Temple Guys Get Gogo

My friend sent me this video which I thought was definitely worth sharing. We’re used by now to seeing scantily clad women dancing as part of traditional temple culture, but now the Homei Fute Temple (和美福德宮) in Changhua County is apparently appealing to a new demographic. Not sure if the new demographic is obasans or young gay guys, but I’m impressed:

I thought the funniest thing is when one of the older guys made as if he was going to join them on the trucks.

You can check out more of the fun and games on Instagram here (check out the guy’s story while it’s still up) and here.

Update:
Apple Daily have put out an article about it now too with more details. The article seems to be implying that the target audience is old ladies as opposed to the gays. I found something interesting in some of the quotes in the article (taken from Facebook):

「都是阿罵(嬤)在搶第一排」、「真的!很少看到阿罵拍的那麼高興」
“The front-row is full of old ladies”, “Really! It’s rare to see all the old ladies filming so happily”

The interesting part of this is humorous borrowing of 罵 (to curse/to scold) to form 「阿罵」(Mandarin: ā mà) in place of 「阿嬤」(Mandarin: ā mā) to try and replicate the sound of the Taiwanese: a-má (as the ma has a falling tone in Taiwanese).

Podcast Code Switching: 好命囝 hó-miā-kiáⁿ Born with a silver spoon in your mouth

It’s always interesting to me to see which Taiwanese words people choose to use in otherwise Mandarin sentences, and it’s fun to speculate on the possible reasons behind the choice to switch, whether it’s humour, an attempt to sound down-to-earth or because the person being cited isTaiwanese.

I’ve become a regular listener to 台灣通勤第一品牌 (Commute For Me), and the largely Mandarin-speaking hosts used Taiwanese words and phrases from time to time.

Yesterday they used the term 好命囝 hó-miā-kiáⁿ

Context: 我媽都說我們是很 好命 hó-miā 了,不過我看到其他同學他們是更 好命 hó-miā。你們這些 好命囝 hó-miā-kiáⁿ 齁。其實 好命囝hó-miā-kiáⁿ 是一個很負面的詞。
對對對,是在批評人家,酸的時候才講。
( – My mum always said we were born with silver spoons in our mouths, but looking at my other classmates, they were even more like that. All you kids born with silver spoons in your mouths. Actually that term is quite a negative one.
– Yes, yes, it’s critical of others, you only say it when you’re bitter.
Listen here from 37:50

They’ve also been having fun with the Studio Ghibli movie stills on their Facebook Page (and in the comments section):

It’s time to start talking about sex

See the full post here:

There were a few other Taiwanese phrases peppered in there as well, but got blank stares when I tried to repeat them to my colleagues:

44:12 我信心put-tit – I didn’t have the confidence?

我媽有一陣子這樣子問我…….不一樣的事,還是問得我很煩。一直問我說,真的沒交女朋友?真的沒交齁? mài ma-ma pián eh。問到有一年我跟她說我陽痿了。
(For a while my mum kept asking me… about something different, and she got me really annoyed because she kept asking. She kept asking, “Have you really not got a girlfriend? You really haven’t? Don’t lie to your mother now. She asked me so much I told her one year that I was impotent.)
Listen from 45:26 – there were some Taiwanese interjections I didn’t catch just after this point, so appreciate any help.

Memes in the Closet in Taiwan

I’ve met quite a lot of LGBT people in Taiwan who haven’t come out to their parents or whose parents refuse to acknowledge that they have come out. Everybody has different circumstances and given the low-level of wages, and the fact that it’s often hard for young adults to be financially independent of their parents, I understand why many feel they can’t come out.

If you’ve got friends in the closet or with parents not ready to get to grips with reality, then these memes from the Taiwan Hotline celebrating the release of 400 scene images from Studio Ghibli, will definitely resonate.

