From the moment I landed in Taiwan I heard nothing but amazing things from everyone I met about how amazing the Taiwanese are. I was a bit skeptical at first and the intimidating language barrier prevented me from making much of an effort with the locals.
However, I soon experienced it for myself when I arrived in Taichung.
Due to a mix up caused by me buying the wrong train ticket and ending up arriving at the wrong train station, I arrived in Taichung with useless directions and having no idea where I was. Trying not to freak out I decided to take a taxi.
Out of a dozen or so taxi drivers, not one of them could speak English.
Twenty minutes later I was still stood on the street, but now I was surrounded by dozens of Taiwanese taxi drivers. Five or six of them had handed me their phones so I could talk to their English-speaking friends to describe where I needed to go. Of course, none of them actually understood what I was saying and I was getting more and more frustrated.
It’s at times like these when I really wonder why I ever wanted to travel!
At that moment a Taiwanese girl about my age approached me after having noticed the commotion I was causing. After she realised what the problem was she whispered in my ear that I shouldn’t take a taxi and had a look at the address I had written down. Not recognising the name of the street she told me to follow her back to her apartment so she could find out where it was.
As we walked along together I was silently freaking out, as different scenarios played out in my mind. Was she going to drug me and keep me as her sex slave? Maybe she going to sell me on the slave market? Was I about to become part of a real life human centipede?!
We reached her apartment and I took a deep breath as I entered, wondering if it was going to be my last ever taste of fresh air.
I soon learnt that she was artist and had the most amazing apartment filled with her artwork and sculptures. She motioned for me to take a seat and poured me a cup of tea. Reluctantly I sipped at it, wondering if I’d be able to detect the rohypnol.
She opened up her laptop and we went onto Google Maps to see the location of my hostel. Once she’d worked out where it was, she grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and drew me a map with directions to the bus stop so I could catch a bus there. She also wrote down the address in Chinese so that I would be able to ask someone for help if I were to get lost.
We spoke for an hour or so whilst we drank our tea, then she handed me the map and we said our goodbyes.
I was in shock that this girl went entirely out of her way to help me, whilst getting nothing back in return.
If it hadn’t have been for her I would have been wandering the streets of Taichung for hours and hours.
Once I’d settled down in Taichung I received a message on Twitter from Lia – a girl that I had been talking to since arriving in Taiwan. After finding out that she actually lived in Taichung we arranged to meet the following day so she could show me around her hometown.
I soon discovered that she’d actually taken the day off work just so that she could spend the day hanging out with me.
During our day together Lia showed me all of her favourite shops and places to eat that I definitely wouldn’t have discovered if I’d been walking around alone. We went for lunch and Lia insisted on paying for everything as well as for our amazing drinks at a tiny Taiwanese tea shop we visited that evening.
During our time spent together I happened to mention that I had hoped to visit Sun Moon Lake whilst staying in Taichung, but that I didn’t think I’d be able to make it as it was really tricky to get to via public transport.
A while later I discovered that Lia had phoned her boss to book the following day off work too – just so that she could take me to Sun Moon Lake herself.
Not only that, but she had also arranged for her Mum to drive us there and spend the day driving us around whilst we explored the area.
I couldn’t believe the kindness and generosity that was shown to me by Lia and her family, and it was extended even further at our day at Sun Moon Lake.
Her Mum insisted on buying me lunch as well as paying for us both to take an amazing cable car ride over the lake and nearby mountains.
As I said goodbye to Lia and her Mum they handed me a present they’d secretly bought without me noticing – a small keyring with my name on it in Chinese characters.
I was very sad to say goodbye to Lia and the next time I’m in Taiwan I’ll definitely be making the trip down to Taichung to see her again.
These two incidents were not isolated events.
Wherever I went in Taiwan, I experienced people approaching me just to say hello and see where I was from. At any time where I was walking around completely lost with a map, people would come up to me to see where I needed to go – and if they couldn’t explain in English how to get there they would take me there themselves. I was even invited to my hostel owner’s grandmother’s house one evening to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival so that I wouldn’t be alone.
I ended up staying for almost a month in Taiwan and part of my reason for doing so was simply because the people were so amazing. I’ve never visited a country where literally every single person wants to go out of their way to help you, and everyone I’ve spoken to about the country has agreed with me. I can therefore say with confidence that the Taiwanese are the nicest people in the world.
What country have you found to have the friendliest people?
