10 Things I Admire About Taiwanese People

Readers of ex-pat blogs notice that we tend to complain about a lot of things. I certainly have my share of gripe posts on our blog. Heck, I’ve even based an entire series around complaining, called Sound Off! But, it’s very important for our readers to understand just how much I love Taiwan, and admire the Taiwanese people. So much so, that I’m making a list:

10 Things I Admire About Taiwanese People

(Not in any particular order)

  1. Taiwanese People Are Friendly
  • I’ve never found a single Taiwanese person who was unwilling to talk with me. I can’t say that about other countries I’ve visited. You can walk over to a person and just butt in and ask them about what they are doing. If they are not too busy, you’ll find them more than happy to answer your dumb questions.  And they will smile while doing so.
  1. Taiwanese People Don’t Want My Money
  • They have their own, and lots of it too. I’ve never encountered a Taiwanese person who begged me for money. See #3.
  1. Taiwanese People Are Generous
  • I’ve had to tell Shao-hui to not accept money from people who want to pay my bill in her restaurant, because of the number of times I’ve gone to pay only to find that someone else cleared my bill without saying anything. Yes, I realize that this might be foreigner appreciation but I’ve never been appreciated in like manner in any of the other countries I’ve visited.
  1. Taiwanese People Are Very Hard Working
  • I should say very hard working. That money they have is very well earned.
  1. Taiwanese People Are Honest
  • I’ve never had anything stolen in Taiwan. I’ve had store clerks run out of the store and chase me down because I left 10 NT dollars on the counter by mistake.
  1. Taiwanese People Are Technologically Sophisticated
  • I love being able to go into a photo shop with any kind of data card or disc and just handing it to the guy behind the counter without any questions being asked. I also love being able to use my G3 video phone for real-time video calls. Even more, I love window shopping at all the high-tech gadget stores, and being able to ask questions of salespeople who actually understand the technology. Saying that Taiwanese people are technologically sophisticated is putting it mildly.
  1. Taiwanese People Are Polite
  • Taiwanese people don’t blow their noses on the restaurant floor (unlike some other people I’ve encountered in a neighboring country). I know that’s an extreme example, but it does make a point. Recent arrivals tend to stand out from the crowd.
  1. Taiwanese People Are Attractive
  • This might sound weird, but I like how Taiwanese people look. If you are a foreigner in Taiwan you understand what I mean. I personally find the women beautiful and the men handsome.
  1. Taiwanese People Are Funny
  • I can tell all my old stupid jokes in Chinese and bring the house down. Taiwanese love to joke around.
  1. Taiwanese People Are Smart
  • I’ve heard countless stories of travelers trying to communicate with local people by non-verbal means – sign language of sorts. I myself have found it difficult at times to get simple points across in some countries. After trying to describe my thoughts using what should be universalisms, I’m often met with totally blank stares. Not in Taiwan. Here I can give someone a look and a simple hand gesture and they got my meaning. I can have another bottle of Taiwan beer brought over to the table with a simple pat on the top of the empty bottle. I can have my bill totaled with a simple wave of a finger. Amazing.


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  1. As a husband to a beautiful, smart, funny, hard working, attentive, loving Taiwanese wife, I second your admiration for Taiwanese.

    As everywhere, you will find a few scoundrels however these are few. I always felt safe and welcome when living on the Beautiful Island!

  2. MJ, great post and it has made me sit back and think about the great things about Isaan people (not Bangkokians). I will hopefully do a post similar to yours about Isaan folk at a later date.

    I too say many negative things about the Thais but I also praise them when it’s due. I won’t be able to use a few of your ten steps though like numbers 2 and 4.

    Brunty’s last blog post..Thailand. Redecorating a village house.

  3. I like the high quality of technology products that are “Made in Taiwan”. the engineering work is marvelous!

  4. NHBushman,

    I’ve been reading your blog for some months, and with great pleasure. Well done, man.

    It is nice to see some props go out to Taiwanese people. I know you aren’t headed for the old folks’ home anytime soon, but you aren’t some starry-eyed kid here. Your words carry some weight.

    My wife is also Taiwanese, and while I know that some foreign husbands have difficulties with their in-laws, my wife’s brothers and sisters have been the souls of interference-free helpfulness and support. Long before I met them, I enjoyed relationships with several Taiwanese friends who are just as you’ve described them in this post. You’ve got some of the best people on the planet here.

    Sure, there are some irritations that have much to do with the cultural gap between Taiwan and the West, but I also find those differences to be what makes life in Taiwan so fascinating. It’s nice to see someone noticing all of the good stuff that goes on here.


