Summer in Taipei brings a host of foot-related problems to those of us used to wearing socks and dress shoes all year round, including skin problems, fashion issues and unfortunate odors!
Wearing dress shoes and socks in Summer here is almost impossible to bear at times because it’s 35C outside, and the shoes are on your feet all day if you work in an office. If you wear shoes and socks like that, you will almost certainly get some skin problems on your feet.
Worse, though, are the sneakers which become impossibly smelly if you wear them frequently here. The bacteria in your feet somehow leech into the lining of the sneakers, combine with the moisture of the sweat, and find a great breeding ground.
Both of these problems are accentuated in Taipei by the custom of taking off shoes when you enter someone’s house. This can be HUGELY embarrassing if you have been outside for the better part of the day and/or you’ve been wearing sneakers or shoes.
So what’s the alternative? Well if you wear sandals like Naot products, you will eliminate some of the ‘issues’ mentioned. But the sandals worn by foreigners tend to be informal, and we can unintentionally wear the wrong kind of sandals (also called flip-flops) and cause offense to hosts, customers or visitors. Additionally, choosing sandals of any kind can expose your feet to hazards on the road that shoes would normally protect you from: such as stubbing your toes painfully or gashing them on some protruding items (I’ve done both).
There’s no easy answer to finding decent footwear in Taiwan, but considerations of weather, transportation and occasion will help you to choose an appropriate pair of shoes for your ten-toed friends.