Foreigners Get It Going On For Chinese New Year

By Trista di Genova
Originally published 2/9/08 in The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — There are a number of foreigners in Taiwan who suffer from “hipititis” — they’re terminally cool. When asked about their plans for Chinese New Year, this is what they had to say.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What adventures are you up for? Leave a comment for an update of this article, to be published in ‘Centered on Taipei’ magazine.
philkimiPhillip Charlier is from Australia, and was a researcher for NDI National Development Initiatives Institute.
“I’m going to Taitung with my significant other. I’ll catch up on my reading — “Robot’s Rebellion.” We’ll be feasting on freshly caught seafood every day, and all the traditional Chinese and aboriginal delights of Chinese New Year — fresh, organically grown binlung (betelnut), mijiu (millet wine), pijiu (beer), and every kind of jiu.

“I’ll be joining the crowds on a train down the east coast, one of the most beautiful train rides in the world — open space, no pollution, fresh Pacific breeze. We might try to get down to Kenting for a few days, where it’s warmer.”

Linda Hirschfeld is a Marketing Consultant of German-American, Taiwanese and Hakka descent.
linda“My friend (Dawn Wang) and I are still debating what to do. Last time, we ventured by car down the west coast; this time we want to have a more in-depth look at what the east coast has to offer. We’re thinking of visiting Ilan, Taroko Gorge, ending up in Taitung, maybe even Kenting to visit friends if we make it that far and want to brave the crowds. Or we might end up liking an area and staying longer. We’ll escape the north’s cold weather, and experience local Taiwan wherever we go. Road trip!

We like climbing, and getting ourselves in a challenging situation, where I say something like “Look, there’s a rock-strewn slope! Wonder if we can make it up there in time to catch the bus back?” Whenever we go someplace, we try to visit non-tourist areas and take our dogs; it’s no fun being cooped up on a balcony in Taipei.”

danmachDan Machanik is a comedian from New York, and called The China Post from Koh Phi Phi, an island in south Thailand.
“I’m doing as little as possible, just chilling out, hanging out on the beach, scuba diving. My Taiwanese girlfriend will be with me and we’ll be hiding from her parents. I think just being away from Taiwan is kind of exciting — Do you blame me? What is there to miss about it — the shrinking market and rainy, cold weather? More and more, my business (part owner of major food supplier) is in China, at our Beijing office. So for me, Taiwan’s a luxury.

I’m always looking forward to the New Year; no comment on the Year of the Rat particularly.


Denis Chauvin was a Business English Teacher from Ottawa, Canada.
“I’m down in (southern) Kenting right now, Nan Wan — South Beach, near Hong Chuan. It was 29 degrees today, and I’m burnt as ratshit. There’s not a cloud in the sky, and I’m looking at the stars right now. I’m one beach over, five minutes away from the main one, which I feel has reached more a level of commercialism, with all the stalls, games and food — and they boot you out of there at 5 p.m. Nan Wan is more laid back — you can rent a scooter for NT$500 a day, rent huge parasols, chairs and cover from the sun for cheap; surf, see familiar faces.

I come here every year. This time I’m going to Seven Waterfalls (chi kung pu bu). It takes about an hour and a half to hike up to the top of a mountain, using ropes. The trail’s fairly treacherous. When you come down, you see seven different stages of these waterfalls. By the time you get into the crystal-clear, cool water, you’re overwhelmed with exhaustion — it feels so wonderful. It’s a really special place, and a pretty romantic thing to do — I usually come down with a girlfriend.

I feel buzzed, like I’m in a different country, after escaping the hustle-bustle of Taipei, thanks to a gracious boss, Carol. I usually come down by train because it’s so expensive to fly, and booking tickets is a major ordeal. Thank God for the high-speed rail; including the bus trip, it took us 7 hours to get to Kenting.

ronthompRon Thompson is from Montreal, Canada, a “currently unemployed” traveler — he just finished a contract.

“I’m flying to Shanghai, then Thailand. My plane’s leaving in an hour, and right now I’m in line in immigration. It’s my first time in Shanghai, 6th time in Thailand. I’m staying with my DJ friend in Shanghai — he’s a resident DJ at Muse. Once I get to Thailand I’ll be spending most of my time in the gulf or getting massages in Phuket for a few days, then Bangkok for a week. I’ll probably do lots of clubbing, and maybe stop by a go-go bar or two. Any other plans? Whatever comes my way. It’s all about the adventure.

What is the deal with the rat all about? What is the history of the rat? Well, I look forward to it being better than other years, and if it is, kudos to the rat; but I have no expectations of it.

rockstarkey1Name: Rock Starkey
Country: Eleventh Dimension
Occupation: Pow Wow Pizza

“Though Chinese New Year is often a time for foreigners to get outta Dodge, travel to some island where they can meet with lots of other “farang” and booze and smoke it up, for me it has always been a time of travel in the beautiful and fascinating island of Taiwan itself. That said, this year will be different for me. I have recently bought a party mobile, a big Seven-Eleven sized truck with fold up hydraulic lift side wings. When this van’s a-rockin’ you best come a knockin’.

rockstarkey2We have outfitted the truck, my wife and I, with a pizza oven, a gas grill, a stove top, and, of course, a bar. We will also be completing the ensemble with a sound system capable of supporting a 6-piece band. It is truly a party on wheels.
Although we usually operate in WuLai, during the New Year, we will be heading down south to my home away from home, Dulan, Taitung to visit the Sugar Factory and hang with Reddi Patrick and Tennessee Peter Brown, as well as Shiaow Ma of Sugar Factory acclaim. So, if you are in that area and looking for a party, come check out the Sugar Factory and look for Pow Wow Pizza truck proprietors Rock Starkey and Terra Lin. We will host and toast you. Pow Wow pizza sez, “for Chinese New Year, you should GET BAKED!”

alexpageAlex Page is an intern student from San Diego, California:

I’m not doing anything. I’ll probably be here. Where else am I going to be? I have no money, no time, and no friends.

3 thoughts on “Foreigners Get It Going On For Chinese New Year

  • March 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Have just returned from a great holiday to Phuket, stayed at West of Eden in the north part which is less busy than southwest areas, superior resort and awesome bays. We rented a big motorbike for only 400 baht per day and would drive around the whole region. So many great sites to eat, our beloved restaurant was Ahan thai Aroy which had the most exceptional view over the beach, the staff was rather nice and the food so yummy, we would go for sunset drinks. My wife and I had a supreme time in Phuket Island and will be back for Christmas.

  • February 10, 2010 at 12:17 am

    This year I’m riding down. Even when you get a seat on the train, you got someone’s ass in your face. It takes one fart in the carriage to smell up the whole compartment. On several occasions, the dunny shared the air conditioner and didn’t that kick up a stink!

    I want to enjoy the the East Coast – fresh air, sunshine, great views. Stop when I want to smoke. Smoke when I want to contemplate. Contemplate on the edge of great cliffs. Soak up the sea breeze. Eat fish.

  • February 5, 2010 at 12:55 am

    This article is pure grave-dig,
    Cold bodies in the dead of winter;
    Drag themselves south to warm sunsand:

    The Beach.


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