Category Archives: Expat Life

Hungry Ghosts, Pollution, and Ritual

Ghost Month, the seventh lunar month, started last week. It is considered an inauspicious time, so prohibitions abound. These proscriptions vary by region, but some that are common in Taiwan include: don’t swim, evil spirits that have drowned may seek to drown you; don’t fly, it is dangerous with all those ghosts out there; don’t make big life changes, marrying, starting a business, surgery, moving, etc., it’s just not a lucky time; do not sing or whistle, it attracts ghosts; and likewise, don’t wear red, it also attracts ghosts. There are many more, but you get the general idea. There are other common beliefs in Taiwan related to Ghost Month. One such belief is that mechanical and electrical devices are particularly likely to break down during Ghost Month, presumably because the ghosts like to play with all the new-fangled doohickeys. This would be an example of a quaint little superstition—if it weren’t so annoyingly true (here).

The entire month is an orgy of Buddhist, Taoist, and folk religion observances. It is that time when the gates of Hell open and ghosts are free to wander among us. Why would beings, released from the ethereal plane, spend their precious freedom among humans? The ghosts that come to earth are hungry ghosts, whose descendants have not provided them with the customary offerings of food and money, necessary for a comfortable ghostly existence. Hungry ghosts have long thin necks, pinched by hunger. The deceased who did not receive proper funeral rituals also return to earth during Ghost Month. As you might expect, these neglected spirits are a bit pissy, and wander the earth seeking food and light entertainment. (Scaring the bejesus out of Grandpa Lui is just the ticket).

To appease these wandering spirits, the Taiwanese make offerings to their ancestors throughout Ghost Month. Different than other festivals, this spiritual largesse extends beyond one’s own ancestors, to include offerings to the wandering souls of those forgotten by their descendants. The offerings take many forms. Families place food and drink on the family altar, in the home, and burn incence for their deceased ancestors. Similar offerings are made at tables placed on the street, in front of businesses. These offerings are aimed at the general ghostly hallabaloo. Likewise, temples overflow with food offerings to the resident gods during Ghost Month. Many types of joss paper are burned as offerings, these include: hell banknotes, so the ghosts can purchase afterlife necessities; along with paper models of various useful items, houses, servants, TV’s, etc. These offerings are made to deceased ancestors and gods throughout the year, but the fires reach a feverish pitch during Ghost Month.

Chinese folk religion is a living breathing aspect of Taiwanese culture. You can be walking down the street, turn a corner, and randomly bump into a temple parade, pilgrimage, shaman, or diverse other fascinating religious practices. It is so vibrant and alive, not part of the past, hermetically preserved in a museum, to be visited on Sunday afternoons by armchair cultural voyeurs. It is a living, breathing part of everyday life here—and I love it.

However, many foreigners who live here hate it. A few may dislike Chinese folk customs, regarding them as backward superstitious claptrap. Such cultural bigotry is generally absent from expat thinking. The reason most dislike these Chinese folk customs is more prosaic. It is the pollution caused by large-scale burning of incense, hell banknotes, other joss paper, and the perennial setting off of firecrackers.

They have a point. I’ve seen paper models of hell-bound daily necessities piled into literal mountains, four or five meters tall, and then set ablaze. The pollution released into the city by even one such bonfire is substantial. On any given day in most temples, lots of hell banknotes are burned along with massive amounts of incense. On a smaller scale the process is repeated in houses and business across Taiwan. This burning is a continual backdrop to life here. During festivals and special days on the Chinese Lunar calendar the smoke raises religion-related smog from background noise to a Death Metal concerto.

Most countries have a distinct smell, noticeable when you first step off the plane. Thailand smells like rotten bananas. Indonesia smells of clove cigarettes. Canada, at least the Vancouver International Airport, hits your olfactory senses with a wall of ozone. Taiwan has the peppery odor of a melange of ritual smoke. The smell has decreased with efforts to clean up some of these traditional practices. Some of the attempts have been comical failures. When I first came to Taiwan there was a move to try to get people to burn a hell credit card instead of hell banknotes. The theory was that the masses of paper being burned by each worshipper could be replaced by a single credit card. Cute idea. It didn’t work. Worshippers simply began burning hundreds or thousands of credit cards for their ancestors. Despite the difficulty of changing traditions, air quality has improved in Taiwan. Thirty years ago the smell of religious observances would hit you like a wall when you arrived at Chiang-Kai-Shek International Airport. Now the smell is more in the background.

