I have been in Taiwan for just over a year and don’t pretend to know everything about it. I go along with the general belief that it is very friendly here and the people helpful. However, a couple of things happened in the last week that could be a coincidence but just might be part of a learning experience. I was taking the train from Taipei to Zhongli. Not speaking Chinese, I made certain about everything in advance: platform 3, train 283, 8.35 pm. Everything checked and I was about to climb on the train which had its doors open when I noticed a security guard (?_) in a blue shirt and dark cap was standing there looking down the train as they do (stood on the platform). I was sure, but as he was there I just asked if the train was for Zhongli. He immediately started shaking his head and pointing to the other side. I was pretty sure, but there he was vigorously shaking his head and barring my entry. Finally a guy in a white shirt from the train came running down the platform and apologetically told me to get on the train.
I dismissed this as ‘one of those things’ but a week later I was in Kaoshiung trying to find the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist museum. The taxi driver wrongly put me down at the monastery and the people there told me I needed to walk further down the road for the museum. I did this and soon came to a huge building with arches that looked like an entrance: busses and cars were going inside. Therefore I walked up intending to go straight in (free entrance). However I was stopped by another security guard (?) in a blue shirt and dark cap again. He spoke no English and I spent about ten mibutes telling him I wanted to go into the museum. He had a lot to say in Chinese and finally he got someone on the phone who could speak English. This person said I was in the wrong place and I needed to walk further down the road and I’d see it on the left. I did this for about 15 minutes and finally decided there was nothing here but a dangerous main road. I doubled back intending to ask for more instructions. As soon as I opened my mouth, the same guard started motioning me to walk on inside! It turned out this was indeed the right place and the right entrance–and I have no idea why they had previously sent me off on a wild goose chase.
Perhaps it is all just coincidence or misunderstanding. But I also wonder if there is something I am not fully appreciating here? In the short term, I have decided to avoid asking questions of people in blue shirts and dark caps (lol)