Tuesday, October 7, 2014

You Know You've Lived in Taiwan Too Long When...

...from a dare issued by Taiwan Explorer to match or surpass this post (which are personal thoughts, no judgement here).


You know you've lived in Taiwan too long when...

1.) You think of mayonnaise as a normal salad dressing. The salad contains corn, peaches, raisins and shrimp.

2.) You go to a 7-11 in your home country in your PJs, buy a can of beer, open it and drink it in the store, then try to take a nap in the store after asking if they received the package your friend sent you, and you are shocked - SHOCKED! - when the police show up.

3.) You just do. not. even. when your friends in your home country tell you that "street soda" (eg. drinking a beer as you loiter on the street) is actually illegal. HOW CAN THEY LIVE IN SUCH A DICTATORSHIP.

4.) You take universal health insurance for granted.

5.) When thinking about local political candidates, before you can make a decision on who you support, you need to know what their bubble-head cartoon avatar looks like.

6.) You have an entire closetful of protest gear: a red shirt, a "Taiwan Independence!" flag, a 火大 towel, several headbands, a fake sunflower, a sticker that says "I don't need sex, because President Ma fucks me every day!"...

7.) You tried to improve your listening comprehension by watching the Taiwanese news, but first you realize that the video playing has nothing to do with what they're discussing and it's messing with your schemata. Also your local friends tell you not to bother.

8.) You never buy tissues because you get them for free.

9.) When visiting home: "what do you mean I can't get a massage? It's only 10pm! There's got to be a blind guy who's still giving massages!"

10.) You have at least one buxiban horror story...even if you never worked at a buxiban (friends' stories count). Did I tell you about the time my boss told my coworker that she shouldn't date the guy who works in the tea shop downstairs because "you have so many corporate clients - why get a stone when you can get a diamond?"

11.) You now understand that nightlife options include bars, nightclubs, shopping for cell phone covers, karaoke, 7-11 and shrimp fishing.

12.) "I'm sorry I can't come, my grandma wants to have dinner" is now an acceptable reason to cancel on someone 3 hours before an event.

13.) When you hear about a fight breaking out in the Legislative Yuan, you launch into a story about what happened the last time a fight broke out in the Legislative Yuan.

14.) You have done at least one thing you would never, ever tell your parents back home. Because I love you, I will tell you mine. We (not my idea, but I was in on it) hired a stripper for my sister for her birthday. We took her to a KTV and he came out dressed like a police officer (not in the uniform that it's illegal to wear but like a traffic cop jacket) and we were all "There's someone you need to talk to...it's the...POLICE!"

But don't tell our parents.

15.) You have taken at least one trip to the countryside, randomly met some locals, and they invited you along on some adventure and you went, and it was the coolest thing ever and one of your best memories, and you never even learned their given names, but you think of them as basically your most awesome friends.

16.) It would not shock you at all to take one of the following taxis:
- inside covered completely in traditional Chinese fabric
- so much religious stuff on the dashboard that he basically has his own portable temple
- two words: pet goat
- one armed driver
- guy who spends the entire ride with his hands off the wheel ranting about how much he hates the president
- guy who covered the entire inside of his taxi with the tops of to-go soft drink cups layered over hand-wired LED displays blinking softly through the plastic (I'm not making that up)

17.) You live in Taipei, and someone from back home or in another city mentioned how they drove somewhere and you're all "Drive? What is...drive?"

18.) At least once, someone's been all "do you want to eat this duck tongue?" and you've been all "YES SIR!".

19.) You ask your students where they went on the weekend and the majority answer "I slept and I watched TV" although you know that can't be true because if everyone sleeps and watches TV all weekend, then why are all the tourist destinations so crowded?

The rest answer "Costco", and that makes sense.

20.) At least once, you have found out that some little town in, I dunno, Miaoli County is famous for this one agricultural product or food that is only in season for a few weeks a year, and the best of that product is found on one hill outside of town, and that one hill has one restaurant or farm that makes/grows it the best, and it's at its absolute best one weekend out of the year which everyone seems to know telepathically or something, and you actually go to that town at that time of year, with the rest of Taiwan, and you all stuff your face with it, and then you go home.

For us it was strawberries in Dahu.

21.) "Paisei" (排謝) is now your word for everything.
"I'm going to be late for work - paisei."
"I need to get out of this elevator - paisei!"
"Your Chinese isn't very good, actually." "PAISEI...asshole."
"No, you can't take my taxi, I'm waiting for someone who reserved." "Oh, paisei."
*bump* "Paisei, paisei!"
"Your homework for this weekend is..." "Awwww, teacher, no!" "Paisei! But you have to do homework!"
Back home in a Chinese restaurant: "Hey, you live in Taiwan. Can you read that calligraphy?" "No, that's some Wild Grass Ming Dynasty stuff." "Oh, I thought you spoke Chinese." "PAISEI."

22.) When you say "this restaurant/cab/dentist's office looks like something out of a kung fu movie", you mean it as a compliment.

23.) You now have "guanxi" (關係) and you understand what that means. Your life suddenly starts running very smoothly and you will never, ever do anything to screw that up even if you are really pissed off about something.

24.) You started out thinking "man, Taiwan is so far away from everything, you can't even get good whiskey here, just that Suntory crap" (or insert your imported product of choice here) but now will spend an hour talking to your student or local friend about good whiskey (or whatever) and the many places in Taiwan to get it. You once were blind but now you see.

