- Adam Matz
- YaSu - Yasuhiro Mineyuki
- Cameron Hanson
- Dan Paiero
- Pete Brown
- Flight Café
- Jeff Pike
- Fede - Dulan Cape Café
- Mark - A surfing coach from New Zealand
- Masako Morishita
- Simon Foster & Tot Foster
- Amir Habib Shaikh
- Lorenzo Salvadore
- Tim Joel
- Mark Jackson - WaGaLiGong Restaurant in Dulan
- Praveen－Taitung Spice House
- Chubby Rabbit - Johannes Faeth
- Micha’s Kueche
- Patrick Coulter
“The wise find pleasure in water; the virtuous find pleasure in mountains.” Surrounded by mountains and water, many foreigners who love outdoor recreation yearn to come to Taitung for its pure and unpolluted natural environment. In recent years, the number of tourists traveling to Taitung has reached new heights. Furthermore, many people are willing to leave their homeland in order to experience the leisurely and carefree life of Taitung.
Living in Taiwan for more than five years, Dacota hails from Portland, Oregon, which is referred to as the Rose City. “Most of the United States is boring, but Oregon is super beautiful,” Dacota expressed with particular excitement. For him, Taitung exhibits some similar qualities to Oregon in that it features beautiful scenery, clean air, friendly people, and is extremely suitable for outdoor activities. Even with the picturesque scenery of Portland, he still became enthralled with eastern cultures. “I had a lot of Taiwanese friends at that time, so I chose to come to Taiwan in order to immerse myself in the Chinese-speaking world. It was a dream to come to Taiwan to teach,” Dacota said.
Having learned some fundamentals of Chinese in the United States, he embarked on his English teaching career in Taiwan. “I lived in Keelung when I first arrived in Taiwan. At that time, I met the owner of a Douhua (tofu pudding) stand and went there nearly every day. We chatted for hours and I was able to study Chinese.” Dacota smiled mischievously, saying that his close friends were not good at English, so he was forced to communicate in Chinese. He also increased his Chinese proficiency by discussing and planning different hiking routes with other avid hikers. Being a nature lover, Dacota even applied to be a volunteer at Taroko National Park. After attending classes, taking an exam, and a year-long internship, he became an official volunteer. He proudly stated, “Although I’m a foreigner, I can still volunteer and help people see the wonderful nature in Taiwan.”
After residing in Keelung for a short time, Dacota desired to try a different style of life in Taiwan, and moved to the Huadong area. He first lived in Hualien and then moved south to the slower life of Taitung. “The pace of life in Taitung in very leisurely – calm and beautiful. There is a lot of hiking deep in the mountains. It’s a lot of fun.” In his spare time, Dacota enjoys solo or group mountaineering. He carries bougie hiking equipment with him to summit the low and high elevation mountains of the Huadong region. For him, even in a chaotic world, the process of hiking calms his soul and sweeps away the pressures of work.
In addition to enjoying nature’s selfless embrace in Taitung, Dacota is also very interested in the indigenous cultures of the East Coast. “Taitung is a little different from Hualien. Just walking around, you can run into super friendly indigenous persons without needing to make a special trip out to the tribal villages.” He said that when he’s not hiking, he spends time with his aboriginal friends and even participates in tribal activities. His carefree and unfettered personality makes it easy for him to mingle, interact, and have fun with them.
At present, Dacota is a foreign language consultant with the Taitung County Government. He assists the county government with translation, foreign guest reception, and plays an indispensable role in promoting bilingualization in Taitung. After a half year of being in Taitung, he believes that Taitung can be a mecca for foreign tourists because of the beautiful natural environment and conditions as well as good public safety. Dacota said, “The purity and beauty of Taitung needs to be preserved by the residents living here. If everyone works together to maintain a clean and natural environment, foreigners will want to come here for vacation.”
River Tracing：Sangshu River, Jialu River, Luye River, Luliao River, Zhiben River
Hot Springing：Taolin Hot Spring, Lisong Hot Spring, Lulu Hot Spring
Hiking：Sancha Mountain, Jiaming Lake, Guan and Xiaoguan Mountain, Mount Pinuyumayan, Dulan Mountain, Meinaitian Mountain, Penpen Mountain, Jian Mountain, Dapu Mountain, Zhenqizi Mountain
For most people who lived half of their life in the same nation, leaving one’s native place is similar to selecting a different place that is completely different from one’s own growing environment to continue their future life, which is an unimaginable matter.
Currently serving as an English teacher in Dong Hai Elementary School, Adam Matz is an English teaching assistant that Fulbright Foundation helped to recruit. However, as early as in 1999, Adam has made an indissoluble bond with Taiwan after he came to Taiwan for the first time.
“At that time, I just graduated from school and wanted to find a job. Among the three countries, Korea, Taiwan and China, I chose Taiwan.” “Since Korea is very similar to my hometown, Seattle, there is nothing too amazing or there are no special places. Hence, I decided to come to Taiwan.”, said Adam slowly.
Having experiences of living in cities other than Taitung, in particular, metropolitan regions such as Taichung, Adam speaks about his first impression when entering the simplicity of Taitung for the first time: “Taitung is very rural.” When coming to Taitung in 2006, I even felt that there are many roads without English road signs. “For a foreigner who doesn’t understand Chinese completely, it will be more complicated when travelling.” Luckily, Adam had taken Chinese courses in Tunghai University. This allowed him to be able to communicate smoothly with verbal words. He also had some level of proficiency in Chinese reading and writing so that he adapted himself into the local life quickly.
“I usually like to run, and I attended a few rounds of Marathon.” If you are a person who loves outdoor activities, in particular, exercises such as riding bikes, running, living in Taitung is indeed a very fortunate thing. “I went to western Taiwan to attend Marathon. Though having fun, I will breathe in some PM2.5 inevitably. Having a sense of humor is also one of his personal traits. This makes his teaching especially loved by kids. Adam has been teaching English in Taiwan. In 2011 and 2013, he brought the kids from Taitung to attend the program “Partners in Learning” held by Microsoft Company together and won the World Education Forum Award. This proves that even kids from back of the mountain can have excellent and brilliant performance. This builds a great confidence in the kids.
“Taitung is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Adam takes the holiday resort, Hawaii, for comparison. “The consumption in Hawaii is very high and the population there is too high and too dense; however, it is different in Taitung, if you want to see the mountains or the seas, you don’t need to spend too much time on traffic. It is a very suitable place for developing sightseeing and tourism.” He speaks about his perspective in a manner neither too fast nor too slow. We can feel that the place that he once thought as a rural region in the beginning is in fact a beautiful place and a place worthy of in-depth discovery.
Other than the habit of exercising, Adam also operates his own blog “Taiwan Style-The Chance Encounter of Western and Eastern”. The blog records the various events related to his life in Taitung. His stroke not only filled with emotion but also inevitably added first-hand information about local tourism in Taitung, presenting such information in both Chinese and English. This makes many foreign travelers discovering his blog when searching the keyword, Taitung, and asking him many questions about sightseeing in Taitung, and even asking about topics beside travel information quite often. They treat him just like “Taitung Dictionary”, which makes him feel especially involved.
“If Taitung wish to go towards the world, creating an English environment is very important.” Adam drew this conclusion with a serious look. For a foreigner who is very fluent in Chinese, the life in Taitung is very laid-back. But for foreign friends around Adam, most of them don’t quite understand Chinese. They will still encounter inconvenient things. For example, when a friend who only understands English comes to the restaurant to have a meal, reading the menu is similar to reading a book from heaven; though for him, Taitung is already a place even better than vacation paradise, he still provides his suggestions enthusiastically. However, how much fun will it be to look at Taitung from the perspective of a foreigner?
When you have time, why don’t you visit Adam’s blog to see his wonderful experiences in Taitung!
YaSu – Yasuhiro Mineyuki
Adjacent to Fuli Township, with Hualien County in the north, Donghe in Chenggong Township is located in northeastern Taitung County. Donghe is well-known for steamed buns. In addition, international surfing competition held in recent years due to the incredible waves have made Donghe a preferred spot for surfers.
YaSu came to Donghe three years ago to surf with some friends. Within four short months, he decided to move to Taitung. He opened a Japanese-style pub in Donghe where he could enjoy the surf, admire the sunrise and be immersed in an east coast life. YaSu stated, “The surfing in Taitung has become increasingly popular over the past three or four years, and it has even been featured in some magazines”. He went on to explain, “Japan also has some places to surf, but the water temperature is not conducive for surfing in winter. It’s a few degrees below freezing. Therefore, Japanese surfers struck out to find the nearest surfing spot with warmer conditions – they found it here in Donghe Taitung.”
