Thursday, March 11, 2010


Betel nut girl in Banqiao

3/11/2010 Taiwan Explorer

The betel nut (or areca nut or bīn láng in Chinese) is a very popular nut in most parts of Asia and also in Taiwan. The tradition of chewing this nut is very long and dates many thousands years back (more about it here). But what's uniquely Taiwanese are the so called betel nut beauties or girls (in Chinese: 檳榔西施, pronounced bīn láng xī shī), girls who sell betel nuts, drinks and cigarettes near the main roads in all Taiwanese cities and towns. Usually guys (bus and truck drivers) stop with their cars and the girl will come and bring them whatever they choose to buy (you can see that on my photo).

These girls are famous in Taiwan, but also somewhat controversial, because some of them wear very skimpy outfits with strong make-up. Their sexy look is intended to attract the predominantly male costumers. I heard that in some parts in Southern Taiwan, they dress even sexier than the girl above (only underwear and bra), which is not allowed. So when the police come, they would quickly put up something decent and when they leave, they take it off again.

I've passed by that girl and there were other shops as well. I saw few girls inside, who looked like they are going to a night club - they really looked hot. It was my first time seeing this phenomenon in real and it was a very interesting experience.