A Funny Sort of Safety Warning

The smaller streets and alleys in my neighborhood are known in Thai as soi (pronounced like “soy”). Many of them have no proper footpaths and pedestrians wobble along uneven pavement, avoiding traffic and obstacles as best they can. Around the corner from our condo is a utility pole whose guy wires rise almost invisibly from the concrete, forming a hazard that is hard to see when approached head-on.

Recently as I passed by, I noticed that some civic-minded person had tied two plastic bags to the wires at about eye level, increasing their visibility dramatically. This is the sort of MacGyver-like fix that I see frequently. A concrete utility hole cover breaks? Someone will place a stick into the hole with an empty plastic bottle on it as a warning to others. If a truck or bus breaks down on the road, someone will cut a small branch from a tree and stick it in the tailpipe of the vehicle, a green flag indicating the vehicle’s predicament. These sorts of solutions are interesting to see as they seem telling about how Thais approach problems given the limited resources available.

Signs of Health

While in Taipei, I observed this sign:


Looking at it for a few moments, I realized that comparing this sign to the common one used in the US to convey the same meaning says a lot about the eating habits of the two countries’ populations.

US “No food or drink” sign

What’s the difference?  Look at the symbol used to represent “food” – in Taiwan it is an apple, in the US it is a hamburger.

When it comes to relative rates of obesity, that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?