Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Unexpected Challenges

Having grown up in Taiwan and travelled here as an adult, I think Laura and I were fairly well prepared for what it might be like to live here, and for the most part that is true.  What I'd like to talk about here are the things we didn't expect or see coming that have turned out to be somewhat challenging for us.  Taiwan has one of the friendliest and most helpful cultures you could ever want to be around.  That being said, here are a few things that completely blindsided us.  I'm certainly not implying that the Taiwanese are wrong and we are right, just that these instances demonstrate some of the vast differences between our US culture and their Taiwanese culture.

The Concept of Time and it's Value
We often use the phrase "time is money", primarily because we put a lot of value on it.  We want to do things quickly and efficiently, usually so we have time to do something else.  Personally, I'm a big fan of this.  I think you should do things right, but you should also get them done NOW (or completely procrastinate and don't even start).  Not the case here, the national past time seems to be waiting in line.  People happily wait in line for just about anything and everything.  Throw in something free (and I mean any cheap, worthless thing) or an opportunity for a discount and the lines get amazing.  Generally this isn't a problem for us as we just don't get in the lines for those things.  Occasionally we have to wait in line for something we need or want to do, but it's not a regular problem.  Where we (particularly I) struggle is in restaurants and retail stores where VIP cards or special sign up offers can get you a discount.  The concept that I am not willing to spend 5-10 minutes signing up for a club that will net me a 5% discount at a place I frequent twice a year is just baffling to the people offering the discount.  I still haven't discovered the right way to work through this without seeming rude, but I'll keep trying.
Rain or Shine, Lines are the Rule

Family Meals with Western Kids
This probably goes back to time; and again is my issue to adapt to the culture here, but took me several outings to understand that this is just how it is.  Eating out here is a regular thing and quite often becomes and event in and of itself.  There are really 3 types of meals that are popular here, two of which we will discuss.  I'll leave out the night market dining as that deserves it's own space in this blog.  Let's discuss Set Meals and Individual Meals.  Set meals tend to involve multiple courses brought out one at a time over several hours and be family style or course by course.  For those who have spent their lives eating this way, it doesn't seem to be a problem, but for us....let's just say it doesn't work too well with a toddler.  A two hour meal just isn't in his wheel house and we got locked into a couple of these without knowing they were coming before we realized we needed to look into how the meal would be served before committing to his highly desired presence.  Individual meals offer a different challenge and that is timing.  Individual meals here are brought to the table when they are ready without  much of an attempt to get everyone's meal done at the same time.  If the place isn't too busy, we can usually get through this without too much issue (the boy likes his food).  The ideal order for us is Zane, Laura, Me (evidently this is a good excuse for me to eat fast).  If there is a large gap and he needs to wait a long time after he is done or his food comes last and ours isn't really appropriate for him....well let's just say it can be interesting.
Typical Multiple Course Family Style Meal

The Catalyst
Now you might ask what got me thinking about writing this article, surprisingly it was The Minions movie.  Seems innocuous enough, which is what I thought.  Evidently not.  Last weekend, we decided that it would be fun to take Zane, whose attention span is increasing to see the movie.  And what better show than the family friendly Minions who he really likes.  We planned it out and told him we would go see the Minions and he talked about it pretty much all morning.  First snag came when we went to get tickets and the line (see the first challenge above) was gigantic.  I'm talking 300 people in a single file snaking line.  We decided a quick change of course to another theater where we could get lunch and tickets for a later showing after Z could have a nap was in order.  Amazingly, almost no line this time.  Zane and I got to the front and told them I wanted to buy tickets for the show, they asked how old Zane was and I told them not quite 2 (thinking he might be free).  They informed me that he could not see the movie until he was SIX!  Surely I must not have understood them even after we discussed it for a bit.  Unfortunately I had this confirmed, because the movie is rated P (similar to PG) kids under 6 are not even allowed to see it with parents.  I wasn't trying to get him into Planet of the Apes or 2001 A Space Odyssey (both of which he COULD go see as they are rated G) this is The Minions....completely blindsided again.  Thankfully Zane didn't know the difference between seeing it at the movies or watching Despicable Me at home.

At least they don't market The Minions to kids here ;-)

Granted this might not get a G rating today, but if it was here, Zane could go

I am sure this is easier to explain to Zane than the violence in Minions

Fewer and fewer things surprise us here, but it still happens.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of some earlier times in Taiwan...remember? 😎