從台北車站直達東南亞

走訪印尼街與泰國街
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2019 / 11月

文‧謝宜婷 圖‧莊坤儒


「不認識東南亞文化不會怎樣,只是你會少了把世界地圖倒過來看的視角。」──望見書間創辦人林周熙說。

  仔細觀察東南亞國家的語言及習俗,可以發現台灣與其在文化上的關聯性。走進印尼街與泰國街,是認識東南亞文化的第一步;而留心街區商店的類型──海外訂購公司及匯款公司,是了解東南亞移工在台故事的開始。


星期天下午,台北車站大廳黑白相間的棋盤地板上,許多來自東南亞的移工朋友們,圍坐成一個又一個的圈,圓圈中間擺放著家鄉料理,他們舉手言歡、享受美食,空氣裡飄盪著熱情的笑聲。

認識移工的開始

在阿默蛋糕前的大廳地板上,也有幾位台灣人席地而坐,他們身旁放著一個行李箱,裡頭擺滿著印尼文為主的書籍,提供移工與新住民閱讀母語書的機會。這是燦爛時光書店的地板圖書館,每週日下午1點準時開張,只借不賣,希望身在異鄉的移工與新住民,可以在閱讀的時光裡找到自由的感覺。

「館長」李成帥與書店志工許家瑜擔任引路人,帶領我們走訪台北車站附近的東南亞商圈──印尼街。印尼街位於天成飯店後方的小巷,來訪的消費者多為印尼移工,因此得名。

李成帥平常任職於「職學國際青年發展中心」,幫助13~35歲青年的生涯發展。三年前,他遇見一位青少年個案,發現其母親來自印尼,他為了更了解這個家庭的環境,開始接觸印尼的文化,後來透過朋友介紹,進入了燦爛時光書店。

許家瑜是國防大學醫學院的學生,也是校內Rumahku志工團的成員。團隊關注在醫院內擔任看護的印尼移工,為他們在醫療方面提供翻譯的服務,並透過對談,了解移工的需求與生活樣貌。

與移工成為朋友

從台北車站東三門離開,過了馬路之後,接著進入一條小巷。這個區域與旁邊的車道只隔著一排欄杆,但因為地勢相對較低,因此形成了如「世外桃源」般的獨特空間。

在路旁販賣印尼女性傳統服飾的大姊,看見李成帥走近,露出了燦爛的笑容,先揮了揮手,然後從袋子中拿出她做的印尼甜點,說:「這個給你!」李成帥又驚又喜地接下,並雙手合十,用印尼語向大姊說:「Terima kasih (謝謝)!」兩人寒暄之後,我們繼續向前走。

李成帥說,那位大姊是Nurul Ully Fia Shannie,之前在台北車站大廳賣衣服,所以才與她認識。有時她工作繁忙,就會請李成帥幫忙照顧兩個小孩,因此有了交情。

星期天復活的印尼街

印尼街配合移工們的假日,只在星期天營業。假日的印尼街,充滿著音樂、聊天聲、店家吆喝與五顏六色的在地小吃,整條街彷彿活了過來,與平日黯淡寂靜的形象,截然不同。

街上店家的服務一應俱全,從美食、雜貨、剪髮到卡拉OK、匯款、傢具都有。首先映入眼簾的是印尼小吃,各式各樣的金黃色炸物:炸香蕉、炸豆腐、炸豆餅,還有沙嗲、娘惹糕,以及種類多樣的自助餐。

李成帥認為,有些印尼的自助餐,價格其實並不親民,因為一星期店家只營業一天,只能在假日賺取收入,獲取盈利,另一方面,印尼菜的烹調過程,需要大量香料,而香料並不便宜。

再往前走,是一家印尼麥餅,李成帥指著看板說,當初印尼總統大選時,這裡就是移工們的投票地點。雖然身處異鄉,印尼的移工們仍然心繫國內大事,據說投票當天,隊伍排了一整條街。

一旁是匯款公司MoneyGram,每到發薪日的時候,移工們就會到這裡來,將部分的薪水匯給家人。許家瑜說,台灣的銀行營業時間,移工們都需要工作,因此無法前往,而這樣的匯款公司,在假日會有櫃檯人員協助辦理轉帳事務,因此成了移工在台灣不可或缺的服務。