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I’ve found Ladakhi people to be really really friendly! Ladakh, a part of India actually, is a fairly-difficult to reach area located in northenmost part of India, amidst the Himalayas. When I went there last year, their hospitality and friendliness completely floored me! :)
Wow, that sounds like an amazing experience!
I’ll take friendly people and locals over tourist sites any day of the week. It always makes the trip with friendly locals – even if there is not much to see, friendly people are always a joy.
Good story .
Always enjoy taking the “scenic” route – IE getting lost.
It will always happen while traveling, and you never know what good things are going to pop up.
John D. Wilson
I really enjoyed reading this post!!!
She’s so amazing for doing that! I just lighted up after reading your post.
I find friendly people everywhere. I have to say though, in most of Asia people are the friendliest. :-)
I know! I was so shocked by everyone’s friendliness.
So lovely. It helps so much when the locals are friendly and really makes a difference to your visit because they end up telling you about places and restaurants you never would have found on your own. It also makes it a little less daunting!
Definitely – I saw so many things that I would have never seen had I been alone!
That is so amazing! This really makes me want to visit Taiwan! I’ve never been to Asia and it hasn’t really been at the top of my list, but now that I know how friendly they are it has definitely scooted up near the top of my bucket list. Thanks for sharing! :)
I’m so glad, it was my first place I visited in Asia and became my favourite country instantly!
I am so glad I came across your blog. I have been contemplating China for my vacation next year. I just can’t decide where I want to go. I hear so many bad things about the people, yet I always hear wonderful things about Taiwan. Thanks for posting this :)
Definitely go to Taiwan over China!
That sounds amazing! I just worked with a couple of Taiwanese girls (in an Australian ski resort!) that were extremely friendly, it’s nice to know that when we get there we can expect to meet more great people too. Thanks for the post!
That’s great that you’ll be heading there, every single person I met was so incredibly friendly.
Sounded like the language barrier was a big problem in Taiwan. Good thing the people are nice!
It wasn’t too bad, I managed ok!
Wow, normally when people are overly friendly, I tend to be skeptical but this just looks like wholesome generosity and friendliness. Love it.
I also love the fact that you used the word “whilst”.:P
Hey Tyler… I got scammed in China after I visited Taiwan as it made me too trusting! I’m back to being skeptical now! :)
Such a sweet post! Thank you for writing this down. Btw, the people in China and Taiwan are very different! Long time ago we share the same origin, but nowadays the customs and habits, even the culture are very different. – A Taiwanese who visited China several times.
Lauren, that sounds awesome!
It sounds like our experiences in Taiwan we’re pretty similar! Everyone was just SO helpful and courteous! I was so sad to leave!
When I was in Taiwan I had planned to hike this mountain but had no idea how to get to the base of it via public transport! This kind old man took me along the subway and bus and even walked to the base of the mountain with me! He then started apologizing profusely that he was not in good shape to join me for the hike! Too sweet!
Anyways, I am so excited that you had a positive experience there!
I’m so glad you had the same experience in Taiwan! It’s so amazing how they would go COMPLETELY out of their way to help total strangers!
I love when I meet new people from a new to me city and they are so happy and nice and accomidating. I would love to visit Taiwan sooner rather than later!
I love that too, it makes your experience a million times better if the people are great :)
I have been in Taiwan for two years and traveled all throughout Asia. The people in Taiwan are extremely friendly and warm-hearted as your story indicates. Excellent post. Cheers!
Great to hear that you had a similar experience, Kurt!
taiwan is one of safest place to visit, low crime rate. CANNOT say the same thing about china
Lauren, i defenately agreed with you bout the kindess and friendliness of Taiwanese. That’s the reason why i have to go Taiwan almost every year! I received many kindness, similiar to yours when i was there too!
All the way and good luck for your trips ahead!
I’m so jealous that you get to go every year, and so glad you also experienced the amazing kindness of the Taiwanese :)
I am missing Taiwan so much, more than a year have not visited. Aim to do it by end of the year =)
Good to hear this. I’m making ans to visit Taiwan in the near future.
Great! You’ll love it there.
Well, you’ve made me feel incredibly guilty for leaving Taiwan on such a spur of the moment decision :P Actually, this is an inspiring post and a reason why many of us continue to stay on the road as long as we have. I think that if some of my working conditions had of been better I would have given that school a proper chance :)
Definitely – you were so tired and fed up that I think the best decision for you was to head back home for a rest :) You can head over to Taiwan another time.