YaSu had experience working in the restaurant industry while living in Japan, and had also worked in a Japanese-style pub. So he had the idea of opening a pub in Donghe. He went on to reveal that numerous Japanese surfers flock to Donghe during the winter months. He stated, “During the winter, 99% of the people on the beaches in Donghe are Japanese!” With a serious expression, he emphasized that “a boss that can speak Japanese and a pub that serves Japanese cuisine will provide Japanese tourists with the feeling of familiarity and give them peace of mind. Beginning in October, the northeast winds blow until March or April, resulting in an endless influx of Japanese surfers. Marketing via his website and blog, his pub is not only filled with customers during the winter evenings, but he is also a local guide and surf instructor during the day. He locates the best waves for Japanese surfers. He also introduces them to the mountains and rivers of the beautiful East Coast and returns to the pub to serve specially crafted meals for them. “The ingredients I use are freshly purchased at the Chenggong harbor each morning. I don’t like frozen fish. When cooking, I like to use some special local seafood,” YaSu said while taking out that mornings goods from a bag. “This is a very rare Sebastiscus tertius (a species of fish in the rockfish family), the nerves are very poisonous, but the meat is very delicious. It seems the uglier the fish, the more delicious it is!” YaSu joked. “I am going to use it and show off my cooking skills. I want to share this specialty with my guests this evening.
If Japanese friends visit during the surfing low season, YaSu will take them hot springing. “There is a Japanese TV show that recently reported about Lisong Hot Spring, so it has become quite famous in Japan,” he said. Winter is the only time suitable for surfing in Taiwan. During the summertime, there are no waves so surfers will chase the typhoons. “As long as you know that the typhoon is coming to Taiwan, some people will chase it to catch the big waves. It is exciting, but it is safety first!” YaSu said with a smile.
Over his time living in Taitung, Yasu has become familiar with the habits of Japanese surfers. However, due to the difficulty of transportation, planning a surfing trip for many is particularly troublesome. “Many people looking to come here will start by checking out my blog to see the past experience of others. They’ll use the articles shared by the users as a reference with respect to transportation via bus or taxi.” He explained that due to the limited bus services, and the fact that many small buses cannot accommodate a surfboard, coupled with a unclear schedule, this has caused many to be unable to board the bus. When coming to Taitung from Japan, you must take a flight from either Songshan or Taoyuan airport. “Trains will not permit surfboards.” YaSu stated helplessly. He hopes that in the future there will be direct flights from Japan. Or at least that trains will be able to accommodate surfboards. Increasing the ease of transportation will definitely attract more tourists. Tweaking just a few conditions will attract a large number of Japanese surfers. Yasu is still confident that he can introduce more Japanese to Taitung’s beautiful ocean and continue to spread the reputation of surfing in Taitung!
The eastern beauty consists of mountains and the ocean, a rich geographical environment, broad expanses between the seasons and a distinct style between day and night. First-time visitors enjoy a diverse and fantastic experience. In the process of exploring Taitung, they can also find a new path for life.
Cameron Hanson grew up in an artistically rich city of Seattle. He majored in art and traveled during his college years. After traveling to more than 30 countries, he had yet to set foot in Asian. Cam said, “I was thinking about where to teach English for the next two years. I pondered for a long time. Due to Taiwan’s multiculturalism and island feel it became my first choice, followed by Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.” Anything could happen. After traveling around Taiwan and coming to Taitung, his first stop in Asia became his last and Cam decided to settle down in Taitung.
“Life in Seattle made me feel like being trapped in prison. My life was only working, Monday to Friday, 8:00 to 5:00. A life like this was suffocating me every day.” Cam described his life before coming to Taitung. Then, he discussed after arriving in Taitung, where he met his soulmate and altered his past lifestyle. “I discovered that I could live a different life in Taitung. Although I can’t make a lot of money, I don’t have to worry about not having enough to eat. So I want to live here rather than in the United States!” Cam firmly stated that he is now the owner of a coffee house, a freelance photographer, and a dad. A man of many trades. “Although busy, I’m really quite satisfied” Cam laughingly expressed.
Regardless of rain or shine and waking up to a seemingly identical day, rest assured that today will be a little different than yesterday. A mundane existence can be escaped. Cam had the courage to step out of his comfort circle and embark on a life-changing journey. “When I first came to Taitung, my Chinese was not good, but the people here were still very welcoming. Once I was eating alone, and a person treated me to a beer and invited me to have lunch with them. Someone once stated, “In warm weather, there are warm people.” “I really find a lot of truth in that statement.” Perhaps there is a slight relationship between the warmth of the people in Taitung and the warm climate. Our interview took place on a hot and sunny afternoon. It served as a reminder for Cam of the warm heartfelt experiences encountered throughout his time in Taitung. “I once forgot a very expensive camera at a bar. After four days I went back and looked for it. The camera was still there. The store held onto it for me and waited for me to return,” Cam reminisced. Cam continued, “If this has occurred in another place, I may have never gotten it back. Safety in tourist areas is very important for foreign tourists. Taitung lets them feel at east. The people in Taitung are extremely friendly. This was my first impression.” Although Cam’s Chinese fluency was not proficient at first, through his wife’s introduction, he was able to meet friends from all over the world. He’s been able to cross the language barrier and have deep interaction with locals, making for a really wonderful life.
“In Seattle, I lived a normal life. But now life is more flexible, more colorful, and more fulfilling.” Cam thoughtfully operates the “Moonlight Sea Coffee House” on the East Coast Highway. In addition, he spends his leisure time capturing beautiful images of the mountains and the sea. The beauty and uniqueness of Taitung is one of the indispensable elements in life. From different perspectives, surprises are found in unexpected places. A broad and open land with beautiful scenery is at your fingertips. Love pulled him over 10,000km from Seattle to Taitung changing in life and future in unforeseen ways. By remaining positive, fortune and happiness will always accompany you.
The recent rainy days in Taitung have been going on for a few days, looking forward to the sunshine driving away the gloom and dampness of the room, which is really a good way to pick up good mood. For Dan Paiero who came from a country at high latitude, the passionate summer of the East is indeed a challenge, but it has not stopped him from falling in love with Taitung.
“I have been living in Taitung for seven years. I used to live in Hualien, but I like Taitung more. Hualien is really a crowded city where I feel trapped, too many people…,” Dan said. Dan grew up in the sparsely populated Northland of Canada. After he settled in Taitung, he regained the feeling of being relaxed, where he may breathe gently.
“A few years after I arrived in Taitung, I decided to live here. This is my new home!” During the seven years staying in Taitung, which is quite a long period, Dan used to teach English in an English cram school. In the leisure time, he loved painting, taking pictures everywhere in the mountains or by the sea. Also, he has a strong interest in aboriginal culture. The mountains and hills, as well as the blue sea in Taitung, make him fall in love with this natural land deeply.
“People in Taitung are very easygoing, and it is really relaxing to get along with them!” Dan recalled that he had traveled to Japan once, and the Japanese people who he had contacted him were more serious and uptight. After that, when he returned to Taipei and then Hualien, the feeling of relaxation came to him, and until he came to Taitung, he felt completely relieved. As for Taitung’s unique warm hospitality, Dan seems to have special and deep feeling. He loves photography, so he often stands on the side of road to take pictures. He often meets enthusiastic people to ask him, “Do you need help?”, “Do you need help to guide the direction?” It is really interesting to be mistaken as a tourist. He smiled and talked about his experience five years ago. At that time, he was driving near Dawu. He only had a camera but no ID, and a police car happened to stop him. “At that moment, it was terrible because I didn’t have any document with any ID…” While I was annoyed, a police officer came over and said that he was driving too fast, and then he returned to his car to take out a bottle of sunscreen, and said to Dan, “The sun is boiling, and this sunscreen may prevent sunburn!” At the moment, he felt very touched. “There is no police officer who may do this in other places of the world, ” Dan said. People here simply only try to help people, and do not ask for any return. This is one of the most precious features of Taitung.
Through the photographic lens, Dan presented different perspectives of Taitung’s aboriginal people and folk customs. “I participated in several harvest festivals of tribes, in which mostly I just stood aside watching and taking photos. However, once I went into join them, sing and dance with them, at that moment, I really understood the spirit of the Harvest Festival!” When he joined the tribe as a participant instead of a tourist, he truly understood the sacredness and importance of this annual celebration for the aborigines.”Firecrackers at Master Han Dan is another unique feature of Taitung. I think it is very cool!” Every Lantern Festival in Taitung, he would specially take pictures of the spectacular event of Firecrackers at Master Han Dan. “For me, it is a shock that may not be described by words, but with photos, I may tell this story. There are smoke, explosions, and shocking feelings…” After collecting a large number of photos, Dan published a photography book with the theme of Han Dan, hoping to bring this Taitung folk customs which brought him great impact to more foreigners.
After describing so many fascinating features of Taitung, Dan can’t help but praise the efforts of Taitung in internationalization for the past seven years, which tried to let more foreigners meet the beauty of Taitung, and the popularity of English in Taitung is better and better year after year. He also suggested that information such as the Aboriginal Harvest Festival may be bilingualism, so that the foreigners who are interested in the aboriginal culture may also obtain the related information.
“I enjoy living in Taitung. The more I stay here with open mind, the deeper I understand the charming parts of Taitung!” said Dan. Although there are little annoying things bothering our life occasionally, with love and expectation, every day in Taitung will be satisfying!
There are always going to be shops in every region that requires guests to queue before entering. Uncle Pete’s Pizza in Taitung is no exception. Specializing in pizza, is one of the Taitung’s cuisines that have been repeatedly reported on the Internet.
