Using Cash to buy a Macbook
Kris' credit card could not connet to the credit card center in Chile.
So we withdrew lots of cash to buy the macbook!!

The two weeks in Chile was only tolerable because we had JD and Kate (an American couple that we met on the trip through the Salt Flats in Bolivia, a.k.a. The So-In-Love Married Couple.)

Please don’t get mad at me for writing what you are about to read. This is just my personal opinion and feel free to rebuttal.

Chileans are “very relaxed” and it shows even in the way they speak. During the two months in Bolivia, Hank and I took Spanish classes for a month. We are no where near fluent but at least I could understand directions and discuss politics with the locals without too much trouble. Once we stepped off the bus onto Chilean soil, everything changed.

It took less than five minutes to think that all those Spanish classes and memorizing tense changes had been in vain.

"Mismo" became “mimo”.

"Dos" became “do”.

It was as different as heaven and hell.

We didn’t do much when we were not hanging out with The So-In-Love Married Couple but we did manage to get a big of shopping done. Hank was so sick and tired of looking at my baggy jeans and my birthday was close so we got me a pair of Levi’s jeans at one of the shopping malls. While we were paying for them, the shop keeper asked us where we were from and how come we speak Spanish so well (all I said to him was that it was really hot in the changing room). Hank explained that we took Spanish lessons in Peru and in Bolivia. He nodded with the “oh, that’s why” head bob and said, yeah, Chilean Spanish is really not up to par.

So they do know that they do not speak proper Spanish.

I assumed that it was just one man’s opinion until we got to the Argentinean Embassy. Whilst waiting on a dented sofa for our turn in line, we met some fellow Taiwanese! Mr. Zhuo had immigrated to Chile for twelve years and was curious as what we were doing in Chile. We talked and he shared his opinion of Chile with us.

“In Chile, they are so “relaxed”. If you want to send something through the post office or get paper work done, you had better plan your whole day to it. When I needed a stamp on my immigration form, it took me exactly 7 hours to get it. Taiwan is so convenient and efficient. Even my children don’t want to stay here after high school. They don’t like the mentality of the people here.

Doing business is tough here, the prices are constantly on the raise and the profit drops with each passing of the day. The only good thing about Chile is that it has the most welcoming foreign investment market in south America but that might change soon.

Chileans like to spend money and so, most people can’t seem to save up enough to buy luxurious items, like cars.”

He owns a car dealership in Santiago.

As soon as he mentioned prices, I nodded and told him that I was even afraid to eat in Chile!

There is nothing special about Chilean food but as soon as you walk into a restaurant, you are going to shell out at least 5 USD per person and that does not include the ten percent tip that the waiters and waitress do not hesitate to remind at the moment when you as for the “cuenta”. It bugged me for the longest time that they had to remind us. And so, Hank and I usually go for the fast food restaurants or “completos “ which is a hot dog in a bun, with crazy amount of mayonnaise, sauerkraut and ketch up and the instant noodles that we found at a supermarket owned by chinese people.

A couple of days later, I read on Lonely Planet Chile that Chileans judge books by their covers, which means if you want good service, you have to dress up for the occasion. Oh wonder they asked for tips, they probably saw Hank and I in our tank tops with our tattoos showing and though, here comes a couple of drifters from China. This is so different than Taiwan. In Taiwan, the not so well dressed are usually the big spenders. Taichung City, where I grew up and went to university is known for it’s lack of culture, distinct accent (like the southern drawl) and big money spenders. That’s where Luis Vuitton decided to build it’s flagship store in Taichung. We may not have much culture in the center in Taiwan but we do have money!

Does the snobbish attitude come with “development”?

During this trip, Hank and I had had countless arguments of what constitutes a developed country. Of course, I know that it is defined by GDP but what about the smell of urine on the street?

Chile is ranked 37 on the list of “developed” country but the smell of piss is apparent and ubiquitous. The countless homeless that occupy the street corners may not out number Bolivia or Peru but still, it would be hard to even find homeless people even in the southern part of Taiwan where it is considered to be the poorer part of Taiwan.

Chile is also the only country I had a problem spending money at! We tried to use our credit card to buy the new Mac but it kept showing “declinada” everywhere we tried. And so, we had to withdraw cash and had to use my plane-ticket-home-secret-money-in-case-Hank-and-I-break-up money to buy the computer.

I was so mad at first and blamed it on the credit card company. I even called Taiwan on the spot to demand an answer for the failure of transaction. The answer they gave me was, “Miss Chen, I’m sorry but there is no record of failure of transaction. Please have the store check their machine.”

So, this is developed country for ya.

The “developed” country also had other technology setbacks.

The subway system is very well planned out and convenient but there is not automatic teller machine for tickets. During rush hour, the queue to buy tickets could very well end at the entrance of the station. It’s ridiculous and annoying especially when there is no air-con and the smell of urine mixed in with sweat drift in and out of the cars. Now is when I miss the MRT system in Taiwan, all clean with no queues and full on air-con blasting through out the whole station.

Often when we were on subway, I’d get attacked by boobies and I mean, old and young boobies coming from all directions onto my elbows and back. (this however seems to be a blessing for men, and by that, I mean Hank.)

Chilean girls aren’t afraid to flaunt off what they have front and back. The scenery one could get on the street is almost as amazing as the Andeans mountains. Chileans are generally larger than … what I’m used to and so I had a really hard time walking on the street trying not to stare at the boobies, I mean, ladies.

The awkwardness doesn’t end there. Chileans are also extraordinarily open with their affections towards their significant half. On street corners whilst waiting for the lights to turn green, while hailing for a cab, while sitting nonchalantly in the subway car, I mean, just about everywhere I looked, there will be a couple playing tonsil hockey with full on sucking action. Even J.D. and Kate said that it wouldn’t be a normal sight in the states.

All in all, Chile was like my English composition professor back in University. She received her Ph.D. in the states but she had a thick Chinese accent when she spoke English. She was arrogant but couldn’t quite live up to her degree. She looked good on paper but in reality, she couldn’t read a Shakespeare’s poem without making mistakes of miss pronouncing the words . *1

When we arrived in Chile, the bus driver announced, “civilization”. I would had to agree with him after all the paved roads felt so good after the bumpy rides through the salt lakes. After three days though, Chile felt empty, lack of character and extremely superficial.

I had adapted well through out the continents that I have been to, but I have no tolerance for arrogance.

Thank God, we are out of there.


Dear Professor,

I won a poetry contest and was invited to read my poems but I didn’t have an American visa back then, so I didn’t go. You didn’t do anything to my confidence nor help with my ability to write which all other professors said that I have.

It’s not my fault that you didn’t know that “apparel” doesn’t mean apparently. I paid for your salary and so you should have come into the classroom prepared. So what if you know the rules of poetry better than me? you can’t write one even if given the time and space.

Even the dean knew that you flunked me on purpose. My other scores had proven you wrong but still, you were too arrogant to admit your errors.

I’m writing a book and there is a whole chapter dedicated to you. I hope you will get to read it.

I still hate you and sweet revenge awaits.



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