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Home » Articles » Destinations » Asia » The Betel Nut
The Betel Nut
Submitted by Anonymous on 2008-03-08 13:12:04 (via
Regular use of the nutty stimulant, the betel nut, stains the mouth, tongue, gums and teeth a deep red color. Excessive use causes inebriation and dizziness. Long term use damages the teeth and soft tissue of the mouth. The nut also produces excess saliva and tears!
6  votes
Submit Your Vote   |   Add Comment      6 comments   |   Topic: Taiwan  
Submitted by irriewel1402 on 2008-03-27 12:38:30
As a foreigner working and living in Taiwan, I've seen hundreds of people with this red colored mouth "syndrome", as my friends and I call it. But it's not just the mouths of users that are stained. All over the streets you can see red patches where motorcyclists discarded (read spit out) the remainders of their betel nuts. It hasn't happened to me (thank goodness), but I know of another foreigner that literally got caught in one of these "spit outs" when she was standing close to the road. All in all, probably not a good habit, surely not good for mouth hygiene, and the spitting part is definately not something most foreigners would like see!
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Submitted by ieuandolby on 2008-03-27 12:47:05
The worst for me is when a taxi driver opens his doors, collects his thoughts and gobs a massive red streak out onto the road. He then wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, accompanied by a large sniff and then starts to concentrate on his driving again! The smell in the taxi is potent too - and not in a nice way
Submitted by Luo on 2008-03-28 04:16:54
I have lived in Taiwan for 6 years and one of my scariest taxi rides was with a driver who at every stoplight had to open the door and spit. The sidewalks in places have red spots which at first i thought was someone's blood... but betel nut (bin lang in Chinese or sometime called Taiwan chewing gum) is harmless by itself. The government people I was with once stopped at one of the small shacks with cute girl wearing a miniskirt and bought a package - plain. it looked and tasted like bitter acorns. If you have the urge for red teeth, the cute girl will take the nut, skin it, cut into it and put slaked lime into the cut, then wrap the whole thing with a leaf of the betel pepper climber. They're sold in what seem to be cigarette packs with (again) pictures of girls. I now live in the Philippines which has many betel trees, but for some reason, the locals have never figured out that they can have a free replacement for cigarettes.
Submitted by christine on 2008-03-28 09:20:37
The first thing that came into my mind when I first read the article was that these betel-nut beauties have a certain affinity with the infamous red-light district in Amsterdam. Is the commerce of betel nut evolving into international sex-tourism?
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Submitted by ieuandolby on 2008-03-28 10:07:42
Not evolving I wouldn't say. It has been there for centuries and is well established. In fact countries like Malaysia it is all but disappearing whilst in Taiwan it remains part of a strong feature of everyday life.
Submitted by dino32bobo on 2008-03-30 19:05:00
as a taiwanese, the story is so amazing .and some relatives of mine are betel nut eater ,i 've asked why they want to eat that,they said betel nut replased coffee. although it do more damage to our body.beside my relatives have different workspace .and buying someone betel nut is for social .the way they show their friendship. in normal condition,it is hard to resist
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