Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reasons #18 and #19 to Love Taiwan

Hey, look at the foreigner!

#18 - the way traditional practice and modernity collide in vaguely amusing ways. It is not all that uncommon to see one of the Eight Generals (bajiajiang) toting a cell phone, or see an idol being transported by MRT or high-speed rail.

#19 - the amazing friendliness of people, beyond the usual guidebook platitudes of how friendly the Taiwanese are. Yesterday in my Big Serious Work Thing I had someone say that she didn't really like Taipei - she had studied in Tainan and found that people from Taipei were, in her opinion, rude.

As someone who has lived in Washington, DC, I do find that what constitutes good manners in Taiwan is completely different and sometimes annoying (that slow sidewalk shuffle thing is a personal pet peeve) but I feel it's not at all true that people in Taipei are "rude".

The other day, I was chatting with Mrs. Zhou, our Stinky Tofu Lady (yes, we have one) and mentioned that we have two microwaves and a printer, all broken, that need to be discarded...but we don't know how to get rid of them. I wasn't expecting help or even advice (although advice would have been nice), and yet what was her reply?

"Oh just bring them to me. I take broken appliances to A-Po. Do you know A-Po down the street?"

"I know a lot of women who could be called A-Po but not the person you mean, I think."

"Well, she takes this stuff and sells it for scrap. Just bring it to me - I'll give it to her."

Seriously, even if Mrs. Zhou is going to get some spare change for the broken electronics, who cares? How many people in the USA would respond with "hey, I'll take care of your broken stuff for you!"? Any at all?

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