I suppose when the New York Times deigns to publish an article about a topic, it’s pretty newsworthy and important to know about. So, to my surprise to get an article forward from a fellow BLS alum where, it declared
“A Young Taipei Finds its Groove”
Unfortunately, it reads like a fluff piece, banalities abound. Rather disappointing. It makes some factual errors such as referring to Civil Boulevard when it’s always been known here as Civic Boulevard. On the other hand, it just could be that the Taipei city government has gotten the translation wrong (often does). It talks about the lounges and malls, Taipei 101 (the observation floor has officially opened this month and I believe it’s located on the 86th floor), and states that Taipei’s new “emerging culture catering to young people, [it] is becoming a cool place to visit.”
I suppose it is. It seems like it’s getting more internationalized, but it’s a case of one step forward, two steps back. English is still something that the city and the whole island has been trying to come to grips with for years now but often fails to. Except for a few government ministries and bureaus, Taipei and Taiwan is still a Chinese country (oops, I show my biases). It’s hard to argue that Taipei is becoming internationalized when foreigners can’t communicate with/to Taipei citizens. If you’re an international city, you’re going to have to be able to make foreigners feel welcome and have English documents, signage, people who can speak it. They don’t have it.
Despite all the glitz that’s showing, scratch a little deeper and you’ll find that it is as many people feel, a peasant city with tall buildings. Places like Shanghai, in just a few short years have leapfrogged Taipei as an international city where all the beautiful people go to see and be seen. Taipei can’t compare to Kuala Lumpur as an international city. Bangkok is catching up fast and if things continue, it will likely surpass Taipei and come of its own within the next few years.
Taipei, keep trying.