When I first landed in Taiwan, I didn't realise I would be entering a world where the people are actually refreshingly pleasant. It has been a welcome change to meet people who aren't too shy to greet you with delight. A fellow traveller was embarassed when a Taiwanese acquaintance hugged her tightly and squealed with delight when she noticed a familiar face among the media present at an event. We are unaccustomed to wearing our feelings on our faces. The people here don't give a second thought and automatically offer a wide smile if you offer one in return. I've tested this more than once in the elevators and the streets of Taipei. A gentleman was counting down the floors with his young son and they grinned when I made small talk and offered to share names in broken English. Somewhere along the way, the rest of us have forgotten common compassion for fellow beings. It doesn't surprise me that Taiwanese people choose to live, for the most part, fairly simplistic lives. The rush of the streets aren't interspersed with relentless honking. People aren't yelling in the streets or knocking each other off the sidewalk in an attempt to be the first in line. There were a few vendors at the night market who were unncessarily rude for no reason other than the fact that they wanted to make a quick sale. They can be forgiven for dealing with relentless hours of haggling customers. True, I've not yet spent too much time here yet and I guess I can relish the fact that I'm the gullible tourist. But when the general public goes out of their way to call us 'beautiful' no matter how unkempt one may appear, there is a feeling of warmth that fills your soul and stays with you, long after you've moved on.
Updated: Jun 8, 2019