Rose and I bought our train tickets in Kaohsiung and headed to the platform.  The tickets were for a local train.  I typically don’t like to get stuck on these trains because the tickets have very little information on them.  Luckily, we had the agent write the time on the back of the ticket, and from the time we were able to determine from the signs that our train would be on platform 3.  However, once we got to the platform, we had no idea whether the train would be on 3A or 3B.  3B or not 3B, that was the question!!  I pointed at the train and asked someone about to board “Pingtung?”  Response “I don’t know”, in English no less!  An usual answer for someone about to board a train, don’t you think?  I asked two more people and got the same answer.  Now about this time you have to be wondering why these people were getting on this train had no idea where the train was headed.  It wasn’t that they didn’t know!  They knew where the train was going as well as they knew where they were going.  What they didn’t know was how to say in English the same thing they would say in Mandarin.  In Taiwanese culture, no one wants to be wrong and you don’t necessarily want to tell someone they are wrong.  They didn’t want us to be wrong about knowing where we going, they wanted to do this back and forth that would allow them to tell us what we wanted to know.  It would not have been unusual for them to say “Yes, it’s going to Pingtung” when in fact it wasn’t.  This seems like incorrect information to me, but they would be telling me what I wanted to hear. The fourth person questioned knew English langauge (and culture) well enough to point to the train on track 3A and tell us that was the correct train, not 3B.

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