Just read this article from my good friend---Loca's Blog (http://loco-loca.blogspot.com/2009/06/taiwanfromforeignersight.html)
Actually I feel so sad.
So, hope you guys can read it, a little bit long, but you can think about it.
Why we always do those thing they want us to do?
翻譯者：T.Y. (Jade) Lee
David Signer給我德文原稿的篇名是「Taiwan」，發表時，「Leben im roten Bereich生活於警戒之境」是週刊主編所下的標題，到了荷蘭則成了「Love and Loneliness in Taiwan台灣的愛與寂寞」。有趣的是，瑞、荷兩地不同的標題，顯示這兩份媒體對同一篇文章的不同閱讀角度，卻對於報導內容有了提綱挈領、畫龍點睛之效。
這篇原文Love and Loneliness in Taiwan的作者David Signer是曾在台灣待過兩個星期的一位瑞士人，在歐洲所發表為荷文、德文的文章。筆者知道此文章是一位歐洲友人口述給我聽的。當時我聽到此文章時，對歐洲人以自己文化來看台灣的觀感時震懾住了。但思之再三卻又時感驚訝又時感戚戚。我請友人為我翻譯為英文，我們也去函詢問TROUW該報轉譯中文發表在網上的可能性等等，接著去函給原作者，原作者應允中文翻譯公開發表後，筆者開始著手，但因為私人因素所以延遲了工作。
作者David Signer ，1964年生，是一位歐洲的人類學家，專研人類學與社會學。走訪過中東、非洲各國，對文化有深入的研究。其以歐洲人的文化背景與觀點來看台灣，讀者可以得見作者著實下了番工夫去瞭解台灣的歷史背景、政治經濟與教育現況，尤其是其以不偏不倚的人文立場客觀地看台灣的現象。在翻譯過程中，筆者與原作者通過mail。他告訴筆者無意為文使任何人不悅，但是以一個外國文化來看台灣，在某些特定事情上確實讓他吃驚。筆者不是專業翻譯者，且轉譯了兩次不同語言，字字計較地去深入瞭解作者的寫作感情與文化背景是我努力的。
T.Y. (Jade) Lee於 Jan. 5, 2007
How is Taiwan? There is no country in the world where the people make so many working hours as in on – 2282 hours a year. Over 30% of the people work more than 62 hours a week.
Taiwan is the second densest populated country in the world. Only in Bangladesh live more people per square kilometer. Although Taiwan is smaller than Switzerland it belongs to the 20 most successful industrial countries; Taiwan is market leader in notebooks and there is no country that has more mobile phones (1.14 per citizen of Taiwan).
Furthermore there are only three countries that have less sex than the Taiwanese, and according to the French magazine "Elle", Taiwanese women are the unhappiest women in the world. Taiwan has also the most near sighted people. So how does this all relate to each other?
Twenty years ago Taiwan changed from a dictatorial country to a democracy and speeded up the modernization in a fast pace. And now we see the strong Confucian working-moral besides gay-clubs and piercing studios. Colorful Taoist temples along side big glass skyscrapers and supermarkets that are open 24 hours a day. Since Tsjang Kai-sjek, the rival of Mao, fled to Taiwan in 1948, Taiwanwas seen as a rebellious province. Taipei as capital, with all direct surrounded sub cities, has a population of around 8 million people and is in a sense a post modern version of Peking .
In many households the man and woman both have a job, they not only make long working hours, but also even in different cities. They only see each other in the weekends. The children are often raised by the grandparents who display a worldview that has almost nothing to do with current reality. For Taiwanese there is almost nothing more important than good education for their kids, therefore they are overloaded with courses and extra classes after regular school often till late in the evenings.
In Taipei I visit a surgeon at his home. His 6-year-old daughter is taught English at school, but she has extra classes English in the evenings besides painting, dance and piano lessons. With proudness she plays classic piano parts without music paper. In August the whole family goes to the USA to improve her English even more at a summer camp.
