A Mainlander’s view of Taiwan: Don’t come to Taiwan, Taiwan is not fun

This article was written by a young Chinese netizen who travelled to Taiwan. Although its title is misleading and defeats the purpose of this blog, we definitely agree with many many things mentioned in the article. Judging from the reaction from Taiwanese netizens, many people share our views. Originally written in Simplified Chinese, here we provide the English translation and Traditional Chinese text.

Don’t come to Taiwan, Taiwan is not fun 不要來台灣,台灣不好玩

By 東尼控 / Chinese netizen

16:17 21 February 2012

Yuer wrote on her diary on the day of leaving Taiwan: “Taiwan, is not a place to be; but if you are already here, then don’t leave.” I cannot agree more.

Today I met a friend that comes from afar, many thousands kilometers afar, Hezhou came by plane.
The first time we saw each other, is like the first time I saw you [people of Taiwan], but I liked it. Kind, and natural.

Taiwan is not fun, especially if you are with a tour group.
Xiao Wongzhi’s father said, Taiwan is not fun. I feel the same way as well.

It’s not because I don’t love this place. I love it very much, but it’s not fun.
Taiwan is not a place for fun, it’s a place to “live”.

Today Yingtong asks me, is the scenery in Taiwan beautiful? I said, what’s beautiful here is the way of living.

Taipei 101, sunrise at Alishan, scenery of the Sun Moon Lake, seawater of Kenting, valley of Hualien, it’s very easy to find something better elsewhere. But here, there are also lovely people.

The public order is not the best, but it’s also not the worst. Thieves, robbery, frauds, and spams can be found, like any other countries in the world, but there are also people who won’t take and will turn in what is not rightfully theirs. The scenery is not the best, but it’s not bad either, I told Yingtong, the beauty of the scenery, is who you choose to view it with.

The people are not the most kind-hearted, but they are warm and passionate, especially the folks in the south. People in Taiwan don’t travel with maps, not because the road signs are reliable, but because if you ask, there will always be people willing to tell you where to go and how to get there.

This is the place where if someone found your lost phone, they will return it to you; this is the place where if you ran out of gas and are lost, there will be people taking you to the nearest gas station, and said to you with a thick Taiwanese-accent: “miss, your boyfriend is very good looking!”

This is the place where if you bought three sticks from an oden stand, the owner will give you one more for free, telling you that it’s fairer for each person to have two; this is the place where shop owners will give you special treatment because you are a guest from afar; this is the place where someone will hand you a cup of hot water when you are waiting at the gas station with freezing hands.

This is the place where the owner of a breakfast shop will remember the names of every student who comes in, and says hello to you with enthusiasm.
This is Taiwan, the place I love very much.

Her scenery really isn’t the prettiest, but just like what Jay Chou sings in his song, “the most beautiful thing is not the rainy day, but the eaves to hide from the rain with you.” Her beauty is in the people, the laid-back living style, but of course you can’t find that in Taipei (when I say laid-back, I mean compare to other places).

Taipei is not modern, or at least not as modern as it seems in idol dramas.
It’s not as fashionable as Shanghai, nor as state-of-the-art as parts of Beijing. It is the busiest place in Taiwan, and the most sleepless.

The Eslite Bookstore Dun Nan branch is open 24 hours a day; many night markets start to pack up at 10 pm at the earliest; bars and clubs on Jinshan South Road stay open until 5 am; movie theaters always have something playing at midnight. This is the crossroad of prosperity and traditions. Taipei 101 is higher than the clouds, but across from it are vegetable garden and what used to be dormitories of retired soldiers.

Ximending has endless fun things for teenage boys and girls, but there’s also the baroque-styled Red House Theater standing there. MRT is pretty convenient, but people here aren’t that warm and passionate, I think that’s the way of a city – people coming and going, but it looks pretty orderly.
There’s the MRT which prohibits eating onboard, pedestrian traffic signals with a little green man counting down the seconds, and cars that are still learning to give pedestrians the right-of-way (Note 1).

Let’s go south. The more south it is, the hotter the weather is, and so is the enthusiasm of the people. Many people say the south is very pro-green, but I think they are just simple. Simple people will only trust those who are kind to them. Please don’t question why DPP has such high support in the south, it’s not because they keep saying DPP loves Taiwan, but because they actually do pretty well in the local-scale (Note 2) . (But that’s off the topic.)

