7-11’s OpenPoints in Taiwan and how to use them (to buy books)

You might have noticed an uptick in 7-11 attendants asking you if you’re a member in Taiwan. This is because the chain of stores has expanded it’s app membership from just iCash card holders to everyone (copying the success of FamilyMart).

By purchasing things at 7-11 you can save points which you can use for a variety of offers and to exchange for goods, but more interestingly, you can tie the points to your Books.com.tw account and get cash off book orders.

You can also avoid queues for the Ibon machine to collect your NHI masks by doing the heavy lifting on your phone!

Registering for the app

You’ve probably already been cajoled by a hard-working 7-11 clerk into providing your phone number at the cash register. In this case, you’ve probably already been unknowingly been collecting points.

Apologies for the shoddy quality, the app doesn’t allow screencapture

When you log into the app, you’ll be asked to register by filling in your mobile phone number (會員帳號-> 請輪入行動電話) and creating a password (請設定密碼&再次確認密碼). They will send a text to your mobile, for you to confirm your ownership of the phone number. The process is pretty simple and they let you fill in your personal details later, to login, you just enter your phone number, your password (密碼) and a captcha code, as below:

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‘Your Name Engraved Herein’ Review: No Means Yes 《刻在你心底的名字》影評

The message this film seemed to want to convey was of a tragic unrealized potential of love between two high school guys because the time (1988, just after the end of Martial Law in Taiwan) was not yet right for their love to flourish. The narrative that it seems like we’re supposed to read into the film is that, out of his love for Jia-Han, Birdy pretends not to love Jia-Han back and pursues a female classmate called Banban in order to try and give Jia-Han the opportunity to live a “normal life”.

If we examine the events that actually take place in the film, however, it’s clear Jia-Han crosses boundaries on several occasions, kissing Birdy when he’s asleep. Birdy, in appearance at least, is in love with a female classmate called Banban and is increasingly uncomfortable with Jia-Han’s jealousy and attempts to intervene in his love life.

This culminates in a scene in which, under the pretext of helping Birdy shower, Jia-Han forcibly masturbates him when he’s unable to defend himself due to his injury. The narrative it seems we’re supposed to read into this is that Birdy’s erection is a manifestation of the love he has for Jia-Han that he’s sacrificing for Jia-Han’s own good. This is not a reasonable deduction to make, although it may be a major theme of Japanese porn. Birdy did not consent and repeatedly tries to fend off Jia-Han’s advances. Even if this is some (rather convoluted) act of gallantry by which Birdy sacrifices his own feelings for Jia-Han so that Jia-Han can live as a model straight citizen in society (this is a major break in character for him given his constant impulses throughout the film to defend gay people, including a younger Chi Chia-wei), no means no. From Jia-Han’s perspective at this point in the movie, Birdy could very well be a straight man who is sympathetic to the disgusting way gay characters in the movie are being treated.

The film romanticizes an obsessive jealous idea of what love is, although to some extent the Canadian priest tries to deter Jia-Han from the pursuit of this unrequited love.

The ending of the film echoes this dynamic of teasing and violation of consent, with a middle-aged Jia-Han asking Birdy to come up to his hotel room, only to be refused, but then insisting on walking to Birdy’s hotel room instead, despite the rejection being quite clear.

In my imagination of the end of the film, Jia-Han walks with Birdy to his hotel, asks to come up and is politely rejected again, roll credits. This film left me uncomfortable and to some extent I think if Jia-Han had been cast as a less jaw-droppingly handsome actor, the creepiness would have been more noticeable.

It’s definitely worth a watch, but perhaps we can read it as the unreliable narration of a stalker, rather than a romantic film.

OK, so I couldn’t let a film go by without spotting an interesting bit of Taiwanese. One phrase which stuck with me was 「坩仔」 khaⁿ-á (lit. crucible) which is a contraction of 「坩仔仙」 khaⁿ-á-sian (fairy of the crucible) which is a derogatory term for a male homosexual. You can read a debate about what the term used actually is on ptt here.

Applying for the new format UI number in Taiwan

I applied for the new format UI number, unfortunately the application process was a bit rocky, as the officer who served me didn’t seem to have a clue what he was doing.

Maybe he was super busy, but with no-one in the queue ahead of me for UI renewal (don’t click the normal button on entering the NIA, but the one to update your UI number) I saw him dander around laughing with colleagues and looking bored at his desk for a good ten minutes before he eventually pressed the next number button.

