Michael lives in an industrial area near Hsinchu, and like many such areas of Taiwan, there are large numbers of foreign workers from Thailand and the Philippines. Consequently a whole infrastructure of support for the workers has arisen, with bars, cantinas, and grocery stores. Even ordinary Taiwanese grocery stores often carry products aimed at this market.
A Filipino grocery store in a factory area in Taiwan
The Thai bar where Michael and I hung out
A nerighborhood in a factory district
Another neighborhood in a factory district.
Parked cars crowd cramped neighborhoods
Michael and Hui-chen took me to one of the local Filipino factory worker hang-outs. The place was run by the Filipino wife of a local man, friendly and efficient.The great thing about hanging out with the Filipinos is that the music consisted largely of familiar songs in English, instead of unfamiliar songs in Taiwanese. And the Filipinos, especially the women, could often sing beautifully. Confession: I've never liked karaoke, because I can't stand listening to people who can't sing butcher a song at the top of their lungs. But I became a convert this weekend. Had an absolute blast.
Nothing like fried fare to stimulate the thirst.
Heidi does a number.
At the end of the evening everyone begged Heidi, one of the staff, to come out of the kitchen to sing. She had a voice like an angel.
Red Horse Beer. 7% alcohol. Goes great with karaoke and deep-fried squid.
The Thai bar
A great night, but the weekend lost some of its savor when the Indonesian woman working for my in-laws turned out to be from the area affected by the quake this weekend. Like many working abroad, abandoned by her husband, she had left her three children in the care of her grandparents. Unfortunately she was unable to get hold of them as of this morning, and her brother told her that their house had collapsed.