One of the reasons that the Spanish established Fort Santo Domingo (紅毛城) was that they, from this place, could see for miles out on to the Taiwan Strait. Below is my wife and daughter.
My sister recently visited me here in Wenshan, Taiwan. One of our stops included Fort Santo Domingo (紅毛城), out in Danshui. A lot of Taiwanese will say it's Tamsui when they're talking to me, but I prefer to call it Danshui (淡水), like it's pronounced in Chinese. The Spanish built this fort in 1626, two years after the Dutch built their Zeelandia in Tainan. The story is as follows (I'm using John Robert Shepherd's Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier: 1600 - 1800, which I consider to be one of the best books ever written about Taiwan). M.G. Vries of Holland landed with a force in Danshui in September 1640, where he "found the Spanish garrison had already withdrawn" (Shepherd, 58). Vries and company then marched up to Keelung, but was met by 50 Spanish soldiers, 30 Pampangans, 200 slaves and 130 Chinese soldiers so they gave up and returned to the south. In 1641, Danshui natives along with the Dutch "foreigner" Thomas Pedel rallied the government in Tainan to do something about the Spanish problem. They claimed that several Danshui villages were already causing problems for the Spanish, who wished to leave Taiwan anyway as the only resource they found worthwhile was a bit of sulfur from Beitou. In August 1642, the Dutch landed a force that was strong enough to expel the Spanish. Of course, the Dutch themselves were given the boot 20 years later by the Ming loyalist Cheng Cheng-gong (鄭成功). Cheng hoped to use Taiwan as a staging ground for an invasion of China. After China had stamped out Cheng's grandson in 1683, they offered to sell Taiwan back to Holland. Holland declined the offer, leaving this single relic of a Dutch/Spanish presence in Taipei.
I like history; that's why I never tire of Fort Santo Domingo. According to my history prof at Chengchi University, the place has been done up pretty well. He even thinks the color of the paint is correct (although I have reservations about the huge Republic of Taiwan flag that flutters above the fort), but this is not really the point of this post. I think I'll discuss Mr. Wang (see above pic), the misguided soul who works the Fort Santo Domingo ticket booth.
The moment I appeared at the booth, even before I had opened my mouth, Mr. Wang was using a silly flat accent that is supposed to mimic "foreigners" who are able to speak Chinese. When I asked Mr. Wang about his strange accent, he said: "It's nothing. You're a foreigner." I told him that I was put off as it was a bit impolite, and that "foreigners" no matter if they were American, British, French, etc. would probably not appreciate it. But Mr. Wang continued on in the accent. My wife then asked him why he didn't just speak Chinese normally. Still he insisted. He even tried to put his arm around me, with a wink to his colleague (see above pic).
At this point, I asked his colleague: "What's this guy's problem? Is it because I have white skin?" She responded:
"We don't have racists in Taiwan," meaning, I guess, that it's only a Western problem.
"Does he talk to you like this?"
"Uh, no. But you have to understand his sense of humor," was the reply. She wasn't laughing though.
I'm really bored with this variety of individual in Taiwan. That he works at one of Taipei's major tourist attractions, a place that undoubtedly welcomes large numbers of "foreigners" is beyond me. I don't agree that racism is a Western problem, or that it has been imported from the West. Here are my suggestions to the Mr. Wangs of this island:
1. I'm not a foreigner. I'm an American.
2. If you want to know where I come from, it's Wenshan, Taiwan. If you want to know "Oh, no what about before that?" it's Wanhua, Taiwan
3. If you want to take a piss out of me, first you'd better know me. I'm a pretty easy target, so I'm used to it, if I know who the heck you are.
4. If you want to hug me, you'd better know me. Don't get me wrong. I like a hug as much as the next guy, but only not under the above circumstances.
5. If you think that I don't have a right to complain, that I must smile like I'm a monkey and put up with it because I'm a "foreigner", or that I can go back to the "foreign" land that I come from if I want to complain, well I've got news for you: There are around a half a million "foreigners" in Taiwan. One in five babies born have a "foreign" mom or dad. If you don't like to hear us complain, why don't you go back to China? Because, simply put, Taiwan is now a country of "foreigners".
6. If you still don't get it, here's a note in return for the hug:
Dear Mr. Wang,
Taiwan is a little country facing growing isolation and a declining population. It may soon discover that it needs the rest of the world in order to survive. Instead of burrowing further into the ground and pissing the rest of us off, Taiwan needs to find a way to be more open, less stubborn in accommodating out-groups.