening your seatbelt in the taxi all demonstrate Taiwan’s orderly virtue.  In Taipei, I could let my guard down; I felt no need to constantly be on the defensive. The transportation system and public facilities were all clean and orderly. Stealing apparently was not an issue either.  One evening, I witnessed two school girls leave their book bags at a table they intended to occupy with no concern of thievery at a food court. If this isn’t the closest model of a utopian city, I don’t know what is.

Don’t get me wrong; I am city girl. I love the hustle and bustle of the busy streets and thrive off the sensation of urgency. And of course consumerism is my drug of choice, but with the introduction to Taipei, I question why other metropolises cannot follow suit? Taipei has all the glitz and glamour of city conveniences without the stress. Prior to our visit, I did not believe words such as “serene” and “tranquil” could be associated with any city.

But is this reality? Is it that I am blinded by the outwardly aesthetics that I cannot really see what’s going on? I am at a loss on how this sense of tranquility is feasible in a major metropolis. What secrets does this little island carry to maintain such perfect order? Even with the brewing political tensions under the surface, there is simply no evidence of upheaval or distress. Perhaps it will take more than just four days in Taiwan to fully grasp what’s really going on, but it is undoubtedly a place where’d I love to call home.