jason88888 wrote:For all the foreigners who never leave Taiwan was Taiwan your first place you went to in the region?
One of the last, actually.
And I’m pretty sure I could have settled happily in many or even any of the others. Or pretty much anywhere else in the world, to be honest. If I’d happened to land in Peru or Morocco or Fiji or wherever, and found enough to my liking there, I could have stayed, put down roots, and achieved sufficient contentment to make me never want to leave.
Taiwan just happens to be where I finally chose to put down my anchor.
Because it met enough of my core requirements for leading a pleasurable, fulfilling and comfortable life. Living here gave me happiness, excitement, mental stimulation, and a whole raft of other good things fundamental to my well-being, so why move on? I couldn’t even find any good cause for thinking about doing so. There were annoyances, discomforts and frustrations, as there were in my home country and there would have been wherever I lived, but the positives far outweighed the negatives, and that was good enough for me.
Here are the basic things I had that were important to me:
1. I was able to spend a minimal amount of time working, but still earn enough to live on comfortably. At the same time, it was easy to find work, easy enough to arrange my work schedule around my other pursuits, and I usually gained plenty of enjoyment from my work.
2. I was surrounded by lovely, slender, smiling young women, many of whom were glad to become my friends, or at least open to doing so if I approached them in an appropriate way. I could spend as much time as I might wish for with sweet-natured lasses who I really enjoyed being with and who put a huge amount of sparkle in my life. And there were always excellent prospects of finding the special one who would be the best life companion I could ever hope to find.
3. I was able to indulge in my passion for learning Chinese to my heart’s content. If I’d ended up in Thailand, I’m sure I’d have equally enjoyed learning Thai. If I’d ended up in Italy, I’d probably have equally enjoyed learning Italian. But I was in Taiwan, I had a particular passion for learning Chinese (it was my main reason for targeting Taiwan in the first place), and I had the best possible amount of time and opportunity to do so here.
4. I was able to get out into nature every day, and go wild swimming in beautiful, pollution-free mountain rivers and streams. That was very important to me. I was an active, outdoorsy country boy, and regular contact with nature was essential for every aspect of my physical, mental and emotional well-being.
5. I found some of the most beautiful, magical places I’ve ever been to – secluded waterfall pools, surrounded by stunningly beautiful forest-clad mountain slopes, inhabited by a rich array of fauna – and some of the best ones were just a short ride and hike away from my front door.
6. I found endless source of interest in this society, its history, cultures and customs, its politics and economy, the way it was developing, and a myriad other of its facets. I arrived in the last days of martial law, and was witness to an extraordinary process of social liberalization and democratization. What could have been more interesting than that?
7. I was treated pretty well by most of the people I came into contact with. I experienced very little display of open hostility or antipathy, but lashings of friendliness and interest. I felt largely welcomed, liked and respected.
8. Despite this being a society in which rigid rules of conduct held thrall, I was allowed to feel free from expectation of being bound by those rules. My status as an outsider accorded me freedom to live my life pretty much as I wanted to live it, provided I didn’t flout the law or do anything outrageous. People for the most part left me alone when I wanted to be left alone, didn’t poke their nose into my business, and didn’t insist on telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing. This gave me a sense of liberation, very much to my liking, which I was able to take good advantage of without abusing it.
9. I still had the travel bug, and Taiwan’s location made it an ideal place from which to make frequent jaunts to other countries in the region that I’d not previously visited or that I particularly liked visiting.
10. The tremendous convenience of life here. A half hour’s journey in one direction took me into the wilderness, and the same in the other direction took me into the heart of the city, where I could find most of what I needed to buy in stores that would be open pretty much whenever I needed to shop.
11. There are probably a good few other things that don’t spring to mind right away, but I think I’ve already listed enough.
Before I came to Taiwan, I’d visited many countries in most parts of the world, including most of East Asia. I’d dallied in some for several months, and had found much to my liking there. In my student days, I spent quite a lot of time in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, and would happily have settled in any of them. En route to Taiwan (a journey I made entirely by land and sea from England), I stopped for a few months in Japan, and would have been very glad to extend my stay there indefinitely. But I had my sights set on coming to Taiwan to study Chinese, so I pushed myself to move on.
I presume that many other foreigners who have lived a long time in Taiwan, and have no intention to leave, arrived here by a similar and largely chance convergence of circumstances, and stayed here for similar reasons. I doubt if much can be read into whether or not it’s the first place in which they spent time in this region or outside their home country.
If a person is sufficiently resourceful, has enough gumption, and is not beset by too much hard luck, they ought to be able to carve out a pretty good life for themselves in almost any part of the world. And for Westerners in Taiwan, the conditions for being able to do so are far more on the favourable side than otherwise.