    True Black

    Truett Black’s last blog post..Negotiating with the Chinese: Lesson One

  5. Truett Black » thanks for your well spoken comment! as you know, i also enjoy the privilege of marrying into a Taiwanese family, and it’s important to talk about all the great things about the people here. welcome to our blog Truett.

  6. Taiwanese People are creative,
    I’m always surprised going to a restaurant and finding surprising new ways of marrying different food and influences to create something new (this is especially true in Tainan). There doesn’t seem to be any “food snobbishness” over here.

    Taiwanese People are impressively competitive,
    I recently visited the clothes market near Sonchang in Taipei and was properly amazed by the range of style and genre the hundreds of shops were using to attract shoppers. It seems they never tire of changing and innovating to make buying a nicer experience.

    Taiwanese People are smart at cooperating,
    Having seen how does a SME in southern Taiwan worked along with its clients and suppliers, I was really surprised to see how much do they integrate partners in the elaboration of their products. Seeing that increasingly complicated product development is the way of this new century, they clearly have an advantage.
    Same goes on a family basis: People keep helping each other in a surprisingly resourceful manner, in ways that we as westerners would find at first a bit off putting. But in the end, their results are right!

  7. okay,,now i wish i got blue/green eyes and blonde hair!!! i do have a share of taiwanese best treatment cause i have a bunch of taiwanese friends,,but generally,,we filipinos don’t get the same treatment as much as you do.to them we are nothing but ordinary workers,,,to some we are slave..they maybe friendly but we hardly earn their trust,,speaking of politeness,,i have dated a black american business man,,on several times we don’t get the attention we needed compared to the “white couple” on the table next to us,,there was one time we want to be on a smoking area and nobody ushered us in,,well,,maybe a black and brown couple don’t please them..we never have a warm welcome anywhere we go..cause am brown and i don’t look rich..
    yes,,they are attractive and funny,,,most of the time they make fun of our complexion,,they thought we are unattractive,,ugly,,fat and short..and they are honest,,,(i call that mockery and criticism when they talk about us)…when they don’t like my hair tells me i look ugly,,,when expression lines starts to show from my face they call me old lady,,,etc.
    hard working???let me think,,,i’ve been working with taiwanese for the past 6yrs,,the heavier and more difficult tasks,,,they give that to us(maybe filipinos are more hardworking,,they thought)and we have no right to complain(how pathethic)
    of course,they dont want your money,,,cause they have lotsa money,,,cause money is everything for them,,that’s why they start working at an early age,,,and i dont see that as being hardworking,,,it’s just part of being a taiwanese …i guess
    taiwanese are nosy,,,if you want they attention just tell them you have a gossip for them,,,

    so maybe,,what i wanted to say is that it’s not about them,,,it’s about having blue/green eyes and white complexion(even if it has freckles all over)and your green money after all…
    that’s all it takes to get some of those admirable traits…

    but despite of it all,,,i love this island,,it’s been my home for 6yrs,,and maybe more and if given a chance i wanna be here for life!!! i have a bunch of taiwanese friends i love and yes they are generous and loyal friends…

    1. yeng » wow, i’m a little shocked. you may want to see someone about these issues….

      you are missing a very important point i think, yeng – if one had enough money to be choosy about skin color, or heavy lifting, how did they get it? by working hard. that’s what people do: they work hard in the beginning so they don’t have to later on. but you don’t see that? let me point out that the vast majority of Taiwanese businesses do not employ foreign workers. only factories do that.

      people here make fun of me too. i’ve been called names that people think i resemble (but nowhere else are those connections made). people come right up to me and point to my stomach and talk trash, not considering that i can understand them for even a second. sorry yeng, being white doesn’t mean you are automatically admired or respected. i’m just as much fair game as you are.

      i didn’t get what i have because of my skin color. i got what i have by being smart and working hard, and my success came late in life. it’s easy to look at someone and make assumptions, but in that case one would be dead wrong, and i suspect that would be true in most cases.

      why do people think that being white means you have money coming out of your ears?

      when people pay you to do a job you can either do it, or not. if you agree to do it, then just do it and stop complaining. again, if you feel like you are a slave, then just quit. it’s only a job and of course it’s far from being like what an actual slave would have to endure. people who pay you to do something have the right to expect you do work for it. this is the free enterprise system.

      it sounds like you have a lot of complaints yeng. perhaps you would be happier working in another country?