Before actually meeting the owner of Uncle Pete’s Pizza, he was originally expected to be an old man with a blushing face. Unexpectedly, a boy full of vitality actually appeared, and because he was a few minutes late, he immediately apologized. “I just dropped my children off at school in Donghe, so I am a little late,” he says. His words are soft, and his smile is particularly bright. This image is really difficult to associate with him.
When he arrived in Taiwan in 1999, he had just graduated from college and watched his friends around him having learnt two or three foreign languages. He also wanted to learn a second language, which is why he decided to come to Taiwan to learn Chinese. “Taiwan is a tropical island. In addition to learning Chinese, I should also be able to play surf!” he explains. From his answer, one can guess that Pete is probably interested in surfing. He did not expect to settle on the east coast.
When he first arrived in Taiwan, Pete had originally lived in Taichung. He once went on a trip with friends around the island by motorcycle. He saw the beautiful coastline and the magnificent mountainous scenery along the way, and was particularly impressed by Taitung. In fact, when asked why he chose to stay in Tatung, he said it was because of his wife. Pete and his other half taught English. Once their relationship was established, they chose to settle in Taitung.Pete majored in art at university, which explains the several painting up on display in his pizzeria. During his stay in Taiwan, Pete obtained a master’s degree. After graduating, he returned to Taitung where he wanted to go and teach in National Taitung University. There were no suitable positions at that time. “Since there was no work, we decided to open a gallery, and then sell pizza in the gallery to see if we can attract people. We did not expect pizzas to sell better than the painting!” says Pete. He couldn’t help but smile, and felt that life was so wonderful that things went so far in unexpected places. He never imagined that his pizza would become so popular in Taitung.
In actual fact, he experienced one of the biggest crisis during the opening of the store. It happened to be a misunderstanding with a customer due to bad communication. It made the local news. “If a customer wants to make an order over the phone, we will prepare the pizza first. The pizza will then enter the oven immediately after they arrive, and they will then have to wait 3 to 5 minutes. There was indeed a misunderstanding caused by bad communication that one time,” he says. When thinking about the incident, Pete feels that he should communicate more closely with the customer. The taste and temperature of the pizza will be just right when they taste the pizza. This is why he chooses this method of preparation. After that incident, many people came to support him. Pete said that some people pass through the shop to support him, while others specifically come there to encourage him. This is what he thinks makes the people of Taitung so lovely. This is the power that allowed Pete to stick with it during that period and continue to provide customers with his delicious pizzas.
During more than a decade in Taitung, Pete explains that many foreign friends saw that is business was thriving in Taitung, so they followed suit to also do business in Taitung. They didn’t know where to start, so they came to him for advice. “If there was a service for providing industry consultations for advice in Taitung, what would be great!” he suggests. He also hopes that more foreigners who love Taitung can settle here, and bring about the integration and exchange of diverse cultures, and inject more vitality into Taitung!
It can be said that it is fate or it is destiny. The obscured puzzle pieces of life always clear through brave attempts and adventures. “Before the idea of starting a business, the name of Flight Café came to my mind!” said Miss Fu-Chang with a soft, gentle voice accompanied by a sweet smile. Miss Fu-Chang recalls the journey of her initial dream. After working in Taipei for five years she was told to check out Taitung by her father. He had once taken a trip around Taiwan and liked Taitung very much. Then, after a few visits to Taitung, she decided to leave her job in Taipei and settle in Taitung.
The layout of the Flight Café is touched by simple and bright decorations. It has a unique and warm Japanese Zakka style, which echoes the owner’s temperament. However, in this small shop where Fu-Chang achieved her dream, she also encountered difficulties. “Typhoon Nepartak caused serious damage to the coffee shop, so we moved to this place now!” Not defeated by the typhoon, Fu-Chang found the right place with the help of her partners and friends, and strives to regenerate Flight Café. “I do what I like, so I feel happy even if I work hard!” Fu-chang fully exhibits the delicate and introverted character of the Japanese. Whether she runs her own business, or lives in Taitung, she is always optimistic. This is the main reason why she always sticks to her ideals.
Of the foreigners living in Taitung, there are few Japanese. Thus, Fu-Chang does not have many Japanese friends in Taitung. In her free time, she likes to make natural handmade soaps at home, or research recipes to add to her shop. “When Japanese friends come to visit, where I take them depends on whether they like mountains or the sea. No matter their preference, Taitung has a place for everyone,” Fu-Chang added. “If you want to enjoy coffee and gazing at the Pacific, take your friends to Jinzun. If you like sparsely populated places, Douli is a place worthy of introduction. If you want to see magnificent oceanscape, you should go to Sanxiantai.” In addition to introducing the natural scenery of Taitung to her Japanese friends, Fu-Chang also goes into the tribal villages to attend the Harvest Festivals. “I really like Indigenous celebrations and I am very interested in their traditional attire. My dad likes to take a bus to Hualien and Taitung. He also likes to fish, so I sometimes take him, too. But we never catch any fish,” she says with a smile.
“The feeling of Taitung is actually similar to the Japanese countryside.
Some people are very kind and shy. There are also enthusiastic and lively people. I hope that Taitung can have more unique products and local cuisine, so that my friends who come to visit can bring them back to Japan and share them,” she said. Although she misses home occasionally, she doesn’t give any thought to returning to Tokyo anymore. Instead, Fu-Chang hopes to introduce Taitung to her Japanese friends. She hopes that the people of Taitung can also care more about it and maintain a pure and natural landscape together – allowing Taitung’s most precious assets to be sustained. With the support of her parents, Fu-Chang came to Taitung to make her dream come alive. She also deeply loves the comfortable life in Taitung, which fully proves that Taitung is not only a place for long stay, but also a place to cultivate hopes and realize dreams!
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. —Aristotle”
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. The full sense of happiness is only present in the individual’s mind, manifested from the inside out, and practiced in the ordinary life.
Jeff Pike was born in Georgia, and was previously a teacher in Hawaii. After attending an event, he met friends from Taiwan. It was then that he began an adventure in Asia and traveled through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and finally, Taitung. You can clearly feel the magnetic power of simple happiness when around Jeff, and it continues to influence and expand outwards. In the process of talking and interacting with him, the people around him are immediately contaminated with this joyous atmosphere.
The first time I saw Jeff was in November 2016, an open-mic concert for foreigners held at the Governor’s Mansion on a sunny afternoon. His bandanna and hippie style is impressive, as well as his cheerful smile and brilliant wooden flute performance. These are what are unforgettable about him.
“Taitung feels like Hawaii and it’s very comfortable. It reminds me of the time I used to live there!” says Jeff as he picks up a mug with the map of Hawaii printed on it. He happily points out the location on the small map. Kauai, where he once lived (Kauai is translated as “cute island” in Chinese). He adds that the mountains there directly extend into the sea. The scenery along the coast of Taitung, especially near Donghe, is very similar to Kauai. The enchanting mountains of Taitung, the magnificent sea views, the relaxed atmosphere and the fresh air all make him feel like he is living in Hawaii.
Jeff continues to teach in Taitung, and started teaching in private schools in the beginning. Now he is an English instructor at the junior high schools of Donghe and Beinan. “The children in Taitung are very cute. Although there is a huge gap between the English level of the kids, I like the way of teaching very much here,” Jeff laughs. Although he has lived in Taitung for more than six years, he still cannot communicate in Chinese. Therefore, his students must speak with him in English, which helps them learn English more quickly. Earlier this year, Jeff and seven other foreign teachers jointly held a fully-immersive English winter mountain camp for kids in Taitung. They led a group of children for a three-day outdoor excursion to experience an American-style English camp, and allow the children to learn the language in a natural way. Although it takes time and effort to hold such an event, the happiness associated with children is the most precious and priceless reward one can get.In addition to Taitung, Jeff has also lived in Taipei and Kaohsiung for a short period of time. He said that even though the big cities have the convenience and diverse lifestyle that Taitung does not have, the unique scenery and fresh air here are not exchangeable for money.Forest Park Lake swim, Biking beside the ocean, Home sweet home Taitung. —Jeff Pike
Using this short English poem, Jeff had done his best in the ordinary life of Taitung. Home is where the heart is, as far as he is concerned.
Kauai Island, Hawaii: Kauai (English: Kauai, Hawaiian: Kauaʻi, or translated as “Cute Island” in Chinese), is the fourth largest island of of the middle Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is under the jurisdiction of Kauai County, Hawaii, USA. The entire island has an area of 1,430.4 square kilometers and a population of 58,303 (statistics in 2000). Kauai is a volcanic island. The highest point on the island is Kawaikini (1,598 meters above sea level) and the second highest is Mount Waiʻaleʻale (1,570 meters above sea level). Kauai is located on the northwestern island of Oahu, and the islands are separated by the 170 km wide Kauaʻi Channel. Kauai was one of the last islands to join the Kingdom of Hawaii. Its chiefs did not surrender to Kamehameha the Great until 1810. Kauai is located on the northernmost tip of several large islands in Hawaii and is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands. According to legend, the original god of Hawaii was living there. This island is also called the “garden island”. Kauai is considered by many to have the most lush vegetation and the most distinctive natural scenery. The outdoor sports here are unparalleled. You can take the kayak over the majestic volcanic cliffs on the Na Pali coast, ride horses through the park, or witness the amazing scenery of Kauai in a helicopter. No matter what way you choose to explore Kauai, you will experience beautiful scenery and unique plant species and birds.
