Insight into Taiwanese Life and Time in Taiwan

[color=#0000FF]Moderator’s note: this thread has been split from [url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/city-life-versus-country-life-in-taiwan/66007/1

You’re right about the lack of an MRT in Taichung, it’s nigh on impossible to get around as a tourist. I will vouch for some of the cultural credentials of Taichung though, its got a pretty good art scene, both gallery and underground and used to have a decent clubbing scene (although I believe the government cracked down on a lot of it after that terrible fire).

I’d recommend that you give Kaohsiung another go, its MRT is awesome, clean, efficient and cheap (although it’s not quite as extensive as it should be) and, especially north of the River Ai, its very “civilised” if you’ll call it that, probably more like Japan than China if we’re scaling these places on how clean and efficient they are.

I’m actually very interested in this and am doing my dissertation in combined Sociology/Urban Studies at a top 10 UK university on the effects of different city planning in different areas of Taiwan and how the introduction of gated communities might effect the society.

But in reference to your particular post I’d say it’s all a matter of taste. I prefer a faster life and one that’s a little rough around the edges (not Philippines mountain village rough) as opposed to somewhere like Taipei. I’d also say that you don’t seem to like a lot of Taiwan and that nobody is forcing you to stay here. There isn’t some God-like aura around Taidong that makes it so much better than the rest of Taiwan. Maybe go and try some places again with a fresh set of eyes?


I’d also say that you don’t seem to like a lot of Taiwan and that nobody is forcing you to stay here.[/quote]
Whoa.

[quote=“GuyInTaiwan”]Things have changed radically in the [color=#000080]b four years [/b][/color]I’ve been here.[/quote] Need advice about my career

[quote=“Meadows”]I’ve lived (cumulatively) in Taiwan for [color=#000080]about 2 months[/color]. . . .[/quote] Wack Things in Taiwan (part 3)

Whoa!

Hmm, I’d disagree. I’ve lived in Kaohsiung and visited Taipei, Taichung, Kending and Yilan and I’d say that Kaohsiung and Taichung are developed to a similar extent to Taipei, although not quite as modern.

My problem with the countryside in Taiwan is that it’s actually dirtier and busier than the cities in the towns there. To be quite honest I thought Yilan was an absolute shit-tip with terrible food (we went to all the places that people recommend), with the only up-side being some natural hotspring resort town that we went to - that was super-fun.[/quote]

I know many fantastic countryside areas in Taiwan, including some in Ilan, for instance if one visited Taipingshan it would be very hard not to be impressed, that would be a world heritage site if Taiwan was in the UN, not to mention the famous areas of Alishan, Taroko, Sun Moon Lake (which is getting nicer as I was there today), Hualien and Taidong and Kending etc etc. The towns in the countryside are usually pretty ugly but there are some towns with a distinct character and culture like Sanyi area, Jiufen, Neiwan etc and then the surrounding countryside itself has obviously lots of things to see and do. There are many awesome places in the semi-wild and wild parts of Taiwan, little valleys and gorges that aren’t in any tourist guide, I know for a fact that’s what attracts some long-timers to stick around, they are the type that like to head off in a scooter or car and see where it takes them.
I’m not sure how accurate a thesis will be if you’ve just arrived in a country, there’s quite a lot of subtleties and surprises. For instance you mention gated communities, well what does that mean? I know that mountain-side and suburban gated communities were more popular in the 80s than now, probably because of fears of violence, you can see developments dotted around from that time but almost none over the last 15 years to my knowledge. My view on that is that Taiwanese don’t like living far from the action and as the society became safer and luxury apartments in convenient living areas appeared they lost their appeal. The other significant factor was the 921 earthquake and numerous typhoons that tend to destory access routes to these communities.
Now inner city living and secure independent apartment complexes are favoured, I’m not sure I would call that a gated community as they are not really communities in my view.

Don’t worry, I’ve done a lot of research, read archive material, interviewed city officials etc.

I didn’t mean any offence to the guy when I said he could consider leaving, I simply meant that if he didn’t like it, then he didn’t have to stay.

Oh, and for clarification:

  1. A gated community, in my thesis’ definition, is a place with a, no matter how strict, vetting policy and security.
  2. These communities often have a Housing Association board which wields powers over budgets, parking etc
  3. A gated community doesn’t have to be in the country, it could be in a skyscraper or in an exclusive area. I’ve got 9 locations in mind for my study which I will whittle down to 5. One example is E-Da(sp?) in Kaohsiung
  4. I’m not saying that gated communities have caught on per se, I’m just researching their existence and their peculiarities in a country which is “classless”. My thesis is basically arguing the pros and cons of an argument (in form of a quote) that would make it a lot easier for you to understand what exactly I’m going for, but I can’t post it as it will flag up plagarism searches by my uni

edit: people looking through my posting history to make some sort of weak point and sensationalise what I was saying is creepy and uncalled for.