Finally get called up and tell him I’m applying to update my UI number. He tells me I need my passport to update it. Thankfully I’ve had some experience with NIA agents before, so I’d printed out the list of required documents for each category of foreign national:

Resident foreigners do NOT need their passport or a photocopy to apply. I told him I’d read the regulations and they said residents don’t need their passport to apply, and he eventually conceded.

I told him that I’d like to apply to update my Alien’s Digital Certificate at the same time. He tells me that I can’t apply for that until I get my new UI number. This also is incorrect, I inform him, according to an email from the Ministry of the Interior:

您好,因應政府機關將於110年1月2日實施「新式外來人口統一證號專案」,您的外來人口自然人憑證可能會受到影響,相關說明如下:

一、110年1月2日以後,您的自然人憑證可以繼續使用,不會受到影響。

二、如果您有申請換發新式統一證號(1英文+9數字),您的自然人憑證也需要申請換新,才能繼續使用。

建議您在申請新式統一證號時,同時在移民署服務站辦理新的自然人憑證申請(不須要支付費用,但須主動表明並填寫「外來人口重製卡申請書」)。

另外,在移民署核發新式統一證號及本中心核發新的自然人憑證之期程中,您原有的自然人憑證將無法使用,敬請留意。

如有自然人憑證相關問題請電洽內政部自然人憑證客服中心(0800-080-117)。

內政部資訊中心  關心您

Greetings,

Since the government will launch the “New UI No. for Foreign Nationals” program on JAN/2/2021, your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate may also be affected:

After JAN/2/2021, you may continue to use your current Digital Certificates normally. However, if you have applied for the New UI No. (1 Letter+9 Numbers), your Citizen Digital Certificate must also be exchanged and renewed.

We advise foreigners to apply for both “New UI No.” and new “Citizen Digital Certificate” simultaneously at NIA service stations. (No extra fee will be charged. Please declare to NIA officers and fill out “Certificate Re-issuance Application Form for Foreigners.”)

Please also note that, during the issuing process of New UI No. and new Citizen Digital Certificate, your original Citizen Digital Certificate will not be available for use.

For any Citizen Digital Certificate related inquiries, please contact MOICA’s customer service: 0800-080-117.Information Center, Ministry of the Interior


Eventually he realizes that I can apply for both, but he struggles with the forms in front of him, and occasionally calls out slightly unnerving questions to colleagues, like, “Do I delete all his National Insurance Data?”

After a considerable amount of fiddling around, and the help of two colleagues, he eventually prints out a receipt with which I can receive my new ARC in two weeks. On closer inspection, however, the name on the form (and presumably the ID) is not mine. It’s some random American that the guy had been using as a reference for how to fill out my form.

Another ten minutes or so fumbling and then I eventually get a receipt with my name on it (time will tell if it’s actually my ID number), and he recruits another staff member to help him do the Digital Alien Certificate bit.

Will update if I’m successful, and will see if foreigners can now register for stuff that was impossible before.

You can check your UI history at the NIA website here.

Note: Employment Gold Card holders can apply for the new UI number online here, but the process is all in Chinese (even in the English section of their website).

There’s more information here (in Chinese) on what impact applying for the new UI number will have on other ministries.

What you have to do after applying for the new UI number:

Among the most important is to report the change in your ID number to the company which is providing you with labour insurance (your employer) or send this form to the Labour Insurance Bureau.

You also need to report the change to the post office if you have an account with them.

You can opt not to update your NHI card with your new number, but if you do wish to update it, you’ll have to pay a NT$200 fee.

You don’t have to tell your bank, as they will get the information directly from the MOI.

UPDATE: When I looked at my application to remake the Citizen Digital Certificate, contrary to the email I received from MOICA stating it was free of charge, it prompted me to make a payment. I called the helpline (you have to pretend to be Taiwanese to get through to a customer representative) and they changed my status so that I no longer had to make a payment. The customer service lady and her manager were quite helpful, and said that you have to make sure you emphasize “free-of-charge” when applying at immigration, and adjusted the form so that the fee was no longer required.

UPDATE 2: Have received my Alien Digital Certificate, so far have only had trouble logging into the Health Ministry website and the other government websites do not seem to have access to my data held under the previous ARC number. Will see if this changes once I receive the new APRC and send a copy to my employer.

It’s a sign! Softening Construction Work Announcements with English and Taiwanese (and a duck)

Sorry啦! Another post about signs.