Fede － Dulan Cape Café
「”The first thing that attracted me was the wind.” Fede says firmly. There are many reasons that attract foreigners to stay in Taitung, such as the verdant mountains, clean ocean, beautiful scenery, and warmness of the people. However, it seems that Fede was the first one who chose to stay here because of the northeast monsoons in Taitung.
Dulan Cape Café , a prestigious coffee shop which can easilty be found on the Internet, is currently run by Fede. Having short golden hair, it is difficult not to see him in the shop. “I was born in Argentina and moved to Spain when I was one year old. However, my nationality is Italian. I have been in Taitung for more than two years,” Fede says with a smile. It’s hard to tell exactly where Fede comes from. Fede only had a short stay when he visited Taitung for the first time. However, he decided to stay permanently after his subsequent three-month working exchange gig in Dulan. He speaks fluent Chinese and has managed his coffee shop well. For most of the local people, he has become a true native.
“My job is a summer job. I used to work in Spain, New Zealand, Australia, and other countries.” The experience of traveling to many countries is usually an enviable lifestyle that everyone admires. However, for Fede, it began to feel tiring after five years of work. “I don’t like over-exploited seasides. When I came to Taitung, I felt the east coast is empty. By walking along the Suhua Highway and the road against east coast from Hualien to Taitung, I rarely saw any water activities in progress. The coast is amazing so that I thought I should give it a try!” he adds. Recalling his first impression of moving to Taitung, for the first time he had a sense of belonging after working in various countries. It was then that he began to find ways to stay in Taitung.
In the beginning, Fede’s goal was not to open a café, but rather to develop water activities in Taitung. “The situation in Taiwan is that everyone loves to eat, but people are afraid of the water. They love Spanish food, but there is no one wants to participate in water activities,” he says. After a few days of observation, he came to this conclusion. Soon after, he met Feng though a friend, who gave him the inspiration to realize his dream of staying in Taitung by running a coffee shop. “Feng is a legendary person. Because of their meeting, he found out that they have a consistent business philosophy,” he says. With his assistance, Cape Café has grown from scratch to the popular coffee shop it is today. As soon as the shop opens, it is always full of people,” he jokes. In the beginning, friend were not optimistic about the fact that he wanted to open a coffee shop in its current location. They told him that most restaurants in Dulan are open on the main road, and the location of Dulan Cape Café is extremely remote. “I didn’t put out any advertisements. The first guests heard about it through friends, and listened to other people. Some also got lost on their way. Then there were bloggers, and then TV shows. The business got better and better!”
After successfully running Dulan Cape Café, Fede began planning to teach windsurfing. “Surfing has developed very well in Taitung. I hope to promote other safe water activities. I hope I can see that there are a lot of people who will take part in windsurfing in Taitung in a few years,” he says. Sailing is a healthy and pollution-free activity that will not affect marine ecology. Fede then mentions the unique northeast monsoons of Taitung. “The wind here is strong and stable. Winter and summer have different wind types. Summer is more suitable for beginners to learn surfing, windsurfing and sailing, whereas winter is suitable for people with a higher level.” Fede also reminded that the development of the tourism industry should be careful. “For example, the current problem in Barcelona is that there are too many tourists. Every day, people protest that housing prices are getting higher, traffic is chaotic, and tourists are sometimes messy and impolite. An excessive number of tourists have caused local residents to suffer!” Fede does not want Taitung to become a noisy and crowded place, but rather a city that is worth visiting again and again. As long as Taitung can continue preserving its purity and nature, more people in the future will see the beauty of Taitung.
In addition to the beautiful mountains and oceans, one of the most internationally recognized activities in Taitung in recent years is surfing. Since the east coast has became a surfer’s paradise, it has attracted surfers from around the world. Jun, a surfer from Tokyo, Japan, who not only went to Taitung to surf, but also fell in love with a local girl from the Bunon Tribe girl. He decided to settle down in Taitung and contribute his talents to his favorite place.
Before coming to Taitung, Jun was originally a guitarist and singer at a pub in Tokyo. He was specialized in singing and playing the guitar. He liked the management methods and ideas of the Bunun tribe. It was then when he set out to assist the Bunun tribe in building a Japanese language website and editing Japanese catalogues. After a long period in the tribe, Jun discovered that not only would Japanese tourists come to visit the tribe, but there were also numerous researchers who were engaged in academic work that came. Jun even helped several “Wansei” (Japanese who were born in Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule) who came to Taiwan to settle down in their 80s. After contacting and understanding the touching stories of these Japanese elders, he developed a deeper feeling about this place.
But why did he choose Taitung?
“Because the people are nice and the scenery is beautiful, and I just like everything about Taitung!” he says with a typical Japanese accent. Jun goes on to describe his indescribable love for Taitung in a simple and direct way.
Talking about Jun’s favorite activity, surfing, his eyes suddenly glitter. “All the waves that are suitable for surfing around the world are naturally formed, and are not artificial!” he says. Since he is familiar with all the waves along the east coast, he likes to bring surfers to various less wellknown places that only he knows about. It is because of this that these players are able to fully perform their surfing skills. Japanese surfers in particular like to stay at Jun’s bed and breakfast. About three to four hundred Japanese surfers come to Taitung each year, especially when the northeast monsoon blows in. It is also the main reason that attracts various professional surfers to the beach. To be the first one running a surfing B&B in Donghe, Jun admits that to promote surfing was not easy. Everything was difficult at the beginning. No one knew how to surf here, so it was difficult to promote it. It was difficult to start a business in Taitung in the early days, but he moved on with persistence.
According to Jun, Taiwan is a maritime country, but compared to Japanese children, it seems that very little Taiwanese children can swim. With this in mind, the Taitung County Surfing Association and Jun began to develop a deep-rooted action project three years ago. The project hoped that the children of Taitung would be able to enjoy themselves in the ocean and peacefully coexist with nature. As the courses began in the summer vacations, children were taught swimming, skateboarding, environmental education, and local ecological activities. “I also created two songs and taught children to sing this year, and the children had their own performance at Tiehua Village!” he announces. Because of his love for Taitung, he knows well that these young seedlings will live and grow up here in the future. By watching them learn and grow from the curriculum, he feels satisfied that he can return the favor in the way of natural education. The enthusiasm of the people and the natural beauty of Taitung are the most precious assets in Taitung, according to Jun. With every step he has made so far, he has transformed into the power the motivation over the past 13 years. This is why he is able to give more to Taitung and take care of this land with real actions.
Mark – A surfing coach from New Zealand.
The 2017 Taiwan Open of Surfing came to an end on December 3 in Jinzun, Taitung. It was the 7th consecutive international surfing competition held in Taitung. In addition, the highlight of this big event was the new birth of the WSL World Longboard Championships. The World Longboard Surfing Championships was first held in Taiwan with the highest level of competitions ever since. Jinzun Harbor has brought surfers from all over the world together, and gives competitors a platform to put on their best perfomance.
The big surfing event held in Taitung was such a pleasure for Mark. Mark is a professional surfing coach from New Zealand and currently teaches surfing in Taitung. It goes without saying that he loves surfing. “There are many young people in Donghe Township who are surfing quite well. If they can be professionally trained, they will be able to represent Taiwan to join international surfing competitions in the future and make a reat mark!” says Mark. After a long period of observation on the eastern coast, Mark believes that Taitung can bet on local resources to explore and cultivate local surfing talent. After all, according to Mark, Taitung boasts the best surfing conditions.
In 2002, when Mark finished his business trip in Taipei, he suddenly got the urge to visit Taitung. A place where he heard has a beautiful coastline, is sparsely populated, and pure countryside. It was then when he cycled from Taipei to Hualien, and then all the way down to Taitung, His first trip in Taitung lasted 2 weeks long. “There were no backpackers, no bed and breakfasts, no surf shops, and no surfers at the beach. But it was easy to make friends!” he says. “Because at that time, everyone was not busy making money,” he adds with a laugh. Remembering his initial encounter with Taitung, his heart still has a warm feeling. Soon after, he met his wife, Kite, and established a strong, authentic link with this land.
After a brief stay in Taitung, he started traveling between Shanghai, Hong Kong and back to Taiwan again and again. His two children were born one after another, but he rarely had time to spend with his family. Mark began to ponder if such a busy life was exactly what he wanted. Finally, between New Zealand and settling in Taitung as their choices, the couple decided to move to Taitung and settle down. “The most important thing was to let the children learn Chinese. Taitung is a great place to live, with nice public security and the people here are also very friendly.” Of course, he did not forget his favorite sport, surfing. While teaching English in Taitung, he also teaches surfing and planting vegetables, flowers, or herbs on his own farmland by using permaculture methods. Mark always enjoys what he was doing. “Surfing is seasonal. Summer is the perfect time for surfing. However, there are fewer surfing classes in winter. I want to run my own farmland by continuing my mother’s methods of growing Western herbs in New Zealand, and living a life that is close to nature”, Mark says.