    2. Yeng, it sounds like you’re hanging around the wrong people. Friendly, confident, mature people don’t diss other people because of economic class or skin color.

      It sounds like misery loves company type of a situation. I suggest you leave the environments where these people hang out. Just stay away from these people. If you look around, you will find some real good people. Hang around them. Your money or your ethnicity does not matter to them. You may offput them, however, with your poor attitude. After all, who wants to hang out with someone with a low self-esteem and a poor view of the world?

      I don’t understand what blonde hair and blue eyes have to do with anything. Why would anyone wih blonde hair and/or blue eyes be any happier than someone with black eyes and hair?

      Earning trust? It seems like you’re trying to earn from the wrong people. You will never earn anything from these types of people. It’s a dead end street.

      And don’t go to restaurants that don’t treat you well. If no restaurant treats you well, then eat at home or at friends. See how easy that was?

      Sure, I’ve seen other people treated better than me at restaurants. Heck, in India, whites would definately get better service, even better than me and I’m Indian, in India!! Why? Probably because their bill is probably bigger. Think about it. Why would any business treat their customer well? Money.

      And you didn’t mention the bad part about being a rich tourist. You’re hounded by all the scammers out there. I’m sure all the rich tourists have been ripped of at least once. And in India, foreign tourists pay more to visit landmarks. Sometimes 10x as much!! I don’t see them complaining about that the whole day (they may complain for 5 minutes).

      Anyways, your whole view of the world is a turnoff. You need to become less materialistic and more spiritual. The world does and does not operate on materialistic philosophies. Which one are you going to pick?

  8. okay,,i think i was mis understood,,,but anyway,,,i can’t stay away from these people,,,i work with them and i have no choice of where to work here cause someone has to do that for us,,,and maybe you should try getting on our shoes to understand our sentiments…..but thanks anyway,,,such a nice comments….. foreigners get much attention in my country too,,,cause we have a high level of appreciation for them….

    1. yeng » one thing about Western countries is that we wouldn’t know a “foreigner” if we saw one. that makes me think about the stupid girl i met that said she knew i was a foreigner because she saw my face. everyday i get reminded by someone that i’m different and noteworthy, and in this case not because i’m famous (which i am used to). i honestly don’t go walking around thinking “foreigner” in my mind.

      there are two sides to every issue….

      i’ve heard Taiwanese bosses say that they resent foreign workers coming here and giving him a hard time about things the workers agreed to under contract. everyone has a choice and no one twists the arms of all the foreign laborers that come to Taiwan. you say i should try your shoes on to understand your sentiments. the sentiments you expressed would be more valid if you experienced them in your own country not under the circumstances of a foreign worker, but as a Citizen. foreign workers aren’t Citizens, or even immigrants as they have no intention of staying. so, naturally the local people don’t take you seriously. why would they? sad to say, and i’m not agreeing with it because i respect all people, but workers are nothing more than an expendable resource in this life. maybe over time you’ll earn enough money to go back home and be respected as a rich person.

      thanks for your comments.

  9. ha,ha,,sorry guys,,,,i was not speaking only for myself,,,cause i love it here….and honestly,,we have no choice but to work here,,,,we need a job…

  10. thanks MJ,,that’s my point,,,the other side of the story based on my experiences,,,i never thought presenting my side would pissed out the hell in mr.indian!!anyway,,mr indian,,,am beautiful no matter what u say,,,i maybe emotional,,but not materialistic,,and i dont buy your idea of not going to places where i am not treated well,,,beautiful people don’t walk away on such situations,,we use our charm and deal with it(and i think i’ve been here long enuf to know how)and thank you for your jugement on my personality,,(uh)but i dont care if am a turn off to u,,it’s not my concern anyway….
    it’s my first time to encounter Indian(apparently not a good meeting)
    and mJ,,if i leave taiwan for another country,,it’s not because i complain a lot,,,it would be because i was given an opportunity somewhere…
    thanks MJ,,and more power!!

    1. yeng » the only one who is pissed, is you. and whatever you’re pissed about has nothing to do with anyone who participates on the blog. so please try to be a little nicer, and please refrain from using terms like “Mr. Indian” which i find derogatory and offensive. neither he or anyone else said you were not beautiful. you’ve inferred a lot of things here yeng and this is starting to get out of hand. i just cannot figure out why. i also cannot figure out what the point is.

  11. Great post! I’ve never been Taiwan. But I has few friends who are from Taiwan.They are friendly and have good manner. He brought an ASUA laptop for me. The quality is very good.

    Hope I can go to Taiwan for traveling one day.

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