“Can I help you?” is a great thing to hear while traveling. At home, I rarely hear anyone offer to help. Over the last two years on my two-mile walk home to and from school, I have called 911 several times after a traffic accident. I am trained as a first responder from working on cruise ships, at camps and at schools. It would not occur to me not to call but each time a by-stander or someone in the accident is so thankful that I called and helped at the scene. It shocks me that someone would not call or step up but most people don’t.
I do notice while we are in a foreign country how much I appreciate someone offering his or her assistance. In Taiwan, any time we looked lost even for a moment a kind person offered to help us. From the moment we exited the Metro in Taipei, a woman appeared and walked us to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. She turned out to have family in Orange County only an hour from our home.
While walking in Tainan when we could not find Chikan Towers (which was literally one more block to our left, but I felt very lost and frustrated), a man in the noodle shop said in English, “Can I help you?”; I was so happy; I felt like someone threw me a life ring and I was no longer drowning and alone. I had been navigating our day in Tainan and just could not figure out where the next place was although I knew we were so close.
The nice noodle man helped us order noodle soup with no meat and even offered us a nearly 50 percent discount on our meal since there was no shrimp. Taiwan has been an amazing destination for the great sites and clean streets but also for the friendly people who have wanted to speak English with us and just get to know us, not to sell us anything.
Video: Tasty Tainan
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