From 2002 to the present, Mark has witnessed the transformation of Taitung. “There are many national competitions in Taitung now, as well as B&Bs and restaurants which are also blooming. There were not many business activities here before when we first moved to Taitung. At that time, making money was such a headache!” Mark feels optimistic about the increasing internationalization of Taitung, but also thinks it is a big challenge. To be more specific, how can the correct model be used to develop Taitung in the future, so that many stores, B&Bs and others can make profits from the tourism industry without becoming overly commercialized, and protecting the natural resources of Taitung at the same time? The delicate balance between commercialization and protection will be the key factor that affects whether Taitung will continue to attract foreign tourists or not.
“In addition, education is also a very important component. With a good education, children will want to stay and attract even more people to settle down here,” says Mark. After moving to Taitung, Mark has had a lot of time with his children. Moreover, both his boys have learned how to surf. “Unfortunately, only one primary school in Taitung has a swimming pool. It would be better if there were more swimming pools!” Mark’s has endless expectations because he fullheartedly loves this land, and educatioon is no doubt something he cares deeply about. What he wants is to teach his children to respect the core value of the land, and to live in harmony with nature. So let Taitung continue to maintain its beauty and harmony, and at the same time, allow more people to discover the unique charm of Taitung.
“It’s really hard to live in Taitung!” says Miss Masako Morishita from Japan. By looking at the glass of tea on the table condensed into droplets as if sweat gradually fall from the surface, I broke out in a cold sweat from her words. “But now I really like Taitung!” she says with a ight smile. You could fully feel the unique gentle temperament of a Japanese woman from Masako Morishita.
Through the introduction of her classmate, she was acquainted with her now husband who lives in Chenggong. While they were still dating, they once traveled to Chenggong. At that time, she felt there was absolutely no way she would get married. However, she was impressed by his sincerity and efforts, so she decided to marry him him and start a family together in Taiwan. “I couldn’t get used to the life in Taiwan in the beginning. It was hard!” she says. Growing up in Osaka, Japan, the hustle-and-bustle of the city, and convenient lifestyle are a matter of course. When she moved away, she couldn’t find the taste of her hometown in Taitung, which caused anxiety for her while she was trying to adapt to her new environment. “There were no convenience stores in Chenggong fifteen years ago when we got marrried. The first stored opened on Zhonghua Rd, but you couldn’t find any goods from Japan for sure.” she says. Occasionally, she saw Onigiri being sold in-store, which made her think of her hometown. Instead of it making her happy, it still did not embody the hometown taste that she longed for. It brought her to tears. Fortunately, she was very fond of the fruits in Taitung and was constantly eating them. Finally, her nostalgia was solved owing to her husband who took her to Kaohsiung to purchase Japanese goods.
Initially, Masako couldn’t feel the joy of life in Taitung. Not being able to accustom herself to the local food, coupled with the language barrier, it was then when Masako’s husband encouraged her to teach classical ballet to the kids in Chenggong. Miraculously, it was her group of students that opened her heart. “In the beginning, there were problems, such as the language barrier and my closed mind. My husband would help me translate sentence by sentence, and that is how we started.” she recalls. What started with a reluctant mind gradually turned into a pleasant atmosphere with the children. The support and recognition from the kids and their parents made her feel better. Masako even held a classical ballet premiere every year for the students, which gave them a perfect stage to express their achievements. “That was the affirmation of the children. The shows were combined with the costumes, stage design, sound control etc. I was also very moved that all parents who took part in it were also very helpful!”
As if seeing the dawn, Masako even feels that the purpose of coming to Chenggong was to meet these kids. From this point of view, the hard work of adapting to Taitung over the past 10 years doesn’t seem to bother her anymore. “ I couldn’t really accept the people of Taiwan in the beginning, I couldn’t get used to their hospitality. But I’ve changed a lot.” In Japanese culture, visitors will first inform the host before they visit. However, it seems not to be the case in the warm countryside of Taitung. Neighbors will come by and chat whenever they want to. She struggled to adapt to their hospitality and enthusiasism for a long time.
Her understanding of Taiwanese hospitality began two years ago when the Japanese filmmaker, Atsuko Sakai, came to Chenggong to film and filmed Taiwan Bansai, a documentary about Taiwan. Atsuko would occasionally visit Masako, and shared with her some local stories. Gradually, she understood that the Taiwanese people’s personalities, ideas and enthusiasm are developed into its own characteristics. With this in-depth understanding of those local stories, Masako was for the first time really able to establish relationships with the locals. Her heart was no longer struggling and resisting as she began to enjoy her life in Taitung.
“When I go back to Japan, I sometimes bring back a special bag which is made in Taitung as a souvenir. My friends all really like it!” says Masako. There is a special bag mixed with blue, green, and red colors which is sold in the traditional markets in Taitung. To my curiosity, I checked it online and found out that is the hot sale in Taiwan called Ga Ji La in Taiwan currently. No one expected a common bag in Taiwan to actually become a popular souvenir in Japan.From her resistance to acceptance, it seems like destiny for Masako to have come to Chenggong, and to have the opportunity to meet a group of lovely children, and teach them how to do dance. Furthermore, in 2016, she also turned her love into real action which contributed to her language skills. She helped to promote the academic exchange of Sagakenritsu High School in Japan and National Chenggong Commercial and Aquaculture Senior Vocational High School. Her moves not only urged the children have more worldviews, but also showed them a broader sky to explore. “After all, I am here because of these kids!” Masako says with a confident and happy smile.
Simon Foster & Tot Foster
It was the summer of 2017 when the bright sun, which shines down on Provincial Highway 11 along the beautiful coast of Taitung, led the mist in the Coastal Mountain Range to call upon a small family from the UK to settle in Chenggong Township.
Simon and Tot Foster, a married couple from the UK, along with their two daughters live in a small village not too far from downtown Chenggong Township. Compared with the low temperatures and diluted sunshine of Europe, the abundant sunshine and year-round warmth of Taitung brings limitless joy to those who are fortunate enough to live there. It was just past noon when I arrived at their home, just as everyone was escaping the summer heat indoors. Tot, who was clearly unfazed by the heat, was waiting patiently for me outside her home with a bottle of Coke in her hand.
Although they have been staying for a long time in Taiwan, it was only two years ago when they made the move from Kaohsiung to Taitung. When asked why they chose Taitung, she didn’t need any time to think of her answer. “I love the cleanliness, peacefulness, and natural scenery of Taitung, as well as the slow pace of life. The beautiful beaches are just amazing!” says Tot with an energetic smile on her face.
Sasha, the eldest of the two daughters, is a first-grader at Chenggong Elementary School. Being the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed student in her class, she attracted a lot of attention when she first arrived. “There aren’t many foreigners here, so when we moved here, many locals would drive up to our home and stare at us.”
As time went by, the neighbors’ curiosity transformed into familiarity. They have even made friends with locals, and often exchange kitchen ideas. The girls’ have become accustomed to the local cuisine, with Sasha exclaiming the school cook’s food is better than her mother’s. Tot is hesitant to say it, but her daughters prefer eastern cuisine. They have adapted well at school, and have become friends with their classmates. After asking Sasha what she likes most about Taitung, she replies with big blue eyes that Sanxiantai, the hot springs, Donghe steamed buns and the beach all top her list. It was then when she went to get her bicycle to go visit her neighbor.
Tot’s husband, Simon, is a travel writer. He is the author of The Rough Guide to Taiwan, an English travel guide. He enjoys traveling around Taiwan. He and his wife do not live in downtown Taitung City, rather they chose Chenggong, a quiet and harmonious countryside township north of Taitung City, and situated between the mountains and the sea. For Simon, this is the place where he can continue creating his works. “Taitung’s characteristics are worthwhile to introduce to foreigners. For example, the Harvest Festival is a great hit!” he says. Tot adds that her friends want to attend the Harvest Festival, and are interested in Aboriginal clothing, song and dance, and cuisine. However, there is not a lot of available English information about this festival. If there was more English information online, more foreigners would come and take part.
Toward the end of this interview, their other daughter, Molly, appeared. Although she was shy to begin with, there was still a big smile on her face as she was jumping up and down chasing her neighborhood friend. “ To live here is a blessing. I am happy to raise my two children here!” says Tot while watching her youngest daughter play. This small family living a low-key, happy life in Chenggong, and satisfied with the beauty and harmony of Taitung, they praise Taitung for its uniqueness. Can you feel the happiness that the people of Taitung experience on a daily basis?
Amir Habib Shaikh
Wearing different clothes such as turban and hijab, Muslims are mysterious for most of the people whose understanding might be influenced by the news or movies. Even though the worldwide Muslim population has reached 1.7 billion, Taiwan residents still seem out of touch with it as something of the distant Middle East.
Despite a difference in religion and lifestyle, a Muslim couple quietly moved to Taitung, dedicating themselves to everything here. As Amir Habib Shaikh stated, “The kids here in Taitung are adorable, so we decided to move here to help them to our best capacity!”
