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The supersexy Betelnut sellers of Taiwan

In the streets of Taiwan you can see well-lit booths with neon signs and sexy women, usually wearing mini skirts and high heels, sitting behind a counter or even standing in the street waiting for customers. When some cars park, they will meet them and talk to the driver, leaning against the window on the passenger side. At first glance, these women appear to be prostitutes, negotiating a few hours of sex, but they are only selling chewing gum. Not the traditional chewing gum we are accustomed to seeing people chew, but rather betels, a compound made from the seed of the Areca palm ( Areca catechu ), a palm that is found in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

The betel name comes from the plant that produces betel pepper (Piper betle), and is often erroneously referred to as betel nut , because it is almost always consumed in combination with the leaves from the pepper plant. In Asian countries, such a combination is called Binlang . Often, the same women who sell the betels or binlang produce them in these cabins, where they roll Areca's seed with a little natural lime in a leaf of the betel pepper. Often spices, tobacco and sweeteners are added to enhance the flavor, and so are known as quid. The preparation varies between countries and cultures and natural lime promotes the release of stimulant alkaloids. Such combination of ingredients stimulates saliva production and is responsible for its reddish color. This is being consumed in East Africa, Pakistan, India, Asia and Oceania, by almost 10% of the world population and handling billions of dollars annually.

The betel gives people a boost equivalent to six cups of coffee and is popular with workers at construction sites, fishermen or drivers who need to stay awake for many hours, but the benefits are short-lived. It is also widely used by women and children and  is easily recognized by the abundant flow of red saliva that stains the lips and teeth.

The most important active principles of betel are arecaine and arecoline. These alkaloids have their effects so much that along with nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, it is regarded as one of the most popular behavioral altering substances in the world. Areca nut has been used since antiquity and has taken on important roles in social, cultural and even religious contexts. Users generally feel that it does not harm their health and says they feel a sense of well-being, euphoria and a pleasant warmth in their bodies.

But the facts point in the opposite direction. In addition to leaving stained teeth, it often causes gum disease, not to mention that consumption is related to a type of cancer called oral squamous cell carcinoma, which can reach the back of the throat. In Taiwan, for example, about 85% of cases of oral cancer are from betel maskers. Authorities in the drug field believe that one of the betel alkaloids can be addictive. To get an idea, some users will chew 50 beers a day! In Taiwan, where bêteles are known as "chewing gum," the government is taking steps to contain this secular habit and reduce the thousands of lives lost each year. In some Asian countries, it is a symbol of love, marriage and marriage and also used as a cure for indigestion and impotence.

The tradition of wearing sensually dressed women is unique to Taiwan and they are known as " Binlang Mei " or " Betelnut Girls ". This practice began in the 1960s at the Shuangdong Betel Nut Stand in Nantou County, Taiwan, a trade show specializing in areca nuts that used girls who were known as "Shuangdong Girls" to promote the event. The success was so much that shopkeepers followed suit, and the tradition of wearing women in short suits made nut sales explode year after year.In Taiwan there are more than 70,000 booths with the Betelnuts Girls as vendors and they have become virtually a tourist attraction in the country. Most of the customers are truck drivers and male taxi drivers attracted by the stimulants and semi-naked girls who sell them. These women are usually of poor family, but they earn more by selling to the nuts than if they worked as waitresses or sellers of other products. Authorities have been struggling to stifle girls' costumes in recent years. The more conservative see women in provocative outfits as morally degrading, while police blame them for the traffic crashes caused in the vicinity of the cabins.(Consequently, nut sellers openly flashing their lingerie has become a common sight, which has caused an affront among the more conservative Taiwanese people.).In order to protect the girls and reduce the stigma attached to the trade, a stricter dress code has been enforced which requires breasts, buttocks and bellies to be covered.In 2007, Betelnuts Girl s were banned from selling nuts within the Taipei capital boundaries and as consumption fell sharply, the government backtracked and created a more stringent code of conduct on clothing that was not well accepted by women And they remained grouped next to the avenues outside the city limits or not respecting such rules.

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