印尼街的主要幹道約100公尺,很快就可以走完,接著右轉進入小巷子,可以看見雜貨店、海外託運公司,以及其他的印尼餐廳。其中一家由印尼華僑開的雜貨店,裡面除了販售一些日常用品,還有印尼人吃飯不可或缺的蝦餅與天貝(Tempeh)。蝦餅是每道料理的重要配角,而天貝是黃豆製成的發酵食品,也常出現在印尼人的餐桌上。

李成帥拿起一包還未烹調過的天貝,外觀是白色的固體,如硬掉的麵粉糰,接著,他拿起另外一包烹調過的辣味天貝,從透明的包裝袋內,可以看見顆粒狀的天貝混和著辣油、小魚乾與花生。他說有些印尼朋友,習慣吃一口辣味天貝,配上一口辣椒,可以當主食,也可以是零嘴。除了熱炒之外,也可以用炸的,口味也可以作成甜的,烹調料理非常多樣。

每個移工都有獨特的生命故事

對面的海外訂購公司RAJAWALI,是燦爛時光書店借放書籍的地方。移工們可以來這裡選擇要寄送回印尼的品項,從傢具、家電、建材到汽車都有,而且有多種品牌可選擇。店內除了展示幾款沙發,整面牆也貼滿了照片,裡面是移工在印尼的家人與各式「禮物」的合照。

店內一位印尼的員工表示,有些移工怕匯款回家之後,家人將錢亂花,因此會來這裡選購,透過RAJAWALI在印尼當地的公司,將家中需要的物品直接送給家人。通常移工在過年前夕,會選購沙發這類傢具,為家中增添新意,平常則會寄送洗衣機這類實用的家電回家。

走回台北車站的途中,可以看見包著各式顏色頭巾的穆斯林女性,李成帥說,藉著辨別頭巾及衣服的顏色與長度,可以判斷他們的家鄉與信仰。其中最大的差異是,來自阿拉伯國家的穆斯林女性,多是穿戴黑色的頭巾與面紗;而來自印尼的穆斯林女性,常是包覆顏色多樣、長度不同的頭巾。

「她們其實都不一樣」李成帥認為,多數台灣人容易將穿戴頭巾的女性,視為同一群體,卻忽略她們來自不同的地方,是不同的個體,即使在同一個文化下,每個人也有獨特的生命故事。

「如果沒有親身接觸,我們對他們的認識就是自己想像出來的。」許家瑜認為,與其透過他人的描述或書中的知識,直接與來台的印尼移工及新住民聊天,是最快了解他們的方式。她回憶一開始,會先從生活化的主題切入,例如「印尼有哪裡好玩的?」,通常移工及新住民都會熱情地回答,並分享更多。在一次次的交談中,文化的隔閡就漸漸被打破,兩人變得親近。

交通發展影響移工聚集

離開台北,我們南下前往另一個東南亞商圈──桃園火車站,並邀請在地的東南亞團體,望見書間店長林周熙,帶領我們認識火車站與移工,兩者間的歷史與變遷。

面向桃園後站前的交叉路口,林周熙指著不遠處的龜山工業區說,大約1990年代開始,因為工業區對人力的大量需求,移工開始湧入,而火車站附近交通機能好,逐漸成為移工假日聚集的地方。然而,近年來因為工業區附近的東南亞商家林立,所以移工已不會特別到火車站消費。

桃園在地的交通規畫,也改變了移工聚集的區位,原本後站前的一片空地,是移工們假日休憩的好地點,但是大約三年前,為了舒緩火車站周圍的交通,於是將空地改建為停車場,移工因此少了一個可以聚集的場地。林周熙也提到,未來台鐵桃園站地下化、桃園捷運新路段通車後,後站的地貌會再改變,移工與城市的關係也會因此出現變化。

泰國餐廳老闆見證桃園移工歷史

桃園早期的移工以泰國籍居多,在泰國移工人數鼎盛時期,有高達約35家泰式餐廳在桃園後站營業,其中歷史最悠久的就是──莎娃迪。老闆娘是泰國人,在台灣開餐廳近20年,現在孫子都已經是國小五年級的學生。