Amir Habib Shaikh has spent over fifteen years living in Taiwan. Before getting married to his Taiwanese wife, he was doing business related to electronic components procurement.
However, after their marriage and traveling back and forth between Pakistan and Taiwan, they ended up deciding to live in northern Taiwan. Upon a family trip to Taitung, the serenity and gorgeous scenery left them with a great impression. The encounter and interaction with the indigenous children in the tribal villages made them decide to move to Taitung – the garden of Taiwan. Besides enjoying the serene life here, Amir Habib Shaikh continuing to teach English to the children in the tribal villages has been a huge appeal for him.
The Muslim population in Taitung is low, as the diet and lifestyle are incredibly different from most of the people. “We have to follow Salah every day and are forbidden to eat pork or drink alcohol. These are the basic rules to follow as a Muslim,” explained Amir Habib Shaikh. After moving from Taipei to Taitung, a friend in Taipei suggested that he should prepare some meals suitable for Muslim tourists traveling in Taitung as there weren’t any restaurants in Taitung possessing the Halal Certification(1).
He heard that most Muslim tourists bring eggs or ration bars to eat while visiting Taitung.
While starting to prepare lunch boxes catered towards Muslims, tourists gradually became more familiar with their establishment. People recommended that they open a Muslim restaurant with a Muslim Prayer Room. “For every Muslim, a mosque is like a home providing a feeling of peace for performing Salah,” said Amir Habib Shaik.
There are lots of churches and temples in Taitung; however, there aren’t any mosques, which is a disadvantage for popularizing Muslim tourism in Taitung. Therefore, they opened a restaurant on Provincial Highway No.9 that sells Halal food. Muslim tourists can travel around Taitung without worrying about their diet as they can enjoy the local Halal cuisine.
In addition to taking care of the children in remote tribal villages, Amir Habib Shaikh and his wife wish to build a platform for selling Halal certified products from Taitung to the halal market – a market which is worth one hundred billion US dollars. Setting up this platform will allow Islamic countries in the Middle East and South-east Asia to see the high quality products of Taitung.
Amir Habib Shaikh considers Taitung to be warm and hospitable city. In fact, he has many Muslim friends who would like to live here but are deterred because Taitung lacks a mosque. Unlike performing Salah which can easily be done at home, most Muslim tourists are unable to let their soul find peace without a mosque – decreasing their willingness to visit Taitung. “If a unique mosque was built along the beautiful East coast in Taiwan, it would definitely boost the tourism in Taitung!” said Amir Habib Shaikh with excitement in his eyes. He hopes that by making improvements to the hospitality industry of Taitung, it will create a new wave of Muslim tourists and allow Muslim from around the world to experience the warmth and friendliness of Taitung.
(1)Halal Certification is the recognition that the certified products adhere to Islamic law. These products are thus permissible for eating, drinking or using by Muslims. For products that are consumed or touched by Muslim, it is necessary to trace the source, ranging from raw material to product handling. This includes factory facilities, manufacturing machinery, packaging, storage, logistics, and even the retail stores – all of these must be consistent with the doctrine.
Flying… It is one of the longest and deepest desires of the heart. Piloting a plane from take-off to landing and feeling the high-speed sprint of being separate from gravity is fascinating for most people. The first flight training center approved by the Taiwan Civil Aviation Authority was established in Taitung, the lush, green county with blue skies.
“If you want to be a pilot, you can choose to either complete your training abroad or here. You can then fulfill your dream of flying!” says Lorenzo Salvadore confidently, as if he could actually read every mind of those who dream of flying. Lorenzo was born in Milan, Italy, a city renowned for fashion and design. Since he often flew between European countries with his parents as a child, he has always had the dream of being a pilot. And now, he has become an experienced flight instructor.
Lorenzo has been working and living in Taitung for about two years. He is well aware of where to go to eat and where to have fun in Taitung. “I really like Fugang Fishing Port, which has the freshest seafood, as well as Changbin Township, which is also beautiful. Whenever I have a vacation, I just want to run to the beach!” he says passionately referencing several beaches. As soon as Lorenzo finished his introduction of the beaches in Taitung, he began talking about the mountains he likes to go to. “I love Luye, which has beautiful tea gardens and grand pineapples fields. I would also like to try the paragliding there, but I haven’t yet. I’ve tried the hot air balloons in Luye, but found it quite boring as it was too slow for me,” he adds with a laugh. Probably only pilots are qualified to say that riding a hot air balloon is boring!
There was a constant smile on his face as he continued to describe his experience of living in Taitung for two years. He demonstrated that he is delighted with his life here and that Taitung is truly a beautiful place to live. But his first impression of Taitung was not like this. On his way to Taitung for the first time, he remembers looking down on Taitung from the airplane and thinking to himself that it is a desolate, countryside place. Fortunately, Lorenzo is not one to judge a book by the cover. He remembers telling himself that no matter what, he will try his best to immerse himself into the life of Taitung.
Lorenzo is impressed with the changes he has experienced in Taitung over the last two years. “Two years ago, there were not many foreign tourists in Taitung. But now there are more and more people that know about this beautiful place. Taitung County Government has been working hard to market Taitung internationally. For example, the English marketing video clips that were created are magnificent, and really moving,” he says. However, he still thinks there is room for improvement. “There is little English information about renting and buying houses. I personally experienced this problem in the beginning.” Through his experience, he gives practical and valuable advice.
“If possible, I would like to continue living here,” he says. In comparison to the crowds and busy lifestyle of the big cities, Lorenzo feels that he is extremely fortunate to live in Taitung. Taitung’s leisure and comfort, coupled with its purity and nature, has allowed him to have a good quality of life. Although Taitung might not look like much from a quick glance, the daily life and richness of Taitung is extraordinary.
If one was to ask 100 people to describe Taitung in 100 ways, the last word that would come to mind is “luxurious”. However, owner of French restaurant Dulan Crap, which situated in the heart of Dulan Village, precisely uses this word to describe Taitung.
When he first arrived in Taiwan, Patrick was living a busy life in Taipei. After a while, however, his natural instincts for nature and romance kicked in, inspiring him to find a new place to settle where he can just breathe. It took one trip around Taiwan with his wife, Ru-Jun, to decide that Dulan, Taitung would be their new home.
Why didn’t they choose Hualien? After all, life in Hualien is considered to be more convenient than Taitung. “We hadn’t even gotten to Hualien yet, and he was already sure!” says Ru-Jun, without giving Patrick a chance to answer. During the entire interview, besides getting a better understanding of why this chef from northern France loves Taitung so much, the atmosphere was relaxing and entertaining, in particular the cute squabbling between husband and wife. It was clear that this unusual French-Nepalese pairing, which chose to settle on the east coast of Taiwan, didn’t anticipate that their destiny would be this wonderful.
“Look! Look! There are beautiful mountains right outside our door, and the beautiful sea right outside our windows. This kind of environment is luxurious!” says Patrick. This was the first time I had heard anyone describe Taitung as luxurious. Having said that, he is correct. Where else can you find a place with mountains on one side, and the sea on the other, and not to mention a low cost of living? It is evident that only Taitung fits this criteria.
Perhaps it is his inner French romantic that stops him from worrying about how he is able to make a living by only opening from Thursday through Sunday in the evenings. “I watch many friends working hard and living a busy life just to save money to buy things and pay their bills. I don’t want to live that kind of lifestyle,” he adds. In his restaurant, with no definite opening hours, he is able to go to the market to buy food, row his kayak, and even just clean his kitchen and organize furniture which he brought over from France. This easy day-to-day lifestyle makes him happy. With Patrick preparing broccoli on the one hand, and Ru-Jun washing romaine lettuce on the other, there’s a sense of rhythm with each other, as they work non-stop to finish preparing a meal for their customers who will be arriving in thirty minutes.
After meeting their current landlord about five years ago when they arrived in Taitung, who rents to him at a reasonable rate, Patrick and Ru-Jun renovated and designed the interior all by hand from scratch, resulting in an authentic French style. “I try my best to use the freshest ingredients in my dishes, and although my Chinese is poor, I am able to communicate to my customers through my food.” Although he was speaking English during the course of the interview, his heavy French accent was still evident, and highlighted just how much he loves this piece of land. But going back to what he said in the beginning, surrounding oneself by the mountains and beautiful sea view, whilst enjoying some good food, is the ultimate luxury in life.
Located on Provincial Highway 11, Dulan Village is a renowned destination for expats to settle down and call home. Among some of them include an exquisite French chef, Dutch guitarist, and composer, as well as a French artist specializing in handicrafts. Without impacting the local traditional culture, these expats bolster the splendor and liveliness of this quaint village.
On the 10th of October 2010, a British oil painter named Tim was traveling in Taitung. Due to inclement weather and poor visibility and driving conditions, he crashed into a tree near the Sintung Sugar Factory Culture Park in Dulan – breaking his leg. This was the most severe accident that he had ever experienced. He was sent to the hospital and coincidently met his future wife, who worked as a nurse, there. Upon deciding to walk the road of life together, his status in Taiwan changed from traveler to resident, and he remained in Taitung. Tim lived in Taipei prior to ending up in Dulan.
