Taiwanese behaving badly

A lot of media (news, blogs, forums) in Taiwan report/discuss stories of foreigners acting badly.  Some of this comes from people witnessing incidents, writing about it online and throwing it out there for the inevitable feeding frenzy.  The online life in Taiwan is HUGE – basically, the grapevine.

Nobody will tweet volatile instances involving Taiwanese, because it’s a non issue.  It’s normal – they won’t get many “hits” on the blog or “likes” on FB.

Well, I witnessed such an incident and I’d like to throw it out there for a non-feeding frenzy.

It was a nice summer afternoon (which means I had a small sheen of sweat, not a torrential downpour), and we were wandering around Beipu – a sleepy little town in Hsinchu county.  We headed toward the Beipu “old street” to waste an hour before hitting the highway again.

Note: “Old Streets” can be found in many small towns in Taiwan.  They are generally one of the older parts of town and consist of a temple, a bunch of street vendors selling what is considered the “speciality” of that particular town and may or may not have any historical significance.  Here the streets are generally packed with people and traffic usually takes a detour around.

On this fine day, it looked like this:

Beipu old street

You can see it gets quite crowded up toward the middle there.  We were up close to that part when this happened.

As I was salivating over the smell of bbq pork, and trying hard to resist the urge to buy 10 kgs. of the stuff, I heard the vrrrooom of a scooter.  Turning back, I saw an older guy (maybe 50’s or 60’s) trying to drive his scooter through this throng.

Really?  I looked over to my gf and she gave a shrug.

I looked back and the guy was inching his way through the crowd, occasionally stopping to spit betelnet gunk.  People were looking hassled and the general sightseeing/relaxed vibe of the place was disturbed by the annoying sound of the scooter motor revving and stopping as it nosed through the crowd.  We moved a bit toward the sidelines, continued walking and waited for the commotion to pass.

Then, all of a sudden, there was a blistering stream of LOUD Mandarin.

Note: People in Taiwan speak a lot louder than people back home, so I’ve gotten used to it, but this was LOUD, even for Taiwan.

Heads turned, and there was scooter grandpa berating a woman pushing a baby carriage.  She was gesturing and talking, and then he started yelling again.  At this point, a lot of people were looking at the going-ons.

I couldn’t understand any of it, but from what I could see, seemed like he was too close to the baby, and she was naturally upset, so she said something.  Then he got all pissed off and seemed like he was telling her to move.

In a packed crowd….that he was trying to drive through….on a street where traffic is supposed to go around.

Anyway, the commotion died down for a second, and I turned my head to see what my gf thought about all this….and then there was a new roar.

The woman’s husband (boyfriend?) showed up.  Now this dude was HUGE.  And I don’t mean Taiwan huge, I mean huge.  An impressive slab of man meat.

The yelling commenced again, but this time it took on a threatening tone.  The big man was unloading on scooter grandpa, and scooter grandpa was unloading back.  We moved away a bit in case this blew up into a violent confrontation because the big guy (rightfully) looked very, very pissed off.  I couldn’t believe grandpa on the scooter was still yelling back – forget that he was totally in the wrong, but for Christ’s sake – look at the enraged mountain in front of you!

Eventually, to his credit, the mountain moved his woman and child away and walked off.  Scooter grandpa had a few more choice words (I’m assuming), spit and resumed his ridiculous journey.

Case closed, incident done, right?

As the crowd resumed it’s normalcy, we started talking about what happened.  The mountain and his family were just ahead of us and scooter grandpa was nowhere to be seen or heard.  We kept walking, and as we came to the end of the old street (the crowd had thinned out by now), I saw grandpa, sans scooter, dash out of an alley and start yelling at the mountain again.

Death wish much?

Now they were very close to each other.  The mountain was enraged – he had walked away, and was forced to contend with this idiot again.  At this point, his woman was pulling him away, and again kudos to the guy, he walked away – who wants to knock out a grandpa, right?  Grandpa said a few more things, and as the mountain walked off, I saw him wipe sweat from his face, trying very, very hard not to look back.  Grandpa then walked back to the alley, pulled out a smoke and glared in the  general direction of the mountain.

And that was the end of it.

So it’s plainly clear that no matter where you go, there are always assholes.  Taiwanese, foreigners – all have their share of douchbags.  I’m just wondering how much more attention would this have gotten if grandpa was a foreigner?

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6 Responses to “Taiwanese behaving badly”


  1. 1 MKL July 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Great post! And I mean the way you wrote it, and the points you made.

  2. 3 Anonymous July 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I think it’s the sensitivity as being a foreigner, I know how it feels cuz i’m one of those as well. I think it happens everywhere in different countries/cities 🙂

  3. 5 aristeon July 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Very nice post. Indeed, foreigners’ bad behaviour attracts more attention than locals’. Personally, I think there is a kind of love-hatred relationship between foreigners and Taiwanese. However, the problem of foreigners singled out for their bad behaviour is a major phenomenon in Europe, too (I’m European). When certain groups of foreigners do something bad, some locals blame them in a fierce way and old resentments flare up.

    • 6 islandsidechronicles July 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      I’ve never been to Europe, but I’d imagine this type of double standard exists everywhere in the world. If you are a foreign, visible minority, the locals will definitely single you out more and judge you differently. If you choose to live in that country, you have to accept this and act accordingly. Thanks for reading and the kind words.


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