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Lan Kwai Fong - Hong Kong's Nightlife

Though I've come back to Taipei more than one month ago, there are still some places in Hong Kong I'd like to write about. One of them is Lan Kwai Fong, which is one of the most glamorous, vibrant bar and night club areas of Hong Kong, and perhaps of the world. Lan Kwai Fong is a T-shaped lane in the so-called Mid-Levels, in the centre of Hong Kong (see map below). View Larger Map The first time I went to Lan Kwai Fong (or LKF, as locals call it) was in 2012. I and two friends of mine were trying to find a restaurant, but they could not find the one they were looking for, so we ended up walking around for quite a while. I soon forgot the main purpose why we had gone there and simply enjoyed exploring that part of the city. What I saw there surprised me quite a lot. It was as if I had suddenly travelled back to Europe - Lan Kwai Fong resembled districts in London or Berlin rather than an Asian city. Not only did the many colonial buildings give the area a

Are Taiwanese Too Nice To Foreigners? - A Few Thoughts About Misunderstandings and Xenophobia in Asia and Europe (Part I)

Yesterday I had a conversation that prompted me to write this post. I had already been planning for quite some time to talk about this topic, but I never had the chance to do it before.  I mentioned in the previous article that sometimes I heard Taiwanese and Chinese say that they are 'too nice to foreigners' ('foreigners' meaning in this context 'Westerners'). I can feel a certain anger in such words, an anger which is neither too direct nor violent, but which nevertheless reveals frictions and misunderstandings. What is behind these tensions? Nice Asians vs Rude Westerners? A Different Approach When I was in Europe, some Taiwanese told me that they are nice, even too nice to foreigners who come to their country. Why do they have this perception? And do Westerners actually share this view? The main reasons for dissatisfaction with Westerners that I have heard in Taiwan are: 1) Westerners are too arrogant; 2) they get higher salaries than local pe

Cool Foreigners, Crazy Foreigners - The Perception of Westerners in China /Taiwan and the Limits of Integration

This morning I stumbled upon an interesting article on  lostlaowai . The website reported on something that happened in Chengdu: a Westerner (in Chinese often called 老外, pinyin: lǎowài)  shouted furiously at a bus driver who apparently had not stopped to let him get in. The foreigner had to run after the bus and in the process he got his trousers dirty. When the driver opened the door, the guy stepped in and began to heap on him a flow of angry words in a mix of Chinese, English and another language. Had he expected that, in the era of smartphones, the fit of anger of a Westerner in China would not to go viral within a few hours? If he did expect such a thing, he was wrong. In fact, a passenger shot a video of the screaming laowai and posted it online. The mad laowai became yet another internet sensation, yet another example of a 'crazy foreigner'. The expatriate community criticized him, though not unanimously, for damaging with his behaviour the reputation of Western

Life as a Foreigner in Taiwan - Of High School Students Interviewing Foreigners

In my post about my first impressions after coming back to Taipei from Hong Kong, I mentioned that sometimes Taiwanese high school students interview "foreigners" (meaning, I guess, Westerners) on the street. This is a kind of school assignment in Taiwan which is apparently very popular. Well, today it happened to me again. I was sitting at Yamazaki, on the campus of National Taiwan University. I was studying Chinese; two days ago I bought a silly book at 7-11, called "這次是我愛上妳" (This time it's me who's fallen in love with you). I chose it because the books from regular bookstores are too difficult to read, and the other books from 7-11 are manga or horror books, which I don't like. So I simply picked this one.  As a man, I feel pretty ashamed to read this sort of stuff which is obviously made for a female audience; but anyway, back to the topic. I was studying Chinese, when suddenly I saw three people, a guy and two girls, coming towards me with