I’ve been in Taiwan for roughly a month, and I can honestly say I love Taiwanese people. Their simple acts of kindness go a long way and leave me wanting to spend more time here. There has been the odd occasion where I have felt uncomfortable, or detected a simple undertone of racism. However, compared to other Asian countries I have been to, it is minor. It is very subtle like a fly you can swat away. I am not saying racism is acceptable, but some battles are not worth fighting.
Acts of Kindness
On my flight from Hong Kong to Taiwan, I was sat next to an older Taiwanese man who was extremely kind to me. I had fallen asleep on the plane as I can barely stay awake when I’m in the air. As I was enjoying my little siesta, I felt a gentle nudge and someone whispering “food, food”. The kind man had woken me up for dinner. Note: the flight from Hong Kong to Taiwan is roughly an hour and 45 minutes; therefore, I was not expecting any food. The flight attendant gave him his food first and immediately he gave it to me. Before she could tell me what I was having, he told me it was chicken rice. This made me smile. After finishing my food, he cleared my plate and gave it back to the flight attendant. This small interaction gave me confidence that I was going to a country of kind-hearted people.
Another occasion I was at the MRT station trying to figure out why the sensor was not reading my iPass. A man who did not work at the station came up to me and said not working, try this one. This also made me smile.
The best act of kindness was in a restaurant. I found a local place where they did not have a menu in English. I had no idea what I was ordering or what I wanted to eat. A waiter presented himself to me and helped me complete my order. In this particular restaurant and that of many local establishments, you fill in a slip and take it to the counter with your table number, similar to that of Nando’s. I did a lot of pointing and simple broken English which resulted in one beef noodle soup. He filled in the slip and took it to the counter, then brought me a drink, which you would usually collect yourself. Once I had finished my food and paid, as I was leaving, the staff said thank you and goodbye. I felt so welcomed and happy from within.
Not So Kind Acts
I found another local restaurant and it was clear they rarely saw foreigners let alone a black one. I did what I had become accustomed to and pointed at what I wanted and sat down. The waitress was shocked to see me and tried to stealthy take a picture of me. I was ready, I looked up, smiled and waved and she quickly put her phone away because she was embarrassed. I don’t mind if someone wants to take a picture of me all they need to do is ask, and I will oblige. For example, when I was at the zoo, a man asked to take a picture of me, and I said yes. I understand it is rare for them to see foreigners talk less of a black person but asking goes a long way. English is not even required; simple hand gestures would suffice.
While looking for a cafe to meet someone, a man approached me and said I was beautiful. I smiled and was polite to him. Then. He. Tried. It. He tried to touch my hair, and I swerved like a drag car racer. I am not here to have my hair touched. He stroked his hair and said mine was beautiful and tried again but my resting b***h face came out to play, and he understood. This is the only time it has happened, and it never happened again. Some may not be aware but it is rude to touch a person of colour’s hair without their permission. It is disrespectful and invading of their personal space. If a person came to you and touched your hair, your arm or wherever, you wouldn’t take it lightly so why should a person of colour?