There are times when I love living in Taiwan…
There are times when I wonder how the heck can this place be dotted with tons of interesting sightseeing and hiking spots just a bus ride away from the city (back home in Manila, it takes quite a bit to go anywhere!)…
There are times when I walk around the city at night, and admire the twinkling lights of the 101, and the lovely landscapes at CKS Hall…
There are times when I breathe a sigh of relief for having the freedom to choose what I wear, eat what I want, and hang out with any Japanese/American/British friends I want without having my dad at my back…
There are times when I squealed with delight, of meals that is served in sets, complete with soup, salad and cold drink (don’t really like desserts all that much)…
Yes, there are times I love living in Taiwan.
And there are times when I freakin’ just bonk my head in the wall, asking myself what the heck I am freakin’ doin’ here! 😦
Yes, despite loving the place, there are still some things that drive me absofuckin’ crazy about this country…
Such as their anal way of following rules….
Not that I have anything against rules, don’t get me wrong.
I’m a law-abiding citizen here.
But come on, sometimes you’d just have to use your head.
It’s amazing on how a country whose masses have a super-strong academic intelligence could often times have people who have very low IQ.
Simply said, they were trained to follow rules since they were very young, that they forgot to use their own head to question these rules and think whether these rules apply to them or not.
And before you think I’m just bashing Taiwan just for the heck of it (I’m not), let me just share with you some experiences to at least, give you an idea on where I am coming from.
Case in point… the Haagen Dazs debacle a few months ago.
After climbing, French cutie and I dropped by Haagen Dazs in Dunhua for a snack of ice cream desserts. We sat on the second floor and started to give our orders. French cutie wanted the whole shebang, while I was happy with just ordering an ice cream on a cone. So the whole conversation went like this:
“Ice cream on a cone please,” I asked the waitress.
“Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t offer ice cream on a cone,” she replied in Chinese. “You’d have to go downstairs to order.“
I gave French cutie a look, shrugged then went downstairs to order.
“Ice cream on a cone please,” I asked the guy downstairs again.
“Dine in or take out,” he asked.
“Dine in, on the second floor.“
Then he answered, “I’m sorry. Ice cream on a cone only for take-out. We don’t really serve ice cream on a cone for dine in customers.“
I wanted to scream.
“But this is Haagen Dazs and you guys sell ice cream. I am not bringing any food from outside,” I said. “It’s very simple, all you have to do is get a cone, put ice cream on top and give it to me. It’s your food as well and I will pay.“
“I’m sorry miss,” he solemly replied. “If you want to order ice cream on cone, you’d have to go to the second floor.“
Feeling that it was no use arguing with him, I went up again and said to the waitress, “The guy from downstairs said I should order ice cream on a cone here.“
“Sorry, we can’t serve ice cream on cone,” she apologized. “However, if you want, we can put the ice cream on glass cup… and put cone on top.“
I looked at her.
French cutie looked at her.
French cutie and I looked at each other.
We couldn’t believe our ears.
Count 1 to 10, Raven…. breathe…. breathe…
“Wouldn’t it just be easier if you give me ice cream on a cone instead of putting it on a glass cup which you’d have to wash?” I asked.
“Well, company regulations we can’t serve ice cream on cone,” she said. “However, we can serve ice cream on glass cup and just add cone.“
Oh my freakin gosh.
“Fine, please give me the ice cream on glass with cone then,” I conceded.
When my order came, I took the cup, turned it over, placing the ice cream on top of the cone and gave the cup back to the waitress.
And ate my ice cream on a cone.
Slurp…. lick… slurp…
All this trouble for ice cream on a cone.
And how about the pasta restaurant dilemma?:
One Saturday, I was rushing for an 11AM appointment when I decided to drop by a nearby pasta restaurant for a quick lunch. It was around 10:50AM.
When I got in, all the waitresses were in their places, and the chairs/silverware were all set.
“One salmon cream pasta please,” I asked as I sat down.
“I’m sorry,” the girl apologized. “But we can only accept orders at 11.”
“But it’s just 10 minutes away,” I cried. “And I have a meeting at 10.“
“Wel, if you want, you can sit down we can get your order right now,” she explained. “But we will only prepare it at 11.”
“So what am I going to do in 10 minutes? I have an appointment at 11,” I said.