Stories like this remind me why we travel!
Sounds like you are having an amazing time!
I really am! :)
You sure are conquering Asia with your trip to Taiwan. You should head next to China!
This is amazing! and finally for once someone actually helped you without having secret evil plans haha :D But don’t you agree than falling in trouble is more fun to write about? :D I mean Lia and her family were totally nice but you could have had more stories to tell if they kidnapped you or something :P (just kidding by the way…i love nice people)
Came across your blog randomly – and being Taiwanese I can’t tell you how heartwarming it is to hear that you enjoyed Taiwan and how friendly you found the people to be!
Super sorry about your scam in China :( But best of luck on your trip and if you ever feel like visiting Taiwan again remember that you’re always super welcome on our little, but I might say – rather beautiful, island!
(Time to subscribe to your blog :D )
Awww these stories warm my heart. You’re making my decision about where I should do my TEFL a lot easier!
I’m a Taiwanese. My friend forwarded your webpage to me, and I found your experience also touching to me. We Taiwanese have a good tradition of hospitality, which you already experienced. It’s also a Chinese tradition. However, what you experienced in China is totally diffierient. I suspect that it might be caused by China’s cultural revolution decades ago. It would be too sad for me if we also lost that tradition.
If you have another chance to go to China, I hope you expence similar hospitality in rual rather than urban area of China.
Wow .. I find this fascinating !! I lived in china for over four yrs and if u ask any chinese person they will tell you taiwan IS china !! Then they go on and on about the history of how it all happened yrs ago .. Blah blah blah … I personal have seen and felt a huge difference between the two .. Its always a heated discussion to avoid with chinese ppl !!
With my personal experiences in china there was always a “method to the madness” and a ” u scratch my back i will scratch urs” attitude! Sure i had lots of friendly folk help me but almost 90% of the time they wanted or needed smthg in return! Ugh
Bottom line is there are good and bad, friendly and unfriendly, rich and poor everywhere !!!
Lauren like i said before on previous posts .. I think you are an incredible individual and i love reading every word !! Xxxx :)
Hi, I’m Taiwanese. I read this article as my English reading practice.
Every foreigners who traveled to Taiwan said Taiwanese are friendly.
But I wonder…..is that true?? Or I didn’t feel that because I just get used to it?
I also read another article about you were cheated in China. It was incredible. I couldn’t believe all the rumors are true. Maybe those Chinese wouldn’t admit that.
BTW, Lia is really beautiful. Oh My God~
I love Taiwan too. The people are friendly
Lauren, it’s only because you’re white that they are so helpful, that girl wld never invited you back if you were Taiwanese… They love Americans!
I’m not American….
I’m Korean and when I visited Taiwan, the locals were extremely nice. They were extremely friendly and I even managed to meet some very interesting people during my time there. From what I see, the locals in Taiwan are much more friendlier and way less arrogant than what I would encounter in Korea.
That’s great to hear, Andrew :-)
They are really nice people, good looking, very dedicated to their work, polite, talkative, helpful, overall really great people >.< I wish to visit Taiwan every year, I'm southeast asian btw :) they are really accommodating and very hospitable, you are very fortunate that you've stayed in TW for a month!
Absolutely, the Taiwanese are wonderful! :-)
The only reason they were nice to you is because you are white. Taiwanese LOVE (mmmh no, thats nor the word… WORSHIP is more likely) white people. Truth is, Taiwanese are racist living in denial of their own racism. If you were to make a poll asking foreigners living in Taiwan whether they think Taiwanese are racist or not, half of them (white people) will tell you that they are the nicest people in the planet, while the other half (black, hispanic, middle eastern, chinese from ML China, philippines, indonesian, etc) will tell you that Taiwanese are just a bunch of assholes.
It is funny you say that, because I was travelling with two girls, one from Ghana and one from Pakistan and they both experienced the same levels of kindness as I did — even when travelling solo through the country.
Actually as a Korean, I was shocked at the kind treatment I received. Yeah the Taiwanese are not so friendly to Mainlanders but there is a good reason to that since Chinese tourists have a very bad rep in that country. Out of all the countries I have visited in Asia, Taiwan would be the country where I was treated the best and I experienced no racism there compared to China and Japan. The locals did their best to make me feel welcome and are very eager to know more about my country. Trust me, Taiwan is definitely not the place where locals give preferential treatment to whites only. I live in a country where locals do that all the time and Taiwan is not one of those places at all.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Andrew, and I’m pleased to hear you also had a wonderful experience in Taiwan!
i guess i can say that hospitality is the nature of taiwanese (not trying to be arrogant
）. i did the similar things for a foreign sometimes like the artist u met in Taichung. i also wrote down the address in Chinese of where he wants to go or what she particularly wants to buy in store.
