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.

Use your Citizen Digital Certificate to View your Labour Insurance Data on App

Another day another government app. Unlike the NHI app, you need an Alien Citizen Digital Certificate to authenticate the Labour Insurance Mobile Services App ( Google Play / Apple Store ) where you can see how long you’ve been covered under government labour insurance and if you’re registered under the government pension scheme (APRC holders).

It is likely more use to citizens than to foreigners, as I only had data listed under one field (labour insurance coverage) but useful to know how to access as legislation continues to change.

So if you’ve already got your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate and a card reader installed, navigate to the Labour Insurance Bureau’s e-desk website, which looks as below after you close the pop-up on the initial screen:

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Taiwan Podcasts 聽台灣播客(Podcast)

Podcasts have really taken off over the last couple of years but Chinese-language podcasts from Taiwan have been rather limited, with most just being radio segments repackaged for podcast platforms. However, recently more have taken off, so I thought I’d feature them here and you can feel free to share more in the comments section! I’ve focused on Chinese-language podcasts here, although there are also an increasing amount of English-language podcasts too.

Ghost Island Media:

大麻煩不煩 (In the Weeds with Lawyer Zoe Lee):
This is a great intro into Taiwan’s weed landscape, informing people of their rights in terms of getting stopped and searched by police, what to do if you’re arrested, and the progress of efforts to legalize weed in Taiwan for medical or other uses. (Links to different platforms listed on site)
5/5 Recommended

台灣通勤第一品牌 (Commute For Me):
Haven’t heard much of this and it seems a little disorganized, but the first episode explores Chinese-language slang across the Taiwan Strait. It seems to feature a lot of in-jokes and the hosts laughing at how funny they are.
Spotify
Apple Podcast
Soundcloud

股癌 GooAye
Stock podcast. Structured well and brings in a lot of cultural and movie references. 5/5 Recommended
Spotify
Apple Podcast
YouTube

Firstory Lab 最偏激的Podcast
Tried one episode which consisted of a group of guys making fun of the way a female host spoke. Maybe it gets better if you listen from the start?

If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments section below!

Readers Recommend (Update):
WetBoys 潤男的Room recommended by Erik K. (NSFW mens issues)
百靈果 Bailingguo News (bilingual news podcast) and Spotify Podcast Chart recommended by Matthew Ryan
馬力歐陪你喝一杯 DrinkWithMario recommended by William Peregoy (Interviews)
美食關鍵詞 Taster Life recommended by 三qtwn

KMT Protest Against Chen Chu’s Appointment as President of the Control Yuan

KMT supporters protesting Chen Chu’s (陳菊) appointment to the presidency of the Control Yuan, with the slogans 「拒絕酬庸撤換陳菊」 (Reject cronyism, withdraw Chen Chu), 「民主已死,暴政必亡」 (Democracy is dead, tyranny must fall) and 「民心已死,還我民主」(The hopes of the people are dead, give us back our democracy). There was a middling crowd outside the Legislative Yuan in the morning, where KMT legislators occupied the floor. These were taken after work.

Protesters still going on about President Tsai’s doctorate (sigh) on her 2nd inauguration

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People protesting on the morning of President Tsai’s 2nd inauguration. The sign has the not-so-catchy slogan you’d expect from someone who still doesn’t believe that Tsai has a doctorate:「妳有沒有羞恥心 當總統 沒有博士 真騙子」 ‘Don’t you have any shame? Being president without a doctorate, what a cheat’:

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Filing taxes online in Taiwan – Troubleshooting Invalid Date

I’ve seen an increasing amount of very frustrated people on Facebook groups asking for help on a common compatibility error with the e-filing system for alien taxpayers:

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You’ve probably tried a billion things to remedy this error, but on this count, I have to give credit to the designers, who try to notify you of how to solve the problem (well, they could have just avoided the problem but hey, programming is hard):

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Want to go to the club, but no entry and exit certificate handy? Apply online with your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate!

So there have been rumours that some establishments that shall not be named here, are asking foreigners to provide a passport and their entry and exit records for the last few months. What better way to annoy these establishments than to actually provide them without leaving the comfort of your own home or spending an hour or two in the queue at the Immigration Office. If you have an Alien Citizen Digital Certificate, you can apply for your entry and exit records online for free (while the epidemic continues). Simply follow the steps below (fire up your card reader though, there’s no option to use the FIDO app to log in).

Navigate to this page on the National Immigration Agency’s website (it must be the English site as the Chinese version only recognizes Taiwanese IDs).

Choose “Certificate of Entry and Exit Dates” as below:

未命名

You’ll get a pop-up which will try and check your system, so ensure you have your card reader attached and your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate plugged in. You can dismiss this pop-up and you’ll see the following page:

未命名

Make sure 「外國人民」 (Foreigner) is ticked and then enter your ARC number and your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate pin.