The improvement is partially the result of social changes. Folk religion and folk cultural practices have declined a bit with urbanization. Some temples have proactively tried to reduce their carbon footprint. A good example would be Hsing Tian Kong. The temple has decided to try to be a leader, among religious institutions, in fighting air pollution. The large incense burners at the front and rear of the temple stand empty. The smaller incense pots, placed in front of each god’s effigy, are either empty, or gone. The oven used to burn hell banknotes is closed. It is exactly what most expats have been clamoring for.

I recently visited Hsing Tian Kong for the first time since the changes went into effect—I hated it. The place was pristine, almost sterile in feeling. It lacked the characteristic temple smell. Nor were there glimpses of statues of gods and goddesses mysteriously coming in and out of view from behind a gauze of smoke. Indeed, on that fine sunny day, the temple’s air was annoyingly crisp and clean. The only wisps of smoke in the whole place came from the few burning incense sticks wielded by Taoist lay practitioners conducting exorcisms. It was all just so…so devoid of feeling.

Hsing Tian Kong was once my favorite temple in Taipei. The place where I went for succour, to bai-bai, get a talisman, cleanse my prayer beads, or simply have the demons exorcised. No more—a temple without smoke is no temple. Here is where I part ways with

most expats. My first trip to Taiwan over thirty years ago was to study Chinese folk religion. As much as I have any religion, it’s to the temple and folk rituals that I turn. Perhaps I’ve become a Taiwanese LKK, but gimme that old tyme religion, it’s good enough for me.

 

Tips for New Expats

I recently read a blog article giving, undoubtedly, sound advice on surviving as an expat in Asia. It had the typical bromides you’d expect; tips on fitting in, how to engage with your new cultural milieu, an admonition to learn the language—earnest and noble-minded advice. I’m going to go a different way.

The Salty Egg’s six tips for the newly arrived.

1. Hone a Vacant Disposition: I belong to several online discussion groups for Taiwan-based expats. One theme underlying many of the questions to these groups is the loss of control over one’s life when forced to do things a certain (Taiwanese) way. The feeling is made more acute because most cannot fathom the logic. Normally this happens when interacting with Taiwanese institutions, though sometimes it happens at the interpersonal level. This can create a feeling of being tossed around by forces that can’t be seen, understood, or predicted.

A recent example was someone asking the group why her buxiban would demand a photocopy of her bank account booklet, even though they had already been making salary deposits into that account for months. Why were they asking her to give up control of some of her personal financial data? A logical question.

You’ll drive yourself nuts asking logical questions in Taiwan. It is better to embrace the lack of rhyme or reason. It is the way it is, because it is the way it is. The way things are done here are not obligated to make sense to you. Over time you may come to see the logic behind things, a few longterm expats cross that rubicon. But, as a survival technique, it’s best just to do what’s required without worrying too deeply about the whys. Being firmly in control and micromanaging your life might be a survival skill back home, not so much here. Rather than trying to be on top of everything, it is better to just let go and drift along with the Taiwanese flow. You’ll keep your sanity much longer.

2. Don’t Think You’re Taiwanese: When I first arrived in Taiwan I was met by a friend who’d been living here for 12 years and on that first day he gave some tips  on surviving in Taiwan. Most of it I’ve forgotten. I’m sure it was mostly crap. However, he did say one thing that stuck with me and I think is valuable advice.

He’d observed that the happiest foreigners were those that remembered  they’re foreigners. Conversely, the most miserable were those who expected to be accepted as Taiwanese. The notion of immigration, accepting foreigners and giving them a route to citizenship, is Western. It is very rare for an Asian country to allow a foreigner citizenship. (That’s what makes us expats rather than immigrants). Race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality are muddled together in the Asian mind. If a white person were to say they are Taiwanese, the Taiwanese knee-jerk response would be to laugh. Ideas of race and culture are inextricably linked with national identity.

Some of these long-term expats put incredible effort into learning Chinese, Taiwanese, and the culture; while contributing to Taiwan’s social and civic life, and yet ultimately will never be accepted as Taiwanese. It is paradoxical that among this small high-functioning group of expats, so knowledgeable about Taiwanese life and culture, are some who fail to appreciate the obvious truth—they are not Taiwanese. If you have a chance to drink with one of these real oldtimers, sometimes the resentments float to the surface on the whisky vapors.