25.) It is completely not weird to you that you use the post office like a bank and the 7-11 like a post office.

26.) Speaking of 7-11, you now understand it as less a store and more a lifestyle. You consider it an extension of your own house and regularly go in your PJs (and are not the worst-dressed person there). After buying what you want, you go back to that part of your house where you can not buy items for sale...i.e., your actual house.

27.) Your friends back home are all "I had to work overtime three times last month, the boss made us stay until 8pm, my boss is so mean" and you're all...

28.) You start to get the local jokes. Like, apparently there is a real guy whose name is Yang Gan-ning (I won't write it in Chinese just in case he Googles it and finds this blog - he's real) and at his company they usually introduce presenters firstname-lastname in the Western fashion, so they introduce him as "Gan-ning Yang". That is HILARIOUS to you, but all your friends who don't speak 台灣國語 don't get it at all.

29.) You seriously consider getting a tiny dog, naming it Doo-Doo, and carrying it around in a handbag, regardless of your gender.

30.) Pole dancing for the gods at temple festivals doesn't shock you at all. In fact, if you go to a temple festival and there's no guy hitting himself with a spiked club or pole dancers gyrating on Jeeps driving around town entertaining men, women, children, grandparents, priests, office workers & everyone else, you think that festival was "a little disappointing".

31.) This 'food truck' thing you've heard about back home sounds great, but you just can't get excited about it. As far as you're concerned, if it doesn't have a name like "East Mountain Duck Heads", "WOW! Frog Eggs!" or "Pig Miscellaneous Soup", it ain't shit. Also, does Portland or Brooklyn have a Beijing Duck Truck? Not yet? Well they suck.

(Actually, apparently these do exist in the USA, but the top result seems to be Los Angeles and you have to drive if you live in Los Angeles so it doesn't count).

Borrowed from here


I wanted to just link but the photo doesn't appear on the page...so here ya go:

33.) Your friends back home - when they finally figure out that Taiwan is neither Thailand nor is it in China - say something like "it must be so hard living in a country where they...treat women like that. Do they still force them into arranged child marriages and make them abort female fetuses after scrubbing floors all day?" and you're all, "bro, no. We've got a long way to go, for sure, but actually of every finance or investment company I've done training courses at, the General Manager has been female. And if not the GM, some other executive, usually the CFO. Women tend to run the household budgets even if they don't work, although many do, and of those, many do so because they want to and have highly professional jobs. A lot of women are choosing not to marry. Although there are issues with reporting and room for laws to be strengthened and better-enforced, there are a whole bevy of more-or-less effective laws that encourage gender equality. Taiwanese women have paid maternity leave, which is not something American women can say, and we almost elected a female president, whereas the US hasn't even managed to run a female candidate in the big race!"

34.) You've nearly been killed at least once by some jerk on a scooter passing a stopped bus on the right just as you were disembarking. You, uh, may or may not have thrown your water bottle at him, and called him a "douchewad".

35.) You've long since stopped trying to translate your favorite foods into English - because 油條 are delicious, but "grease sticks" are not.


36.) You come to understand that Chinese is an elegant, ancient language steeped in history, culture and proud tradition...

...and that it sucks, because you can't express many strong emotions in it, as it was standardized as a formal lingua franca for the linguistically fractured Chinese nation.

And you started out thinking that all those dorky tech guys in glasses who worked at, I dunno, Advance-Teck Industries Ltd. Hukou Branch were total wet blankets, until you found out that actually they're the best language resource there is to learn how to say what you really want to express in a language far better suited for it...Taiwanese (and that they aren't wet blankets at all).

Then you find out that there are actually a lot of great things you can say in Chinese if you start utilizing plays on words (who knew that if you deployed "chrysanthemum tea" correctly, that it could be taken to mean "anal juice", as in "that fifty-cent government shill is drinking Xi Jinping's chrysanthemum tea"?), and now you may well have the most colorful vocabulary in Greater China.

...or maybe that's just me.


Pierre said...

That's a pretty awesome list! Quite entertaining :)

A few comments:

16) I saw a taxi no later than last night blasting KTV while driving (he didn't have any customer, so he might as well enjoy a bit his driving, right?). It was the total stuff, with wired microphones, heavy echo and all. Oh and of course there was a loudspeaker so everyone outside could enjoy the amazing singer as well!

27) Well, your US friend might be whiny, but you have to admit spending 12 hours on Facebook a day at work just to show your boss you spend 12 hours in the office is not really a healthy life style... Everyone knows, but "it's always been like that so let's keep doing the same".

33) Who, who, who!!! A minute here... Taiwanese women have paid maternity leave, which is not something American women can say.. Don't compare Taiwan with the worst country in the World regarding maternity leave, please! Look at that World map, and don't tell me Taiwan maternity leave is great, because it's actually shorter than in China!

Jenna Lynn Cody said...

Well, remember that when I go back to the USA and talk to people who comment on where I live, that my home country is the USA and therefore of course I'd compare it to the USA.

I also think office culture on the Pacific Rim is unhealthy...I wasn't saying "call the waaambulance" to imply that what they do in Taiwan is so much better, because it's not. It's - objectively, I think - worse. The point was more "you think you have it bad? Yeah. you don't."

Raymond Lee said...

Very interesting and insightful observation !

Yuan Huntington said...

#21 had me howling. Lmao.