That’s so kind! :-)
I stumbled across your wonderful site today and on reading through various posts I came across this one relating to the kindness of the Taiwanese people.
Two weeks ago I accepted a job offer to teach on Penghu for 12 months, so in 10 days packed up my life, and like you, cried my eyes out (yes, even at my age I can still cry like a baby) as I bid farewell to family and friends in Australia.
On arrival in Taipei last week a taxi driver spent over half an hour driving down tiny streets and alleys in the hope of finding my somewhat elusive hotel. So as not to take up too much space here, in the end after a few phone calls to the hotel (on his phone) we found it well after midnight. Without him I probably would’ve spent the night on the street. He was so kind and helpful and would only take NT100 for his trouble.
And my experience with Taiwanese hospitality did not stop there. Since arriving on Penghu I have encountered so many kind and friendly people who are more than willing to help. Feel free to visit my blog: http://jennhammerphotography.wordpress.com/ I know I shall be visiting yours regularly.
Hi Jen. That’s great to hear that you had similar experiences! What a lovely story :-)
Hi! My husband and I are headed to Taiwan over Thanksgiving. I found your blog during the “research” phase and I love it! Thanks so much for the info and if you have any tips/tricks/must-dos please send them my way!!
Hi Kassie. Thank you so much! I’m so pleased my site could help :-)
but that I didn’t think I’d be able to make it as it was really tricky to get to via public transport.
Play hard or go home. What nonsense….and she paid for everything. Next time,sell your camera,pay for people along the way and stop freeloading.
Wow. I offered to pay them over and over and over… but they wouldn’t accept my money. I didn’t stop trying for the entire day. Short of forcing my money into their bags, there wasn’t much more I could try. And as for being a freeloader, you should read some more travel blogs. I’m one of the very few travel bloggers who insists on paying for every single aspect of their travels.
Forgive my comments, it was wrong of me to post that. Your story is interesting and inspires me to visit taiwan. Just one question, as an arachnophobe, how is the bug/spider situation? HK is pretty sketchy, and I would imagine taiwan is too?
I’ve only ever seen spiders when hiking in Taroko Gorge. Not anywhere else!
It is a fun blog to read as I randomly typed a few words in Google and found your article to read at my break time at work.
I currently live in Canada and I studied/worked abroad in the US and Canada. Taiwan is the place I was born. I have been away from my home country for almost 20 years.
I traveled and back packed in several countries in the world and have abundant experience hanging out with Chinese (mainlanders). Yes, we are seriously different. A lot of it is the mentality.
I also brought many friends to Taiwan for a short or long visit. Many foreigners or tourists think the island is too small and not worth visiting or simply in transit to other major Asian cities or to China as a stop-over. The airport is also very boring (yes, indeed) and outdated in many ways.
I was planning to enjoy your amazing story telling how friendly Taiwanese are, but kind of disappointed. (is that it?…….lol). Yes, I can understand you might be surprised by how friendly that Taiwanese are in terms of helping you find the way and get you the direction.
But in fact…it is nothing! I have more amazing stories to tell you.
I have heard a friend in Taiwan saying that their family host an American for two years at no cost. One day, there is an American guy visiting her family saying that he had a dream saying that God wants him to have a mission and preach to local people about Christianity. And the family let him stay there without knowing what his background is (only knew that he is an America). The guy lived there for two years and then the family decided to contact the American consulate in Taipei to find out who he is, then contacted his family to bring him home!
I also have helped tons of foreign tourists the ways and directions while I was in Taiwan (or before I studied abroad). Is that a big thing or feel giving favors to the tourist? No, I think we are obligated to help as there is not too many English signs or translation available. In a way, it is a good way to practice English (yes, too extreme is also no good).
We are born and educated to treat others well with respect, especially those in need or in desperation.
We bring no harm nor want to take advantage of others to begin with.
Many foreign tourists are very surprised that the lost purses or wallets can be easily found intact after a few days at the police station in Taiwan.
