Creative challenge: the essential Taiwan

I recently stumbled across the following poem by George Orwell:

[quote=“Orwell: Poem on Prostitution”] When I was young and had no sense
In far-off Mandalay
I lost my heart to a Burmese girl
As lovely as the day.

Her skin was gold, her hair was jet,
Her teeth were ivory;
I said, “for twenty silver pieces,
Maiden, sleep with me”.

She looked at me, so pure, so sad,
The loveliest thing alive,
And in her lisping, virgin voice,
Stood out for twenty-five.[/quote]

For awhile, in a like manner, I have been trying to capture the essence of Taiwan, or the ex-pat experience in Taiwan. But I haven’t yet got it right. I have read some very good aphorisms and all sorts of clever, punny posts–and didn’t find what I was after–so I thought why not throw out a challenge?

Best expression of the essence of Taiwan, or the ex-pat experience in Taiwan-- gets a drink on me next HH (my first). Pick your medium (photos are cool), your style (short-story, poem, aphorism, whatever). Glory, and booze, to the victor.



Will you define “best”?

I’m thinking that people experience Taiwan in dramatically different ways. Is your assumption here is that there is a universal truth to the Taiwan experience? I don’t believe a single universal truth about the foreigner’s experience in Taiwan exists (e.g. most people like water dumplings, but some do not; most people prefer sit-down toilets, but some prefer squatters), and the Taiwan experience is largely dictated by one’s perception of self.

Still, I think this is a worthy challenge, one that I have tried, and failed to meet on several ocassions through my writings. I’ll get the ball rolling/chum the waters by relating an experience I had a few years ago while attending a five-hour business dinner/whiskey fest in Miao Li:

After a dozen or so well-heeled local businesspeople and their wives had arrived in various automobiles of German make, we sat down to a tableful of assorted Hakka appetizers, all local favorites. The conversation kept pace with the new dishes being served and the whiskey being slammed; political views were shared, business predictions were made, humor both high and low-brow was exchanged. We ate with gusto, smacking our lips, belching, stopping to smoke cigarettes from time to time. About halfway through the meal, a large tinfoil saucepan was presented to the table, eliciting ohs and ahs from the men and women in attendance. What I saw was a dish light-brown in color, obviously meat of some kind with a rich sauce, still boiling as it was placed on the table. The fellow next to me, a multi-millionare factory owner, took the scoop inside the pan, filled it, and said to me (in English) “This chicken balls and pig balls. Good for man!,” adding in Mandarin something to the effect that eating such a dish would allow me to fuck like a tiger. I smiled and said “This man okay. No thank you.”

Later, they sent the women home and brought in dancing girls, some of whom soon became nude dancing girls. I enjoyed singing the obligatory two or three Mando-pop songs, and won a fight to keep my pants on (one of the rascals among them had paid six girls to attack me and get my pants off of me). I went back to my hotel drunk off my ass. There was a married engineer from Spain in attendance as well; he was scared to death for most of the evening, I think. Except for the chicken and swine testicles, I loved every minute of it.

hmmm… nope. :slight_smile: I’m invoking the Justice Stewart rule: I’ll know it when I see it. (And I want to leave myself open to being surprised.) I was hoping for something between Orwell’s poem, an Oscar Wilde aphorism, and an Eddie Adams photo. Something that would give folks back home an idea or three about what life here is like. Among other worthies, Jdsmith’s witty summations and Imaniou’s clever definitions led me to believe that I might be able to hook a really big one… maybe I need better bait… maybe I’m fishing in the wrong pond.

Sure, sure, you’re right, there’s no one definitive ‘Taiwan experience.’ On the other hand, I’ve recently been contemplating doing a photo essay by snapping shots of all the foreigner guys I pass on the street who are all unique in just the same way as I. Seeing them walk by I alternatively hear Monty Python’s Life of Brian-- Brian: “You’re all individuals!” Multitude: “Yes, we’re all individuals!”–and the closing lines of Mark Twain’s Advice to Youth: "Build your character thoughtfully and painstakingly upon these precepts, and by and by, when you have got it built, you will be surprised and gratified to see how nicely and sharply it resembles everybody else

(Quoted post is[url=

[Edit:] Example of Idol:

Walking In Taipei


Wow, wasn’t this an incredibly unpopular thread. :frowning:
Oh well, cheers to the three who gave it a shot.
I’ll try to make it to Tuesday’s Happy Hour, so barring any last minute entries (ha!), or problems making it there, Fox, you’ve got a brew on me.
Thanks to Tomas and xp+10k.