Try to fit in as much as you can, but don’t lose sight of what you are.

3. Don’t Go Native: There is a long literary tradition in Europe celebrating the European imperialist who goes native. They were seen as pariahs that abandoned their civilizing mission and sold out the values of their home country, but also as romantic figures who opposed civilization’s grinding advance, while honoring the noble savage. These outcasts and their mythical Eden captured the nineteenth century’s fancy. It’s amazing such an archaic  archetype still lights imaginations.

My first international working experience was in a small fishing community in South Korea. I was totally isolated from foreigners, Western food, or any type of Western culture (books, movies, TV, etc.) In my youthful naïveté I thought that seclusion would be a positive, a chance to really experience the culture. Go native. I was wrong. It was too much for this neophyte to cope with.

The drive to go native is not so common in Taipei as other places I’ve lived. Since Taipei is a global center, it would be hard and possibly meaningless to go native here. However, in some rural areas around Taiwan you can remove yourself from the outside world.

I’m not totally against going native, it’s my retirement plan. However, arriving straight from your home country and expecting to prosper in some remote community is unrealistic. Before you decide to walk into the mountains and go all Colonel Kurtz you should hone your cultural chops in one of Taiwan’s cities.

4. Don’t Shun Your Culture: I have been most guilty of this one. It can take many forms. I have seen expats try to reduce their engagement with other expats to the bare minimum, preferring to completely immersed themselves in Taiwanese friendships. [I did this one]. It’s not really a good idea. There’s a vibrant expat community in Taiwan. You should enjoy the rapport. You accomplish nothing ostracizing yourself.

A similar mistake I made was refusing to eat any Western food in my first few years here. I had the idea that a person’s ability to adapt to a culture was reflected in his ability to adjust to the food. All I accomplished was to deny myself some good food. My asceticism proved nothing.

Similarly, I have seen students of Chinese refuse to speak anything but Chinese, even with other foreigners. So you have the ridiculous situation of two English speakers, capable of engaging English conversations, reduced to banal Chinese conversations. Whatever infinitesimal amount this speeds Chinese learning is not worth the loss of decent conversation.

By shunning your culture you’re not integrating quicker, you’re just making yourself miserable.

5. Don’t Unconditionally Trust Your Pillow Dictionary: Definitely get yourself a pillow dictionary. (I’m assuming I don’t need to explain this wonderfully eloquent French phrase). They will aid your transition into Taiwanese culture. They can explain many things, assist with daily life, and help you learn the language, hence the name.

Of course, as they are teaching you about Taiwanese culture, they are also passing along their own beliefs. As a newbie, you may not be aware that you’re being indoctrinated into a certain view of Taiwanese society. In my early days I received a pro-China, pro-KMT, anti-Taiwanese culture view of Taiwan from the people I first met. Those attitudes were more common at that time. I had to uncover the biases through my own research.

It is in the area of language acquisition where my pillow dictionary proved most faulty. My first long-term Taiwanese girlfriend only spoke Chinese. The onus was on me to bring my Chinese up to scratch. I succeeded admirably! It wasn’t very long before I was going whole days speaking only Chinese. There was little I couldn’t express in my new language. I was rightly proud of myself.

It wasn’t until we broke up that I discovered there was a problem. When I started trying to engage with other Chinese speakers, I became less comprehensible. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with them. They didn’t seem to understand Chinese at all. It turns out I had spent a couple of years speaking pidgin Chinese. Basically I was speaking English using Chinese words. My girlfriend understood and considered that to be good enough. I was shocked to find out I wasn’t really speaking Chinese.

When it comes to your pillow dictionary trust but verify.

6. Don’t Try to Change Taiwan: When I moved here, I accepted that I’d always be an outsider, and as such have little ability to change Taiwanese society, culture, or people. Where this is most often a problem in my life is Taiwan’s institutional racism. My solution is just to let it roll off my back, accept it, and move on. Choosing not to rail against these problems allows me to retain my equanimity. That’s my personal choice.

I think everyone, including immigrants/expats, have the right to try to improve their lives. I really respect some of the expats I know who are fighting to change the injustices they see. Sometimes it takes a toll on their emotional equilibrium. If you decide to try to change Taiwan, be prepared for frustration. High-context cultures in particular change from within, and you’re from without. I prefer to maintain my contentment, even if I have to ignore a few things along the way.