I must say that Taiwanese are the most polite and respecting “Chinese” (sorry to use this term as it is not political, although people may not agree with me, and we don’t like that symbol) in the world you can find comparing to people living in Singapore, Hong Kong and of course in China, no matter where you are, you can feel at ease approaching them and asking for help (if you ever need).
I gave all of my money to help an American friend to go to medical school because his family cannot support him living in the poor neighborhood, and he wants to help people living in urban slums and ghetto areas. (I just think it is necessary. Is this considered as good? Many American friends think I am amazing, but my Taiwanese friends just say ” it is a good thing “). well.
However, we also have drawbacks:
1. We are shy to smile (as excessive smile is considered as silly or strange)
2. We are forgettable as we tend to forget things easily.
3. We are short tempered and want to compete with others in terms of what we have especially the 3C products.
4. We are naive in terms of caring about what is happening in other countries (blame the media)
I hope you enjoyed my non-sense comment and no offense.
Keep traveling, it is the way of life and prove of life.
I loved your comment — thanks so much for shining some light on Taiwanese culture.
I want to say that the Japanese are both the friendliest and unfriendliest. Confusing?
Well I have been in Japan for 1 1/2 months and travelled around a lot. In Tsuruoka I found the nicest people who were happy to help you when you ask for help or even if you look like you need help ( a nice old man pulled over and asked me if I needed a lift while I was walking around. Young children would say hello to me all the time as well.
On the island of Amami I met the friendliest and most helpful people. One couple pulled over and the woman dashed across the road and asked me if I wanted a lift. Again I was walking so I politely said thanks but no. On another day when it was raining heavily a woman pulled over to the opposite side of the road, on which I was walking and asked if I was ok and was going to give me her umbrella.
Unfortunately, most other times I find the japanese people reserved and unlikely to talk to you. So much so that I have mostly only spoken to Lawsons/Family Mart/7/11/ect people and those at the accommodatoin I am staying at during my visit.
Pity that because I love the culture, just not that side of it.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, Mark. I haven’t been to Japan yet, but I have heard similar things from friends who have visited.
I was just sharing my experiences. Did you read my post? It doesn’t seem like you did. Clearly the girls I met weren’t cold and unapproachable in their behaviour towards me. I didn’t once talk about how the locals smiled at me, and that that made them friendly — how can that be a problem with my article if I didn’t write anything about it? I spoke instead about how they took time off work to show me around their country, bought me presents, and tried to pay for me. Or how they took hours out of their day to help me when I was lost with no ulterior motive. Or that they invited me into their homes for a festival so that I wouldn’t have to spend it alone. I didn’t come to my conclusion that the Taiwanese were friendly because they smiled at me — but instead by the sheer kindness I shown by every single person I met in the country. Nobody tried to take advantage of me, nobody walked all over me, nobody was unapproachable. I’m sorry if you had the opposite experience to me, but that doesn’t mean you should describe an entire population as racist.
I’m afraid that your comment, “Never smile nor be friendly with asians….they take kindness as weakness, and being nice and doing the right thing in that part of the world, will just see you walked all over, like a doormat” makes you come across as the racist. All Asians will take advantage of me? Every single one, whether I’m in Sri Lanka or Mongolia or Japan or Oman or Taiwan? All five billion of them? Right.
Hey, I read your article and im impressed, I had heard some horror stories from some foreigners…they said some pretty bad things about Taiwanese people but what you said in this post is great and I will be continuing to read it in the future.
Usually the ones that have horror stories are stuck up and ignorant to the local people, just hanging around with other foreigners causing trouble.
but I am fluent chinese speaker and have no worries as I have a friend that lives in Taipei, I will hope to go next year after my scholarship finishes in China. Very insightful post :)
Oh, weird. I’ve heard mostly positive things about Taiwan!
I had a similar experience to share; I went to Taiwan earlier this year and at the time I didn’t have a phone card so I had to get my Internet from wireless. Unfortunately my phone was locked so I had to remotely unlocked via Internet chat from Rogers (Canada).
So I went to a McDonald in the morning and found out that their Wifi only works with a local phone card. An employee who spoke English let me use his Wifi for more than 2 hours (long story). His shift ended and I was still using the Internet chat so he stayed around, and then after the phone was unlocked we went together to a 7-11 to get the phone card. But I didn’t have my passport on me so he used his ID to buy the phone card.
Afterward we exchanged phone # and a few days later he drove my wife and I to a nice tourist destination.
Taiwanese people are the best people I’ve met! I will retire in that country in 20 years.
