So I’m sitting in a Seven Eleven on Greater Kinmen Island doing some work — the real life of the traveling journalist may not be as romantic as it seems — when this young guy walked up to me and gave me a can of coffee that he’d just purchased.
“This is for you,” he said in English.
I said thank you. He waved goodbye and walked out the door.
I went back to work.
Then stopped short. I just received a small gift from a random stranger and I acted as if it was something usual.
But honestly, it kind of is. A random guy in a restaurant just gave my daughters two new little kid cups hardly an hour before.
Am I, after 18 years of travel, starting to take such expressions of hospitality for granted?
I don’t think so. I imagine there is a difference between taking something for granted and taking something as normal.
Hospitality is different in different parts of the world. If you were to buy some random guy a coffee in a convenient store in the USA and then turn and walk out the door that would be incredibly strange, and a cause for suspicion — and rightfully so: this just isn’t done there. But here on Kinmen, in the heart of East Asia, this is something that people do.
There is a reason why I stay east.