I challenge anybody to find a friendlier group of people than the Taiwanese. I could write a book about the constant acts of kindness I saw and received over the year I was there.
For example; if I left my scooter helmet in the rain, someone would turn it over to keep the insides dry. If I forgot my wallet in a restaurant they’d let me pay the next day. If I forgot to take my key out the ignition, someone would tuck it under my scooter seat. For a serial cluts-offender like me, it was heaven.
Don’t get me wrong, Taiwan has its (healthy) fair share of wackiness, but they do it in such a lovely manner that you let it slide.
There was a time when Taiwan had more 7/11’s per head than anywhere else in the world. Impressive for such a tiny island. Their obsession has since softened slightly but they are still everywhere. Every street. Every corner. Every back alley.
7/11 runs Taiwan.
Things you can do in 7/11:
- Buy food
- Buy underwear
- Receive parcels
- Pay bills
- Order train tickets
- Go to the bathroom
- Cook ready meals
- Send letters
- Cash cheques
The day 7/11 closes their 24/7 doors, is the day Taiwan will grind to a halt.
Once you enter a 7/11, and have processed the trauma of glacial air-con smacking you in the face, you are greeted with, “Huānyíng”. Try saying this in a very-un-PC-Chinese accent and it will sound awfully like, ‘Good Morning’.
“Wow”, we thought. Not only do they provide every service under the sun, that we’ll never need, but they also serve our morning coffee with a familiar, homely greeting. How did they know we were feeling a bit homesick?
“Good morning!”, we’d reply back, with a big smile and cheery wave.
A month or so passed, and we started to notice that it didn’t matter what time we shopped/dined/performed our chores in store – we’d always get a ‘Good morning’.
“How awkward” we thought. Which one of us was going to break it to them that it was infact the afternoon, or worse, the evening? Yet, we continued to humour them and replied, “Good Morning”, with smiles and waves – far too polite to correct them.
It wasn’t until an English speaker, with significantly better Chinese skills than ourselves, told us they were in fact saying, “Welcome”.
Damn it Chris
And to think, for all those months the 7/11 staff had been judging those moronic westerners saying “Good Morning” at 8pm.