I love this story! What an incredible guy. It blows my mind that there are so many thousands of stories out there of similar shows of kindness. I’d love retire to Taiwan, too :-)
I’m Taiwanese and l’m glad to see this.Welcome to Taiwan again!!!
Sorry..my English is bad
Thanks, Mike! I just returned to Taiwan a couple of months ago, with my boyfriend this time, and am pleased to say he loved it just as much as I did! We’re thinking about visiting again later this year because we had so much fun :-)
Hi LAUREN,I am Taiwanese. After I watched you article,
I miss my hometown so mush! Because i live in Australia now.
And Taiwanese is really nice! When I get lost in there,people often help me a lot,even thought i am a Taiwanese.
Ahhhh, that makes me so happy to hear, Megan! It really is a wonderful country :-)
I was deciding where in Asia to visit. I typed in “Are Korean People friendly to foreigners” in Google search and read “Koreans are the rudest people.” Then I typed in “Are people in Taiwan friendly to foreigners” and read your story. You have made my decision on where to visit now. In fact I have heard and read a lot of positive comments about people in Taiwan, not only from western visitors but from visitors from the mainland China.
Yay! Have an amazing time :-) It really is an incredible country and the locals are so welcoming!
Taipeir, I have not heard one single person from China say that Taiwan people were unfriendly. On the contrary they all marvel at how nice the people there were. I am referring to those Chinese I know.
Same same! :-)
As a Taiwanese person, it was very touching to read about your positive experience in Taiwan. I think I tend to take things for granted when I am part of that culture, so it was very refreshing to see someone else’s experience.
It is very much part of the Taiwanese culture to take care of people, including insisting on paying for things. It’s something I find slightly embarrassing, as I think it implies that I (or my friends) can’t take care of ourselves. It was good to be reminded that this generosity is what makes Taiwan well liked.
I am a Taiwanese, thank you for your sharing. I also traveled some countries in these several years. I knew your feeling when that girl help you and you was freaking out… I’ve traveled some Europe countries, no matter where… steal, robbery, cheating and be harassed by drunks… that let me believe my country is one of safety countries.
Bad things is if Taiwanese traveled abroad, always lack of vigilant, my friends tried to help a boy and borrowed him cellphone, when he took the mobile and just ran away…Our Irish landlord didn’t comfort her and said it was stupid, told us never trust anyone, especially some one who need help! Even I though she was too exaggerating but I’ve heard same advise from many locals.
I read some comments here, I didn’t feel awkward or angry if someone judge Taiwan because we
are criticizing our country everyday, who would not? But I must say Taiwan is a really safety country, Taiwan was a high criminal society about 20 yrs ago but now if you check “safety country ranking” on google searching, Taiwan always on the top (um…the fact, Singapore and Japan are king and queen on the ranking table). We criticized our self because Taiwanese still lack of spirit of nomocracy but we will change it in one day…
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Abby! I was actually scammed in China immediately after visiting Taiwan, and it was partly because the friendly locals in Taiwan had led to me lowering my guard and becoming far too trusting.
A new survey I read is absolutely wrong by labeling Taiwan the friendliest nation.
There’s a major misconception here.
Yes, they are very nice if you need help, but most are closed in terms making friends and openness.
If you’re a tourist you’ll get the false impression of them being friendly, but if you live and work here you’ll realize how shy / rude many can be, especially generation X’ers and Millennials.
I’ve had strangers give me a ride on their scooters when I was lost or give me an umbrella when it was suddenly raining, but the kindness stops there. Most taiwanese coworkers can be closed and make you feel like an outcast, speaking Chinese to each other and ignoring you, even when they are able to speak English,. No interest in making social conversation about your family, hobbies, experiences, etc. This seems to MO especially with women.
At first, I thought I did something wrong culturally to make the people I met so distant, but I found my story repeated and heard from many other expats. You can see this more evidently when riding the train. No one speaks to each other casually; they’re just on their mobiles or pretending to be asleep.
This antisocial behavior that’s been developing the past 10 to 15 years, according to expats who’ve lived here that long. Other expats don’t see this or don’t agree because they’ve been influenced culturally and become “taiwanized.”
Some say it’s because Taiwan has become more developed and it follows the social detachment pattern of other developed nations. But that’s not entirely the case for Hong Kong and Singapore have friendlier populations, where even flirting and romancing is far more acceptable publicly. Taiwan unfriendly vibe mimics developed Japan’s similar apathetic society. 50 years of hard Japanese influence, like it is also in (North ? and) South Korea.