I ask the father if he is not afraid that the pressure on the kids might be too high. From Japan more and more stories are heard of children who commit suicide because of the shame of failing an exam. "Yes, sometimes all the effort is for nothing," says the surgeon. "Sometimes the musical wonder kids play virtuously when they are 14, but when they become 25 the difference fades between the kids who started only at the age of 10". The father also mentions the competition between the parents that cannot be avoided.
And on top of that there is the 1 child policy – in Mainland China> obligatory, inTaiwan based upon choice and quite common. So of course there is more money and energy spent on the child to stimulate it even more. The emphasis upon educating and performance of the kids is characteristic for all Confucian countries like country-region China, Japan, Korea and Singapore
But in Taiwan the people want the world to show that they are the better than China . From 1895 till 1945 Taiwan was occupied by Japan, after that period it belonged to China. After the Second World War when Mao's army defeated the nationalistic army of Tsjang Kai-sjek, they fled with 1,5 million citizens (mostly of them high developed and upper class), 500.000 soldiers, and the national treasure to Taiwan. Mao as well as Tsjang Kai-sjek saw themselves as the one and only representation of China. The official name of Taiwan is still "Republic of China".
台灣不僅也是如此，更由於歷史背景因素，台灣人希望展現給世界的是一個更好的中國。從1895年到1945年台灣被日本佔據，接著被中國接收。二次大戰後毛澤東戰勝國民黨的蔣介石，蔣介石帶著150萬人民眾（大多數是有高教育水準的上層階級）、50萬軍人和國家寶藏來到台灣。毛澤東和蔣介石都自視為中國的唯一代表。至今台灣的正式官方名稱為「Republic of China」。
The USA armed Taiwan as a buffer against communistic China and Tsjang Kai-sjek never gave up his goal to conquer China again up to his death in 1975. Taiwan now a days has a population of 24 million people, China 1,3 billion. The island country is economically a world power but politically isolated. Taiwan does not even have the status of "observer" in the UN and is only recognized as a country by 27 other countries like Palau, Kiribati and ,Swaziland .
This is because China refuses any political relations with countries that recognize Taiwan as an independent country, and who does, especially today, want China as an opponent?
Continuously Taiwan experiences the presence of China like a big brother you want to push off but always keeps the lead no matter the distance. Taiwan always stipulates that it respects human rights, nobody will die from starvation, there is freedom of thought and press, Taiwan is progressive, democratic, liberal, cosmopolitan, post-industrial and post modern; the better China. But is seems like the citizens of Taiwan situate themselves in a jumbo jet: if the pace slows down below a certain speed, then it will crash.
Sheena Chang is editor at the China Times. Her daughter of four is having extra courses in English. Sheena is keen on getting her daughter to a national University. These are better than the private universities and even cheaper. This leads to the fact that especially children born from highly educated and rich parents, who can afford the extra courses, can enter the 'better' Universities. The fee is low there and children of the lower class have to pay extra for the 'lesser" Universities.
Sheena Chang comes with another Taiwan-record: nowhere in the world kids sleep less than in Taiwan. She calls people like her 'pm-people', coming from post meridian. 'I am going to work at 2 pm (14:00) and return at 10 pm (22:00)'. Most people working in the IT business work at night, because their customers in Europe and USA are then in their daytime. The children of these 'pm-people' stay up till midnight with them: they eat together, watch TV and play computer games. But the kids in contrary to their parents have to get up at 7 am to get to school.
Sheena Chang還展示了另一個台灣紀錄：根據她的統計，世界上沒有一個地方的孩子睡眠像台灣孩子那麼少。她把自己和與她同樣的人稱為「pm people」。「我從下午兩點開始工作，在晚上十點回家。」大部份資訊科技產業的人在晚間工作，因為這剛好是歐美客戶的白天時間。「pm people」的孩子和他們一起熬到午夜，一起吃東西、看電視、玩電玩。但是和大人們相反地，孩子又必須在早上七點起床。
She tells the story so business-like that I carefully ask if that does not hurt the health of the kids. 'Maybe so', she says, 'but it makes them also stronger. This way it makes them stronger to cope with pressure later. The biggest concern is the grandmothers who spoil the kids. They only stuff them with food, but don't teach them anything.'