“Sorry miss, but you’d just have to wait,” she said. “Cause we only start getting orders at 11.“
This is just 10 minutes before official ordering time and having everything, the cook, the waitresses all prepared, they insist they have to wait until 11AM to even start doing anything, despite having a paying customer.
I couldn’t really wait.
So I left.
And ordered takeout from another restaurant who is just happy to get my business and don’t mind the 10-minute earlier arrival.
I gave them my money, and enjoyed my food, without being late for my appointment.
And lastly, the gym hassle:
I told you guys that I was out gym hunting this week and finally settled on Alexander.
Now, a week earlier, I went to visit Gymlux, tried out their facilities and to protect the lower cost, gave them a NT$1000 deposit, which they promised I can get back as soon as I make a decision.
“We’re raising our prices on July 1,” they explained. “So this NT$1,000 deposit ensures that you get the lower pre-July price if you do decide to sign up.“
It was only a thousand and I could get it back so I gave them the money and the receipt and left.
On Sunday, they gave me a call and asked me if I’ve already made a decision yet, to which I haven’t. So they told me to take my time and make a decision and we said our goodbyes.
On Tuesday, after visiting Alexander, I was sold and decided to sign on for their membership.
I dropped by Gymlux to get my deposit back.
“I’m sorry,” the guy said. “But it’s over 7 days since you paid the deposit so you can’t really get it back. You exceeded the time by two days.“
“WWWWWWWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHHHHAT?!” I exclaimed. “But no one said it would be for 7 days. When Ivy called me up last Sunday, she said for me to take my time. If I knew that I can’t take my deposit back, I would’ve told her to just give me the money back.“
“Well, there is a way to go around this ruling…” the guy suggested. “All you have to do is pay the complete NT$35,800 amount, and then call us tomorrow to say you don’t want the membership now and we’ll give the money back to you, including the deposit.”
“Wouldn’t it just save you the trouble by just handing me my NT$1,000 back?” I said. “Why would we all go through the trouble of me going to the ATM to withdraw money, sign up paperwork, call tomorrow and then come back to pick up the check? It’s just better to reach into your pockets and just give me one single bill and no paperwork or extra effort needs to be made!”
“Sorry, but it’s company regulations,” he apologized again. “This is the ONLY way we can do it for you to get your NT$1,000 back.“
Oh my freaking gosh.
“I would just ask them to fly a kite and cut my losses,” my friend said. “Why pour the whole amount for NT$1,000?”
“D, it’s the principle,” I said.
So I went to the ATM.
Filled up the paperwork.
Gave them my receipts.
Call back to cancel.
And will go back after 7 days to pick up my check.
All to get my NT$1,000 back.
All because of a stupid rule.
Sometimes, I don’t know who’s the stupider one. 😦
And no, I don’t need you to answer this question, thank you very much.
My colleague found out he overstayed his visa for ONE day.
He has an ARC, works full time and is completely legal.
However, because he overstayed, he’d have to leave the country, apply for another visa and come back again.
For one day.
So long as you leave the Taiwan border, you’re good.
“Oh, it happens a lot. You can take a boat and go to Okinawa, pass the Taiwan border. Stay outside the Taiwan water borders for 5 minutes and then come back again,” the visa officer suggested. “Or you can take a plane to HK, hang around at the park, and come back in the evening.“
Freaking stupid, in my honest opinion.
Personally, I’d just fine him a BIG amount so he won’t forget the next time but won’t go through the hassle of taking a short vacation from work, leave the country and come back.
But that’s just me.
Sometimes, I am thankful I am not from here.
Because I still feel bothered when such rules are in place.
On a lighter note, just wanna share that I had a great time last American Independence day, by dropping by my friend’s place for an authentic American BBQ.
Well, if you’d count true big-ass hotdogs, served in Taiwanese bread.
It was fun though.
There were a bit of fireworks, some sparklers and some lively debate on American geo-politics.
It was also great a new group of people such as the lovely-voiced Nichole, cutesy Jen (probably another woman who’s as active as I am), the patriotic Richard, the stoned Larce and his la-mei girlfriend Nicole, Ben the bad influence and the drunken roommate.
It was fun, thanks guys!
Belated Happy US Independence!