3 years now I am here, in the south.
For some reason it did not bother me the first year or two, but lately I find myself irritated a bit at everyone looking at me, in the street, at traffic lights when I drive my scooter, etc.
In my whole life I never was a fan of wearing sunglasses but am thinking to buy a pair.
I know deep inside, I am overreacting about this situation, but for some reason it irritates me lately, not sure why. Maybe it is just a phase. Sometimes I even make the effort to just look in front of me to avoid seeing other people.
When in good mood I don’t care, but you get the point.
I am sure I am not alone and will get used to it eventually.
Last time I quickly came across new neighbors and the first thing the neighbor said when she saw me was “aw ke ai” (which is something I will personally say if I see a dog or a 5 yo kid).
Now the bright side is my family in law is great, especially my father in law (who can speak a little English, and I can speak a little Chinese). My family in law sees me as a normal person and is really great in general towards me. I consider my dad in law just as a great friend , he is one of the best human being I have ever known and am very happy to visit him everytime I can.
Welcome to the club.
Still happens to me over two decades later.
The key is to really learn some chinese so you can understand what they are saying and then reply back to them in chinese and shock them, ha ha.
It goes in cycles . Also when you are younger, more handsome or prettier you may attract more stares. Still it can be annoying.
What I found is that the aggravation level can be related to feelings of isolation. It is not easy for foreigners in Taiwan being few in number. If you can be with a group of other foreigners you won’t feel the stares are directed at you . If you could find some other foreigners to hang out a bit with sometimes it may lesson those feelings .
Also of course learning Chinese and making more local friends might be helpful. I did actually go through a sunglasses wearing phase.
We don’t get as many stares in Taipei than down South though as foreigners are really rare down there. I found I and my family attracted a lot more stares down there .
I actually wear a hat and probably avoid eye contract more now and walk at a fairly brisk pace, but again in Taipei people do their best to avoid interacting with each other anyway ! It’s usually the real weirdoes abd mentally ill who get in your face unfortunately.
I find myself more in situation 2 actually (and I am in the south), One time (a year ago) a staff of 7 11 asked me for a selfie, ludicrous I know but I politely accepted (a guy).
Another time, I was doing my work out outside (pull ups and stuff), a group of young female students came to me to take photos. I also accepted but only after I finished my work out, they actually waited until I finished (luckily it was my last set).
Also for anybody questioning whether this is a thing in Taiwan it most certainly is.
My brother while visiting me even asked me ‘whats with all the stares?’ He’s not a shrinking violet but he still felt uncomfortable.
It’s not India but it can be annoying. It’s really mostly curiosity and gormlessness. I don’t like when people and women stare at my kids too long thats really weird.
I always tell myself it is harmless yes, and there is always worse, back in 2010 I visited the Philippines with a friend and it was much worse there. I hardly saw a foreigner there in 10 days and 3 different cities but basically everyone was looking at us.
People everywhere are intrigued by anything “ different” . Children innocently stare at foreigners with no animosity at all . Rarely experienced any hatred in the stares . Indeed if you say hello , the response is either embarrassment or a smile . You would maybe hold your gaze a little longer if a Taiwanese individual in bare feet with no helmet , chewing betelnuts, was seen in Los Angeles
Carry a book, buy a newspaper or whatever to take your focus away from seeing people look at you. Gormlessness (love this word Mr. Jones) is par for. If you’ve ever turned on local TV or listened to regular convo you’d know there isn’t much else going on for many people. You’re a highlight, bask in it. I’d caution against taking selfies, though.
I consider Philippines stare different.
Philippines typically look eye to eye more in their culture and are engaged and expect to possibly engage with you either with eyes or verbally. And Philippines can communicate alot with eyes and eyebrows without ever opening mouth. Very common.