Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Expat Culture in Taiwan: The 7/11 bar

The 7/11 was a major expat hangout in Taiwan.

Before i came to Taiwan I had actually had a reasonably well-paid job; time was precious so, after work, i hit the pub before getting the last train. In Taiwan convenience stores every hundred yards stocked full of beer that could be bought at anytime of night; guys who were trying to get by on as little money as possible; and nightlife that went until eight in the morning, meant things were done differently.

The first stage of the evening inevitably meant drinking beer from the convenience store in someone's apartment, and this could go on until two or three. Then they would have to have another beer at the convenience store next to the bar. Being used to drinking in the bar i continually pushed them to go in earlier.

"I think we have an appointment at the 7/11," replied Eric

"Guys...The bar...You promised..."

"We are still thirsty. You don't expect us to pay 200 NT for a beer do you?"

I had to admit beer in Asian bars was expensive compared to back home, but still: "It Friday night - If we go in at two it is so late. We will miss all the fun..."

They stared at me letting me know the holes in my argument: Even if we got in the bar at two we would indeed still be going at seven in the morning, and five hours was long time inside.

"The girls...The music..." I persisted.

"There are girls here," Pierre replied. This was also true: It wasn't only cheap foreigners who drank in the convenience store, almost all the locals also thought the beer was expensive in the bar, and so would supplement their evening's drinking with something cheap; there was quite a decent crowd gathered on the pavement. Anyway, as this place was just a few doors down from the bar you could hear the music and watch all the girls getting off their scooters and out of taxis.

"What do you want to drink," asked Eric seeing me deflate a little.

"A Taiwan beer you bastards," I replied taking up my place against the large glass window of the 7/11.

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