從店內的擺設,可以感受到強烈的泰國氣息,牆上掛著前泰國國王拉瑪五世的畫像,桌上擺著寺廟中常見的錢樹,另一面牆上供奉著佛像,電視上還播放著泰國的戲劇。

「我(菜)都沒有改過!」老闆娘堅持,泰國菜就是要原汁原味,保留傳統的調味,並沒有因為台灣人的口味作調整,因此,店內飄散著濃郁的椰奶香、咖哩味及酸辣味。

儘管料理道地,但吃的人越來越少,老闆娘說現在泰國移工不來台灣了,而是轉往薪資較高的韓國,「現在都越南的來吃啦!」莎娃迪餐廳客群的改變,反映了桃園移工國籍分佈的變化。

再往前走,可以看到東南亞商圈裡常見的手機通訊行、美髮店、雜貨店與人力公司。林周熙指著建國路的方向說,聖保祿醫院附近有許多看護移工,而這一帶多是工業區的廠工。當移工們晚上下班後,會三五成群,坐在馬路上小酌,以消解一天的疲勞。

向台灣人介紹東南亞文化

在桃園火車站另一端的站前商圈,移工較少光顧,不過自從桃園市新住民文化會館於去(2018)年7月成立之後,開始有新住民與移工湧入,參加語言課程及東南亞文化推廣活動。

九月最後一個星期天,在會館前方,由望見書間舉辦美食香料市集,邀請東南亞新住民媽媽們拿出自己家鄉的拿手好菜,讓台灣人嚐鮮,也讓東南亞朋友回味。

許多台灣人及新住民媽媽的朋友們都前來捧場。料理從越南涼拌雞絲、菲律賓炒麵、泰國辣拌豬肉到印尼水果沙拉,都是現場製作。廚師們也特地穿上了各自的「國服」,以表達對這個活動的尊重。

其中一位新住民媽媽,同時也是在新住民文化會館教印尼文的老師官美連,引以為傲地說,那是印尼的國服──蠟染(Batik)。

印尼新住民在台找到信仰

當官美連被問及多數印尼人的信仰伊斯蘭教,她馬上回應「我是基督徒!」

出身於雅加達的官美連說,印尼政府規定每個人的身分證上,要填上自己的信仰,當時她就隨便填了一個。後來1998年印尼排華暴亂發生,她來到台灣,也認識了現在的老公。

身在異鄉的焦慮,使官美連無法入睡。某日她因緣際會下走進了教會,之後焦慮的感覺消失,也開始睡得安穩,因此她成了基督徒。

官美連的故事顛覆了多數台灣人對印尼信仰的刻板印象,也成了「以接觸取代想像」的最佳註腳。當認知停留在印尼有超過八成穆斯林的知識上,就容易忽略擁有其他信仰的移工、新住民他們的個人經歷。

「每個移工與新住民都有獨特的生命故事」走進東南亞商圈,品嚐異國料理時,與餐廳老闆的寒暄或身旁移工的閒聊,都有機會為台灣人打開認識世界的另一個視角,翻轉對東南亞文化的想像。

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EN

Station to Station

—Encounters with Southeast-Asian Cultures

Tina Xie /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Phil Newell

“It’s no big deal if you don’t understand Southeast Asian cultures—it’s just that you’ll lack the perspective of seeing the world map turned upside down.” So says Lin Zhouxi, founder of the bookstore “SouthEastAsian ­Migrant inspired” (SEAMi).

Looking closely at the languages and customs of Southeast Asian countries, you will discover cultural connections with Taiwan. For Taiwanese, strolling along a local “Indonesia Street” or “Thai Street” can mark the first step in understanding Southeast-Asian cultures. And noticing the types of business that operate in these streets—providing services such as ordering products for delivery overseas, or handling remittances—is the beginning of an understanding of the story of Southeast-Asian migrant workers in Taiwan.


On Sunday afternoons, you will find many migrant workers from Southeast Asia gathered in circles on the black-and-white checkerboard pattern floor of the main concourse of Taipei Railway Station. At the center of these circles are dishes from their homelands, and they chat joyfully as they enjoy the delicious food, filling the air with the warm sound of laughter.