I liked the code mixing between English, Mandarin and Taiwanese in this sign announcing construction work by the Hydraulic Engineering Office in the riverside park:

The Taiwanese reads: 「咱ㄟ卡緊呢」 lán ē kín ne which means “We will speed up” or character for character:

咱 (我們) we
ㄟ (會) will
卡 (加以) more
緊 (快) quickly/hurriedly
呢 (呀) exclamatory particle

The code mixing (as well as the PowerPoint style 3D characters at the bottom) are clearly aimed at softening the message of the sign which is an inconvenience to park users. The Taiwanese sounds much more down to earth and colloquial than the more formal 「造成您的不便,敬請見諒」 at the bottom.

Join the National Central Library with your EasyCard!

Do you feel like subtweeting your arch enemy isn’t quite enough for you? The solution may be going through their master/doctoral thesis to point out minor spelling errors and format issues (if it’s good enough for the KMT it’s good enough for me). Now you don’t even have to squeeze your National Central Library card into your already overstuffed wallet to gain access to the ivory tower and your enemy’s vulnerable sentence structures.

All you have to do is bring your ARC or passport and your EasyCard (including virtual Easycards) to the registration counter with an application form (available in the registration area). They’ll take a quick photo and tie your library card account to your EasyCard. You’ll also get a library card, but you can use your EasyCard in its place for all functions. They’ll give you a small sticker for your EasyCard to remind you about your library membership:

The library card has been updated from the laminated one of old, and now looks like this:

And away we go…

(Love you really)

But… more seriously, if you need access to a doctoral or masters thesis and it’s not online, you can click 點閱 beside the paper thesis listing and a number will be assigned to your query. You can then check your collection number by swiping your EasyCard on the computer beside the collection counter and a screen will tell you when it’s ready for collection:

BTW President Tsai Ing-wen’s thesis is real.

Jokes Around the Office: KTV Bragging 「有紅花也要有綠葉」

I heard the phrase 「有紅花也要有綠葉」 in a conversation between two colleagues in the tea room about a prospective KTV session. The guy was singing as he made his coffee, and the other colleague asked why he was so happy. He replied that it’s not that he’s super happy but that given the arrival of a new colleague, he’s looking forward to a KTV sesh. The colleague replied modestly that she is silent as the grave in KTV sessions. The guy then said in jest 「有紅花也要有綠葉」 (lit. You can be the green leaves that set off the red flower). This is used as a metaphor for how a great musician/great actor needs supporting musicians/actors for their performance to be carried off, which made me think of the microaggression that is Bette Middler’s song “The Wind Beneath My Wings”. Of course, he followed it up with a 「沒有啦」 to ensure his modesty was in tact, before blasting another view verses of the song he’d been rehearsing.

Revisiting 「佛系」 with the GooAye and Commute for Me Podcast

It’s always fun to hear a piece of vocab you’ve learned previously in the wild.

When listening to the 「股癌」 (GooAye) podcast I heard the phrase 「佛系」 (Buddhist/noninterference approach) which is a variant of the 「佛系……法」 (Buddhist/noninterference approach to…) phrase I featured in a previous post here.

At the 8:56 (-33:19) point roughly, he says:

「你不要幫上漲跟下跌找理由,但是我發現有些人會去把我講的話有點極端化,就變成說完全不找理由。好像完全是佛系自由。」

“Don’t try and explain rises and falls, but I’ve found that some people have taken what I said to the extreme, and they don’t try and look for reasons at all. It’s like they’re dedicated to noninterference and freedom.”

Here he is cautioning people not to try and try and explain short term rises and falls in stock prices, but then qualifying this by saying that they can look for longer term reasons for price rises and falls.

From listening over the last few months, I found out that the guy behind the podcast was hopeful that Trump would win the election, although his reasons are largely to do with financial policy. The podcast is definitely worth listening to for insights on Taiwanese society and the business world as well as analysis of trends in stocks and shares.

In the same week, the phrase also came up in the 台通 (Commute For Me) podcast in an interview with the spokesperson of the Taiwan Statebuilding Party (台灣基進) Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟), who led the recall petition movement against Han Kuo-yu (from 12:33 or -41:31):

Host: 那你有得到正面的回饋啊。
陳柏惟:對啊。所以那個不是自我說服唉,我覺得那個是有時間的過程。那個不是坐在家裡瞑想佛系態度。
Host: So you got positive feedback.
Chen Po-wei: Yes. So I don’t think it was me convincing myself, I think it happened over time. It wasn’t like I was sitting at home meditating hoping that things would just fall in my lap.