The south. Here, most people have thick Taiwanese-accents, and they will simply compliment you, without any intention of selling you anything. People here don’t like to wear helmets when riding scooters, nor do they like to follow traffic rules. To be honest it’s kind of chaotic, but in a lovely kind of way. The living pace here is very slow, as if time stops here. So I say, it’s not fun here.

Places outside of cities, should be viewed with a laid-back attitude.
Alishan. I have never seen the sunrise on top of it, but I like to stroll. There’s not much magnificent scenery, but with the right person or people, it’s a wonderful place.
The beaches of Kenting are not the best, but with the right person or people to lay on top of them, counting the stars, it’s an unforgivable experience.

Travelling should be done with company, whether it is yourself or with actual company, especially in Taiwan. To travel through Taiwan, it must be done leisurely. You need to have one night to lay on Siaowan, Kenting to listen to live music and to count the stars; you need to have one day to ride through the Hengchun peninsula; you need to have time to sit in a car, look out the window, and daydream; you need to have the chance to have a taste of whatever you see, even if it’s not as good as it should be.

It is really not that fun here~
Because what is loveliest here, is the group of people living here.
Not the kindest, and not that evil, but guarantee to be warm and welcoming.

It’s not as pretty as it seems in idol drama, because camera lenses can beautify everything.

Tamsui is beautiful, when you see the sunset for the first time, when you are sitting under a tree by the shore with your good friend, watching the tide coming and going;
Kaohsiung is beautiful, when you see the planned Love River, when you have a cup of coffee in your hand, standing on the shore, enjoying the wind blowing from the sea;
Lukang is beautiful, when you see the traditional architecture, when you close your eyes to smell the lighted incenses and feel the devoutness of all kinds of people.

Taiwan is not fun when bustling, because taking in too much information without digesting confuses the fun out of things; Taiwan is fun when you stop, because the pro-DPP Tainan is actually very hospitable, and the unsophisticated Taitung will actually believe you are from Taipei; owner of bed & breakfast treats you like family, kind and natural.

I don’t dare to say things are cheap, but the more south you go the lower the prices, which also usually come with warm greetings from store owners. The people are not the kindest, but there are many kind people; not everyone is warm and passionate, but there are many people who are both.

I think people who can stay in Taiwan for a while are the happiest, because they get to mix the bustling with leisure. On a rainy day, they get to stay inside and listen to the rain, or pick up an umbrella and stroll into the historic streets. On a sunny day, they get to feel the warmth of hang-dried clothes with their faces, or yell their hearts out while walking in the water from the sea.

During the day, you can go to Jiufen and visit the streets in Spirited Away, have some taro balls when looking at the mountains and the sea; you can snack your way through the streets of Pingxi; you can ride a bicycle by the sea in Nan’ao; you can look at the people pray in temples in Lukang; or you can sit in a daze on Alishan (Note 3).

At night, you can have some tea in Maokong and watch the sleepless Taipei until dawn; you can count the stars on a beach in Kenting; you can go to a night market in towns or cities of any types and sizes; or you can stay inside and surf through the countless channels on TV.

Taiwan is not fun, really. It’s not suitable for people coming and going here.
So if you are coming, then don’t leave.

*****

Translator notes:

1. MRT, Mass Rapid Transit, Taipei’s metro system. The traffic signals for pedestrians in Taiwan are animated with a walking green man, indicating it’s safe to cross, and a countdown of the seconds left before the green man turns into a standing red man, signaling pedestrians to stop. Watch it on YouTube.

2. In Taiwan, political parties fall into two informal groups: the Pan-Blue Coalition 泛藍 and the Pan-Green Coalition 泛綠. The Pan-Blue is consists of KMT (Kuomintang 中國國民黨) and other parties that prefer the identity of Chinese nationalists and promote greater economic linkage with PRC. The Pan-Green is consists of DPP (Democratic Progressive Party 民主進步黨) and other parties that favor Taiwan-independence over unification with PRC. Blue and green are often viewed as the two ends of Taiwan’s political spectrum. Pan-Blue traditionally has larger support in Northern Taiwan, while Pan-Green traditionally has larger support in Southern Taiwan.

3. Spirited Away 神隱少女 is a 2001 Japanese animated movie directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki. The streets in the movie scenes were based on the streets of Jiufen 九份, New Taipei City 新北市. Pingxi 平溪, also located in New Taipei City, is famous for its sky lantern festival. Nan’ao 南澳 is the largest township located in Yilan County 宜蘭縣.

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