Understanding migrant workers

In front of a branch of Amo Bakery in the station concourse, there are also several Taiwanese sitting on the floor. Beside them is a trunk full of books, mainly in Indonesian, which provide opportunities for migrant workers and long-term immigrants to read books in their mother tongues. This is a mobile library of the Southeast-Asia-themed Brilliant Time Bookstore. It opens each Sunday at precisely 1 p.m., and it does not sell books, but only lends them, in hopes that migrant workers and immigrants far from their homelands can find a sense of freedom through reading.

Library director Ombak Lee and bookstore volunteer Julien Hsu act as guides, taking us to visit the Southeast-­Asian commercial area known as “Indonesia Street” near the station. Indonesia Street is located in the small lanes behind the Cosmos Hotel Taipei, and gets its name from the fact that most of the shoppers here are migrant workers from Indonesia.

Coming alive on Sundays

Businesses on Indonesia Street mainly operate on Sundays, in line with the fact that this is the weekly day off for most migrant workers. On these days off, Indonesia Street is filled with music, conversation, shouts from shop owners selling their wares, and riotously colorful small eateries. It seems like the whole area has come alive, in marked contrast to its dim and quiet appearance on workdays.

A remarkable range of goods and services are offered by businesses on the street, from food and beverages, assorted dry goods, and hair styling to karaoke, remittances, and furniture. First to catch the eye are the Indonesian restaurants, offering all kinds of golden deep-fried foods—deep-fried bananas, deep-fried tofu, and deep-fried soybean cake—as well as satay and Nyonya cake, and self-service buffets with a wide variety of dishes.

Walking on, we come to a shop selling Indonesian wheat cakes. Ombak Lee points to the shop sign and explains that this was a polling place for migrant workers to cast their ballots in Indonesia’s presidential elections. Despite living abroad, he says, Indonesian migrant workers still take an interest in events in their country, and on election day there was a line of people down the entire street.

Next door is a money transfer company, Money­Gram. Each payday, migrant workers come here to send part of their wages back to their families. Julien Hsu says that migrant workers always have to work during the opening hours of banks in Taiwan, so they cannot use them. Meanwhile, firms like MoneyGram have tellers to assist with remittances even on weekends and holidays, so they have come to provide an invaluable service to migrant workers in Taiwan.

One of the shops around Indonesia Street is a dry goods store operated by Chinese-Indonesians. Besides selling household products, it also markets shrimp crackers and tempeh, indispensable items in the Indonesian diet. Shrimp crackers are an import­ant side dish to all kinds of meals, while tempeh, a fermented food made from soybean, is also a mainstay of Indonesian cuisine.

Across the street is the Rajawali company, where migrant workers can order products to be delivered to their families back in Indonesia. It is also the place where Brilliant Time Bookstore stores its mobile library. Rajawali offers everything imaginable, including furniture, appliances, building materials, and even cars, with a wide variety of brands to choose from. Inside the shop, besides there being several sofas on display, the walls are covered with photographs of family members in Indonesia pictured with their “gifts.”

An Indonesian employee in the store explains that some migrant workers fear that their family members may spend money wastefully if it is remitted to them directly, so instead they come here to purchase items and have them delivered to their families by Rajawali in Indonesia. In the run-up to the Islamic New Year, people will often buy items of furniture such as sofas to spruce up their family’s living space, but at other times of the year they generally send practical appliances like washing machines.

Every migrant has a story

Walking back toward Taipei Railway Station, we see Muslim women wearing hijab headscarves in many different styles and colors. Ombak Lee reminds us, “In fact, they are all different.” Most Taiwanese are quick to regard women who wear the hijab as a homogenous group, but this ignores the fact that each comes from a different place and community, and is an individual in her own right. Even if they come from the same cultural background, each woman has a unique life story.

“If we never have any contact with them on a personal level, our understanding of them will come purely from our own imaginations,” says Julien Hsu. Rather than relying on descriptions made by others or written in books, the quickest way to understand Indonesian immigrants and migrant workers is to directly engage them in conversation.

Transportation hubs

Leaving Taipei, we head south to another Southeast-­Asian commercial area, this one near the Tao­yuan Train Station. We invite local Southeast-Asian groups and ­SEAMi bookstore owner Lin ­Zhouxi to guide us to under­stand the history and evolution of the connection between the train station and migrant workers.

