Premier travel agency in Ipoh, Golden Century Tour & Travel Sdn Bhd, hosted a sharing session regarding Taiwan’s lesser known places of interest that would wow even the most seasoned traveller to Taiwan.
Ipohites, especially tin miners, have been known to visit Taiwan on weekends back in the 1970s. Although that era is over, many people here still visit Taiwan regularly, simply because “it feels like home”.
Taiwan is definitely more that its famed Taipei 101. Therefore, this sharing session, Taiwan Small Town Ramble, aimed to introduce the country, with a tourism tagline of “The Heart of Asia”, to the approximately 100 guests.
On the VVIP list included:
Taiwan Tourism Bureau Kuala Lumpur Office Director, Mr Abe Zhou
China Airlines Malaysia Branch General Manager, Ms Marian Lu
China Airlines Malaysia Branch Passenger Sales Manager, Mr Steven Lim
The Perak Chinese Assembly Hall (PCAH) President, Dato’ Chai Wang Yook
Golden Century Tour & Travel Sdn Bhd Managing Director, Mr Jimmy Goh
Besides yours truly, the other person who shared about her experience was Ola Media Managing Director-cum-Editor-in-Chief, Ms Yan Qin.
Also, during the session, China Airlines Malaysia introduced their upgraded aircraft, which we flew in to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in January during our 6-day Taiwan Small Town Ramble exploration, organised by Golden Century Tour & Travel Sdn Bhd.
Our ground tour was handled by Taiwan Polo Holidays Co. Ltd.. Its Sales & Marketing Director Ms Tammy Chien was also on hand to better explain the attractions of the west coast destinations, from Taipei to Tainan.
Thank you, Emcee Jack.
Good morning to VVIPs, all my media and photographer friends, ladies and gentlemen; all who are present today.
My name is Emily Lowe and I am a blogger. My blog is emily2u.com. I also contribute travel articles to an in-flight magazine.
In January, when Ms Goh of Golden Century Tour & Travel approached me about a familiarisation trip to Taiwan and asked if I was keen to participate, I have to admit that it took me awhile to agree. Don’t get me wrong. I love discovering new places, but I was afraid that I would not be able to meet the obligation of providing the necessary promotion for Taiwan.
To be honest, Taiwan was never on my list of countries to visit, simply for the fact that I am a banana; a Chinese who can’t speak Mandarin. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside. So, I have this perceived language barrier. I knew that many Taiwanese can speak Hokkien, but that might as well be Greek to me.
I remember that throughout the trip, Ms Yan Qin of Ola Media tried to learn Minnan, and she repeatedly said, “Hen nan, ah! Hen nan, ah!” Well, that’s Mandarin for me. “Hen nan.”
Ms Goh assured me that she would be my personal translator when needed, so that put me at ease to participate in the trip. Also, I had the idea of marking every location on my Google Maps timeline, so that I could easily refer to it when I returned home to write my articles.
As a first timer to Taiwan, I did not mind visiting anywhere, because everything would be a new experience for me, but the plan was to travel from Taipei to Tainan, north to south along the west coast of the island, dropping by small towns and villages, on the road less travelled by tourists.
Before visiting Taiwan, I had no idea that the country has a sizeable Hakka community. My mom is Hakka, so that’s one dialect that I can comprehend, even though I don’t speak it well.
Therefore, the Hakka heartland of Beipu was a surprise for me. I was fascinated to learn that shopkeepers who are conversant in Hakka have a signage on their door to indicate so, making it easier for Hakka-speaking shoppers.
I also discovered how Instagrammable Beipu is; old village houses with faded red lanterns hanging at the porch, intricate architecture of Fu-De Temple, and also, when we were there in mid-January, Sakura flowers were beginning to bloom.
I had thought that we just missed it by a week, having read on the internet that Sakura season in that part of Taiwan only begins in late January to early February. So, that was a pleasant sight as well, because it was totally unexpected.
If Beipu gave me a preview of the Hakka community, going to Mile High Leisure Farm gave me an insight of the Hakka lifestyle. We were served the most delicious, authentic home-style Hakka cuisine. What stuck in my head after all these months is the stewed pig knuckles. I have some exposure to Hakka cuisine from my maternal side of the family, but somehow the food served at Mile High Leisure Farm was tastier, more memorable. Is it because of the mountain air or water?
At the farm, we also had the chance to go hands-on with harvesting some of the largest radishes and strawberries that I have ever seen. I remember that the weather was very cold outdoors. Harvesting the produce gave me a sense of satisfaction, even though I didn’t plant them. We ate the strawberries straight fresh from the farm. They were so sweet and succulent.
One of the best memories of this Taiwan trip is oyster harvesting in Changhua County. We were taken out to sea on a motorised cart, that I am convinced was a DIY project. I still remember how windy it was, that if I were any lighter, I would be carried off by the wind like Mary Poppins. The sand from the seabed during extreme low tide was very fine, and some flew into my eyes.
After that personal experience, I can say for sure that oyster harvesting is really HARD WORK! Since that trip, every time I indulge in oysters, I think of Taiwan. I am not sure if oyster harvesting is available anywhere else in the world but this is one tourism product that should be high up on the list for visitors to Taiwan.
When it comes to Taiwanese food, of course we had popular street food, as well as uncommon ones. After all, we were in the country to discover something new, including culinary delights.
I cannot forget the day I woke up at 6am to go to the morning market opposite Fushin Hotel in Tainan. Actually, the walk was short and many stalls were still yet to open but it gave us time to walk around the area, and the food choices were definitely worth waiting for, especially the mantou and rice cake like wu tou kou with lots of dark sauce.
Today, if I were asked if I would visit Taiwan again, I would answer “YES” resoundingly, especially now that I know how friendly Taiwanese are, and helpful as well. I also now know that we can engage a tour company with an English-speaking guide, so that totally solves my problem of not being able to communicate with the locals.
In closing, I wish to thank Taiwan Tourism Bureau, China Airlines and of course, Golden Century Tour & Travel for this, indeed, GOLDEN opportunity for me to get to know Taiwan.
Read about Emily2U’s 6-day exploration of Taiwan’s lesser known attractions:
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 1
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 2
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 3
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 4
6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Days 5 & 6
Event: Taiwan Small Town Ramble Sharing Session
Venue: Hotel Excelsior, Ipoh
Date: 24th July, 2019
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