We were coming out of my aunt and uncle’s apartment in Taipei, when we heard Für Elise wafting out of a narrow alley.
Despite it being dark and 9pm, people streamed towards the source of the noise — a large green truck. The men hanging off the back of the truck cheerfully grabbed the bags off my aunt and uncle’s neighbours and tossed them into the back.
‘What’s that?’ we asked.
‘That’s how rubbish is collected,’ my cousin said. ‘When you hear the music, you bring your rubbish and recycling out.’
In the city of Tainan, we ran into a late night convoy of three trucks playing Greensleeves, with the words ‘Voted best garbage truck 2012’ emblazoned on the sides.
‘When the first garbage trucks to be incorporated into the scheme took the streets of Tainan on Monday, the dulcet tones of “How are you?” and “I’m fine. Thank you” sounded the beginning of the nation’s — if not the world’s — first foreign language-teaching trash collection program…
“We plan to have at least 24 trucks running the English lessons in October,” Hsieh said. “And of course, if it continues to prove popular this number could increase and eventually include all the city’s garbage trucks.”
‘To prove how easy it is for residents with no previous knowledge of the English language to learn the simple phrases, Tainan’s mayor held an impromptu examination on Tuesday. The test was hailed a huge success, with six garbage truck workers being sent to the top of the class after replying to the mayor’s “How are you?” in heavily accented, but correct English.’
I’m sad that I wasn’t quick enough to take photos of any of the musical rubbish trucks. As consolation, here are some other odd things we saw in Taiwan.