It may be too soon to generalize, but since I’m only here for three and a half months, I’ll say it now: most of the people I’ve seen here in Taipei walk slowly. I tend to walk pretty quickly in general, even for living in America, but even my other American friends here have remarked on the different pace here in Taipei. Often we will be walking at what we think is a “normal” pace, only to get stuck behind a group of slower-walking Taiwanese, either students or regular people in the city, who are going at a more leisurely pace. In the beginning it was easy for me to complain about it, especially when I was in a hurry to get somewhere and a group of people would be taking up the entire walkway, but now I’ve been thinking more about what this means—is it strange that I’m always in a hurry? Or that even if I’m not in a hurry, I still feel inclined to walk quickly? And are Taiwanese always just so early that they don’t need to fear being late?
It’s been really interesting to observe how the pace of walking might point to other cultural differences, and it makes me think not only about Taiwanese culture but also about the life I come from. I have heard before that American culture is all go-go-go, but I didn’t think about how that would affect our walking patterns. Of course not everyone in America walks fast, but I really have noticed a difference here, and I wonder what that says about our two cultures. I will think more on this, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a good answer!
Anyway, those are just a few observations from walking around every day. And speaking of walking, Taipei’s annual Pride Parade was just yesterday (Saturday, Oct. 27), and I got the chance to watch part of it and then joined in walking in it with a group of my classmates! Taiwan’s pride parade is the biggest in Asia, so it was really neat to be able to experience it and see what it was like. Over a hundred thousand people attended this year, and it was also really important because this November Taiwanese will be voting to legalize same-sex marriage. Taiwan is also one of the more open and liberal countries in Asia.
I can’t really compare this parade to the ones in the U.S., since I’ve never been to a pride parade in America, but some of my American friends here said Taiwan’s was “tamer,” and definitely not as wild as San Francisco’s, whatever that means… Overall, it was a fun experience! One of my Taiwanese friends who went (it was also his first time going) remarked on how 舒服, or comfortable, it felt—it just had an atmosphere of acceptance. And actually, even aside from the parade, I’ve found Taipei to be a pretty accepting city. People go around doing their own thing and I haven’t had any negative experiences or encountered any negative attitudes or discrimination that I’ve noticed. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but I also like that I can feel comfortable being myself and not feeling like I’m being looked at for any reason. After the parade, my classmates and I talked about how several of us had assumed there would be more negativity surrounding the parade from more conservative sides of the society, but we didn’t see any anti-protesters or any sorts of issues. It seemed like an overall positive experience!