On the lighter side: Solve your own problems abroad (Aug. 9-15)
Central News Agency
2014-08-16 09:11 AM
Not all news is bad news. The following is a look at some of the softer stories in Taiwan over the past week that, for whatever reason, did not quite make it to the press in English. *Help, I need somebody* Taiwan's diplomatic missions abroad -- official or otherwise -- aim to be helpful resources for nationals who run into emergency situations abroad. But sometimes the definition of an emergency can be subjective. Among some of the more unusual requests: a Taiwanese visitor to Japan said he had been ripped off at an adult entertainment establishment and demanded diplomats help him get his money back, and a visitor to another country asked them to hold the plane because he or she was running late. CNA reported on Aug. 14 that Taiwan's offices around the world received 164 unreasonable requests last year. Lo Tien-hung, deputy head of the Foreign Ministry's Bureau of Consular Affairs, listed off some of the most unique. 1: Apparently some people don't like to do their homework before setting out. A traveler called the emergency hotline in the middle of the night to ask when local attractions open and close. 2: Another who also skipped out on the homework clearly didn't budget enough and asked the representative office for a loan because he or she was unwilling to ask family back in Taiwan for help. 3: Someone took the economic and culture office for a travel agency, asking it to help organize airport pick-up and book hotels. 4: Duty-free smokes and spirits are popular trophies for Taiwanese travelers. But one over-zealous traveler tried bringing too many of the controlled items into a foreign country only to get fined and have them confiscated. The traveler wanted Taiwan's diplomats to get the seized items back and pressure the customs agents to waive the fine. 5: Someone lost his or her luggage, and instead of dealing with authorities directly, asked the rep office to do so. Otherwise, the traveler argued, "I would have to give up my valuable travel time." (Not an exact quote.) 6: After his or her card was swallowed by an ATM in a strange land, a traveler demanded the rep office help retrieve it. 7: "Sure, I crashed the car, but you diplomats should be the ones responsible for the legal proceedings and paying the damages." (Not an exact quote.) 8: A victim of theft rightfully asked for help getting local police on the case, but wrongfully decided he (or she) was too busy shopping to assist with the investigation. 9: Then there was the gentleman (mentioned above) in Japan whose libido was apparently only outsized by his willingness to part with his cash. He asked the rep office for help shaking down the people who had apparently ripped him off. 10: "I'm running late, can you ask the plane to wait for me?" (Not an exact quote.) 11: A student abroad asked Taiwanese officials to pressure his school into disciplining his ex-girlfriend. 12: After a couple got into a fight while chatting on the Internet, the traveling boyfriend asked diplomats to contact police back in Taiwan to prevent his girlfriend, who had stayed home, from doing the unthinkable. The surprised woman opened her door to find concerned police only to explain that it had been nothing more than a lover's quarrel. After listing off the bad judgment calls, Lo was eager to explain the services that Taiwan's diplomats cannot provide: getting involved in foreign judicial matters; getting involved in civil or commercial disputes; representing an individual in any legal capacity; paying fines on someone's behalf; and acting as a guarantor. The rep offices do have 24-hour hotlines for helping travelers in need, but please make sure you have real problems they can help with first -- like the loss of travel documents or being the victim of a robbery. Otherwise, your story could end up in this very column when next year's statistics come out. (By Wesley Holzer)
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