Drinking in Taiwan

Here is a recent message from the Tainan Bulletin. I am posting this because it is a gracious gesture ad brings up an important issue. Of all the foreigners that die in Taiwan, most that I know of are alcohol related driving deaths.

Good day my fellow Tainan expats,

I just wanted to remind all you good people that your folks expect to see you, alive and well,
either here, or in your home towns, in the not too distant future. I’m sure they are looking
forward to seeing you and hearing about how your life overseas is going. I’m sure you aren’t
thinking about them when you are getting on your motorcycle at 4am in front of the Armory,
not exactly in your right mind. So, i want to give you my phone number. 06-292-2545
If you are broke, get in a taxi and call me. I’ll tell the driver where I live and I’ll pay for the
ride when he gets here, and then I’ll drive you home. I’d rather meet a drunk foreigner in the middle of the night, than another grieving parent.



About the Author

I am a cultural geographer by nature, and now a photographer, videographer, musician, and webmaster.

2 Responses to “ Drinking in Taiwan ”

  1. Right on.

    If you don’t know someone who died (most likley drunk or high) during your time in Taiwan, then you have either lived a cloistered existence or you have been very very lucky.

    Don’t get me wrong, my time in Taiwan was an incredibly rich cultural experience and I would do it all again…

    …but I went through a three year stretch where either someone I knew got killed/permanenetly disabled (and I don’t mean a limp ok) or I directly witnessed a someone die.

    Cause of death/brain damage was in most cases caused by a lack of respect for alcohol or drugs… (12 people… I think).

    The others basically died of lack of respect for the place they were in. One person I know got killed while learning to ride a scooter (watch those buses; the drivers stay up for days on the nut) and I witnessed three probable (I was much too sensible to find out for sure) deaths by violence.

    If I had anything to say it would be respect and appreciate the alcohol, drugs and the cultural dislocation, the place that Taiwan is (used to be?). Don’t fear all these things, but be aware of yourself and what is happening, most of all get into it.

    As for why I stayed in Taiwan, feeling alive is the essence of Taiwan, the death, the environmental devastation, the cockroaches in the walls, and the bleak existence of my students and Taiwanese colleagues created a contrast that brought to life the the magic among the slag heaps; Baisha Wan in Kenting or a joint shared with friends around a campfire at the end of a days riding.

    When I was in Taiwan, the negative made me more alive than I ever should have. Normal people (I mean people who can handle 45 years of career, SUV, nice house in the suburbs, 3 weeks holiday a year), find enough contrast between work, wife and the soccer team to make them feel alive. I was not one of these people.

    At the end of the day, my issue was coming back to the country backwater of New Zealand… I mean in Taiwan if you say got a bit drunk, and you and your mates decided that the motorcycle that really was past it would look pretty good wreathed in flames. In short order you and your drink hooligan mates throw it on the fire in your back yard, the conseqeunces are, well lets say non-criminal.
    …In New Zealand at least two emergency services would immediately get involved, your neighbours would hate because the value of their house had gone down $50,000 (when their house appeared as teh backdrop to your burnt wreck of a motorcycle on the 6:00 news), if you had children, social services would probably assess your family to establish if you were providing a ‘safe living environment’ and the local council would serve you with abatement notice for a toxic discharge to air…
    Still back to my point; in my 20’s love death, LOVE life kind of living was allright, but now that I am old and have got kids, well it just doesn’t cut it anymore, it will be a 3 bedroom house and a wife and 2.5 kids after all.

    And you people,ride the road, abuse drugs, give the finger to black european limos full of thugs in Armani suits, but know what you are doing; you are loving death so that you might love life, and if your folks don’t like it well maybe they were young once, and maybe they are the tiniest bit jelous of what you are doing now, what they never did(or maybe they did), but that is no reason why you shouldn’t.

  2. Dude. How do I edit?

    Cause of death/brain damage was in most cases caused by a lack of respect for alcohol or drugs… (12 people… I think).

    Should read

    ‘Death/brain damage caused by a lack of respect for alcohol or drugs accounted for 12 friends and aquiantances’

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