But you’re so young, are you sure you’re really gay? (Meme by Taiwan Hotline)
Stop asking whether I’m a man or a woman! (Meme by Taiwan Hotline)
I’ve told you already, you can’t catch HIV from just touching! (Meme by Taiwan Hotline)

The next one was my favourite, as it involves the age-old practice of 相親 (xiāngqīn) – whereby your parents try to pair you off with sons or daughters of their friends or friends of friends. This is a pain even for a lot of the straight people I know, as the dates are usually the nerdy studious type. For LBGT people this can be torture, as you have to put on the charade of being straight just so word doesn’t get back to your parents, and get the balance right between “I tried” and being boring so they don’t like you:

Don’t ask me to go on any more dates with sons of your friends! (Meme by Taiwan Hotline)
Bugger off, Family Guardian Coalition*! (Meme by Taiwan Hotline)

*護家盟 (the Family Guardian Coalition) are a group of organizations which are opposed to same-sex marriage legislation under the guise of “protecting family values”.

You can find all their memes, complete with the ones I didn’t really “get” here:

Taiwan Slang: 𨑨迌/企投 Rolling with the Homies 被ㄠ/被凹 Forced into or Taken Advantage of

In retrospect, I was perhaps a little harsh on the Commute For Me (台灣通勤第一品牌) podcast, as it has grown on me in the time since I penned this blog on Chinese-language podcasts from Taiwan. The interview style is quite intimate and discussions are quite frank, although you have to keep up to know who and what they’re talking about, as they don’t give their guests much of an intro.

Anyway, I was listening to their interview of hip hop artist Chunyan 春艷 and it was an interesting conversation about his life as an introvert in different subcultures (temple gangs, graffiti art, hip hop). More importantly, there was quite a lot of Mandarin-Taiwanese code-mixing, which is always fun.

I’ve listed some of the phrases below, although there were a lot more.

One of the most interesting was 𨑨迌 (normally the characters 企投 are borrowed to represent the sound):

𨑨迌 chhit-thô, which literally means to play or “遊玩” in Mandarin, but in the context of this conversation means getting up to no good in a gang context (what gang banging meant before porn redefined it), commonly referred to as “混” (hùn) in Mandarin:

“其實那裡就是不挑人 說真的 但我不能說這是陣頭 它只是一個𨑨迌(chhit-thô)”
(Actually, they are not selective at all about people to be honest. But I’m not saying that this is really a temple parade (zhentou), it’s just messing around with gangs.)
Listen here from 43:49

被ㄠ/被凹 phē au is an interesting one because the Mandarin and Taiwanese are similar enough that the bei is often pronounced in Mandarin, with the au being pronounced in Taiwanese. It means being forced into things or taken advantage of or “被勉強” in Mandarin.

你那時候去是有被挺的感覺
更多的時候是你要挺
對啊,因為是互相的 所有別的人來的時候你就要挺他
所以有時候會覺得被凹,對不對
挺你一而已 不過你要挺他五
(-So when you went there, you felt they had you back
-More often it’s you that has to have their back
-Yes, because it’s mutual, so anyone who came there, you had to have their backs
-So sometimes you’d feel forced into things, right?
-They have your back over something trivial, but you have to have theirs over something really serious)
Listen here from 44:51

Another example is captured here in people trying to get engineers to reformat their computers for free (found on a jobs page on Facebook):

(Tell us how people try and take advantage of your profession!
“You’re a doctor? You have time to do me a favor and take out this tumor, right?”
“You just have to talk right, why don’t you just do me a favor and argue my lawsuit for me! It’s pretty easy for you as a lawyer, no?”
“You’re an engineer, right? Can you fix my computer for me? You wouldn’t charge a friend though, right?”)

