Foreigners who fear other Foreigners

For the Unfazed,

You have seen the ads posted by some defunct Foreign Nationals who have a problem with the small population of descendents from countries who’s National holiday doesn’t involve two tens. You have heard the moans about the influx of “other” foreigners arriving in Taiwan and of course you have witnessed the like who complain about such matters which in itself answers the sought after “Why?” question.

When walking the streets most foreigners tend to acknowledge the others presence whether it be a verbal greeting, nod of the head or a simple smile. Then you have the foreigners who outright disregard your cordial greeting after making obvious eye-contact and after said greeting was offered there way.

A variety of reasons could be garnered for this affliction of avoidance and verbal contempt involving the foreign passport holders. Some of these elitist types left there home country on an adventure and whether it be an interest in Taiwan’s culture, an interest in educating the young, an interest in language, an interest in money whatever it was the bottom line was they arrived in Taiwan and those that we speak of didn’t leave. The “I was here first” syndrome got into there heads and now all they feel is an exaggerated resentment towards all others who probably for one reason or another initially came hear for the same reasons. These individuals put themselves up upon a pedestal for their reasons of “I have been here longer than you” when in the beginning it was all about new adventures, new experiences and somewhere along the way it was lost in a sea that flows of black hair and Taiwan beers.

While in your home country, one doesn’t stand out unless your doing something a little over the top with your language, attitude or attire. Here, most foreign passport holders stand out more than an ecstasy user at a Taiwan Policeman’s Ball, while doing nothing remotely “criminal.” With an influx of other Foreigners, the ones who stand out and love this new found attention are finding themselves in a near saturated market and henceforth the negativity.

Now take the male Foreigners, who have found themselves with an attractive looking Chinese girlfriend and whether it be looks and/or attitude realize that if they were back in their homeland, would have to sever an appendage or two for even her autograph. You have seen this guy before. Maybe in the MRT, maybe in a pub, maybe walking down the street, but when you make eye contact with the fellow you see the whites of his eyes. What is it? Fear. In his head he’s thinking “Oh no, another foreigner, come on man, I know I’m a loser, please don’t tell her, she thinks I’m cool.” And after you have passed, the fear is gone and this individual has stepped back into the room of contempt and frustration of others like “him.”

At the end of it all your going to meet people that you don’t get along with, but that is no reason to judge an entire group of foreigners. Every country you set foot in has a number of foreigners. Maybe this group has forgotten that many foreigners are here to make money to continue traveling or possible pay off school debt amid a host of other reasons. There are basically 3 countries in Asia where all this money can be made and Japan and South Korea are no different in there ammount of foreign numbers.

People of the world relax and this country and world will become a lot more friendlier. Get off your high horse and come to grips with others like you. You want a destination where your the only foreigner, try Enderby Land, Antartica. You’ll be the only foreigner alright, you’ll be the only person and that would probably bode well for the rest of us.

Just the other day, I met an American with his family in Carrefore near my place, and guess what, he actually said hi to me, and I was like wow, way cool man, like nobody said hi to me since I came here, except for that british chap livin’ in the same buildin’, but didn’t see him again, wonder what happened to him, 'n… yea… that was cool… I guess… ughh… uhhmm…whatever.

Yes, right to the point.

I live in Sanxia (Taipei County) and it is not to crowded with foreigners yet. I live here for 6 years now and came here on a regular basis since 1992 and never have this superiority feeling.

I regularly come across some foreigners on the streets but they don’t seem to be interested in greeting or meeting others except Taiwanese. I don’t know why. I guess they don’t want to be disturbed in absorbing Taiwanese culture and become one with the locale people.

I know from hear say that there are some South Africans that are teaching in local bushibans.
I know two foreigners that live here and have a Taiwanese spouse.
I have to admit that there or not to many places where people can go to meet and enjoy themselfs.

I’m open minded though, if they think they have to stay away from other foreigners to not form a foreign getto, well than they have to do it. It’s a pitty though, we can learn so much from each other’s experiences.