One evening I meet a psychiatrist in a hot spring spa ( besides visiting karaoke bars one of the favorite free time fun activities for Taiwanese). At 10 pm he says he has to go home to help his daughter with her homework. 'At this hour?' I ask surprised. 'Sure, tomorrow she will have chemistry exam, and I will take over the theory with her once more.'
A Swiss woman who lived in Taiwan for a long time says: 'the only thing that counts for these people is food and making money. Love and sex are not important. If somebody says 'I love you', then it means nothing, but if he gives you a big piece of his meat then you know you are important for him.'
The Taiwanese eroticism is not easy to understand. The people are prude; besides the city center of Taipei you hardly see any couples hold their hand or exchange other tender behavior. But at the other hand if you look at the sales girls of betel nuts, they sit in their bikini in a glass box, which you can recognize easy by the green neon-star along side the road. You stop your car, she comes out, bends over in front of the window so you can have a good look at her décolleté, she walks wiggling her bum to the get the order and gives you the nuts with a tempting smile. The euphoric feeling and the sweating that comes after chewing the betel nuts, makes the happiness complete.
These nuts cost two times as much when bought from these girls than normal, but especially the taxi and truck drivers don't care to pay the difference. These sales girls are mostly found in the countryside; the mayor of liberal Taipei tries to ban them from the city center.
Also traditional healers sell their wonder medicines accompanied by sparsely clothed girls. But the most funny is the performance of these 'sexy girls' at weddings and even funerals. You can see a long row of cars and trucks; on one of them is the coffin with the deceased, on another there are the hired mourners, and on a third you see the dancing 'sexy girls'. It seems that the audience, including children, experiences no conflict between the table-dance atmosphere and the mourning about the deceased. 'The surviving dependents pay a lot of money for such performances in order to have a lot of people attend and honor the deceased', so people tell me.
By the official prude it is hard for love couples, and even spouses, to find a private space. One of the favorite places to get some intimacy was the MTV, cabins where you can watch movies. But at a certain moment the police intervened, the cabins could not be closed anymore and a guard could at any moment intrude the cabin. So the love couples changed to the parks and the KTV's: buildings with lot of rooms where you can sing karaoke as a couple or as a group. But also here a waiter could enter any time. At least each room has a surprising big closable toilet. Nowadays the motels are doing good business, they are quite cheap, 20 euros for three hours. But there is one disadvantage, they are mostly situated outside the center, so you need a car.
It's easier to find a nice restaurant. In Taipei there are thousands of food facilities. Even on the top of the chimney of the garbage burning installation you can find a rotating restaurant, called 'star tower'.
Apparently there is a close relation between food and sex according to the Taiwanese. Continuously you hear what good the different dishes will do for, in general, men. Especially local dishes like: cow eyes, bee larvae, swallow nests (the spittle of birds), grasshoppers, dried elk penis, shark fin, sea cucumber, mushrooms, dried human afterbirth, unborn chicken from the egg (raw), ginseng, bear bone, duck tongue, sea horse, but above all snake. On the Huaxi night market a market salesman hangs a still living snake on a rope and cuts it open in full length, he catches the blood in a glass and offers the audience to have a taste. After that he also removes the gall bladder and squeezes it out in a glass. The gel slimy substance is said to work extensively on the libido, as the salesman demonstrates by moving up and down chopsticks between his legs.
The women however will not get happier by it.
For instance take Chang Mei-Ling. She is in her mid thirties, studied French litterature and works for a French company. She is single. Everything that would be in man's favor is in her disadvantage, a good education, good job, high income, all in her disadvantage. And besides that she is taller than average. A man in Taiwan wants to be better educated than his wife, have a better income, and to be at least one head taller. She herself would like to have a husband like that. But there are not many that will meet these criteria, besides the fact that she has hardly time for a relation.
