[KaohsiungLiving] Kaohsiung Living Forum
What's the right etiquette when walking past another foreigner in Kaohsiung?
  • guga87guga87
    Posts: 1Member
    When you walk past another foreigner in Kaohsiung, what's the right etiquette? Greet the person with a hello? A small smile? Or just walk past without acknowledging the person in any way?

    My question isn't about what to do if you're in a place with many foreigners, like a bar, popular gym, Chinese class or English speaking gathering. But very often in many areas of Kaohsiung, there are no other foreigners around. This isn't Hong Kong, Shanghai, or even Taipei, after all. Foreigners are pretty rare here in most areas, so it definitely stands out when you come across one. So when you walk past one, what should you do?

    I've had this discussion with a few friends, and no one's really clear what's right.

    On the one hand, it seems pretty natural to greet the person. After all, as a percent of the total population, foreigners are pretty rare, so it's nice to say hi. Similarities in background, lifestyle, all that.. so even though I don't personally know the person, it's nice just to acknowledge him/her. And because it's such a small place, we probably know people in common anyway. And it's a way of acknowledging that we're all in it together, all have similar crazy experiences with all sorts of things, etc.

    On the other hand, when I'm in the US or Europe, I don't say hi to people I don't know, even if I think he or she has a similar job as me or comes from a similar place. To say hi to someone here because he or she looks "foreign" is already a very direct statement that you judge "foreign status" based on race. After all, odds are that you're only saying hi to people who are white or black; for example, unless you hear someone's accent, you'd never say hi to a Chinese-American ABC even though she or he might be just as much a foreigner.

    But the counter-counter-argument is that the reality is that any white or black people in Kaohsiung truly are foreigners. There really are very, very, very few native Taiwanese who are white or black; they exist, but odds are incredibly high that any white or black person you see is actually a foreigner, so is it wrong to recognize this reality and say hi?

    I really don't know what's right. So usually I kind of sheepishly smile at the occasional foreigner I walk past. Sometimes they say hi to me, sometimes they smile sheepishly at me as well. And sometimes they really steadfastly ignore me, which for all these reasons kind of bothers me, but for the same reasons kind of also seems right because we don't know each other after all.

    It's all pretty obviously silly and not a huge topic, but when I talked to other foreigners I realized that they've all thought the same things and are similarly confused about what's right.

    So I'd like to ask on the forum: what do you think?
  • RaymonRaymon
    Posts: 489Member, Moderator
    Interesting post, let's come up together with how we want to be addressed... Personally I don't mind a Hello, but depends also on the other person, if they make eye contact I usually greet them, if they don't make eye contact I respect their wish...
  • blake_the_humanblake_the_human
    Posts: 15Member
    Keep in mind that the foreigner you see might not always be in the best of moods and not want to acknowledge anyone.
    So far as I'm concerned foreigners are just other people, I won't pay much attention to you unless you do something to attract my attention, and I don't expect you to acknowledge me. But if you are feel as though you ought to give a small nod or a smile and a 'hello', I'll gladly repay in kind.
  • robotpicnicrobotpicnic
    Posts: 10Member
    Coming from a big city, the idea of walking down the street looking people in the eye and smiling at them as you pass is not a common thing.  I like to do it in Toronto just for shits to see the reactions or lack thereof.

    I say do whatever you feel like doing.  Your foreign counterpart will do whatever they feel like doing, and in the end it wont really matter.  Don't forget to smile at the passing locals too.  One of the little things I enjoy about being a foreigner in Kaohsiung is the random eye contact on the streets and the ensuing smiles that come after.  Doesnt really happen much back home.
  • sonic_steamsonic_steam
    Posts: 7Member
    I'm intrigued to come across this post.  I just discussed this with a couch surfer 3 days ago and it's interesting to hear someone else's take on it.  

    Though it's probably not polite or proper etiquette, there seems to be a (at least for males) territorial sort of attitude toward other (again males) foreginers.  We walk around encountering loads of locals all the day long and every once and a while, you see one of these tall, long-limbed, fair-skinned aliens walking around and all too often we look at each other just long enough to recognize our fellow likeness before quickly turning our head away as if to say "don't feed the other foreigners." If you get caught in the awkward eye contact, usually there is a bit of a gentleman's head nod but rather than an acknowledgment of "welcome to my city," it's more that of two opposing sports rivalries acknowledging the competition.  There's an attitude of "this my area, my stomping grounds, and perhaps this place isn't big enough for the both of us but you're welcome to compete for it."  I don't take any offense to this as I often put off the same air.  It's almost as if we see each other and recognize a fellow competitor.  Like two opposing wolf packs meeting at the fringe of one another's territory.  This of course plays to the big fish in a small pond phenomena.  (I am speaking of course of the dating market.)  

    Call it crass.  Call it rude.   Call it unfriendly,   Call it sportsmanship.  But either way, it seems to be the way things run in a place where foreigners make up such a small percentage of the population.  One might say we should all band together in this fight and share as you said before, all of our crazy experiences.  But all too often I feel as though we're all underdogs fighting for an edge.
  • TwMichael14TwMichael14
    Posts: 100Member
    I tend to pass by due to the fact most people are just in a hurry or don't speak English anyway..but the awkward head gesture or hey happens fairly often for me too haha
  • plotchplotch
    Posts: 49Member
    I'm from Vermont. I have to know someone personally for at least 10 years before I'll greet them on the street.
  • ChiaoWenChiaoWen
    Posts: 10Member
    Hmm, interesting posts. ^^
    Now it just gets me wondering how about for Taiwanese to encounter foreign residents here. I've been told it'd be impolite to stare, of course. But, would you like to see smiles or nodding from local people? (Me, speaking as one, but just moved back from Taipei a few months ago....getting used to Kaohsiung....)
  • danitto_bonettodanitto_bonetto
    Posts: 35Member
    Good post. I have same problem hehe where i come from we re very easy going and talk to strangers everyday. Then in Kaohsiung sometimes i feel i want to say ello or sth but worry cant understand me.
  • ChiaoWenChiaoWen
    Posts: 10Member
    Hello!! :)
  • danitto_bonettodanitto_bonetto
    Posts: 35Member
    Haha, yep it is the right way, hello !

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yī sī bù gǒu

to be meticulous

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