So, foreigners in Sanxia, next time you meet another foreigner, at least, say hi!

Anyway, I keep trying. I don’t mind. I’m always available for a good conversation.

I will only talk to foreign girls, and only if they’re hot and my gf isn’t around.

What is that guy on? Obviously no one wants to come near you cause they don’t have 10 hours to say hello. Does the word verbose mean anything to you?

But inside every ranting there’s a kernel of truth. Non-Taiwanren in Taiwan do have much in common and a simple nod of acknowledgement or a hello when passing on the sidewalk would be the natural, decent thing to do. Any foreigner who walks past without acknowledging that he/she is passing another foreigner is probably a stuck-up asshole with a superiority complex. Nuff said.

I think we had this subject before: why should I jump at every foreigner and say hello? I don’t do this at home and thus I don’t see any reason why I should do it here.

If someone nods or says “Hi” I will reply, if someone wants to do small-talk in the supermarket, fine. But it doesn’t have to be a foreigner and I am surely not afraid though I consider myself reserved and usually tend not to be the first to “make contact”.

Anyhow, shouldn’t it be up to each individual what he does in such a situation? If I (you) say hello to somebody else and they don’t respond then let it be - I for my part couldn’t care less about his/her reason for not doing so …

this issue comes up on boards a lot, it’s pretty funny. where I come from which is a big city we generally don’t say hi to random strangers on the street. there are a lot of foreigners around taipei anyway, seeing one is not really surprising. i don’t say hi unless i happen to be in that kind of mood and 9 times out of ten i don’t get any response. even a smile or a no usually goes unanswered. taipei is a big city after all, that’s life. i wonder if the op comes from a smaller town where such behavior is typical.

Fifteen years ago there might have been 25 or 30 foreigners in Taichung who were neither missionaries or shoe buyers. If you saw some foreigner you didn’t recognize walking down the street, you’d just about have a traffic accident in surprise.
Now there must be thousands and it’s pretty rare if one would look at you twice, or make the effort to say hello. Much like Taipei or Kaohsiung really. Big city anonimity.
I’m sure it’s a numbers thing as much as a Marco Polo complex, though that’s out there too. :unamused:

My favorite is the mormon missionaries with the ‘Aloha’ and other comedy greetings. Maybe Guest would like to dress as one and then (although he might still appear odd) no-one would think he was dangerous.

I met so many asshole foreigners in Taiwan during my time that I don’t give a damn if you’re a foreigner or not. If you want to be pleasant and sociable that’s great, if you want to keep yourself to yourself, I’ll leave you alone. Eight out of ten foreigners you meet are either whinging deadbeats, or irritatingly enthusiastic about everything.

I found people were a lot more friendly to me when I started concealing my weapons. Try it, it works wonders!

C’mon, it’s been said… what’s a foreigner anyway?? Why should I say ‘hello’ to somebody just because they are of the same apparent general, kinda, sort of racial background as I am? Just because taiwanese people look so different to most of us waiguoren, doesn’t mean we have to greet people who look similar to us. What kind of sordid rubbish is that??? I’m not an arrogant prick, too far absorbed in my mission of immersing myself in Taiwan, and it’s people, and it’s culture, to say ‘hello’, or nod (what the hell do you want to nod for anyway?). I just want to walk down the street, go about my business, eat my food, without having to wonder why the foreigner sitting next to me keeps looking at me. :unamused:

Some people nod, some don’t. Sometimes I nod, sometimes I don’t. Depends on situation, how I feel, etc, etc.

But I must admit that being half black (but considered black in the states) I was excited to see some black folks wondering through these city streets. I assume that most are on the same mission as other “foriegners” (teach english, see taiwan, look at fine asian honey’s :smiley: ), but I saw one guy that I just couldn’t place. He reminded me of an old school player I would have seen back home (aka my dad). That was the first time I missed home :frowning: .

But I’m happy again :smiley:

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


The assumptions associated with this thread made me chuckle.
Who dictates the rules for human interaction anyway? Just be natural, I say. Who you choose to interact with is far to personal a matter to allow others to dictate standards for you.

