Writer lauds foreigner-friendly culture
By Andrew Crosthwaite
June 26, 2012, 6:13 pm TWN
I was on holiday in Malaysia recently, and I got chatting with an elderly English gentleman. When I told him that I live in Taiwan, a big smile spread across his face. “Wonderful people, the Taiwanese,” he said and told me what happened when he had gotten lost in Kaohsiung a few years earlier. A local guy gave him directions and then, realizing a few minutes later that he'd told the Englishman the wrong road, went running after him to help him again. “He was out of breath and saying 'Stop, stop! I sent you the wrong way,'” my friend told me. “Nobody would do that in England,” he added.
I'm not sure whether I'd agree that nobody would do something like this in England, but there wouldn't be many who'd be prepared to make such an effort to lend a hand. In Taiwan, though, actions like this are really not unusual. On several occasions, I've stood in a bus or train station with a map or guide book in my hand and a puzzled look on my face. Invariably, someone has come over to ask if they could help me.
It might not sound like a big thing, but it demonstrates a generosity of spirit that is common among people in this country. Of course, not everyone possesses this characteristic, but during my 10 years in Taiwan, I've been on the receiving end of countless random acts of kindness. While out hiking, strangers have shared their food and tea with me. People have bought me dinner, directed me through hospitals and volunteered to translate for me in banks and government offices.
I have never been to any other country where people are so willing to put themselves out to help foreign visitors. It's a quality that makes this country very special.