In Taiwan you'll notice that many people will be wearing masks. These masks are usually for protecting them from exhaust and other forms of pollution while driving scooters or motorcycles. They are made out of cloth and look similar to a surgeons mask.
Taiwan is a beautiful island for the most part. But the west coast is generally not so beautiful. It's plains and mostly urban and covered in cement. And it's here where you will want to wear a mask. Scooters are great fun and they are convenient to own, but they are a major cause of pollution in Taiwan.
So people usually wear these masks while driving on their scooter or motorcycle. If you have a scooter I'd recommend one as the streets can get pretty filthy and inhaling large particles of dust, dirt and exhaust is not so good for your health.
Some people also wear these masks out on the street while walking around. Perhaps they want to protect themselves from pollution or maybe from catching a cold. They may also wear them to protect themselves from airborne illnesses such as SARS. The last outbreak of SARS was around 2002-2004 in Hong Kong, Taiwan and parts of China. There is not really any danger in catching it these days, but it might not have been completely eradicated.
You can buy these masks in the local convenience store. Popular convenience stores in Taiwan are Family Mart and 7-Eleven. They often come in some cheesy and tacky designs, like pinks and plaids and some have Hello Kitties on them.
So if you're in Taiwan or going then I would get a mask especially if you're planning on driving a scooter. I even made my own mask once to fully prepare me to return to Taiwan.
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