Why do expats spout the same cliches about Taiwan?

It seems that many expats (in particular ESL teachers) like to make out that Taiwan is some kind of paradise. Many people who come to work in Taiwan have done stints in Korea, China, Japan or other places, and probably feel some residual bitterness towards these countries (why else would they have left?), so they need to validate their decision to start over in Taiwan.

Here are some of the three biggest lies that go around these forums and other places:

“Taiwan has great food”

If your idea of fine cuisine is greasy fried shit on a stick, then sure. The cuts of meat (often offal) are cheap and low-quality. The food always has a disgusting oily smell to it. The typical dumpling, noodles, and rice fare that most Taiwanese eat is extremely bland. Taiwanese food has nothing on Asian cuisines like Thai, Indian, Japanese, or Korean.

“Taiwan has the best standard of living”

We are talking about a country that smells like a giant sewer, with packs of stray dogs and dog shit on almost every corner. And try not to step on all the cockroaches and rats in the streets. The air is polluted and the rivers, streets, and buildings are filthy and ugly.

“Taiwanese people are nice and friendly”

Really? The same people who drive so selfishly and dangerously, never stopping for crosswalks, who will happily run you down in a scooter if you don’t get out of their way fast enough.

Socially, an interaction with a Taiwanese person rarely goes beyond “Where are you from? What do you do? Do you like Taiwan?” They may be “polite” upon meeting a foreigner but they are certainly not warm and friendly in a social sense. Frankly, most are uninteresting with no personality or social skills.

I can see only a few things going for Taiwan:

  • the abundance of attractive and easy women
  • easy access from the cities to the mountains or beach

In terms of the rest, Taiwan is a bit of provincial backwater that is lagging behind the rest of Asia.

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I’ve heard this so many times before.

Wow. How’s that for someone’s third-ever post? “Everything about Taiwan objectively sucks and the people who like to say nice things about it are objectively wrong.” :unamused:

Are you looking for us to validate your points or to argue back?

Zeno, what you have written is just one big giant expat cliche. What’s more, I’ve read the exact same rant about Hong Kong, Thailand, the UK, Italy, Japan, France, china, Vietnam. It’s a classic stage 2 culture shock thing to say ‘it’s dirty, the food sucks, the people are selfish, stupid and boring and the women are easy’. Textbook. Go and google yourself. :laughing:

What amuses me is how seldom your “cliches” are heard, and how often everyone goes on about your unvarnished honest truths, the truths that no one dares say, except of course for … um … almost everyone, actually, especially when we’re having bad days.

Heard it before, will hear it again.

Perhaps some people just like eating greasy fried shit on a stick whilst enjoying easy access to mountains. If Taiwan isn’t your cup of cha then you don’t need to stick around. In my experience most of the westeners I’ve met here really like Taiwan. But a few less intrepid souls have suffered from serious culture shock and left with similar views to what you’ve posted above. I personally love Taiwan and would be happy to live here permanently.

The problem is that everyone is right. All those things are right–and wrong. I used to try to explain why I love Taiwan so much to people back home and find myself at a loss. “How’s the weather in Taiwan?” – unbearably hot and humid in summer, bone chillingly humid in winter. “How’s the archetecture in Taiwan?” – baiscally, it looks like the inside of a shower exploded all over the island. “Taiwan is a tropical island, right? It must be very naturally beautiful.” – in some of the more remote places, yes! But in the cities where you have to live to work, there are days when you can’t see twenty feet ahead for the polution and if you drink the tap water you’ll spend the next two days in the bathroom.

I could go on, but what’s the point? This is just bits of conversations I’ve had with people here “at home” many times. My love of the island is real. I can’t explain it, even to myself. Each time I’ve left, I’ve been sure it was for the last time. Each time I’ve been back “home” for a matter of months, I realize I want to at least visit the island once more. There are some WONDERFUL people on that little ROC. There’s some great food, there are some amazing things to see and do. It’s just like no other place. And like every place, there is both good and bad.

[quote=“Hokwongwei”]Wow. How’s that for someone’s third-ever post? “Everything about Taiwan objectively sucks and the people who like to say nice things about it are objectively wrong.” :unamused:

Are you looking for us to validate your points or to argue back?[/quote]

Three posts… knows every cliche in the book and has obviously been here a while…

Ladies and Gentlemen! I give you… our little blue friend… you know him, you love him, you’ve probably been him… its a smurf!