It seems to me that wherever you are, there are going to be some people who share your values and outlook on life, plenty who don’t. Getting pissed off because someone reacts one way or the other is akin to stamping your foot on the sand because you don’t get to go down the slide first…back in elementary school.

I always get confused when I pass another foreigner in the street. What do you do? Has Debrett

Every time we smile or nod at or greet someone else who has not yet smiled or nodded at or greeted us, we run the risk of our friendly approach being rebuffed. If the person is someone we already know, the risk is slight. If he or she is a complete stranger, the risk is high. Some of us are thick-skinned enough not to be pained by or care much about such snubs. But most people do find it hurtful and/or offensive to be so snubbed. I, for one, often feel deeply humiliated or slighted when such a thing happens to me. Therefore, many of us, including me, protect ourselves by adopting a neutral attitude to strangers and generally withholding any smile, nod or greeting unless and until we receive the same from the other party, in which case we respond in kind. And, of course, if two such people cross paths, then neither will risk being the first to acknowledge the other – but it doesn’t mean that either of them is snooty, arrogant, or ill-disposed toward the other.

Personally, I would love to smile at, greet and even embrace every single person I ever encounter, regardless of their race, gender or age. I’d love to walk along the street smiling sweetly at everyone and exchanging pleasantries with all. But if I tried that, I know I would receive a blank, frightened or hostile response from 99% of the people around me, and that would cause my poor little heart to quickly shrivel up and die. So I don’t do it. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody did!

Omni, I couldn’t agree more with everything you just wrote. Music to my ears.

If I had enough karma, I’d donate some to you :wink:

Omni wrote: Personally, I would love to smile at, greet and even embrace every single person I ever encounter, regardless of their race, gender or age.

Where my brother lives, in the Puget Sound area, and where he used to live in Marin County, folks do that all the time, often while naked and on hallucinogens. They are very happy people I think. :smiley:

I used to smile back at people if I saw them looking at me (Chinese or not), but after months of doing that and getting no response most of the time, I’ve learned not to smile at just anyone on the street, bus, wherever. I sometimes wonder what I’ll be like when I go home (soon I hope). Will I automatically be the cheerful, smiley person I was, and that is common where I’m from, or just stare back at people the way I do now?


The Taiwanese people’s fear of strangers and the barriers they erect to keep any strangers at a safe distance are extraordinary. It’s one of the aspects of living here that I’ve found especially hard to adjust to – notwithstanding that I hail from supposedly standoffish England.

This must be one of the only places in the world where a smile and greeting to people encountered on an excursion in the wilds is met with stony-faced silence and a determined refusal to acknowledge your presence or existence, even though you’re passing inches apart on a narrow path and there are no other human beings within a radius of many miles around. It used to really get at me, but now I’ve learnt to just follow suit and repress the normal impulse to smile and be friendly. In the rare cases where I do receive a civil reception and cordial word, I feel almost overwhelmed with surprise and gratitude.

I come from a small country town in the mallee outback. Alien, strange and harsh and some of the conditions I can remember being brought up around. My neighbours were my mates, and those were weren’t my neighbours were mates too. Then I moved to Melbourne. I remember walking down Collins street in Melbourne Central on my 17th birthday. First day in Melbourne it was. I was g’daying everyone I walked passed. G’day mate, G’day, How’s it going mate, G’day mate, G’day and so on. I reckon I got one g’day back, and the majority of blokes were giving me the ‘What’s this kid on’ look. Anyway, point is, outgoingness, sincerity, whatever you want to call it, personality perhaps, I think comes from where you’re from and what you’ve been brought up around. I’ve met people who’ve actually beaten my to a ‘hi, cheers, g’day, or hey’ as we’ve crossed paths, yet I’ve had people who’ve nearly twisted their heads off trying to avoid eye contact. Sure I feel like wrapping my China Post around their heads for being arrogant pricks but, hey, ah that’s not me. Cheers Amos.