What Would Make Taiwan Better?

I love living in Taiwan and, compared with my earlier days, find it very convenient. You can find almost anything that you want in Taiwan’s shops and restaurants. The following is my personal list of five things I wish were more common in Taiwan. My quality of life is great, but if these things were available it would be a smidge better, like putting chocolate sprinkles on ice cream.

1. Adult Sizes: I’m a big guy. I’m tall, broad of shoulder and chest, with an expansive stomach, long legs, big feet, and freakishly large head—everything is big. Nothing in Taiwan fits. It is very annoying to buy clothes or shoes. I would like it if when I saw something I like I would have a reasonable expectation of my size being stocked.

 When I first arrived my running shoes crapped out. I looked high and low for a new pair and couldn’t find anything in my size. A Taiwanese friend decided to help. She was convinced that there were plenty of larger sizes in Taiwan and I was just looking in the wrong places. She was wrong. We eventually found a pair of high-tops special ordered in a clownish size for a window display. My friend convinced the shop owner to sell them to me. They were truly ridiculous looking, but all I could find.

Similarly I have had problems finding clothes. I arrived with one backpack that I’d stuffed full of polo shirts and khakis, figuring those could be worn anywhere. After about a year I was heartily sick of polo shirts and desperate for a change. Of course I couldn’t find anything that fit. Again a Taiwanese friend tried to rescue me [they’re so kind]. She was also convinced I just didn’t know where to look. She was wrong. At that time there was a shop selling large sizes in Tienmu. She took me there. The clothes were indeed large. They were a motley collection of very worn 2nd or 3rd hand clothes, mostly jeans and t-shirts. Judging by the designs on the shirts, I’d guess a lot of the stock was left over from the 1970s. I believe someone had developed a business buying Salvation Army rejects and shipping them to Taiwan.

I could go on, but I’ll end with the most annoying size problem—the lack of adult size condoms. The condoms in Taiwan may not be as small as they are in Japan [important to Taiwanese, because they compare themselves to Japanese], but they’re really small. It took me by surprise at first. One day—early on—I found myself, through no fault of my own, in the middle of some hot party action, so I slipped down to 7-11 to get some protection. I chose a brand that is available in Canada. It all looked copacetic. Nope. It was like trying to put skinny jeans on a 300 lb. Walmart cashier. By the end, I was a sweating twitchy mass, sporting a pinched and claustrophobic member that had lost all interest in partying and just wanted to be set free. The discomfort is real. For years, every time I went back to Canada, I filled my suitcase with condoms. I guess this is an example of a good problem to have, but still a problem. Sometimes I’d meet someone new and be caught short, then I was on the phone to my brother, “Send a gross of Magnum condoms,… No…. No…. Don’t ‘get around to it,’ get your ass out of bed, go buy them, and FedEx them—now!” A real problem.

The internet has fixed this problem. I now buy clothes, shoes, hats, etc. online. It is not as nice as being able to try them on, but it works, and there is such a wide selection that I’m coming to prefer it. Yes, you can also get Western size condoms.

2. American Style Chinese Takeout: The Taiwanese all think I’m nuts, but Taipei desperately needs a Western style Chinese restaurant. A place you can go for Pineapple Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls, General Tso’s Chicken, Lemon Chicken, Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs, Sizzling Ginger Beef, Chop Suey, Fried [converted] Rice, and Fortune Cookies, this is every bit as much comfort food for Westerners as burgers and pub grub. When I travel back to Canada one of the first things I do is get Chinese food. A friend in southern China tells me his city has an American-Chinese takeout joint run by a Canadian. Taipei needs one.

3. Al Fresco Dining:   I like to eat and drink outside. There are a few places in Taipei that offer a decent patio, but they are few and far between. Often al fresco dining amounts to little more than a table and chairs that have been thrown out on the street to accommodate smokers. Some of the best patios in Taipei close when the manager decides that the weather isn’t appropriate. It is exasperating—too cold for Taiwanese is beautiful and balmy to a Canadian. I’m on a constant, and frustrating, search for places I can sit outside on a mild evening enjoying a meal, some wine, and a cigar.