Then you’ll be asked if you want your entry and exit records in the span of two specific dates or just your latest entry and exit dates. I choose the latter, as part of my cunning plan:

未命名

Next, you’ll get your entry records, but they’ll probably be somewhat off-centre as below:

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If you navigate to the bottom of this, you’ll see the option to view tables which you can click. You can then print to PDF and print later at a 711, or if you’ve got a color printer at home (get you!) then you can print right away:

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If you download it as a rar file, your password will be your ARC number + your date of birth in the format YYYYMMDD.

Once you print it, it should look something like this:

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Complete with the NIA watermark, and the owner of said establishment will have to find some other reason to reject you (that’s not suitable footwear, mate, sorry, can’t let you in).

Using your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate to Validate the FIDO app

The TW Fido app (Android or IPhone) allows you to use your phone to verify your identity online when dealing with government agencies. To use the app you must first apply for an Alien Citizen Digital Certificate (instructions here).

First of all, go to the FIDO website. Then click 註冊/綁定 (Register/Validate device):

未命名

You’ll be prompted to enter your ID/ARC number and your pin (you should set this after you activate your card), with your card inserted into a card reader (learn to install a card reader here):

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Then you press 送出 (send) and you’ll come to the next screen which asks you to check some details and enter your email and phone number:

5555

Next, a QR code will appear, which you’ll have a limited amount of time to scan with your app. When you click 註冊/綁定 (Register/Validate App) on your phone, a QR code scanner should appear, and you can scan your computer screen. Then you’ll be asked if you want to use your phone’s fingerprint/face-recognition capabilities to verify your identity when you use the app. I clicked 是 (yes):

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Then there’s one final screen where you need to complete the process (完成) and you’re ready to go:

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I’ll update soon with what you use the app for!

Know Your Status: Self-Testing for HIV, Order Online Pick Up at Convenience Store (Updated for August)

Whether you’re straight, gay, or something in between, knowing your HIV status is important so that we can all work towards reducing HIV infections in Taiwan and around the world. Given that many people are hesitant to visit hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has launched a system for ordering HIV self-testing kits which can be delivered to convenience stores across Taiwan.

The steps are pretty simple. First visit this website (a page of the CDC website):

未命名

If you want to pay in cash, you can choose the option on the left for $245NT, and for people who register with their website, they offer vouchers.

As supplies are limited, you can get one per month. If you get tested elsewhere, leave these for people who are unlikely to get tested elsewhere or are in high-risk groups.

You’ll be prompted to enter your phone number (手機號碼) and choose a 7-11, FamilyMart or OK Mart branch near you (Click 選擇門市 and remember to turn off your popup blocker):

未命名

After you confirm, you’ll be asked to fill in a questionnaire:

未命名

Then it asks you where you lived before the age of 18 and you’re done, you just have to confirm the order a few times.

You’ll receive an order number via email and you can check the status of your order by entering your phone number, order number and email address.

How to use the test:

Here’s a quick video on how you go about using the test kit:

(My favourite line is “Don’t drink the liquid in the test-tube” by the way.)

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Photo: Marcello Casal JR/ABr

If you don’t manage to register while stocks last, there are plenty of ways to get tested in Taiwan, whether anonymously or not, including visiting here, using a vending machine (spotted throughout the city) or visiting a hospital.

There is also free anonymous testing (blood tests – takes a week or two to get the results) held at the gay health center and at Mudan (bar in the Red House drinking area in Ximen) in Taipei as follows:

未命名

These timetables are updated every month, you can find them here.

The most commonly occurring locations have been listed below:

Gay Health Center (同志健康中心), 5F, No. 100 Kunming Street, Wanhua District, Taipei (臺北市萬華區昆明街100號5樓)

Mudan (紅樓(牡丹))(bar at the Red House drinking area in Ximen)

Aniki Wow B1, No. 11 Ningxia Road, Datong Dist. Taipei (103台北市大同區寧夏路11號B1)

Soi 13   1 No. 13 Minsheng East Road Sect 1, Zhongshan Dist. Taipei (1, No. 13號民生東路一段中山區台北市104)

XL Club 4F, No. 10 Minzu East Road, Zhongshan Dist. Taipei (4樓, No. 10號民族東路中山區台北市10491)

Taipei Men Center (城男舊事心驛站) 3F, No. 5, Alley 199, Dunhua North Road, Songshan Dist. Taipei (105台北市松山區敦化北路199巷5號 3樓)

Han Sauna No. 120 Xining South Road, Wanhua Dist. Taipei (108台北市萬華區西寧南路120號)

If the result turns out positive, there are several avenues to pursue treatment. Dr. Stephane Ku (顧文瑋) does consultations at Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Wednesday evenings (感染科), where you can get tested, explore the possibility of going on prep or get treatment.