This is also a reference to the 佛系 memes, which play on the Buddhist concept of noninterference that I featured in the previous post.

Chen also used the Taiwanese word 「𨑨迌/企投 」 chhit-thô featured in a previous post as well at the 21:57 (-32:07) point. Although I only mentioned these two, there are lots of gems in this interview and it’s definitely worth a listen.

《陽光普照》影評 ‘A Sun’: Film Review

*Spoiler warning*

“A Sun” is a 2019 film from director Chung Mong-Hong (鍾孟宏), dealing with family relationships, crime and redemption.

The English title, I think is a play on the sounds Sun/Son, as the father in the film, a driving instructor, always says he has only one (a) son when asked by nosy older female students about his family, although the referent changes from one son to the other as the film progresses, first due to his disappointment at his younger son’s failure in school and criminal acts, then due to his elder son’s suicide. The Chinese title 「陽光普照」 (the sun shines over all things) is more a reflection on both sons growing up in the same environment, but having drastically different personal outcomes. The story has echoes of the parable of the two sons in the Bible, in terms of traditional filial expectations:

“But what think ye? A certain man had two sons. He came to the first, and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he repented, and went. He came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir!’ but went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father?”

“The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Verily I say unto you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him.”

At first, it appears that A-he is the son who has turned from the path his father wants for him. He gets involved with a dodgy friend, Cai-tou, who goes too far in trying to intimidate someone and lands them both in prison by cutting off the guy’s hand. The family also find out that A-he impregnated his girlfriend not long before going into prison. His brother, on the other hand, has perfect grades and is the apple of his father’s eye. In the end, however, it is A-he who ends up working hard at two jobs, marrying and having a son, while the elder son takes his own life, seemingly due to a combination of being bad at talking to girls, rejection from his brother and the pressure his dad puts on him. Both sons are led to completely different outcomes by the same circumstances, and neither is happy.

Although the film has been described to me as highlighting the value of perseverance, this interpretation is thrown into question by the final twist. The only reason Caitou doesn’t succeed in destroying A-he’s attempt to rebuild his life and drawing him back into the criminal underworld, is that A-he’s father murders him. This seems an unlikely outcome in reality, and one might imagine many young offenders like A-he just getting pulled back into crime. The difficulty in finding redemption for people just released from jail is showcased by the series of interviews A-he goes to, just to be rejected when he tells them where he’s been for the last year and a half. Even A-he’s dad’s job is put into jeopardy by the appearance of Caitou’s dad at his workplace, desperate to find money to pay compensation to the victims. This was another interesting aspect of the film, in that the financial repercussions of criminal acts in Taiwan often fall on the families of the perpetrator.

Overall it is a very compelling film and well-shot. I think there could have been more resolution over the brother’s storyline, as I think the suicide was a little too easy and cliché in terms of Taiwanese drama. The appearance of the ghost of the brother bringing father and son together was also my least favourite part of the film, but led to one of my favourite scenes, when the son served the father in the Family Mart.

Definitely worth watching 5/5

Postcode Changes in Taiwan 3 + 2 -> 3 + 3

Postcodes in Taiwan changed in Match of this year from a 3 + 2 format (eg. 10058) to a 3 + 3 format (eg. 100013). If you want to make sure to get your parcel, make sure you find out your new postcode on this site:

The site has pretty simple pull down options (in Chinese) to select your city/county and district/township. You’ll have to find your street in the pull down menu, or if you use the second box, just type in your street and select the section.

The results will look something like this:

「雙」 refers to even numbers, 「單」to odd numbers and 「全」 is all numbers (both even and odd), 「以上」 is above and inclusive of, while 「以下」 is below and inclusive of. So for example, the first entry is “even numbers 96 and below on Yanping South Road”. If you’re road has sections, this will be listed under 「段號」 (section no.), while the third is “odd numbers from 87 to (至) 117.

Trash in Taiwan

If you don’t live in a swanky apartment complex that does your garbage for you, then you might find yourself racing home from work/the bar/a date at the most awkward time just to throw your rubbish in the truck whilst being judged by and simultaneously judging all your neighbours for the small size of their recycling bag or their oversized and unsorted garbage (judge first, lest the first stone hit you in the eye (paraphrased)).

Well – there’s an app for that! For those of you in Taipei it’s the one below:

Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.admin.claire.garbag_truck&hl=zh_TW

Most other cities now have similar apps though.

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