4. Licorice: I love high-quality real black licorice. Salty or sweet, soft or chewy, it is all great. I would even accept Twizzlers or Red Vines in a pinch. Taiwan has embraced a lot of foreign foodstuffs, but the Taiwanese seem incapable of wrapping their minds around licorice. To them, it looks like and has the texture of a rubber tire, while tasting strongly of Chinese medicine. I have gotten some genuinely comical reactions from friends and students when I let them try a piece; bug-eyed, prune-mouthed, red-faced disbelief that it could possibly be a traditional Western candy. Consequently, it is virtually impossible to find licorice in a store in Taiwan. There used to be some privately run Western groceries in Tienmu that had Twizzlers. Now we have larger Western grocery chains that either don’t know enough to stock licorice, or don’t find it economical. I fill my luggage half full of licorice whenever I travel outside Asia.

5. Properly Contoured Toilet Bowls: Western  style toilets in Taiwan seem to be purposely designed to ensure you crap all over the bowl’s side. Toilets here lack wide watery bowls. Instead there is a relatively small amount of water at the bottom of a narrow bowl. Meaning that there is a lot of unprotected porcelain that’s likely to get spattered with waste. I don’t have this problem in any Western country I’ve been to, the bowl shape and water-to-porcelain ratio is design to prevent excessive messiness. Maybe Western butts are shaped differently than Taiwanese butts. I doubt that. I think, coming from a squat toilet tradition, the Taiwanese simply don’t realize that a toilet bowl can be designed in such a way as to limit side-of-bowl crapping.

None of these are terribly serious issues, but they’re what I’d improve if I were building the perfect Taiwan.

Hongers, Bangers and Mash: Hong Kong and the Asian-Based Expat

My wife and I just returned from a long weekend in Hong Kong. For a pair of Taipei-ites, Hong Kong offers a quick convenient getaway. The flight is a smidge over an hour and the multiple flights per day keep ticket prices reasonable. It is the Taipei equivalent of driving from Saskatoon to Edmonton for the weekend. Hong Kong has become a nice little escape – nothing more.  It wasn’t always that way. When I first began the expat life, Hong Kong was a lifeline, a beacon of westernization. A place I could go to find the Western products, food and amenities I craved.

I began working abroad in a place called Yeosu, on Korea’s southern coast, at the time little more than a fishing village. They had nothing. There was no Western food, not even snacks, fast food, or bread; nothing Western to eat. If you were inclined to cook for yourself there was no real hope of finding the necessary ingredients. Lettuce for a salad? Maybe on a good day. Steak or pork chops? No, any meat available was sliced paper thin for use in Korean soups and barbeque. Indeed there was a much wider availability of animal bones than meat. The bones were prized for making a healthful soup. There was a shortage of Western style drinks as well. Something as esoteric as a scotch and cigar, forget about it. Of course, there was no English entertainment, no books, no magazines, no TV, no movies; nothing in English. There was no way to buy clothes or other daily necessities. Deodorant? Sorry, not available in Korea.

I was in Korea in 1995-6. It is easy to forget what the world was like before countries joined together in the WTO. Now, even the most distant and disparate of countries are conducting trade, and the products of one country are, relatively, available within the other. We see this in our daily lives in the food we all eat. Cuisine has become much more international. (See: The WTO and My Waistline). Any moderately sized city is going to have restaurants serving a broad range of world foods. A scant couple of decades ago, that was not true.

The first time I came to Taiwan, in 1987, there was almost no Western food. The first McDonalds had just opened, and Jake’s Country Kitchen was operating in Tienmu. That was about it for authentic Western food. I recall being shocked that potatoes, hence french fries, were a rarity. I went to a Taiwanese owned, “American style” steak house, the fries cost a small fortune, and when the meal arrived, amounted to 5-6 hand julienned pieces of potato. I attributed the Taiwanese fondness for sweet potato french fries to the lack of real potatoes on the island. The notion that the Taiwanese might have liked sweet potatoes never occurred to me. Now Taipei is a foodie mecca, there are restaurants offering well-thought-out menus featuring food from virtually everywhere. For a veteran of the expat scene, the quality of the Western food available is stunning. Indeed, sometimes when I return to Canada, I find myself disappointed with the quality of the restaurants, as compared to what is available in Taiwan.

