Sunday, 21 February 2010

Monday, 9:30am

930am: The holiday has come to its end. My alarm just went off but I've been awake for about an hour. The firecrackers started at 830. It's the first Monday after the Chinese New Year holiday and the majority of people have gone back to work. To insure an auspicious year most businesses, large and small, will put out some offerings for someone or other in a separate existential plane, burn incense, and set off firecrackers. The bigger the company the bigger the ceremony.

The smell of burning paper, incense, and gunpowder mix together and fill the streets with a not unpleasant fragrance and a subtle haze. Firecrackers go off constantly through the morning and into the early afternoon. I can hear the cracks from the breakfast shops behind my 12th floor apartment. At times, it sounds like someone shot a gun on the roof outside my window.

when I left my building at 1030 to go the the grocery store and a cup of coffee the office building next door was having a huge bai bai 拜拜 (worship/offering ritual). That's the picture you see above.

re: what color is English

I think some people don't get what I wrote about racism in Taiwan and teaching English. Basically I wrote this:
In many a mind in Taipei, English speakers are white. So, if your French or German you get lumped into that stereotype as being an English speaker. Since they are overseas, that French or German person probably does speak English but it's not their native tongue. If they are here studying Chinese and a Taiwanese just assumes their proper tongue is English, or that they want to speak English in Taiwan, then it's rude. It very aggravating when a Taiwanese person starts speaking English to you just because your white. Even if their English is shit or your Chinese is better than their English some will try to get the practice. OBNOXIOUS!

The other point I made was that this kind of stereotype leads to difficulties for Native English speakers who are non-white when seeking teaching jobs. Sometimes, as the example posted clearly shows, companies or students want a white teacher because it reflects their prejudice.
I simply stated that. Of course it's terrible. Please, read this blog carefully before you comment.

Saturday, 13 February 2010


The ox has left and the tiger has arrived. February 14th, was the first day of Chinese New Year and either the the bull was putting up a fight or the tiger is pissed because it rained for more than the week long vacation in Taipei. When it rains in the winter time in Taipei it's hard to guess what time it is from looking outside. Between 8am and 5pm outside looks the same, dusk, and has the effect of making me permanently sleepy. The sun wasn't seen until yesterday, Sunday.

On Chinese New Years Eve, I went to my girl friends house to eat with her family. I didn't know if I should bring anything and what to bring if I needed to so I arrived with the following:
5 apples
2 Korean pears
1 bag of milk peanut candy (kind of like taffy with peanuts in it)
1 bottle of 15 year Glenlivet scotch
We ate a massive meal and drank some whiskey. Afterwards we went over to her grandmothers house. Red envelopes were exchanged for “新年快樂”(xin nian kuai le) or happy new year. People gamble during Chinese new year in games like mahjong or with small amounts of money in more simpler games. For example, "highest card wins the money", the best way to describe one game I played at my girlfriends grandmothers house.

Throughout the rest of the week I played mahjong, drank tea occasionally and ate a lot of food. I also caught up on sleep, my new favorite past time....again. Happy New Year.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

What Color is English?

In Asian, or at least Chinese speaking countries, the term 外國人 (waiguoren), meaning "foreigner", always carries a racial context. It seems in a typical Taiwanese mind "Foreigner" is mostly associated non asian people. However, there is a large amount of people from other Asian nations and pacific islands that don't speak English but do not stand out as much. Along side this thought is the stereotype that white people speak only English, no matter where they're from. Therefore, white face = English. . These misgivings lead to the common situation of a Taiwanese/Chinese initiating random conversation with a foreigner to practice their English. A harmless albeit most annoying stereotype for someone who came to Taiwan to learn and speak Chinese. I came to Taiwan to do just that. Live in a place where the national and very dominant language is Mandarin Chinese. So far it has been a bit similar as if I went to McDonalds expecting to order a hamburger only for the clerk to ask me "want kind of pizza would you like?"

In Taiwan being a "foreigner" most likely means you are doing one of two things. One, you are teaching English. Two, you are a student training your feeble tongue to speak Chinese. For those teaching English, race can became a very annoying obstruction. As I wrote above white skin means English and that means some jobs are open to whites only. Blacks, Asian, Hispanic, and Latino people of English speaking countries can have a hard time finding work because their ostensible qualities don't fit the expectations of Taiwanese stereotypes. Below is a conspicuous gem an example. Please note that ABC = American born Chinese, ABT = American born Taiwanese.

Seeking English Tutor for Auto Company employees
Kaohsiung City 高雄市10+Adult and School-aged1034Details
Kaohisung's biggest Auto Company is seeking Experienced English Tutor for employees. The purpose for employees to learn is to make them much more international and able to read English document as future concern. Class will concentrate more in “Pronunciation Correction” and “Business Conversation”. Requirements : 1.True Native Speaker, Caucasian is the best. USA or Canada tutor the best. ABC or ABT please hesitate. 2.Nice, patience & energetic. 3.Teaching Certificate is not required, would be PLUS if available. 4.Able to create great interaction during session. Class size can be 8~10 students, depends on tutor's condition. Interview is required if eligible. Welcome to contact by phone or write me mail, if you think you are the one!! cheers Eddie Yu

Saturday, 6 February 2010


I've been living in Taipei for about 14 months. The coldest it has gotten in that time was a mild 48 degrees or 8 degrees Celsius. Since I've been here I have missed the sight of snow and that feeling you get the night a big snow storm is coming. Kind of similar to "Am I gonna be stuck in my house for a day or two?". It's similar to excitement.

Today, while looking on facebook, I saw some picutres of the storm that hit Virginia this weekend. HOLY SHIT! That's pretty much all I can say. I have never been in a storm that big and I don't think I would want to. Thinking about my more or less absent winter season and looking at these pictures has made me realize something. I miss snow and a cold day but not being cold. And I certainly don't miss being stuck in my house because no stores are open and the snow on the road is up to my car window. Good luck Va. Hope you have enough tea, whiskey, food, and someone for company. It's gonna be a long one.