Other bits and pieces I thought were fun, was the use of the Taiwanese word for temple (宮kiong) in the context of a Mandarin sentence to indicate that the temple here stands in for gang affiliation – although it’s not explicit. The other one was a phrase I’ve heard a lot but couldn’t quite pin down. Looking it up in dictionaries, it is defined as “to stand up” but 徛起來(khiā-khí-lâi) seemed to imply being worked or hyped up here, which is why it stuck with me more.

kiong

我們這個(kiong)跟另外一個(kiong)的一個年輕人 有人有衝突,然後聽說等一下會有人來處理這件事情。
(A young person from our temple got into a conflict with someone from another temple, and some people were coming in a bit to sort things out.
Listen here from 28:46

徛起來(khiā-khí-lâi)

那我朋友就說,我要去打
不要啦
我要去我要去
他那時候就整個徛起來(khiā-khí-lâi)
我要去我要去
(My friend said, I wanna go fight
Don’t
I wanna go, I wanna go
He’d already gotten all worked up at that point
I wanna go, I wanna go)
Listen here from 29:09

Any additional suggestions welcome!

You can see the rap battle they repeatedly reference here:

The Ko Wen-je collab here:


And more of Chunyan’s music here.

An Excerpt from ‘Defining Eras’ by John Chiang-sheng Kuo

He hadn’t joined the ballroom society out of interest, but had heard the other guys in his dormitory making a fuss over the teacher’s sexy body, her short skirt and high heels and the way her hips swayed like a snake. It didn’t matter if you could dance, the teacher would let you put your arms around her waist, and show you the steps one on one. The guys at university clearly had nothing better to do, as the next day the society’s classroom was heavy with testosterone, twenty or thirty pairs of eyes all fixed on the teacher’s lithe swaying curves.


There wasn’t the one-on-one instruction that had been promised, and the teacher had a male teaching assistant–a master’s student–who was specifically tasked with dealing with these idle young men. As there weren’t enough girls, the teacher paired boys with other boys, so after the first few classes, the guys had all scarpered, along with their ulterior motives.


Each society had to prepare a performance for the school’s anniversary celebration, but the ballroom society was having trouble finding a boy for theirs, which put the whole performance in jeopardy. For some reason, he was the only boy to have answered the phone call from the ballroom teacher. The teacher asked him personally to rejoin the team for the anniversary party performance. Helpless to resist the teacher’s telephone charm offensive, A-lung put on a brave face and agreed to go back to dance practice.


First, the teacher ran through the choreography and paired up the dancers, then she delegated supervision of practices to her TA. Given A-lung’s good posture, the teacher had paired him with one of the veteran dancers of the troupe so she could help him out as a novice, to bring the performance up a notch.


However, A-lung’s partner was angry at not being given a central role in the performance. It was one thing to lose out to one of the other girls in the dance society, but to have to go on stage with a rookie like him… She hadn’t cracked even a sliver of a smile since they’d started practicing together. If A-lung made an error more than once or twice, she shot him an icy look, as if he had two left feet.

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Slang from Taiwan: 很「派」 Very Pie = Fierce

The Taiwanese equivalent to 「兇」 (Mandarin xiong1 fierce/ferocious/tetchy/short-tempered) is generally written as 「歹」(dai3 in Mandarin) and pronounced pháiⁿ. However, recently, the substitution of the word 「派」(pai4) has been cropping up in otherwise Mandarin sentences, often in an indication of an underlying irony or sarcasm behind the comment.

This first came to my attention, when an acquaintance posted this meme in response to another person’s comments in a Facebook thread:

What the f.ck are you talking about?

咧 here stands in for the Taiwanese for 在 (Thanks for the tip Leon)
工 is standing in for the Taiwanese pronunciation of 講
三 is standing in for what
小 is standing in for the Taiwanese word for sperm, but here it’s just like using f.ck or hell.

Another friend then said “很派” in response. And given who the friend is, I’m assuming the sarcasm was intended.

