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Queer Clothing Store in Taipei

From the Series: How to Travel on a Social Worker’s Salary…

Belief #1: I am Not Poor

Belief #2: Simplify Vacations at Home to Travel Abroad

When I travel in the US, viagra I never stay at hotels. Your average hotel in a big city can cost $200 a night. That is like ten nights in a hostel in Chile or four nights in a high end hotel in Kenya! I just can’t justify such a high expense on top of rental cars and restaurant expenses. My vacation days in the States are spent locally in California, web in a tent, in a friend’s extra room, or in a shared rented vacation home.

This year, Jenni and I have had many memorable vacations in a tent. You make a $100 investment on a lifetime guaranteed tent from REI, and you have your first vacation home. We are big hikers, so we spent our vacations days this summer at Yosemite, Santa Cruz, and Guerneville. Why pay for an expensive hotel room with a view when you can camp in the middle of the view? There is nothing like the outdoors to feel like you’ve gotten away. And the group camping spots are usually only around $20 a night. When we go camping, we often spend less than we would at home in the city so it actually turns out to be a way to save as well.

Another memorable vacation was one we took at home. One three-day weekend, our close friends Krista and Gilda wanted to go away with us. We looked for affordable getaways but could not find any reasonable accommodations. So, we had a stay-cation. Krista and Gilda stayed in our guest room and we spent the weekend going to different places in our San Francisco neighborhood that we never had time to explore. We visited the local irish pub, made fools of ourselves at a karaoke bar down the street, checked out the neighborhood coffee shop, and ended the night cooking together and sharing a meal at home.  It reminded me that the best parts of vacation are spending time with friends.

Lastly, we had three weekends this year in rented vacation homes. I love vacation rentals by owner. A lot of times the owner would rather rent a place to you at a discount than let the place stay vacant. We had vacations in Tahoe, Mendocino, and Napa for around $60 a night per couple. If you have friends that you enjoy vacationing with, you can save yourself a bundle.

Remember, this isn’t not about seeing how cheap you can be while in the States. Its about vacationing more simply in an expensive economy to live more extraordinarily on a vacation abroad!

The first question that I get from people when I tell them about my round the world trip is “How can you possibly afford it?” This question is not surprising because after all, viagra I am a social worker. Everybody knows that I do not make a lot of money.

I try to convince myself that my bleeding heart is satisfied in the field of social work when I get my small paycheck, case despite the fact that I earn half the salary of my college friends in tech and finance fields. The funny thing, though, is that of all my friends I have the most stamps in my passport. How can this possibly be?

Here are my secrets on how to have more passport stamps than any of your friends while living off of a social worker’s salary. I’ve accepted international travel with five solid beliefs…..

Belief #1: I Am Not Poor

Even though my salary is around the same as the garbage collectors of San Francisco, I am still in the top 1% of wealthiest people in the world. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true! If you check out the Global Rich List and type in your salary, you’ll see that you are in the top 1% of most wealthy people in the world as well. According to the World Bank, the bottom 85% percent of the world lives off of $2,182 per year. Don’t you now feel rich? That is exactly how the majority of the world sees you.

As a wealthy social worker, I try to view the world from a perspective that my glass is half full. In fact, it is overflowing. No matter what, I know that I will never go hungry. That is one stress I have never known. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed, and one-third is starving. I would say that like most Americans, I am not only well-fed but overfed. When I recently tracked my calories, I was horrified to discover that I regularly consume twice the amount my body needs. Not surprisingly, when I eat healthy portions and food, I also spend less. I’m trying now to skip the $5 venti latte and think of it as a full meal somewhere in China. I not only avoid the calories, but I don’t miss the latte when I think about the Peking duck dinner I will have on my trip.

Traveling in the developing world, you learn quickly that you are not poor and that you hold power that most of the world will never know. We all love those moments when we are abroad and get to buy a cocktail for $1 and think to ourselves, “This is awesome. I would pay $7 in San Francisco for this.” We tend not to want to think about the socioeconomic injustice as to why the cocktail is only $1. So, I say, see the world as half full, continue the social work that promotes economic justice, and enjoy the $1 cocktail.

Stayed tuned for Belief #2 next week…..
Lisa first stumbled upon the Love Boat Shop last year when she was googling for queer clothing shops. Its slim pickings out there for butches, search transguys, page tomboys and any gal who wants to fit into fashionable men-styled clothing. It appears that in the States, if you happen to be born with a female body and you don’t want to wear butt-tight jeans or shirts with boob darts, you’re relegated to cargo pants and t-shirts. There are some small labels out there aimed at queer women, but even the most promising one – Rigged Outfitters, whose clothing line was prominently featured on L Word – has not been able to survive.

So, imagine my surprise to find such a store in the unlikeliest places –the tiny island country of Taiwan. Owned by a transguy and established in 2005, the Love Boat is Taiwan’s first (and only) fashion and lifestyle shop dedicated to the queer community. Much of their merchandise is produced by local queers and includes trendy suit jackets and vests, casual fitted button-ups, graphic t’s, boy underwear (for girl bodies), chest-binding bras, hand-crafted leather “man”-bags, and my favorite: shoe-lifts for the vertically challenged butch.

Olivia and Kitty working at the store

I finally had a chance to pay a visit last month. A boyishly handsome girl with buzzed hair and a petite frame stood at the counter – Olivia, it turned out, not only worked the sales counter at the Love Boat but also doubled as their fashion model. In Taiwan, Olivia would be classified as a “T”, a tomboy or butch. The femme term is “P” which comes from the Chinese word for wife, or “po.” From my experiences in the mainland Chinese gay scene, it appeared that the classifications between Ts and Ps were quite strict. T’s wouldn’t have been caught dead dating another T, and they were overly macho and masculine. I was glad to hear from Olivia that in Taipei, the labels were much more flexible. Being T, Olivia explained, was more about self-identification than how you looked.

The Love Boat wasn’t particularly profitable, but the owner felt that it was too important a part of the community to close down. More than a clothing store, the Love Boat also served as a network for queers and related groups, including a lesbian tarot reading service which I had the opportunity to receive. I did a little Christmas shopping for Lisa, who I know will be excited to be receiving some shirts that actually fit.


Where: 1F, No.7-14, Alley 8, Lane 210, Sect. 3, Roosevelt Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan

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