Saturday, June 28, 2008

Through the Looking Glass:
The Lure of Taiwan for Expats Who Stay

Adapted from Maple Leaf Magazine

Autumn 2005

For some, Taiwan is a pit stop in the journey of life, or at least in a journey around Asia. They make some money (often quite good as far as temporary gigs go, especially), check out the nightlife and then move on to other locales.

Others, however, are captivated by the opportunities, lifestyle, culture, energy and ambience that the country abounds with. Even though they may have intended to stay only a few months, or perhaps a year or two at most, they linger longer; in some cases, decades or the rest of their lives.

Maple Leaf Magazine asked four Canadians – including broadcaster/journalist Stephen A. Nelson (born in Scotland and moved to Canada in 1965) why they remain here after years away from Canada. The insights about Taiwan and motivations for staying make for good reading, especially Stephen’s more humorous approach, complete with a mock interview - appropriate for a guy who first arrived in Taiwan on April Fool’s Day seven years ago.

Stephen in Wonderland

By Stephen A. Nelson

Maple Leaf: So, Stephen… What brought you to Taiwan in the first place?

Stephen: Canadian Airlines.

ML: I see. But what I mean is, “Why did you come to Taiwan?”

Stephen: I used to tell people that it was my purpose, my destiny, God’s plan for my life. But a lot of Canadians get real nervous when you tell them that - especially if it’s true. So now I just tell them I came here because I was lured by promises of love, money and future considerations.

ML: So how did you find Taiwan when you came here?

Stephen: I turned left at Japan.

ML: No, I mean did you find your destiny? Did you find love, money and future considerations?

Stephen: I did, but then I lost them.

ML: So what keeps you in Taiwan, then?

Stephen: Gravity… gravity and inertia. A body at rest tends to stay at rest.

ML: So why don’t you do something? Go somewhere?

Stephen: Well, I keep running and running, but never seem to get anywhere.

ML: Why’s that, do you think?

Stephen: Coming to Taiwan is like Alice stepping Through the Looking Glass. Things may look the same, but nothing works the way you expect it to. It's like playing speed chess through a mirror. Sometimes you have to move backwards to move forwards.

And there is always someone yelling, "Faster! Faster!" So you move faster.

But as the Red Queen says to Alice, "You have to run much faster than that if you want to go anywhere!

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