Meadows: The aura for me about Taidong (and the rest of the east coast) is that it’s far less developed than the west coast and that it has a completely different lifestyle and feel culturally.

As for liking or not liking Taiwan, firstly, my writing style is quite hyperbolic.

Secondly, Taiwan is a developing country. In some ways, we should cut it some slack for that, but in other ways, we should also admit that and realise that it has a great deal of faults, and that the urban environments here still have a lot of progress they could make. I’ve been living here for almost four years. In that time, I’ve had my ups and downs. However, I’m probably going to be here for quite a few more years yet (not necessarily forever) as I’m married to a local and will have kids here in the next few years. I don’t think I should just unconditionally accept the place. No one should. Otherwise, it would never move forward. I’ve travelled to 40+ countries and lived in several. There are ways in which Taiwan can, and should, lift its game and we shouldn’t gloss over those. I want to live in a place that is civilised. I want my kids to live in a place that is civilised. It frustrates me when I meet Westerners in Asia who are here for a short time and love how rough it is around the edges. The questions I always have for them are would they be happy to live in that and raise kids in that? Would they be happy with that in their home countries? The answer is invariably no, which strikes me as curious. Is Asia some playground for people from the West to go a little crazy and get up to mischief, because, you know, it’s okay because it’s only Asia and we expect these countries to be inherently and eternally backward?

Thirdly, I have plenty of complaints about my home country, Australia, as well as other places I’ve travelled to or lived in.

Fourthly, there are definitely positives here compared to other places, and probably the big two for me are the lack of alcohol-fuelled, anti-social behaviour (and anti-social behaviour in general) and the much more respectful attitude of students/children here generally.

[quote=“Belgian Pie”]Trust me … there is Taipei and every were else, I lived for 15 years in every were else. And even everywhere else has its secured, gated communities.

BTW, every new highrise development is a ‘gated community’.[/quote]

Well it’s a very different meaning than a gated community in a country with a real problem like South Africa or even parts of the US. I don’t really see the effect being big in Taiwan, the high rises here sit on public streets, they are essentially apartment blocks with a security guard and parking. You are still part of the local neighbourhood. As I mentioned already ‘real’ gated communities in Taiwan have been tried before but overall they did not prove to be popular.

[quote=“Belgian Pie”]Trust me … there is Taipei and every were else, I lived for 15 years in every were else. And even everywhere else has its secured, gated communities.

BTW, every new highrise development is a ‘gated community’.[/quote]

Yes there is a level of development that exists in Taipei that is probably beyond everywhere else, but that’s the small core of Taipei city in general. There are areas of Taichung and Kaoshiung that easily out do large parts of New Taipei City and Taipei City. It depends where you live and your income and lifestyle. If you want a certain amount of Western community or ease of public transport Taipei is the best of course. It’s very crowded and it is also overly expensive to buy a house.

A lot of foreigners in Taipei live in a bubble, they don’t even have a car and don’t realise the best and only way to really see Taiwan is to drives . They can’t speak Chinese and are intimidated by real traditional areas. They just know a few spots around Taipei and that’s it. Most don’t even know the other cities well.(EDIT- that goes for a lot of Taipei residents actually, not restricted to locals/foreigners)
If the countryside of Taiwan was so bad why are so many people building retirement homes in places like Miaoli and Ilan now?

I’ll explain to you my situation. I’ve lived in the UK for the last 20 years of my life, and I generally like it, but I met my GF at university (she’s from Kaohsiung) and she invited me over last summer for 45 days. I basically loved it, and don’t really care about some of the more annoying aspects such as the crazy scooter riders or Taicuh/mei. I’ve also come over this summer, and will be staying for 62 days, living at her parents apartment for most of the time. I know a lot more about Taiwan than my time here lets on, I’ve seen aspects of family life that most westeners wouldn’t have seen in 2 or 3 years here. I speak basic mandarin and am starting to learn to read, I’ve been to weddings, I’ve been to Buddhist ceremonies, I’ve been to Catholic ceremonies, I’ve played on a park baseball team. The one thing I haven’t really done is enter the “western bubble” here, and I’ve only eaten foreign food a few times.

Would I raise my kids here? Until they were about 11/12 as childhood here is exactly that. Childhood. It isn’t dressing like a fashionista and buying expensive clothes, it’s going to the baseball pitch and playing with friends, not vandalising the local buildings. I agree that after that it gets too exam-y and would take a view on moving somewhere in the west after that, but I’d love to raise kids here.

Would I be happy with this in my home country? I think there are too many differences between the UK and Taiwan, in some ways Taiwan is 20 years ahead of the UK, but in others 50 years behind, so I don’t think that’s something you can say.

