Face masks

face mask.JPG

This larger than life ad, on display in Taipei at the corner of Dunhua and Nanjing Dong Lu, is via this excellent blog. Click to make it even bigger.

In America, unless you are in a hospital, it is rare (to say the least) to come across someone wearing a face mask. In Asia, it’s very different. Many, many people of all ages don face masks here for a number of reasons, such as fear of pollution or when they have a cold. The first few times I encountered someone wearing one, it was a shock. Now, it never raises an eyebrow. Like running into people clad in pajamas walking down a crowded street in downtown Shanghai at lunch hour, it’s something you quickly get used to.

I do have to say, I have never seen so many people wearing face masks as I have in Taiwan. Our office administrator actually keeps a box of face masks in her desk, just in case. Don’t ask “In case of what?” I have no idea.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

some stores also keep lots of stock just in case of sth happen and they can make a big profit from it

January 8, 2006 @ 9:30 pm | Comment

It actually works like this: 1) to prevent germs spreading should involuntary sneazing of cough occur; 2) breathing warmer air under the mask alleviate some of the discomfort of the upper respiratory infection or sinus congestion.

January 8, 2006 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

When I went to Tokyo one winter the number of face masks really surprised me. I was told that a lot of the folks were wearing them to prevent themselves from catching a cold, rather than to stop spreading one. I doubt they’re terribly effective in either case.

January 9, 2006 @ 9:18 am | Comment

I’d keep a lot of face masks in my top drawer too if I was permanently situated across the strait from China.

January 9, 2006 @ 9:59 am | Comment

Those masks were nothing new. While attending college in 1975 or so in Tainan, I was asked one day to sit in as a guide to give tour of the town for a few vacationing American GI’s. Just from the questions they asked, I knew their views of the place were very different from us locals. To them, every little things seemingly supported their idea that this was a police state. It was funny only for a while. We, at our age, were free to roam and pretty much do whatever young people wanted to do, of course, did not feel that was the case at all. While we stood at a street corner in that brisk winter morning, one of them asked why so many motorcyclists zipping by us wore those cotton masks. (There was no helmet law then.) I could tell this person didn’t believe me one bit when I said they wore them to keep the cold air from running up their noses. He was trying hard to come up with his own explanation, looked up and down the street to see if there was a checkpoint or something. Needless to say, there were none. I don’t know why, but I always remember this little exchange.

January 9, 2006 @ 9:45 pm | Comment

That’s really cute story, Yahdo.

January 10, 2006 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

The cotton masks are used to prevent from catching the cold (especially during SARS period) and the cold winter air alright. but the main reason is to prevent from the very bad air quality in most Taiwan cities. there is a huge difference if you wear a mask, that way the exhaust fumes from the traffic will not go directly to your face. Just imagine while you’re waiting for the traffic light, the car/scooter in front of you keeps emit grayish smoke onto your face and you have to hold you breath. I tell you it’s not a very pleasant to experience.

If your friend or any Taiwanese explained the purpose of using the face mask, why not just believe him/her?

January 14, 2006 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

I never said I question their reasons for wearing face masks. I just found iy jarring the first few times I saw people wearing them on the street and to work. Now it doesn’t catch my attention.

January 14, 2006 @ 7:02 pm | Comment

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