At the intersection facing the rear entrance of the station, Lin ­Zhouxi points toward the nearby Gui­shan Industrial Park and says that large numbers of migrant workers began arriving here due to the increasing demand for labor starting in the 1990s. Since good public transport makes the area around the train station easily accessible, migrant workers gradually made it a gathering place on their days off. However, in recent years, because many Southeast-Asian shops have sprung up near the ­industrial park, migrant workers no longer make the trip to the train station area just to shop.

Changes to Taoyuan’s local traffic system have also altered the places where migrant workers congregate. Previ­ously there was a large open space behind the Tao­yuan Train Station, which provided a great venue for migrant workers to spend their days off. However, about three years ago, to help relieve traffic congestion around the station, the space was turned into a parking lot, so they lost this gathering place. Lin ­Zhouxi adds that in future, when the station is moved underground and new lines of the Taoyuan Metro come into operation, the situation will shift again, bringing about further changes in the relation­ship between migrant workers and the city.

A Thai restaurant owner’s perspective

Most of the migrant workers who first came to Tao­yuan were from Thailand. When the number of Thai workers was at its peak, there were as many as 35 Thai restaurants operating in the area behind the Tao­yuan Train Station. Of those that remain today, the one with the longest history is the Sawasdee Thai Restaurant. The owner has by now been operating a restaurant in Taiwan for nearly 20 years, and her grandson is in the fifth grade of primary school.

The décor in the restaurant conveys a powerful Thai ambience. On one wall there hangs a picture of King Rama V (1853‡1910), and there are “money trees,” commonly seen in temples in Thailand, set out on the tables. (Money trees are tree-shaped objects with branches of split bamboo on which people hang banknotes as offerings.) On another wall there is an altar to the Buddha, and Thai dramas play on the television.

“My cooking style has never changed!” The owner insists on staying true to the original flavors of Thai cuisine. She continues to use traditional seasonings, and makes no concessions to Taiwanese tastes. This is why her restaurant is filled with the rich aromas of coconut milk, curry, and spicy and sour flavorings.

Despite the authenticity of her cuisine, the restaurant has been attracting fewer and fewer customers over time. The owner says that Thai workers no longer come to Taiwan, preferring instead to work in South Korea, where wages are higher. “Now all the people who come to eat here are Vietnamese!” The shift in the nationality of patrons reflects a change in the ethnic composition of migrant workers in Taoyuan.

Introducing Southeast-Asian culture

In the past, relatively few migrant workers visited the commercial area around the front entrance of the Taoyuan Train Station. But since the opening of the Taoyuan New Immigrants Culture Hall in July 2018, there has been an influx of immigrants and migrant workers here, attending language classes and taking part in activities to highlight Southeast-­Asian ­cultures.

On the last Sunday in September 2019, SEAMi organized a spice market in front of the culture hall. They invited immigrant mothers from Southeast Asia to prepare dishes from their homelands, enabling Taiwanese to try these foods and bringing a taste of home to Southeast Asians.

One of the immigrant mothers on hand, Emy Kuan, who also teaches Indonesian at the New Immigrants Culture Hall, proudly says that the clothes she is wearing are the national attire of Indonesia, made with batik textiles.

An Indonesian finds faith in Taiwan

When Kuan is asked about the fact that the large majority of Indonesians follow Islam, she immediately responds, “I am a Christian!”

Kuan, who was born in Jakarta, explains that the Indo­nesian government requires every citizen’s religion to be stated on their ID cards, so she wrote down something at random to meet this requirement. When anti-Chinese riots broke out in Indonesia in 1998 Kuan, who is partly ethnic Chinese, came to Taiwan, where she met her current husband.

Living in a foreign land, anxiety kept her awake at night. One day, on an impulse, she entered a Christian church, after which her feelings of anxiety disappeared and she began to sleep soundly. There­after she became a Christian.

Kuan’s story overturns the stereotypes most Taiwanese have about Indonesian religion, and is a great example of the advantages of direct contact over imagination. If your understanding stops at the fact that more than 80% of Indonesians are Muslim, you are likely to overlook the personal experiences of migrant workers and immigrants with different faiths.

“Every migrant worker or long-term immigrant has their own unique life story.” When you step into a Southeast-­Asian commercial area to try exotic foods, such things as exchanging pleasantries with the owner or chatting with the migrant workers sitting next to you all provide opportunities to see and understand the world from a new perspective, and to overturn our preconceptions about Southeast-Asian cultures.

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