In 2002, Tim had started traveling all around Taiwan to paint. The beautiful of Taitung left him with a lasting impression upon his first time visiting. After returning to Taipei, his memories of the beauty of the east coastline kept calling him to return, and finally, in the end, he did.
“I wanted to live a life different than one found in a big city. I really like the mountains, ocean, sun, and weather of Taitung so I knew I wanted to live here.” In an English manner, he expressed his love of Taitung with an expression of sincerity.
“I really love the people and peaceful living conditions here.”
Most artists enjoy a place where they can mull over their thoughts in serenity and tranquility as to fuel creativity and nurture inspiration. Dulan is precisely this kind of a place. Surrounded by nature, its front door opens to the expansive Pacific Ocean, imparting the peace, harmony, and positive energy of nature. Tim’s oil paintings are invigorated by this energy. His beautiful paintings feature the unique scenery of eastern Taiwan and are quite breathtaking.
Despite having lived in Taiwan for more than a decade, Tim laughed at himself that his Chinese ability hasn’t made any improvement. Tim said that gradually improving the English environment was very considerate when asked about promoting bilingualization in Taitung.
“However, as a local immigrant, I actually think foreigners should try their best to learn Chinese and adapt to the local environment.”
Different from other inflexible and boring Brits, Tim holds an optimistic attitude towards life. His paintings express the enthusiasm he has for this land. Using the Internet, he has even sought out friends to join Dulan beaches cleaning activities. Tim does not want the place he calls home to be littered with glass fragments, broken fishing net, and plastic bottles. Via FB, Tim established the “ONLY SOLUTIONS” event, which got a lot of support from local businesses, surfers, and visitors. He hopes that this event will raise awareness of sea pollution issues. Tim hopes that every foreigner, no matter whether they are a longterm expat or just arriving, is willing to put forth an effort and contribute to maintaining the cleanliness of this precious land, rather than just coming here to make some money.
“My parents live in a place in England, which is quite similar to Dulan Village. It’s called Mousehole, and it’s surrounded by clean ocean and green fields. So when my parents visited Dulan, they liked it very much!” The love that Tim feels for Dulan impressed his family in English. While visiting Tim, his parents went to many tourist attractions along the east coast. The beauty of the mountain and ocean scenery left this him a profound impression.
As to maintain the beauty of the beaches in Dulan, Tim continues to seek out like-minded individuals who hope to protect and upkeep the cleanliness of the beach. If you have time to visit Dulan and bump into a foreigner with painting tools next to the ocean or at the foot of a mountain, don’t hesitate you give him some encouragement, and thank him for his effort to help the beaches in Dulan.
Mark Jackson – WaGaLiGong Restaurant in Dulan
Sixteen years ago, a heartbroken college graduate left South Africa, crossing three time zones to arrive in Taiwan. He came to Taitung where he took root and began thriving. This opened a new chapter in his life.
With ease, Mark recalled the events of 2003 which left a deep impact on his life. “I left my wife of four years and was really sad. Having just graduated from university I didn’t have anything tying me to a life in South Africa. So, I just decided to leave.” But the world is so big, so why choose Taiwan? Mark smiled and said at that time Taiwan was about to develop nuclear energy and had a close relationship with South Africa, which produced cheap nuclear materials. His father was a nuclear scientist and often traveled between Taiwan and South Africa. In addition, his sister was working in Taiwan. He was inundated with praise about Taiwan which left his imagination filled with positive thoughts out it.
Taiwan was the first place to pop into his head during his struggling to get back on his feet. Things have changed dramatically since he arrived in Taitung.
“When I first arrived in Taiwan, I went to Tainan to meet up with one of my friends. He gave me a rickety motorcycle and encouraged take a trip around the island. He emphasized that I should definitely check out Taitung!” Mark’s eyes lit up. That was the first time he had heard about Taitung. He couldn’t constrain himself to want to know about what a special place Taitung is. Mark was on his solo road trip heading for Kenting but lost his way near Pingtung. “The local police looked out for me for about two hours and escorted me back to the main road. After all the help, they finally felt relieved enough to let me go on my way!” This experience left him with a deep impression of the enthusiasm and warmth of Taiwanese. “Taiwan is a great country!” Mark said.
Gradually, the emotional damage from his separation no longer plagued him. Not long after getting his feet wet in Taitung, he unexpectedly ran into Thomas, one of his university classmates, at a Mexican restaurant downtown. They were super excited about having met up with each other. Not thinking too much about it, Thomas immediately took Mark to the beach. Speeding along Provincial Highway 11 between Fugang and Xiaoyeliu he recalled, “There were towering coconut trees on both sides of the street. Dulan Mountain rose in the distance against the backdrop of the coastal mountain range. It was completely breathtaking. I thought it looked just like Hawaii! South Africa has a similar landscape with an amazing coastline. It’s really beautiful.”
At that time, Mark knew that Taitung was where he wanted to stay forever.
I found the residents of Taitung were incredibly interesting. There are Han Chinese, Indigenous people, and some foreigners like me. The weather is always sunny and the pace of life is slow. It not a busy place and it’s really safe. I have a daughter who is attending her first year at the junior high school in Dulan and I don’t need to worry about her walking home alone. He opened a restaurant kitty-corner to the Dulan Sugar factor called WaGaLiGong. He also setup some surfing courses. He has lived a happy life over the past decade. These characteristics are some of the factors that initially made him fascinated with Taitung.
“But…” Mark wholeheartedly retorted: “The only problem I see is the deterioration of the pristine and unpolluted environment in Taitung which is becoming more and more obvious – unlike when I first arrived.” He said that in recent years, when he takes foreign friends to the beach, that it is not a clean beach but has been replaced by a massive amount of garbage. Seeing this change has filled Mark with an infinitude of emotion. He hopes that no matter if it’s officially or privately sanctioned, that a balance can be found between the natural environment and the development of the tourism industry in order to protect the precious natural resources of Taitung. “If you love this place, you should care about it. I want to live here forever, so I hope that Taitung will get better and better!”
Mark suggested that more beach cleanup activities and fish conservation areas should be set up. “The Fushan Fish Recovery Area is doing some good work with restoration.” Stating an example, he said, “Permaculture is an increasingly popular concept in Western countries. The idea behind permaculture is coexisting peacefully with nature and an aspect that we can learn more about and promote.” Because he really loves Taitung, he has high expectations for it. The goal of an eco-friendly city and county can be marketed internationally as a form of eco-tourism. “Foreigners like this concept very much. This is also a world trend. The environment is never far away and it is an imperative topic for discussion.” Mark insisted that all residents living in Taitung should work together to protect the natural environment of Taitung so that it is still pure and beautiful even after 10, 20 or even thousands of years.
Praveen－Taitung Spice House
Settled in Taitung, Praveen Shares Indian Delicacies
For most people, in addition to having pure skies and a beautiful ocean, Taitung is still a remote place and in a relatively poor condition. However, in recent years, through the marketing and promotion of large-scale international events Taitung has moved toward the path of international development, and has attracted more and more new immigrants from different countries to settle in Taitung.
Foreigners from Europe and the Americas are a common sight in Taitung, but a face from India is particularly striking. Praveen, who moved to Taitung from Bangalore, South India, has been in Taiwan for his eighth year. “Taitung is my first and only place I settled in Taiwan,” he says.When Praveen first moved to Taitung from Bangalore, which is a crowded and bustling city of over 10 million people in south India, he felt that it was like a new world. He felt that some aspects of the lifestyle were not easily adaptable. For example, Chinese menus are everywhere. At a later stage, he tried new arrangements to enrich his life, and found that his life began to have completely different new styles and goals.
“When you are very busy, and you are in a beautiful environment like Taitung, you will feel that it is a gift from heaven. It is perfect,” Praveen explains.
In addition, when asked what is the most attractive aspect of Taitung, Praveen is quite clear. He described it as entering the time tunnel, and all the while he employed his relaxed and pleasant tone to express his deep feelings about Taitung.
He has already been making traditional Indian cuisine for four years in Taitung City. Through word of mouth, Praveen’s Indian cuisine has gradually become more popular.
“I am very serious and focused on my cooking, because Indian cuisine is different from other dishes. Not everyone can do it,” he says, referring to Indian cuisine.
Praveen’s expression suddenly became serious. He added that making Indian cuisine requires a lot of concentration, and needs considerable cooking time. Each dish showcases a unique recipe, such as which spices to add, the number of various spices, and most importantly, adding just the right amount of spices to alter the taste of the cuisine. The mix of spices is all about the accumulation of wisdom.
“Opening an Indian restaurant is not only about making a lot of money. It is about sharing Indian delicious dishes to the people of Taitung,” Praveen says.
The restaurant is currently open five days a week. When the restaurant is closed, he occasionally goes to the hot springs in Zhiben, or strolls along bicycle trails in Taitung City. Praveen likes this rhythm of life very much, and he feels this is the most comfortable lifestyle for him.
“Although I am far from my hometown in India, I am not very homesick. But when I went back to India to visit my family last year, I actually missed Taitung. It’s because I have gradually realized Taitung as my own home,” Praveen sensibly says, now that his life is now inseparable from Taitung.”I must say that when I first experienced the Lantern Festival and Bombing Lord Handan activities, I felt they were amazing,” Praveen says.
