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Sep 17 2011

Taiwan: Like it or not


In the year of our lord 2009 I moved into the Island nation known as ‘Taiwan’ as a 24 year old budding anthropologist. Excited about the prospect of discovering a new culture, learning a new language, unlocking ancient mysteries and such. I will be leaving next year as a 28 year old grumpy asshole, who’s vision of the future lies at the bottom of a whisky bottle.

So far I thought it best to just express my opinions orally. Grumbling at new acquaintances about the expat community, and the rampant consumerist ideology the Taiwanese have decided to construct their national identity around.

I have received encouragement few months ago from a Taiwanese friend who praisingly introduced me to his peers as ‘a very opinionated foreigner’ (hen you xiangfa de waigouren). I have increasingly come to think that quietly holding my opinion to myself is not only pathetic but also disrespectful to the nation that has given me enormous opportunities . So before I go on an admittedly self-righteous tirade I want to clarify that my intention is to stimulate debate and contribute in my own way to the improvement of my environment.

It is impossible for any foreigner to not notice that they have come to acquire an undeserved status as cultural trend setters in Taiwan. This is manifest in the expat community’s awkward monopoly on all that is considered ‘cool’. A lot of the ‘in’ spots in Taiwan owe their status to a large extent to the expat infestation. It is a common strategy for most of these places to seduce foreigners first and then have local customers follow suit. It is to this end that they will offer free drinks , employ foreign PR representatives and advertise their events by showing pictures of foreigners acting ‘wild’ and making merry.

One such photographer whom I have decided to call ‘Fifi Millicent’ to avoid validating his vanity has this to say about himself on his web-based exposee.

Under the luminous and radiant spotlight cast by Fifi Millicent’s lens is where everyone who is anyone in Taiwan is trying desperately to be.

As if Fifi hasn’t displayed enough contempt for his subjects. He goes on to describe his bland event photography which constitutes shots of ladies bottoms from various angles as follows.

his event photography has redefined a fresh more contemporary and experimental style and resulted in his being branded as Taiwan’s most sought after event photographer.

Like a schoolboy who’s just doodled a pair of tits at the back of his semen crusted geography notebook, Mr Millicent does not hesitate to boast artistic credentials for having ‘redefined’ mediocrity.

It would however, be a gross misjudgement to conclude that all Taiwanese are duped by this charade, just as much as it would be a misjudgement to assume that every foreigner living in Taiwan are complicit in this opportunism.

Outside the cloned night clubs offering bland entertainment to crowds who are so drunk on distilled horse urine to notice their own embarrassment, there is a rapidly growing alternative scene on the island. It is to them that I wish to dedicate this piece.

Kind Regards,
Uncle Joe