Essentially I don’t like you presuming that I’m some starry eyed foreigner who preaches the virtues of something he doesn’t know. I also don’t like that you presume I’m here for “mischief”. This level of rudeness is terribly unbecoming I must say.

[quote=“Meadows”]
Essentially I don’t like you presuming that I’m some starry eyed foreigner who preaches the virtues of something he doesn’t know. I also don’t like that you presume I’m here for “mischief”. This level of rudeness is terribly unbecoming I must say.[/quote]

I don’t think he was refering to you. He is talking about people who love the traffic is insane because it means they can drive like assholes too. The lack of enforced rules means they can do what they want and be even more inconsiderate than any local. Or that they aren’t connected to society so they can screw as many girls as possible with no problems, or generally get away with things they wouldn’t back home.

He’s talking about idiots like this guy I read an article from in an expat mag. Fool went on about how great the streets around him were: noisy, crowded, filthy, covered with oil and crap from garages, slop washed out from restaurants and so on. This was LIFE not like his hometown in Switzerland which was sterile and oppressive.

I laughed my head off. Couldn’t wait for the follow up where he was leaving with some uncurable lung disease.

[quote=“Mucha Man”][quote=“Meadows”]
Essentially I don’t like you presuming that I’m some starry eyed foreigner who preaches the virtues of something he doesn’t know. I also don’t like that you presume I’m here for “mischief”. This level of rudeness is terribly unbecoming I must say.[/quote]

I don’t think he was refering to you. He is talking about people who love the traffic is insane because it means they can drive like assholes too. The lack of enforced rules means they can do what they want and be even more inconsiderate than any local. Or that they aren’t connected to society so they can screw as many girls as possible with no problems, or generally get away with things they wouldn’t back home.

He’s talking about idiots like this guy I read an article from in an expat mag. Fool went on about how great the streets around him were: noisy, crowded, filthy, covered with oil and crap from garages, slop washed out from restaurants and so on. This was LIFE not like his hometown in Switzerland which was sterile and oppressive.

I laughed my head off. Couldn’t wait for the follow up where he was leaving with some uncurable lung disease.[/quote]

Oh, I’m sorry if I misconstrued his statement. I’m most certainly not the “bro/frat” foreigner that I see in the clubs (not to say that all of the foreigners in the clubs are this way) that’ll go back to his home country saying “oh man it was so like, chill and stuff, the waves were mega sick and the girls were, like, totally all over my abs bro”

Meadows: Perhaps you’re not the only person who has intimate insights into Taiwanese family life, has studied the local language, attended weddings, been part of sporting teams and all the rest of whatever it means to live in Taiwan or any other places. Perhaps people find it rude that you presume to tell us that you don’t live in a Western bubble or eat Western food (and by implication, those who do are somehow bad or wrong for doing so or don’t really know Taiwan). Your experience of Taiwan is valid, but there are hundreds of different, equally valid experiences of Taiwan on this forum. I’m not playing the “I’ve lived here so much longer than you” card, but others here will and won’t have any qualms about telling you that you are very naive.

See I would have issues with raising my kids here in a big city if for no other reason that there are very few places they can go outside to play. Also, by eleven or twelve they’re already well into the testing culture of this place.

As for whether you would be happy if things here were in your home country, of course you can say. For instance, would you be happy with people routinely running red lights and committing other traffic violations, sometimes in plain view of policemen? Would you be happy with a rigidly hierarchical society in everything from the education system to employment? How about the way incompetence is often glossed over because of face? How about the necessity of guanxi or the constant exchanging of red envelopes (we’d call those things corruption back home)? How about the generally poor rights enjoyed by employees in this country, especially if foreign? How about the blatant and open racism in employment and other areas here? How about family law and the lack of maternity leave for women? How about the treatment of animals and all the stray dogs here? How about pollution and environmental degradation? How about some of the dodgy building that goes on here? How about the way major developers often ride rough shod over small landowners, often with tacit or explicit judicial support? How about the general piss poor judiciary here in general? How about the lack of pedestrian rights compared to motor vehicles, or the way people blatantly (double) park wherever they like? Of course you could answer those questions and many more. This isn’t a black and white, winner takes all kind of choice. It’s possible for people to acknowledge that there are things they like about Taiwan, and that on balance, they prefer to live here or are happy here, but it’s also possible for them to acknowledge there are a great many things that do need improvement here, are better elsewhere and could be changed. It’s also possible for them to acknowledge that there are some things their home countries could learn from Taiwan.

As for me presuming you’re here for mischief, you stated in an earlier post that you like a faster life and one that is a little rough around the edges. Apologies if I misinterpreted that.