Chang Mei-Ling has been married before. She wanted children, he did not. He said that he wanted to earn a million first. They hardly saw each other. When she noticed he had a love affair with a colleague she divorced. 'Everything you do here is for the purpose of making a career' she says. 'Most Taiwanese men are like that. Some try to change for their woman, but after a while they get fed up by her because they have the feeling that the woman has taken away something from them.' Her parents were always out for business when she was a kid. Mostly the oldest daughter took the responsibility for the younger kids. 'That is why we are so clever and independent', says Chang Mei-Ling. 'Because we grew up alone'.
When she goes out she only attends business dinners and karaoke nights with her customers. She does not care about shopping nor expensive brands of clothes; she spends her money on traveling – last year she went with her mother to a 5 star hotel on an island in the pacific ocean - and her collection of plushy pigs.
She says 'you think that our society is so colorful and free but it looks like that because we don't have roots. Our parents were immigrants, they were lost when they came here and nowadays they don't understand anything anymore. We are all orphans, and our children will be like that as well.' She also says 'Many people don't work till 10 pm because they have to, but because of inner emptiness. They dream to have earned to retire at the age of 50, and when they reached it they die of boredom.'
Compared to the hypermodern state of Taiwan, Europe looks ancient. Half of Taipei has a wireless Internet zone; even in the MRT you can check your email. The mayor of Taipei wants to make Taipei the first wireless city in the world. Many people have a GPS system on their mobile; they might feel lost but they can at least localise themselves geographically.
In many taxis you will find screens in the headrest of the front chairs, so you can follow the news during your trip. This efficiency you experience everywhere. A Taiwanese lady told me that she was once at a German wedding. She experienced it as awful, it took ages. Even a wedding is supposed to happen fast.
There are restaurants where every table has a screen where you can watch hundreds of programs while eating, and in a lot of hotels there are rooms where the room and bathroom are split by a glass wall. Not to watch your spouse taking a shower but the other way around, so you can even watch television from the bath.
Another technical wonder is the 508-meter high skyscraper "Taipei 101"; it has the fastest elevator in the world; at 60 kilometers an hour you are taken up to the 80th floor in a few seconds. But you hardly notice it; the cabins are under regulated pressure.
The 'Taipei 101' is constructed according the Feng-Shui principles; that is the traditional knowledge of architecture that adjusts to the invisible flows and ghosts at a certain place. According to this knowledge it is forbidden to have the entrance exactly facing the exit; otherwise you take the risk that the visitor of the building will enter it and immediately will exit it. According to the Feng-Shui principles it is bad for the inhabitants of a building if a street directly points at your apartment block. To deflect these bad influences an 8-cornered mirror will avoid the bad influence. It will reflect back the negative.
'Taipei 101' is build up from 8 segments, and each of the consists of 8 floors; 8 is the lucky Chinese number. Four is the unlucky number that is why there is no 4th floor. The 101 looks like a piece of segmented bamboo. Bamboo – flexible and easy to bend, but still strong – is an old symbol for resistance and fortune. 'Taipei 101' is build with a 660 tons steel sphere as a damper within, so that in the case of an earthquake the building will not break but swing only, like a bamboo stick in the wind.
Another surprise you can see in this hyper capitalistic society – more and more I hear 'Only the one who is to lazy or has to many children is poor' – is the burning of money. However it is not real money, but 'money papers' that are specially made for ritual offerings, produced and sold for that purpose. The owners burn it in metal cans in front of their stores and pray for good business. For environmental reasons nowadays there is also "money" available that does not smoke that much, but it is somewhat more expensive.
In the middle of the IT city of Taipei you can find an overload of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist temples that serve as oracle places. For example there is the City of God temple; in large numbers, young women with Gucci or Louis Vuitton handbags put flowers and fiancée cookies on the altars on Saturday morning before shopping. Here the god of marriage is residing, and the young women use oracle sticks to ask questions about their upcoming spouse.
One night I visit a temple. In front of it there is a movable shrine on wheels. 'God can be placed in there and moved around, for example on someone's birthday', people tell me. 'Now God is in China, but tomorrow he will be back and there will be a procession.
