Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oh, Betel Nut Girl... What to Do with You?

Betel nut, the seed of the Betel Palm, is big business all through Southeast Asia. Estimates claim the industry nets an annual NT (Taiwan Dollar) 100 billion. (That's a lot of yucky disgusting red puddle spit all over the sidewalks!)
Betel nut is wrapped in the areca leaf, topped with this sick looking mayonnaise paste, and chewed without swallowing by almost every dude in this country. Taxi drivers grinning with blood on their gums, truck drivers rolling down windows and spewing mouthfuls of dripping juice on your shoes, old men in parks grunting and sloshing their red gums... it's pretty awful...
Then there's the bin-lan girls!
Scantily clad women, mostly in bikinis or short skirts and colorful padded bras, dotting the landscape popping up on street corners and roadside stops. In 2002, excessive nudity was banned within Taipei... but that doesn't stop these girls from making a living. Oh... betel nut is also a known carcinogen, and Taiwan has one of the highest rates of mouth and throat cancer in Asia... Now... I love oddities, but I'm just saying!

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