I am starting to think someone is smurfing in a desperate attempt to spice the forum up.

Nah, it’s too pedestrian and generic a rant for a major kick-off. :laughing:

No relation :stuck_out_tongue:

Sane response: every place has trade-offs, the good and the bad. Many expats are happy simply to change the balance of trade-offs from what they are used to, myself included. It is true that many of the other foreigners I meet here speak about Taiwan as if it is the promised land… but that’s survivorship bias at work: people that love it stay, those who don’t tend to leave… but not before taking the occasional potshot on expat forums. Anyway, I’m still in the honeymoon phase and don’t want to rush out of it. Enjoy your dank hole of judgmental pessimism.

Not quite the honeymoon I might wish for, and you would like to wallow and not rush out of it. Dude, I got a stinky tofu joint that you will just die for.

OP would hate the Mainland. Taiwan is awesome in comparison. :popcorn:

You seem to be contradicting yourself here.

From my personal experience, there’s a lot more truth to your second assertion than the first. Those women are… friendly.

Maybe it has to do with the basis of comparsion. I’m from Massachusetts, where everybody hates each other. I find Taiwanese friendliness a little over the top. When a Taiwanese woman gives me the Old Greg treatment in reverse, it’s very flattering at first. Then I start thinking about Glenn Close preparing boiled rabbit. Maybe they should try not to force intimacy so quickly. For instance, one girl maneuvered me into having dinner with her parents after zero dates, unless you count that time she fondled my underpants as a date. I think that’s rushing things.

ironic post? criticises other expats for spouting cliches, and then makes a whole post full of cliches yourself?

yes, i did live in china before. and i loved it, i had a hoot! but as we all know, its a pretty fucked up place. taiwan is much much better in comparism, but still has all the things i like about china, and more. and that is something to be critical of? i lived in a place that i liked but had problems, and now i have moved to a similar place that has less problems and i’m a whole lot happier about it?

[quote=“zeno”]Here are some of the three biggest lies that go around these forums and other places:

“Taiwan has great food”

If your idea of fine cuisine is greasy fried shit on a stick, then sure. The cuts of meat (often offal) are cheap and low-quality. The food always has a disgusting oily smell to it. The typical dumpling, noodles, and rice fare that most Taiwanese eat is extremely bland. Taiwanese food has nothing on Asian cuisines like Thai, Indian, Japanese, or Korean. [/quote]

disagree, i prefer taiwan food to any of those other asian places. much prefer. korean all tastes pretty similar, theres only a few japanese things i really find delicious(their bbq) thai is good but nothing to jizz my pants over and same for indian. the only bad food i have had here was from ikea.

[quote=“zeno”]
“Taiwan has the best standard of living”

We are talking about a country that smells like a giant sewer, with packs of stray dogs and dog shit on almost every corner. And try not to step on all the cockroaches and rats in the streets. The air is polluted and the rivers, streets, and buildings are filthy and ugly. [/quote]

well it aint japan but all i can really compare it to is where i have lived before in asia- china. taiwan has much better conditions than that. the buildings are ugly and dirty but i can find a lot of appeal in the dense urban sprawl. chinas communist style bleak citys are far uglier. its not exactly hard to find some beautiful sights either. mountains are everywhere.

[quote=“zeno”]
“Taiwanese people are nice and friendly”

Really? The same people who drive so selfishly and dangerously, never stopping for crosswalks, who will happily run you down in a scooter if you don’t get out of their way fast enough.

Socially, an interaction with a Taiwanese person rarely goes beyond “Where are you from? What do you do? Do you like Taiwan?” They may be “polite” upon meeting a foreigner but they are certainly not warm and friendly in a social sense. Frankly, most are uninteresting with no personality or social skills. [/quote]

so you want to slag off the driving? sure, but has any expat in history spouted off positive cliches about the driving here? i think not. i honestly dont get the complaints about taiwanese being unfriendly and whatnot. if you are friendly that goes a really long way here. i think it does anywhere but especially here. gloomy england feels long gone.

And he said he is still in his honeymoon phase? :slight_smile: Hate to see what the “divorce” phase sounds like. Maybe like that guy that went kind of berserk and his posts (and his posting id) kind of got erased?

Put my thoughts in words, well done tommy :bravo:

he’s pretty much on the mark though.

Look at all the defensive posts in response!