Strange and Unexpected Impressions While Traveling Abroad


I honestly don’t get the point of this thread.



Okay, the point is, they shouldn’t assume others’ nationality or ethnicity, especially when they can’t really tell the difference.
(Unless they have checked others’ passports and know exactly what their nationality and ethnicity is.)
Jesus Christ, the problem is so obvious, yet all of you just want to trivialize it.
They mistake non-Chinese(Japanese and Koreans) for Chinese, and therefore greet Japanese and Koreans with “你好”. That’s inappropriate!
What about they start greeting Indian Sikhs with Arabic language or Islamic etiquette and manners? That’s inappropriate!
What about they start greeting Western people of African descent in African languages? That’s inappropriate!
If it was the Indian Sikhs or Africans who got mistaken for a group of people whom they don’t exactly belong to, will you still want to trivialize it?

Then, can you please explain why they greeted me with “你好”?
They assumed I am a Chinese from China who speaks Mandarin.
It’s just a lucky shot for them, because I happen to speak Mandarin.
What if the person whom they greeted was in fact a Japanese or Korean who speaks no Mandarin?

Are you saying “they” are pretty silly?
If so, that’s what I’m talking about.
Why would they even want to make any assumptions or hypothesis?

Yeah, it’s scorching hot here in Taiwan even in October.

The point?
The point is they shouldn’t assume others’ nationality or ethnicity, especially when they can’t tell the difference.


Dude, take up macrame or something.


The problem is, whenever you greet someone, it’s necessary to make an assumption about them. If you greet them in English, you’re assuming they speak English. Most people aren’t sensitive enough to find this insulting (unless they’re like French or something).

On a recent flight on Asiana, I kind of felt sorry for the stewardesses (yes, there wasn’t a single steward). They were handing out landing cards, and when they saw an Asian face, they had to make a snap judgment about their nationality/ethnicity to decide whether to address them in Korean or English. They seemed to be getting it right about 80% of the time. So the other 20% took offence at the stewardesses’ assumptions, right? Nope. Most people just take things like this in stride and get on with their lives.


My point is. Why open a thread on this site about it? You don’t like if someone greets you with “Ni Hao,” big deal. Why don’t you tell that person that you don’t like it? If you don’t like experiencing these kind of things, then you might want to stop traveling altogether, cause that’s what every traveler is likely to experience when visiting a country that is not like the one he originates from.

BTW, to answer your opening question.

Maybe they just want to be nice to you? How about you smile and say thank you and be nice to them in return. Works like a charm.


You could always wear little flags on your lapel, indicating which languages you speak. Otherwise, what else are people to do? We have to talk to each other, so we make guesses as to which languages are likely to work.


Funnily enough we used to kick that idea round for big noses in Taiwan complaining about locals hiding under the counter when confronted with a foreign customer…a badge saying “Fear ye not, I speak the difficult tongue”.


Why would people greet me in English, not in Chinese?

Most of the time when I land in Taiwan, the airport says “Hi” in English just because I look like a foreigner and assuming I can’t speak Chinese. Then they revert to Chinese. Same with some tourist places.


i’ve not noticed this, but i have noticed a lot more people speaking chinese, due to the rise of chinese tourists. my gf hasn’t minded at all. everywhere we’ve been theres been plenty of staff able to speak chinese. i guess mr lin just has a problem with people assuming he is chinese. well if you are travelling you better get used to it because nobody knows a damn thing about taiwan.


so the op is puzzled that some one would say hello to him in his own language, because that might involve assuming what his language is and in a parallel universe it might not be his language, which would be offensive.

this is how to get offended, advanced class!!


This is a new level of:“did you just assume my gender?”.


Check this post out, folks.

You see?
The reason why the two gentlemen mentioned in bluewhale’s post got offended by the local Taiwanese is exactly the same reason why I got offended when the local English-speaking people try to greet me in Chinese.
Let alone those English-speaking people speak only three words of Chinese, while I speak full English to nearly native speaker level. If they do speak enough Chinese to make a conversation, then I probably won’t get offended so badly.

We are just people who don’t want to be treated differently in an environment where we look different from the locals.

Anyone with empathy shall understand what I’m talking about.


I had thought this thread were a parody of that thread.


Not a parody.
A true problem happening to any foreigners in the world.
They are foreigners in Taiwan.
I’m a foreigner in Western countries.


is this even a thing or is it just the newest entry from mr lins over active imagination ?


You have an interesting way of using the English language…

A gentleman would not get offended in that situation. You are either cool about it or you are not a gentleman.


It is like he is waiting for us to complain to retort: why do you guys complain when this happens to you!? He is turning the whole narrative of the foreigner who is isolated,mocked, gossips about and all that jazz into a mirror image, with Taiwanese in the foreigner’s place. Hence, we cannot complain because we are perpetrators too, we deserve what we get. That is either a perverse social experiment or a troll.


On the one hand, I don’t get offended when people make assumptions about which language I’m more likely to speak based on my appearance and agree that this thread is a bit silly.

On the other hand, that’s not the only solution. It’s perfectly normal in some parts of Canada for receptionists etc. to greet people with a hello followed immediately by a bonjour (or vice-versa) instead of making an assumption, because they basically can’t make an assumption in that context and also because (especially if they’re working for the government) the policy is to avoid discriminating against one or the other.

On an international flight with passengers from all over the place, it’s not really feasible to say hello to everyone in ten or twenty different languages even if those languages are all spoken by the crew, but they could perhaps choose two.


Just for the record.
There’s a flight from Amsterdam to Beirut.
And I also saw the staff members (who were most likely to be Dutch, but maybe not because people in within EU can work anywhere) greeting all Middle-Eastern-looking passengers boarding the plane to Beirut in Arabic.
I don’t think that’s appropriated, either.



I’m just sharing what really happened to me when traveling to the West.