What the WTO didn’t deliver the internet did. The internet has brought a treasure trove of English entertainment and news worldwide. In addition, internet shopping allows the expat to buy virtually any product, in the desired size or shape.

When I first began my expat life in Korea, I used to fly to Hong Kong semi-regularly. I would hit Hong Kong like a whirlwind. I’d just go from fish & chip joint, to Irish Pub, to American style rib and burger joint, to Mc Donald’s in a near endless orgy of Western food intake, broken up sporadically by beers in Lan Kwai Fong, shopping for books, seeing some tv and buying enough stuff to (hopefully) survive Korea a while longer. When I first arrived in Taiwan, it was a similar situation, and Hong Kong was a place I looked forward to going for a touch of home. Things have changed. The availability of Western products and food in Taiwan beggars the imagination.

I still enjoy Hong Kong, but I don’t go there with the same need and yearning. My level of elation was once mirrored by the flight itself, coming into Kai Tak airport from the landward side, as the plane jinked left and right, I could gaze into people’s livingroom windows while the plane seemingly descended between apartment buildings. I would begin vibrating with excitement as the plane itself seemed to vibrate with Hong Kong’s frenetic energy. Now, arrival is a much more sedate affair as the plane slowly descends into the very large, modern, and rather antiseptic Hong Kong International Airport. It is still an amazing, vibrant and enchanting city, but it doesn’t quite make me chutter and soar as it once did.

Chinese New Year’s Eve & the Lovelorn Expat

Chinese New Year is fast approaching and this year, by God, you’re not going to spend the holidays drinking alone in your crap taofeng (套房), binge watching downloaded shows for days on end. You’ve done your time, paid your dues, and are ready to move from being a total outsider to a quasi-participating member of Taiwanese society. This year is going to be different. This year you’ve got a girlfriend, and she’s invited you for Chinese New Year’s Eve, or chuxi (除夕), dinner with her family. Things really seem to be going well with the girlfriend, meeting the family, a big step, but you’re ready.

Slow your roll, Stud. The default position for most Taiwanese girls is to keep their family out of their business, especially anything related to love or libido. So, why are you suddenly being invited to meet her family on the most special family night of the lunar calendar?

There are two likely possibilities. One, she is firmly placing you in the friend zone and doesn’t feel threatened by the prospect of introducing you to her family on chuxi as you are of little romantic consequence. If your Chinese is good enough, you might even get to listen to her constant reassurances to her family not to worry, that you’re just a friend. She felt sorry for you during the holiday season and wanted to let you experience a bit of Taiwanese culture. [Been there, heard that]. It can be perturbing to receive word that there’s not much future in the relationship in such an awkwardly public manner. If you’re on the same page as her, relationship-wise, then it is a great opportunity to experience something beyond the reach of a tourist. I’ve had some wonderful chuxi experiences in this way. Don’t discount pity—my dating life would have been so much poorer without it.

The second, less likely prospect, is that inviting you to chuxi is her way of indirectly informing her family that you are a serious romantic prospect and marriage is a possibility. (It’s all very Taiwanese). This is precisely how her parents will interpret your presence at their dinner table on chuxi, unless your girlfriend proactively puts a stop to such thoughts. Are you beginning to get a sense of what kind of pressure cooker the Taiwanese family can be? Personally, the status of my relationship with Venus (my wife) became much clearer when she invited me over to her folk’s place for chuxi and offered her family no excuses for my presence. It amounts to a public declaration that you’re in a deep relationship. Two months later we were engaged. If your chuxi dinner plays out this way, and you’re not at that point in your relationship—run!

If you have a girlfriend, and she considers herself to be your girlfriend, but it’s like most relationships, on a spectrum of complication and affection that is hard to define, don’t expect an invitation to chuxi. You are in that vast middle ground between just friends and marriage prospect. Relax and enjoy getting drunk alone on chuxi, your girlfriend is looking out for your best interests by excluding you.

I did have one serious girlfriend who invited me over to have chuxi with her family before she’d worked out our relationship status in her own mind. When we were dating, she oscillated between firm commitment and an inability to accept a foreign boyfriend. She was a traditional Taiwanese. During chuxi her interaction with her parents flawlessly reflected her ambivalence.

Chuxi has been a very accurate litmus test for my Taiwanese romances. I’m not sure if this works equally well for expat women, but guys if you have any confusion about your relationship, chuxi will give a lot of insight.