I just reread my last post and feel that a certain part needs further explanation. When I said Johnathan went to 711 in his pajamas, I mean small boxers that are clearly not to be worn in public. And, when I say the people in 711 probably thought we were weird, I mean that they DEFINITELY thought we were weird. I know this because they giggled a lot and pointed. When dealing with foreigners, certain people will giggle a lot; this happened more than ever that night we were buying more eggs.
I’m not sure how thoroughly I covered the topic of the Taiwanese people’s reactions to foreigners, so I will now:
They do not stare in the true sense of the word. I have come across some staring types in Taiwan, and they fall into these categories: young children below the age of seven, people who don’t realize that you can see them looking at you, that one bus driver who turned around four times to stare at my shoes for long intervals at the red lights, and old people above the age of wrinkles. It takes Asians a long time to get wrinkles, but I’m not confident in guessing the age at which it happens. It’s deceiving because you expect people of that age to be more dependent, but here they can ride the public transit and get around on their own for a long time, plus health care is and has been affordable, so they are healthy.
Though I am usually not stared at outright, it is clear that people around me are often preoccupied with casting furtive glances my way. Sometimes it’s disconcerting because I might not be feeling my best that day, and I’ll start to wonder if they are staring at my greasy hair or mismatched outfit. But, I really think they are just thinking something along these lines, “A white person, cool! I wonder how old she is. Wow, her noise is so pointy, I think I’m lighter skinned than she is. Yippee! Oh, her hair is so interesting. I wish I knew English (or I hope she talks to me so I can speak in English).” Knowing English is something held in very high esteem. As I explained before, almost everyone was taught English when attending public school, but it is very difficult and few people master it especially the ability to speak it. When people see David speaking to me in English, they look at him with awe. We both pretend not to notice, but it really does change things when you feel a bit like you’re on stage everywhere you go.
Couples here definitely hold hands, and once in a while you’ll see them hugging in a very sweet way, but I’ve only noticed kissing one time and it was a young high school pair on an escalator. Guys here are extremely attentive to their girlfriends. It’s been described to me that the Taiwanese males are very standoffish and unhelpful except to their girlfriends. I see it as them not thinking it’s their place to help a girl who is not “theirs”, but once given the in, he notices when she needs help even before she does. This fits with my experiences with strangers. It is usually a lady who will help or an older male. A young or middle aged male will never approach Carrie or I even if it looks like we need help.
Let me give you some examples of boyfriend behavior. He’ll hold a girls purse at the slightest hint that his girlfriend needs help, even if the purse is pink with lace. A boyfriend will always make sure to walk on the street side, and if some vehicle or person is a potential threat, he makes her stop. He will feed her bites of food, notice that she needs something like a napkin, change his plans for her and not complain, remember that she needs to run an errand or something even if it has nothing to do with him. He will never yell at her or raise his voice, and in fact you never see couples quarrel. You sometimes notice intimate conversations on the sides of the sidewalks late at night. They will stand very close together and speak in serious tones, though I can, obviously, not tell what they are saying or if they are even arguing.
Do you think you would like or dislike your boyfriend to treat you this way? I think it’s very sweet, and causes me to try to be more thoughtful of others in return. In Texas, nice things are done for others all the time, but there is less focus on the small things. Maybe that is the difference.