I found many to be even vindictive if you make them lose face with criticism or complaints.
China, where I lived two years before coming here and which ranks badly in the survey, has far friendlier and open people, including women.
I met women easily I’m still friends with today in Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, etc. And I’m talking most are just genuine friendships, platonic relationships.
Chinese start conversations in trains or subways and offer you a snack to share, even a beer sometimes.
Losing face in China doesn’t mean a precursor to a vendetta, but a chance to mend and improve on the mistake or the trespass.
Even dealing with journalists, I found them more approachable in China. Reporters there were more eager to exchange ideas and experiences with foreign colleagues despite censorship. Here the few I met act like they’re not interested in knowing what you have to say, unless, of course, you represent a major news outlet like BBC or New York Times.
A university professor in Taipei told me that holier-than-thou attitude is one of the reasons the country is in decline after its 101 boom.
Sorry for the rant, but I’m sort of tired of hearing or reading that Taiwan is such a friendly place. The heart of Asia, Ha!
Right. But this is a post about travelling in Taiwan, not about being an expat in Taiwan. And as a traveller, Taiwan is wonderful :-)
Your comment is all anecdotal, though, isn’t it? As is my post. I had an absolutely appalling experience with every single local I encountered in China, for example.
It is funny how most of the people who say Taiwanese are not friendly are sexually frustrated men.
I honestly partly agree with this comment because as a Taiwanese of course I know how racist we can be, However….
I am a Taiwanese woman living overseas for a long time and I met a few people, Brazilian, American, British, Colombian, Indian… who were living in Taiwan for at least 2 years and none of them told me that women are hard to approach, but, first of all, why do you have to ‘approach’ women? We are moving objects and we are alive, we have brain and eyes. Secondly, if you know the sexism situation to Taiwanese women, you might understand what kind of pressure a woman has to face when they talk to a foreign man, if you browse the internet, you can find that when Taiwanese women are easy to be approached, we will be slut shamed. I am personally fine with that, but a lot of Taiwanese women don’t, and I can totally understand it. We are a teeny-tiny island compare to China, and once someone in your neighborhood/office/school slut shame you, it is hard to escape that stress. I hate this sexism part of Taiwan, of course, there are plenty of reasons why I am not there anymore. Nevertheless, as a Taiwanese woman who lives in other countries I am very sick of hearing people complain about women, especially asian women.
Have you ever complained when you go to some western countries and the women are ‘hard to approach’? We might look younger and more naive but we are still grown women with standards and choices.
I find your complain lack of the understanding of Taiwanese culture and self-reflection, if you have people you know who have the same experience, well, if you studied a bit of Chinese, you would know a saying: 一丘之貉 (it means similar people stick together.) I think you should maybe try to adapt yourself to the culture and understand us a bit since you live in Taiwan, if you try to not be ‘taiwanized’ a bit, then how can you be a part of it? How do you not put yourself on a high pedestal while talking to Taiwanese, and how do Taiwanese people find YOU approachable?
And Lauren thank you for your kind reply, you never attack any of them in the comment, I admire it, but I cannot just let these sexism posts being unanswered.
I am from Singapore and i agree with you they are the most friendly people ever! Not only that, many of them are humuorous, easy going people.
The next most friendly people i feel is from the Swiss people! When i was in Zurich, i encounter many Swiss helping me when i am lost and went out of the way to help me.
Which other countries do you think you have meet friendly people? Cheers
Hmmm, good question! I’d say French Polynesia, Swaziland, and New Zealand has some very friendly locals :-)
I’m visiting Taiwan now as I comment. Was here 10 yrs ago and been here for almost 2 weeks now because my wife is originally from Taiwan. Taiwanese ppl are hospitable but might also be seen as rude if u go by some western standards. But for the most part, ppl here are hospitable. Young ppl are always staring at their phones now on the train. Less interactive than I remember 10 yrs ago. Maybe it’s due to technology use?
Can’t really comment on China but I can say that a culture of corruption in mainland China has made Chinese ppl less moral. Communism wiped it away. But Taiwanese culture has preserved a Stronger sense of morality, likely due to a preservation of religion and religious freedom. Christianity, along with an ingrained Confucianism and Buddhism has given Taiwanese ppl a spirit of kindness, hospitality. MHO of course.