The procession is a big spectacle with lots of firecrackers, red bangle torches, riding light organs, fireworks, drums and screeching loudspeakers. The 'God' is a colorful painted wooden figure in a chair with long bars that is carried around the neighborhood rocking up and down on the shoulders of the bearers.
And all this in an atmosphere of bright neon light. The stars in the procession are Hsie and Fan who are normally the guards of the temple annex statues. Hsie has a black face, Fan has a down hanging tongue as long as the man who wears the costume, and he looks through a hole in his shirt. Everything from the torso up the performer wears on his head.
The appearance can be explained by a legend. Hsie and Fan once wanted to meet on a bridge, Hsie was somewhat early and was watching the water below the bridge and fell over in the water when he lost his balance. When Fan arrived he found his friend dead and Fan strangled himself with his bare hands. That is why his tongue is so far out of his mouth, while Hsie became black in the water. In Taipei people say that the spirits of the two roam the Manka region with heavy chains and eat the tramps and thieves. And yes in the Manka neighborhood there is less crime than in the other regions of the city.
Taipei has different monuments for their country heroes like Tsjang Kai-sjek and Sun Yat-sen. One of these places is a huge memorial hall with a more than living height statue, guards in official uniform and a lot of free space around the immortals mark the distance between them and every day life. It's amazing how the people of the city interact with these places.
If you go there at 5 in the morning, when the city is still silent, you will be surprised by a grotesque carnival. From many loudspeakers you will hear all kinds of music at the same time, marching music, hip-hop, Chinese classics, country, tango and new-age noise.
Hundreds of people are gathered. Some performing taichi, others do sword fighting, some dance in the morning mist. A man and a woman of age throw over a pink frisbee. There are people in kimono, in cheerleader look, a rapper with oversized trousers and a shirt with hood. Many people there are of age and ask, "how old do you think I am?". Mostly they are twice as old as they look.
有的團體練太極拳，有的練劍，有的就在晨曦中跳社交舞。一對銀髮夫婦互丟粉紅色飛盤。這裡有幾百個人。有人穿和服，有人穿得像啦啦隊，也有人穿像唱饒舌歌的人，有特大的褲子和鴨舌帽，背後還印著「Gung Fu New Fashion very good」。好多人都已經上了年紀，他們對我說：「你猜猜我幾歲？」大多數人的年齡看起來比實際年輕一半。
You can also see younger people dancing Salsa. All this happens at the foot of the 'Taipei 101'. Businessmen in suit and tie hurry through the kungfu fighters and shadow boxers. Nothing of this is organized, a lot of people come regularly, but the groups change constantly.
At 7 o'clock the guards appear in parade marching steps. They raise the national flag and the national hymn starts. In a split second everybody stops with what he is doing and takes the formal pose when the national hymn is heard. It takes a few minutes and then everything goes on as nothing happened: Chinese ballet, aerobic, rock-n-roll and chi-gong. And meanwhile in the park Sun Yat-sen, 'the father of the nation', one time in bronze another pose in stone, looking straight forward to all the fuzz.
Peng Wu Chih is one of the most famous taichi- and kungfu masters in the country. He was the last apprentice of the famous martial arts master Liu Yun-Qiao (who was the head of security organization under Tsjang Kai-sjek). He took care of Yun-Qiao in his last months of his life, when he was so weak that he only could lecture using his chopsticks.
在一個下雨的午後，我去拜訪了Peng Wu Chih，他是台灣著名的太極和中國功夫教鍊之一。Andy Hug也曾經是他的學生。他原本是醫生，後來改學中醫，最後專注於亞洲各種武術。他是功夫大師Liu Yun-Qiao（蔣介石的首席護衛）的最後一個學生，在Liu Yun-Qiao生命中的最後幾個月照顧他，而Liu Yun-Qiao在最虛弱時也只能用筷子教他。
One of the specialities of Peng Wu Chih is 'rapid taichi'. He claims that taichi originally was not, as nowadays, done in a turtle slow movement but fast. In between the main course and desert at a restaurant he gives a small demonstration. It only takes a few seconds. Dr. Peng loves speed in general. Before we step into his car he says, "buckle up, because I drive like James Bond", and he does not exaggerate. He talks about 'chi', the life power and says: "meditation is not to withdraw from the world environment, but being present in it. Get to your opponent in half a second where others need two seconds. Never lose your midst, not even when you are busy.' One time he holds my wrist, not firm, but I feel an immense power. He could kill me in a split second.
