Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Even though I have been living in Taiwan now for nearly 3 years.  Now I have been struggling with the concept of face more so than when I arrived!  

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Taiwanese people think I should know more about it because i'm not a fresh off the boat newbie!  As I have said, after 3 years they assume this big hairy foreign ape looking white man knows all about face.  So we good!

Losing face is a no no for Taiwanese people

I don't actually mean people's real faces by the way.  Face is Taiwan is kind of like an abstract subject, its all about how other people see you in society.  Also how you act, what you do, who your friends are, what kind of work you do, and what you do when your not at work can all effect your face!    Anything along the lines of arguing, sleeping around, complaining, moaning, and fighting will help you lose face in an instant. 

Losing face is a massive thing, people often talk a lot about saving face, or how they have lost their face and they cannot go to that shop again, or see those people again in the street.  This kind of thing, and these kind of activities are really common back in good ole Newcastle.

What I find funny about Taiwanese people is they really care about face but there are a lot of situations where face is not thought of at all!  For example charging past you to get a seat on the MRT!  Chomping on food and talking at the same time, showing all the contents of your lunch, and mumbling some bizarre concoction of a word!  People walking at the pace of a man with no legs when your in a hurry and not moving out of the way for shit, because that's their goddamn piece of path, and their not letting you past at all.  Even if you say, "bu hao yi si" Excuse me/i'm sorry.  After uttering the magic polite words you get looked at like you have just shot the bastards in the back, or your neighbour braying on your door uttering some sort of chinese gibberish about you shouting "Webb you manc cunt, it was over the line.  She however, bangs the front door so loud every day like that don't matter!!!" as you watch Newcastle get thumped by Man Utd and that cheating fucker helps them!  The great final contradiction is gobbing up all your phlegm and beetle nuts all over the streets like its no ones business, and face don't mean shit to them.  Its all about the contradictions baby.

1 comment:

  1. The face thing is hard to get your head around. But I think you've pretty much covered the basics. You've noticed how big a thing it is with friends/family/colleagues and you've noticed how inconsiderate people can be on the street, or when using public transport. I'd take it one step further and say that face is much more important between people who know each other in some way, and it becomes less important on the roads, on the streets, or in the nightmarkets.

    I think I know where you're coming from, because I'm also from the north east of England (South Shields). And I've lived in Taiwan for just over 5 years now. I've witnessed the same people here, who have treat me with as much warmth and respect as any one back home, go and drive carelessly, or push and shove to get on busses, and behave in ways that have made me feel embarrassed... Well, perhaps in my first few years here, but I'm not as embarrassed any more.


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