August 10th 2005

There are things in Taiwan, which I very probably will never forget in my life, for example the following story, which happened yesterday evening:

I have been to Neihu to give some English teaching lessons, which finished about 9.20pm. From Neihu back home to Xinzhuang I have to go with two busses, which usually takes more than one hour. No problem in fact, over here you don’t have to wait longer than 5 to 10 minutes to catch a bus in general. Well, but the street with the bus stop is a one-way street, which means that both busses, going to and coming back the city pass this single bus stop. Every time you have to wave your hand as a sign that you want to enter the bus, but have to see, if it’s the bus going to the right direction. If not, they just don’t stop.

The first three busses doing so were quite okay for me, busses number four and five made me a little impatient, especially it got later and later and I also had to catch the second bus in Taipei City. There was no one else waiting and I really got tired and hungry just by standing and waiting there. Five minutes later bus number six also passed without stopping and when bus number seven intended to do the same I really got pissed of, stepped on the street just in front of the bus and forced the driver to stop. Somehow, the situation reminded of the unknown „Tank Man“ in Beijing 1989, just look here. The driver opened the door and the fun began:

Please notice that all the following conversations were held in Chinese without exception!

Of course, the bus driver wasn’t quite happy that me of all people had stopped his bus shortly before he finished his tour, which he told me in this bus-driver-typical-Taiwan-why-the-hell-he-speaks-so-different-from-what-I-learn-at-school-dialect. However, I could understand most of it. So I asked him, why the f*** there was no bus going to the city for more than 40 minutes, which he couldn’t answer me, but invited me to give me a ride to the terminal station where I could wait for another bus going to Taipei City. I was glad that the ride just took 5 minutes, because he was complaining of having been stopped by me over and over again and I was answering him all the time, that I really don’t care who is driving this bus number seven right now, I just wanna go home!

Finally reaching the terminal station, of course he immediately had to tell his colleagues that a crazy foreigner (that was me) just stopped his bus, whereupon I followed him and went to the bus line manager (?). At least he was looking like one, sitting behind a desk in an office and seeming to have control over the bus schedules. So I told him the same (in Chinese of course), no bus for 40 minutes in the right direction and so on, if I hadn’t stop the bus, I would have to stay outside the street or take a taxi back home for quite a lot of money.

Okay, the bus line manager (?) made some excuses, but also didn’t know what was going on. I just guess that the drivers had no mood to drive through the one-way street in the evening, because there is a much faster way to go.

Well anyway, we both together planned the way for going back to Taipei, without knowing whether it still would be possible to catch the second bus for going to Xinzhuang. We finally decided that a combination of bus/subway/bus might be the best solution. After chatting with the bus line manager (?) for about 10 minutes, he suddenly noticed that I’m a foreigner, but discuss with him all the way in Chinese. He was full of commendation for me and we talked a little bit about Germany (at least he knew that Munich is a german city, but just calling it the Chinese „mu ni hei“). At 10.30pm finally the bus going to Taipei started and thanks God everything went fine, so that I came back home at about 11.45pm.

The time before I was just smiling in and outside of me. I really didn’t know that I could bitch at someone that good using Chinese. Well, I know, self-praise is no praise, but I have to say that this was world-class Chinese from me. Any word I wanted to use came to my mind in a speed I usually talk English. I understood everything people told me I answered them as it would be the most simple thing in the world. Just imagine, there is a foreigner standing somewhere in Taiwan bitching at the bus drivers, in Chinese, alone and I also could have talked for a longer time. I think, my can of beer bought at 7-11 was well-earned this evening 🙂

In the end, one more anecdote: when leaving the terminal station the bus line manager (?) said in English „See you next time!“. Well, if I were not in Taiwan, I would regard this as a threat, but the way he was saying it let me suppose that he was just trying to be nice and say good bye. In that situation I avoided to tell him my thoughts 😉 If there’s a next time (…and next week I will go there again) then Heaven forbid! I plan to study much more of Chinese invectives to be even more effective. However, yesterday I really made a big step to my goal of being able to fluently speak Chinese some day 🙂 佳作 !!!


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