If no radical geopolitical changes occur, I won’t regret coming back from Spain to Asia for a second time in the spring of 2021, in the middle of a pandemic and accompanied by my two cats.
Considering the upcoming, self-provoked energy crisis in Europe, and also the ever-increasing forces of self-destruction that have irreversibly ruined large parts of Western Europe, I know it was the right decision.
On the other hand, I finally gained a more realistic impression of Taiwan and its people, which I probably idealized while living in Valencia for more than three years, as I was feeling so out of place there.
As I continue to sell German and Spanish food at the traditional market where I started about half a year ago, I became quite familiar with some of the vendors inside and outside the venue.
Considering how pragmatic Chinese people are in general, I’m surprised again and again about how moody, if not outright rude they can be while doing business with foreigners who speak their language and understand their culture.
Even as I buy very regularly at some of these stands, the vendors running them sometimes treat me with disrespect or like an outright fool that will accept any weird proposal.
A couple of days ago, one vegetable stall was selling onions that didn’t look that great anymore. Although the price was quite cheap, some of those scruffy vegetables were already attracting fruit flies, which indeed is a big red flag.
Although most of them just looked crooked and were perfectly fine, out of respect for my customers it was out of the question to purchase them all. But as I was still considering the offer, I asked if those obviously unsellable pieces could be removed from the batch.
Having known me for over a year and seeing me three times a week, the guy didn’t even bother to turn around to tell me that the price was fixed and no flexibility allowed.
I had been willing to pay a little more for that “favor”, but considering his attitude I left without further comment. Who would buy food to throw out almost immediately?
Another example is the fellow, from whom I had regularly bought all kinds of fruits, who first expressed great (fake?) interest in my specialties, only to tell me suddenly that he had no time to eat them while working.
He also didn’t have the guts to tell me such an obvious lie straight into my face. I could have accepted the fact that he didn’t like my culinary art at all, but treating me like an idiot was way over the top. I decided to complete ignore him in the future.
Currently I’m subleasing my stand from a fish monger, who in turn rents it from a veggie trader. This betelnut-consuming individuum has known me for months, though never brings himself to greet me in the morning. At least he reacts when I do the first step…
Yesterday evening I found two nice traditional Chinese paintings in a second-hand shop, but the frames were damaged. So, I walked into a specialized shop nearby to ask for a quote to maybe have them replaced.
The lady was friendly and helpful. Nevertheless, in about five minutes she changed her offer twice, returning to her initial bid after a senseless excurse and totally contradicting what she had said in between.
I already have a German flag for the little table on which I place my meatballs and diverse salads. Given that I will most likely also start selling Spanish olive oil, I need an ensign from the country I grew up in.
I called a flag shop that I had visited before and somehow got the number wrong that I hadn’t yet saved on my phone. Well, it took the person on the other side three minutes to tell me that I had made a mistake…
Anyway, as I have chosen to live on Formosa for the rest of my life, I need to agree to the local customs. When in Rome, do as the Romans! No cherry-picking allowed!
Taipei is definitely my city. It would even be a more liveable place if more of its inhabitants could adopt some Western patterns, like friendly greetings and logical thinking!