The Approaching Holiday

Chinese New Year (CNY) approaches and brings with it a nationwide holiday giving most people in Taiwan a deserved break from work. It has been my favourite holiday of the year as it has meant a one week vacation and the money to go where you please. The beloved CNY bonus is one of the main highlights of working your ass off for a successful company in Taiwan. Alas as I am not working at the moment, this will be my first year since coming to Taiwan that I don’t receive this influx of cash.
Since so many people are walking around with a little extra weight in their pockets you see the police out in even greater numbers doing just about the only thing they are effective for here – handing out tickets to scooters and motorists. While I have been lucky to have only good contact with the local police they have a reputation for being rather useless for anything other than this quarterly cash grab.
I was told that the plainclothes police are out in great numbers around the Hsinchu area – hanging out at the train and bus stations, getting on buses, and any areas that great numbers of people congregate. This is not in an effort to catch young enterprising Taiwanese looking to grab money from unsuspecting cash laden shoppers but to nab illegal foreign workers from the Philippines (and from other countries in Asia). These foreign workers do the work that few others will do and their forced departure leaves opportunities for others to take their place. And they will. Foreign labourers are worked hard here and usually under less than ideal conditions (indentured slavery?). The cycle continues year after year.
For those of us staying in Taiwan this year we enjoy another benefit. Peace and relative quiet. Many people who live in the north of the Island return home for the holiday leaving Taipei as a sort of ghost town. It’s the perfect time to visit public places, the Taipei zoo is on my list for the week.
The wikipedia has more info on holidays in Taiwan and Chinese New Year.