Saturday, October 27, 2012


Everyone wants to move from the right to the left.
I started out on the right, and am not sure how I feel about having made the jump to the left.

I've been trying to formulate my thoughts on the wealth gap in Taiwan for some time now, and while I have many opinions, they're all just sort of swirling around incoherently at the moment - at least in English.

Then, I blurted my thoughts out in Chinese on Facebook the other day, and it's probably the clearest thing I've said on the subject, and best captures my feelings. So I'll just use that.

我來台灣時就住在右邊,真的沒有錢,跟其他的在補習班教小朋友的老外一樣,老闆控制我的簽證。六年後,我是永久居留,比較有錢,人生不錯,資格和經驗也改善了才搬到左邊,現在真的可以說我住在天龍國。這個感覺好奇奇怪怪,當天龍國人是不是大家的夢想?但,可能有一點失散?台灣人工作的好努力,真的太努力,他們人生就是7-11的(早七晚十一,辦公室always open),為什麼我有足夠的錢住在那個左邊的天龍國,其他的比較努力的人不可能呢?天龍國現在是我的生活,需要記得我愛台灣,但全台灣不是天龍國,大部分也是右邊的。還需要抗議為了改善勞動薪水,台灣人生活水平,勞動法


Anonymous said...

Translation, please

Jenna Cody said...

"Sky Dragon Country" (天龍國)is a new, slang term (from a cartoon show I believe) to describe a place where everyone has money and everything is shiny, rich, new and convenient, but there is an implication that that's all meaningless and it may look nice but it's not real, or not important, or it lacks a certain amount of heart. A lot of people from outside Taipei - some folks from the rest of Taiwan - call Taipei "Sky Dragon Country" because compared to the rest of Taiwan it is wealthier, cleaner, shinier, has more jobs (although I am not sure about that - there's always Hsinchu Science Park) and thanks to the MRT and good bus system is a lot more convenient to get around.

The division of wealth in Taiwan is most evident in its residences - take a look at the picture on the right (not so well-off) vs. left (upper class) and the difference is clear.

So the closest translation to what I said in Chinese is - when I first moved to Taiwan I lived (in a building like the ones) on the right. I had very little money, taught kids in a cram school (for what is considered a high hourly wage but poor benefits) and my boss controlled my visa. That's how most foreigners land in Taiwan. Now I'm a permanent resident, have better skills and qualifications and make pretty good money, and can afford a lifestyle similar to those who live on the left side of the photo. Our building is not as fancy, but we have all the amenities the folks on the left have and expect. So we now live in "Sky Dragon Country". It's everyone's dream to jump from the right (side of the picture) to the left, but isn't it easy to lose touch? To start to think that that's really Taiwan? It's not, and it's important not to forget that. People who work harder than me - from 7 to 11 (pun on 7-11 which as you know is ubiquitous in Taiwan), their offices "always open" - still live on the right, so how is it that I live on the left? So, it's important to keep fighting and protesting for better working hours, higher salary and stronger labor laws in Taiwan because it's not fair that people work that hard and still can't make the jump.