WHAT? The guy confesses that he’s had a couple of short wee holidays here living with his girlfriends parents! And he’s going to write a frigging DISSERTATION on the basis of this!
His experience is his experience, and that is valid, sure. Is it in ANY way representative of real life? He’s doing this work for a “top 10” university and yet… and yet… not ONE of his professors or tutors has taken him aside and had a “kindly word in his ear?”
What on EARTH is happening to UK education? :astonished: :astonished: :astonished:
I spent a week climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro 20 years ago or more, and I’m thinking of using that as a basis for a treatise on the geopolitical situation in Africa.

  1. I never said that Taiwan was perfect
  2. I never said I was the only one to have those experiences as you said I did. I said I’d probably experienced more than most foreigners who’ve stayed here for 2 or 3 years. I stand by that.
  3. I’m well aware of Taiwan’s problems with corruption. I’m essentially aware of all of the drawbacks living here has.
  4. I didn’t say eating Western food was bad or good, I said I hadn’t done it a lot.

Please stop putting words in my mouth.

WHAT? The guy confesses that he’s had a couple of short wee holidays here living with his girlfriends parents! And he’s going to write a frigging DISSERTATION on the basis of this!
His experience is his experience, and that is valid, sure. Is it in ANY way representative of real life? He’s doing this work for a “top 10” university and yet… and yet… not ONE of his professors or tutors has taken him aside and had a “kindly word in his ear?”
What on EARTH is happening to UK education? :astonished: :astonished: :astonished:
I spent a week climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro 20 years ago or more, and I’m thinking of using that as a basis for a treatise on the geopolitical situation in Africa.[/quote]

How am I doing my dissertation on the basis of my holidays in Taiwan? That’s like saying you couldn’t write about the political history of El Salvador without having lived there for 10 years.

Edit: You know what, fuck all of this, I derailed the thread and I apologise. I don’t need some bellends telling me that I’m naive or haven’t lived here long enough to be able to write my university work. You don’t know me. You haven’t met me. You don’t know what research I’ve done. You don’t know how long I’ve spent pouring over archive material. Fuck off.

Out.

You’re right! You’re QUITE RIGHT! Why IS that, I wonder? Oooh! I know! Its because you didn’t tell us. All you told us was that you had a couple of wee breaks here. Other than that, what you’ve posted so far shows VERY clearly that you haven’t got a scooby about your subject matter, sweetcheeks. And are those naughty words part of your curriculum? It wouldn’t surprise me, to be honest. :laughing: Pouring WHAT, by the way? No. please, I REALLY don’t want to know what emanations take place in the exalted ivory towers of the centre of the Empire.

Well, ya got me beat. I’ve spilled coffee on archive materials, but I’ve never poured anything on 'em.

Damn, sandman, you beat me to it!

sandman: I was trying to play nice for once and be the good cop because I knew you’d come in here and play the bad cop.

Meadows:

  1. Yet you trotted out the “if you don’t like it you can leave” argument;
  2. I’m really not sure how you could know that. What constitutes experiencing more though? I had a friend, who has been here the same length of time as I have now. To my knowledge, he still speaks minimal Chinese, hangs out mostly with other foreigners and has a semi-Western girlfriend (was born outside the West – she’s not Taiwanese – and lived part of her life in the West) and generally lives in a Western bubble. In many ways, he’s quite similar to the stereotypical foreigner here. Yet, for the past four years he has basically worked 40+ hours a week in a Taiwanese company and he’s done crazy shit like volunteered on Peng Hu, done the Sun Moon Lake swim several times and done a whole lot of other stuff here, including going to see sandman play music several times, which is somewhere up there with doing the Sun Moon Lake swim in terms of how hectic and exhausting, yet rewarding, an experience it is. You probably have a whole bunch of experiences he hasn’t, and he probably has a whole bunch of experiences you haven’t. For starters, in his time here, he’s probably taught/interacted with several hundred kids here.;
  3. How can you be though? How can many of us here be? Maybe Muzha man is aware of them more than most of us because that’s his job, but how can anyone here be aware of all of this stuff? I know there’s tons of stuff that I don’t know because I don’t see it and I’m always finding out tons of new stuff about this country. Have you ever worked in a junior high school with lots of aboriginal kids from poor families? The other day, I found out that one of my students lives in a house with one bedroom. She and her brothers have to take turns sleeping on the couch or the floor. I was blown away by that. That’s a side of Taiwan that I bet very few people here see and I would be very, very surprised if you’ve had much contact, if any, with that side of Taiwan;
  4. Why would you even mention that then? What relevance did it have to the conversation if not as an insinuation?

Welcome to forumosa :smiley: .

HEY! My probation officer could be reading this! :blush:

It’s kind of a shame, really. He could just make up a crowd. People fuss and cuss sometimes, but that’s part of making up a crowd, too.