A more obvious example, is here, as used on ptt:

魯妹拿出逗貓棒準備跟灰塵貓來場激烈的運動 沒想到貓貓一把搶走逗貓棒自己玩得很開心 還露出凶狠的表情
(The single loser that I am took out a cat teaser so Dusty could get some vigorous exercise, but with one swoop the cat took the teaser and started playing with it himself all happy, and even flashed me a fierce look.)
With reference to this image:

很派
(So ferocious)

[…]

學姐貓只有在等罐頭的時候很派
(My cat is only ferocious when he’s waiting for me to open cans.)
With reference to this image:

Another example is when last year, Taipei’s subway lines all got their own Facebook accounts, and the Orange or Zhonghe-Xinlu Line (中和新蘆線) was called out as being 「很派」:

大膽起用次文化用語,扭轉刻板印象

而臉書上討論度最高的、最受歡迎的,是「很派」(台語諧音,意指很兇)、動不動就罵人「88-1」(88-1=87,白癡的諧音)的中和新蘆線。人物設定參考三重、蘆洲許多重義氣的宮廟兄弟形象。在和網友互動過程中,鮮明性格吸引多網友排隊「討罵」。

(Brave choice to borrow terms from sub-cultures to subvert stereotypes

And the most talked about on Facebook and most popular, was the vicious Zhonghe-Xinlu Line, which never shied from calling people 88-1 (87, Taiwanese pronunciation of 白癡). It’s character was based on the image of loyal temple brotherhoods (read: gang members). While it was interacting with internet users, its unique character had internet users lining up to be cussed out.)

Hmm… yeah, I’m not really clear on how that was subverting stereotypes either, but ok…

OK, before class is dismissed, time to set some homework: use the following words in your Facebook comments over the next week to try and add a little maturity and open-mindedness to the conversation:

Vocab List:
88-1
討罵
魯妹
腐女
很派
到底咧工三小

Luo Fu’s ‘Beyond the Smoke’ 洛夫的〈煙之外〉

煙之外

在濤聲中呼喚你的名字而你的名字
已在千帆之外

潮來潮去
左邊的鞋印才下午
右邊的鞋印已黃昏了
六月原是一本很感傷的書
結局如此悽美
──落日西沉

我依然凝視
你眼中展示的一片純白
(節錄)

Beyond the Smoke

I call your name amid the crashing waves, but it’s already a thousand leagues away

Ebbing and flowing
The left footprint is only afternoon
The right footprint is already dusk
June was originally a book of sorrow
With such a poignant ending
──The setting of the sun

I’m still staring
At the pure white cast in your gaze
(Extract)

Luo Fu (洛夫) was one of the pen-names of Taiwanese poet Mo Luo-Fu 莫洛夫 (originally Mo Yun-duan 莫運端). He was born in 1928 in Hengyang in Hunan (then part of the Republic of China). He changed his name due to the influence of Russian literature. He joined the Navy and moved to Taiwan in 1949. He graduated from the Political Warfare Cadres Academy in 1953 and was assigned to the Republic of China Marine Corps base in Zuoying. He founded the Epoch Poetry Society along with Chang Mo and Ya Xian in 1953. He was later stationed to Kinmen where he met his wife. Towards the end of the Vietnam war he was appointed to the Republic of China Military Advisory Group, Vietnam, as an English secretary. After his return to Taiwan, he graduated in English from Tamkang University in 1973 and retired from the army in the same year. After retiring from the army he started teaching at the foreign languages department of Soochow University, before moving to Canada in 1996 but moved back in 2016 when he was diagnosed with cancer and he died in Taiwan in 2018 after receiving an honorary doctorate from National Chung Hsing University in 2017. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 for his 3000-line poem ‘Driftwood’ (〈漂木〉).

