Shu Ping Chen about life in Taiwan.
Shu Ping Chen (陳淑萍) was born and grown up in Taiwan (Republic of China) in the town of Gang Xi (港 西). About eleven years ago, she married and moved to Italy, and we met in America.
Even I’ve never been in Taiwan, I was not interested about local attractions, I was more excited to know about the aborigines of Taiwan and their life.
From that point we started our dialog about Taiwanese people and life in Taiwan.
E. R.: Tell me please about the people who live in Taiwan?
Shu Ping: Taiwanese people are very good, kind and helpful. They are love to help people if they have the opportunity. Many times I have heard from travelers positive reviews about Taiwanese people. I think that kindness is inherent for all Asian peoples, it is maybe connected with our religion.
E. R.: Which religion do you have?
Shu Ping: Taoism in Taiwan and we also believe in our ancestors.
E. R.: Which calendar do you use: Gregorian or Chinese? What language do you speak?
Shu Ping: We live in the Gregorian calendar. But in Taiwan there are three important national holidays, that we celebrate on the Chinese calendar: Chinese New Year, Dragon Festival and Moon Festival.
We speak in mandarin, which is official language and we speak also Taiwanese language.
E. R.: Can you tell me about the natives of the island of Taiwan?
History: Taiwanese aborigines (Chinese: 臺灣原住民; literally: “Taiwanese original inhabitants”) is the term commonly applied to the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, who number more than 530,000 and constitute nearly 2.3% of the island’s population.
Shu Ping: The first people on the island of Taiwan were original Taiwanese. They and their culture was similar to the Indians, who lived in America before the Europeans arrived. In those days, when on Taiwan lived only aborigines, the island looked very natural, full harmony man with nature. Then, after one of the wars in China, the Chinese people on the boats arrived to Taiwan and began to live in the island.
Chinese people began to force the Aborigines to move to live in the mountains. But life in the mountains was very hard, so from time to time, some of the aborigines began to come down and live on the plains. But, aborigines still remembered even today, what did Chinese people. For that reason, we still have unofficial division between population on Original Taiwanese and Chinese Taiwanese.
E. R.: What is the difference between the Original Taiwanese and Chinese Taiwanese? And in what language they speak?
Shu Ping: Original Taiwanese even look different. They have big round eyes, different kind of the nose, skin color darker than ours. They have a very beautiful voice and they are wonderful dancers.
In what language they speak, I do not know, because I can not understand it at all. They have their own language.
E. R.: What kind of the men and women live in Taiwan?
Shu Ping: Men… Depending of the age. For example, the generation of men of my father (70 years) brought up in the spirit that they will never perform “women’s work”. My father in his whole life never went to the kitchen, never cooked, not washed the dishes, not cleaned the house, in general, did not do anything that is usually done by women.
Modern men is helping their women to do housework. But, this is only because, now in the family work both of them, for such reason they share also housework. Also right now, Taiwanese men became more sweet. I have seen many times how young guys wearing handbags of his girl, just to help her. But for me it’s too much.
Women are the exact opposite of the men. They have become more independent and often even earn more than men. Another confirmation of the above, is the fact that in the last presidential elections, which was January 15, 2016 won Cai Ying wen (蔡英文) – first female president in Taiwan.
E. R.: Tell me please about Taiwanese family: the age at which people get married, how many children they have?
Shu Ping: Now Taiwanese married very late, about 30 years old. And they have maximum two child or no one. In the past was different.
E. R.: Why?
Shu Ping: Because the mentality of people has changed. Today’s young people prefer to live in his pleasure. But the children, is a very great responsibility, both moral and material.
E. R.: Taiwanese family prefer to have baby girl or baby boy?
Shu Ping: Of course, baby boy.
E. R.: Why?
Shu Ping: There are two main reasons, first, by tradition, because the boy continues genus. He remains with the last name of his father and gives the same name to their children. And the girls change their surname after marriage.
But also this practice recently changed. It is now possible for the children to take the surname of his mother. For example, in one family was born only girls, then when one of these girls decide to get married, she will be able to agree with her husband that she and their first child take surname of the father, and the second child will receive a mother’s maiden name. In fact, this is possible, but, as a rule, Taiwanese men not agree.
The second reason is that the boy gets all the money and property from his parents. And he is the one who will have to take care of them in old age.
By the way there is a tradition in Taiwan, according to which parents save money during the life. And when their son gets married, they were able to buy him an apartment, a car, to celebrate a wedding, to provide all necessary.
E. R.: And what will have the daughters?
Shu Ping: Nothing, but they also removed the responsibility for taking care of old parents. Also because when they will married, they will have a husband, and his parents will provide everything necessary. So, do not worry about them.
E. R.: Taiwanese people are rich?
Shu Ping: Generally, yes. Of course, still there are people who need a help. To do this, we have a good social support for people who have difficulties with money. But, in general, you should not worry that you will die of hunger in Taiwan or remain homeless.
E. R.: Which business is you need to have in Taiwan to earn more money?
Shu Ping: (laughs and looks at me in surprise). As far as I know, many people have the opportunity to earn good money. To do this, you need to work a lot and hard.
But I can tell you a few examples of successful businesses:
All that is related to IT.
And in general in Taiwan any business can become good, and here is an example.
One day I went to visit my sister, who lives in the city of Jia Yi (嘉義). In that city located one very famous store, which sells sweets Fu Yi Xuan Dan Juan (福 義 軒 蛋捲). And Taiwanese when they coming to this city, try to buy these cookies. You can also order them on the Internet, but you will need to wait the delivery half a year, because the shop is full of orders.
And this store from outside looks like a poor. Once early in the morning we went to this store for buy the Fu Yi Xuan Dan Juan. Coming closer, we saw a long line consisting of pensioners and stretching from the shop door until the end of the street. What’s going on, I thought? I found that retirees have found a way to make money. They stand in the queue all day, buying cookies at the purchase price immediately add percentage and sell them to other guys, who work on the open market. Those guys add also something in the price and finally sell Fu Yi Xuan Dan Juan to the populations.
E. R.: Yeah, really funny story.
That’s how I became more informed about Taiwanese.
Of course, our dialogue on this has not ended and Shu Ping told me many interesting things about Taiwan and the Taiwanese people, but I’ll save those story for another article.
Have you been in Taiwan? Tell us about your experience in the comments to the article.