Article Date: 01-08-2016
Are you a hairy man living or working in Taiwan. If you are, you may have come across the same wonderous fascination as I have. If your not you might just want to know how it is to be a hairy beast in Taiwanese society.
The story starts from the day I decided to rock up for work without shaving for a few weeks. The beard made me look like the local grizzly. Unfortunately Taiwanese people don't like to make it easy for you to know what they're talking about, as they often talk in circles or riddles and expect you to connect the dots and understand the nonesense that comes out of their mouth.
When I rolled into work without shaving my boss uttered, "don't you like to shave?" I replied, "Nope not really...can't you tell?"
I know now this is not the standard reply in Taiwan, as it was the bosses way of saying it's about time you had a shave Mr. however, the way she should of told me was, "You better shave tonight". It took another couple of weeks before the boss actually told me I should shave directly, and why didn't I do it when she told me a few weeks back. The reply was obvious, "Well you didn't tell me!"
The fascination with hairy people doesn't just stop at the beard. I am like a yetti that has been exported from the North Pole. Hairy arms, legs, back, chest, belly. Any where you can think of on the body is hairy as hairy as can be. According to one of my best mates, I am only at stage two on the evolution scale from ape.
It started with just the younger students rubbing my hairy arms at first. Stroking me as if i'm related to a wild creature. Then eventually something odd happened, some of the older kids also started stroking my arms, like i'm a stray dog to be abused at will or some kind of circus creature to be prodded, stroked, pulled and looked at. On the odd occasion my hairs have even been on the end of some rough pulling action as a pesky kid tries to see if he/she can tear hair from skin as they're unaware of what will happen. Only to be put off by an angry glare in their direction inferring for them to piss off!
The most amusing thing that ever occurred due to me being hairy was when a disabled kid saw me in the swimming pool. I was minding my own business relaxing in the hot pool spa. He suddenly came charging out of the sauna shouting "HEN MAO!" At the top of his voice. Hen Mao means very hairy in Chinese, he had no care in the world other than getting closer to this creature, this oddity that was HEN HEN HEN MAO! He came pounding into the spa full throttle and proceeds to start caressing and rubbing me while constantly shouting "HEN MAO! HEN MAO! HEN MAO!"
So I stand there for a while thinking this is a little odd, I wonder who is here with him and when are they gonna stop him from pulling, prodding and stroking me. His mother eventually saw him and came hammering over and plopped into the pool next to him, she stopped him then said she was very sorry but he just loves hair! Unfortunately for me I was the hairest thing he had ever seen up until this point in his life, maybe he thinks I had escaped from the zoo or something. Every ten minutes his mother kept having to get out the pool and put him back in the sauna as he came and molested me.
I have had small kids climb on me as I try to teach them so they can get at my beard and see how it feels, have a rub and a laugh or giglgle away to their self at this amazing thing thats seemingly been stuck on my face with a big massive chunk of blue tac which they think they can pull off and take home. Mom Look! Facial hair in all its glory. The small kids in some classes also started to call me 'Mao Mao Lao Shi' which means hairy hairy teacher, or simply put...Teacher Hairy.
In Taiwan not that many people have so much body hair, and the kids seem to be massivly fascinated by it, to the point where it is shown in extreme levels that I have not seen in any other country I have been in. If your a hairy man(or woman) don't be weirded out if someone points out how hairy you are, rubs or pulls you, and maybe points out your extreme hairness int he street. It's just very odd for them to see these kind of things in Taiwanese society. People here still think your not that clean, or well presented if you have any form of hair, especially facial hair.
I hope none of you have to go through the unfortunate experience of being dived on by a disabled kid in the swimming pool screaming HEN MAO mind you!
If anyone is interested you can share your stories on our site about living within Taiwanese society as a foreigner.