快速太極是Peng Wu Chih的一個專長，他強調，原始太極並不像現在的龜速慢移，而是快速的。在餐廳中主菜和點心之間的空檔，他在桌子旁邊示範給我看。整套拳只花了幾秒鐘就完成。Dr.Peng喜歡速度，也因此而成名。在我們上車之前，他說：「扣緊安全帶，我開車像007」。這當然是有那麼點誇張。他談到「氣」– 生命的力量，說：「冥想不是從世界撤回，而是留在那裡。對手需要兩秒，你必須在半秒內便完成。再忙，也不可失去中心點。」有次他握住我的手腕，不緊實，但我感到那無窮的力量，就像是踩下法拉利的油門：只要願意，他可以在瞬間殺了我。
One of his apprentices says: 'during the first lesson he said to me: I will kill you, and he did. During the teachings I died inside; he destroyed my value scale. The most important in martial arts is awareness, and therefore you have to get rid of your past.'
Peng Wu Chih ends the meeting with a short anecdote: "two people die and god asks them what they wish in a next life. The first says, "I want to get lots of money", the other one says "I want to give lots of money", the first is reborn as a beggar, the second as an millionaire."
Peng Wu Chih 以一個小故事結束談話：「兩個人死了，上帝問他們，希望來世有什麼？第一個說：我要有許多錢！第二個說：我要給許多錢！第一位轉世成為一個乞丐，第二個成了百萬富翁。」
On the 1st of May I am in search of demonstrating people, but in vain. Taiwan does not know of demonstrations of workers. Taiwan is the dream of every neo liberal: up to a short time ago there was nothing like income insurance (for that matter, officially there were no people out of a job), no sickness insurance, no pension insurance, no social service. Everything is insured from private arrangements or by family. Some workers even give holidays to their company as a gift. Furthermore it seems that there are no building regulations; Taipei is the dream of every architect but also a nightmare, everything is possible (highlight: a building formed like a woman's handbag).
During the visit of the Chinese president Hu Jintao to the USA Falun Gong people in Taipei organised a demonstration. This spiritual movement is forbidden in China. Lately a doctor witnessed that he had been in a Chinese concentration camp. He says that tenth of thousands of Falun Gung people have to do hard labor. He also records that these people are operated on and taken away organs, while they are alive, and sold for transplantation purposes.
Anti-Chinese propaganda or not, such news remind the Taiwanese over and over again that their welfare is highly vulnerable; like a small garden on an overhanging rock. Up to 10 years ago Taiwan still had higher expenses on their military defense system than China, while nowadays China is spending triple the budget of Taiwan. 600 rockets are pointed towards Taiwan, and every year another 75 are added. A politician who mentions the taboo word "formal independence" in Taipei - and in some place in Peking someone might push the red button.
Even lately China paid the small island nation of Nauru in the Pacific Ocean the amount of 150 million dollar to change their diplomatic affairs from Taipei to Peking. Taiwan can hardly cope with this process. Taiwan can only try, behind the political scene, to keep them indispensable in economical way. But that takes a lot of energy and is a lonely task.
On the last day we drive to a "children's recreational center". It looks like an Asian Walt Disney park. A luxurious place, however there were no children, not one. 'Nowadays they prefer to play at home on their computer', a supervisor tells us; another supervisor says "most kids have courses at night"; and the guard at the entrance says: 'The parents don't have time to come over here with kids.
On the way back I see a scenery while driving: an empty playground where a man in suit is making a phone call while the rain starts dripping.
Try to figure out, in the future, we don't have laugh child, only little guys looks anger, upset because he/ she can't reach his parent's dream.
That's so sad.
However this article came from 2006, hope right now already change something.
God! I hope this government can stop talking those shit and stealing our money, then start working.