Taijimen Tax Protests Follow-up

The Taijimen tax protests I posted about previously are still ongoing. The protesters seem to have lots of money to spend on leaflets. Normally leafleteers ignore me and give leaflets only to Taiwanese people, but this guy was very keen to shove this into my hand:

“When taxation is the only objective of the government, what will be left for the next generation?”
“Let’s protect taxation human rights together”

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Taijimen Tax Protest

Since I started working near Taipei Main Station there have always been tax protests outside the Control Yuan, but over the last few weeks, there has been a much bigger presence and the mention of Taijimen 太極門, which is (in name at least) a qigong institute.

太極門無罪無稅 – Tai Ji Men NOT GUILTY NO TAX EVASION – Unlawful Auctions and Serious Persecution by the Government

Hung Shi-he (洪石和), the leader of Taijimen, who goes by the alias Hung Tao-zi (洪道子), was fined NT$28 million for allegedly failing to pay over NT$10 million in taxes on income from 1991 to 1995. He appealed the fine with the National Tax Administration and his appeal was denied. He then launched an administrative appeal against the National Tax Administration decision at the Taichung High Court (104年度訴字第228號), which was rejected. He then appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court (107年度判字第422號), and the original verdict was overturned and it was sent back to the Taichung High Court and the case (107 年度 訴更一 字第 19 號和解筆錄) was subsequently settled. He has also been involved in a series of other cases, which you can search for by entering his name 洪石和 into the court verdict database. It’s actually quite fun to trace back all of his re-appeals to his appeals.

And the topic is still very much alive, as this article in ET Today suggested that 52 pieces of real estate in his name in Miaoli were being auctioned off at the end of last month.

There was a modest protest outside the Control Yuan yesterday with people handing out flyers like the one below:

Caption reads: Why do we pay taxes to keep these officials in house and home. (Names has been censored by me).
A timeline of the Taijimen case according to Taijimen
An appeal to Tsai Ing-wen
Rhetorical questions posed by Taijimen to the public.

According to their leaflets, all the tax owed has been adjusted to zero, except for 1995. I haven’t had time to sift through all the cases on the website to verify the info yet.

Renewing a UK Passport from Overseas during COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Home Office

There has been quite a lot of news coverage (update here) recently about passport application/renewal delays in the UK due to staffing shortages at the passport office as a result of the pandemic.

Many people overseas have to have a valid passport as a condition of their residence in their second country, so I thought it would be handy to post this to give people an idea of turnaround times, especially as the passport office will advise you to come back at a later date due to COVID-19 if you are not travelling during the summer.

The passport renewal website is pretty easy to use and states what you need quite clearly. I would advise going to a photo booth that allows you to save the passport photo online as taking a good photo with a mobile phone is pretty difficult. The cost of the passport is £86 plus a £19.86 courier fee, as well as whatever it costs you to mail your passport to the UK office (I spent NT$390 or roughly £10 for signed delivery of my old passport and a colour-photocopy of my other nationality passport).

Passport renewal website: https://www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport

July 18, 2020: I filled in the online form with a digital photo.

July 19: Email prompting me to send my documents.

July 20, 2020: I mailed my old passport and a colour photocopy of my second nationality passport.

17:00 July 28: Parcelforce stated that the parcel arrived at the Liverpool HMPO.

July 29: Email prompting me to send my documents and notice informing me that due to COVID-19 I should receive my passport in 8 weeks.

August 2: Email prompting me to send my documents.

August 14: The office acknowledged receipt of my documents.

August 16: Notice of application being processed.

October 19: Application approved and passport ready for printing.
(9 weeks and 1 day from notice of application being processed; 11 weeks and 6 days since Parcelforce delivered the parcel to Liverpool HMPO).

October 21: Notification that passport has been printed and sent.

October 26: Received old voided passport in the mail.

October 30: Received new passport in the mail.

That’s 3 months and and 11 days (104 days) from filling in the online form and posting the documents to receiving the passport, and 3 months and 2 days (94 days) from when ParcelForce stated they delivered my documents to receiving my passport and 2 months and 16 days (77 days) from acknowledgement of receipt of documents to receiving my passport.