Trying to extend my stay here one more week. There’s a rich culture here in Taiwan.
“Can’t really comment on China” – goes on to comment with tired generalizations & dogmatic comparisons between China & Taiwan. Those only apply in pre-Beijing 2008 era, things’ve changed now to the point where they hold little weight.
Have you ever heard of a superiority complex? No country is going to have 100% good people, & Taiwan is an example of the previous (like Japan in some ways). If you research it online, you can some evidence of it which some will find disagreeable. (Wasn’t racism mentioned in a previous comment?)
Soon, I will visit my family in Taiwan with my girlfriend. I have lived in the States for more than 2 decades and haven’t had many chances to visit my hometown Taichung. I know Taiwan is kind of friendly and safe country, but things can be changed very fast. She is not an Asian, therefore, I expect that there might have some degrees of culture shock or something, but at least, I hope that during her trip there, she can feel safe and warm. After reading your story that really builds up my confidence. However, at least I’m not too worry about safety. Living in States is way way more dangerous, a woman walking on the street alone at night is a suicide :P
Hi Lauren, glad you had such a good time. I’ve been in Kaohsiung for 8 years now and have been treated with exceptional kindness ever since I arrived. People have given up their lunch hour to help me look for an apartment, given me directions when I’ve been lost, invited me to stay a their homes, treated me to wonderful food and generally been as helpful as possible. I’ve visited many countries in Asia but this is like my second home!
So happy to hear you experienced the same kindness as I have :-)
I lived in Taiwan for 20 years. They are absolutely friendly, especially to foreigners, and because they are often very educated, quite a few will try to practice using English at the best of their ability in order to help an obvious non-Asian looking person. Those who are afriaid that their English ability is poor (or nonexistent) will shy away or show some distress, but rarely be rude. They will not scam you, but of course not being able to speak Chinese limits your ability to strike a deal when in a market. Following the general rules of staying away from nightlife and the people who are dangerously driving between those places on a Friday or Saturday night, 99% of foreigners have a great experience in Taiwan!!!
Agree! It’s rare to hear from someone who hasn’t had a good time in Taiwan!
Hey, Lauren. Then, I should plan my trip to Taiwan and feel myself :)
I’m also a Taiwanese but I’ve been living in San Francisco for the past of almost twenty years now. I still visit time every summer since my family is still there. I do feel Taiwanese people are more genuine, open minded, and generous not only to foreigners but also to other Taiwanese people for the most of the part. ( of course, there are always some bad apples like everywhere else) I think the reasons are being traditional Chinese/ Confucius influences as well as diversified religions teaching people to be ethical and practice good values etc…
Thanks for sharing your story in Taiwan and I hope more and more people will have positive experiences traveling or living there!
Try being a white guy dating a Taiwanese girl and then see how you’re treated.
Absolutely blood curdling.
For a white chick like you, thanks to western media,the whole world will be friendly. A country’s friendliness can really be judged how it treats colored people. Asian people are in general friendly and welcoming to pale skin. It’s because of their mentality that white is rich and black is poor and shady. They can’t fathom that blacks and colored people do exist and some do exist in Western countries too. Check out below a black American’s experience in Taiwan
Thanks for sending through the article. Obviously I can only write about my own experiences in a country and wouldn’t want to speak for anybody else. But I appreciate you sharing the link. Also, a quick note that the term “coloured people” is offensive.
I’m from the Solomon Islands in the Pacific and my skin color is black. I’ve visited Taiwan for 2 months in 2010 for a training in Taoyuan near Taipei and found the Taiwanese people to be generally kind people.
ok i am a Taiwanese expat.
i can tell you right now that Taiwanese are NOT this friendly in general.
they are only this way towards Europeans/White people.
Good to hear Lauren, still would be more useful to generalize friendliness had you been a man and a minority (as in non-white and non-han). Now that would prove Taiwanese were truly awesome. Still, my impression meeting Taiwanese people around the world is that they are indeed friendly. Much friendlier than other oriental nations atleast.
I can definitely vouch for the friendliness if you’re a man, as I later returned to Taiwan with my boyfriend and he encountered so many lovely, welcoming people. People would even stop him in the streets and welcome him to Taiwan! And I travelled with a Pakistani and a Ghanian girl on my first trip to Taiwan and they received just as much warmth, kindness, and friendliness as I did.
I can’t talk about other people’s experiences outside of my own, as this is a personal travel blog so it’s a record of my own travels and highlights.