He paused for a while, and continued to explain that he believes that this special celebration has the potential to be marketed internationally. This also applies to the unique folk culture of Taitung. He has asked foreign tourists, and they found that they are deeply interested in such cultural celebrations, which cannot be replicated by other countries. The Taitung Lantern Festival celebrations are full of rich elements and visual colors. Therefore, if such traditional festivals can be enhanced and marketed internationally, the visibility of Taitung will be further heightened, and people of different nationalities will be attracted to Taitung.Praveen is busy, but calm. The rich and low-key attitude of life makes him feel full of positive energy every day. This outlook gives him the support to continue cooking delicious Indian cuisine. In addition, it allows his exotic dishes to continuously astound the Taitung people, and pushes him to share his enthusiasm with those who love this land.
“Taitung has mountains and the sea. The combination of these two elements is like being in paradise!” he said at the end of the interview.
Whether you are pursuing a pure, pollution-free quality living environment, or looking for a place to calm your mind, Taitung offers all of these to the people involved. Only those who come to this place have the opportunity to experience it.
Chubby Rabbit – Johannes Faeth
Wuling Green Tunnel from Luyeh district is sheltered with camphor trees and beef woods. It is most ideal for strolls, and the famous 2626 market is located just under this natural green tunnel. Amongst which, one of the kiosks is particularly eye-catching as you can easily smell the unique aroma of the makauy thin crust of Italian pizzas from the entrance of the market. Standing there carefully roasting pizzas is the bearded Johannes from Germany. His red face is filled with joy, making all feel like home. ‘I moved to Taitung from Taichung. Before deciding to live in Taitung, my wife and I often came travelling to the east coast for vacations.’ He said that after working and living in the busy Taichung and Taipei for a while, he often dreamt about moving to eastern Taiwan. ‘Four years ago, my dream came true. We have since then lived in Luyeh after arriving at Taitung. The longer we have lived here, the better we find the place!’ Johannes said with a smile.
The winding Tai-Chiu Line in East Rift Valley presents scenic wonders must different from that of the east coast. All you can see are paddy fields after another, turning a gradational yellowish green for paddy rice that matures at different times. With the occasional ray of sunbeam through layers of clouds, paired with high-rise mountains and peaks, you can easily find serenity and peace in the heated summer away. Johannes can see such picturesque scenery from his kitchen window on a daily basis when he cooks. ‘Luyeh is a beautiful place. It is a great community with wonderful neighbors. We stop searching for other places to live in and simply decided to reside in the area.’ From renting a house to buying one, he and his family now live in a bought house, a warm house.
From working as a digital designer to one that sales pizza and saucing, Johannes called the transition a ‘wondrous experience’. ‘At first, a friend invited us to set up a kiosk in a small market in Longtian Village. However, German cuisine is too troublesome to cook, so we sold sauces like mushroom sauce, etc.’ He never expected to receive such positive feedbacks and inquiries at first, which led the couple to start to develop sauces of more flavors. From a bottle of saucing, the couple now runs a restaurant that serves small groups on booking. ‘We receive diners just like how we received great friends. We invite diners to cook with us. From the preparation of ingredients to putting food on the table, we may exchange with one another by cooking together, and finally enjoying the table of mouth-watering dishes. This is our ideal way of providing meals for diners, and it is the way we are heading right now.’ Johannes said.
By setting kiosks at markets, they have met many people. Johannes’s favorites are his most talented neighbors. ‘My neighbors have their own organic vegetables, some roast coffee beans, and other make hand-made ice cream, etc. We often exchange food and ingredients. Everyone is friendly, and I am really happy about such a lifestyle!’ The slow pace of living gives him more time for in-depth exchanges with local residents. ‘In comparison, residents of Taitung are much ready to accept diverse cultures compared to rural areas in Germany.’ He said, ‘If someone that is obviously non-German is to move into rural areas of Germany, local residents may have to observe for a while before being willing to communicate with the out-comers.’
In terms of objective conditions, Taitung’s clean air and beautiful mountain and sea scenery welcomes every visitor to take a minute and enjoy. The warmth and satisfaction created by the passionate and friendly Taitung residents are more than enough to attract visitors to cross mountains and valleys for visits after visits. Such joint attractions are best proved by Johannes’ blueprint of his Taitung dreams.
About 2626 market:
Apart from its picturesque views, the market offers a large variety of vegetables produced by Taitung’s small famers and tribal handicrafts. To promote high-quality local products, Yong-an community of Luyeh Township along Tai-Chiu Line has organized to host the ‘Taitung 2626 market’ in the evergreen Wuling Green Tunnel. The market opens from ‘2’ o’clock to ‘6’ o’clock on Saturdays (‘6’) every ‘2’ weeks. Taking strolls along Wuling Green Tunnel, tourists may encounter organic farmers’ products such as tea, coffee, hand-made biscuits, hand-made cakes, honey products, seasonal vegetables, cultural and creative handicrafts, environmentally friendly products, healthy vinegars, hand-made soaps, etc. on casual treasure hunts.
Micha’s Kueche – German Cuisine by Julia & Michael
Daylight gradually decreases with the footsteps of the approaching autumn. Accompanied by the occasional breeze, the temperature is just right for a leisurely stroll around the city. The climate enticed Julia and Michael, who moved here two years ago, and they have fallen in love with Taitung since. Putting in a lot of heart and soul, they run a German restaurant, which provides customers an opportunity to enjoy some exquisite and traditional German cuisine.
“Michael and I were previously both office drones in Taipei. A friend who runs a hotel in Taitung encouraged us to come and open our restaurant. Upon his invitation, we resigned and moved to Taitung!” Julia said with a smile.
Conveying her story with a powerful voice, she shared about deciding to move to Taitung with Michael two years ago. The move was super risky!
“I knew little about Taitung prior to moving but had traveled to Taitung a long time ago with Michael on a family trip. My impression was that transportation was inconvenient, and there were a lot of small restaurants, but few were special.”
After an unimpressive first impression of Taitung, they didn’t expect Taitung would be their new home. The German-style restaurant they operate is passed on by word of mouth. The aromatic restaurant draws a full house daily. They’re busy but happy.
Michael comes from Stuttgart, Germany. It is the sixth-largest industrial city in Germany and is renowned as the birthplace of Mercedes-Benz. Although it has picturesque scenery, it also has long, cold winters. Michael prefers the mild climate of Taitung. The mountains, coast, and excellent air quality are things that aren’t available in Taipei.
“We would drive County Road 197, go swimming, and drink coffee on the coast prior to business hours when our restaurant was still in Luye. Now that we’ve moved to Taitung City, the coast is even closer. The beautiful environment here allows Michael, who likes mountain climbing and swimming, to relax after work and enjoy his leisure time. I usually head to the restaurant at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon to prepare pork feet. German cuisine is very time-consuming and labor-intensive and utilizes a lot of spices.” Julia said.
During the interview, I saw Michael rushing in and out of the kitchen, and it didn’t take long for the aroma to seep out. The preparatory work of cooking is essential. It allows for an explosion of flavors upon each bite to light up the taste buds. Apart from cultivating cooking techniques and fundamentals from an early age, sensitivity and inherent talent are also vital.
“It is not necessarily only German cuisine that interests me. Sometimes after trying a special dish while traveling, I will try to replicate it when I get home.” Michael said.
Michael speaks Chinese fluently, which is also admirable.
There is a certain degree of difficulty in mimicking traditional German cuisine in different places – particularly with the remoteness of Taitung.
“Many kinds of cheese and spices are not available here. There are a few suppliers in Taipei to source ingredients. However, seeing the satisfied smiles on the faces of each client makes all the hard work worth it. Food is the gateway to the heart, and a pleasant night will leave a lasting imprint. We hope to bring a piece of German to Taitung and add a little diversify to Taitung. In addition to the beautiful scenery, tourists who come to Taitung can also enjoy some wonderful food.” said Julia.
This is Julia and Michael’s dream, and also their motivation moving forward.
“There are no miracles in life. Everything has unintentional and positive outcomes. It came to fruition after countless choices and efforts,” says Patrick Coulter from Canada.Patrick Coulter runs a chili sauce business with Taiwanese wife Anita Chiu. They settled in Taitung with their one-year-old baby son four years ago.
Patrick and Anita lived in Taichung four years ago, and have been running restaurants since 2001. During that time, they accumulated a lot of solid experience in the restaurant industry.
“We have tried many restaurants, including Italian restaurants, pizzerias, and Mexican restaurants. However, it really comes down to luck when running a chili sauce business in Taitung. Taitung is a good place to work directly with farmers,” Patrick says with a smile.
Although it is not difficult for him to run a restaurant, selling chili sauce is a new challenge. “In the beginning, we were a bit frustrated because it was too difficult. We kept trying to find farmers, as well as visiting distributors, and now we are finally on track.”
The main ingredient of his chili sauce recipe is a special pepper originating from the Caribbean, and is not commonly known in Taiwan. As a result, no farmer was willing to help plant it when they went around looking for cooperation during the early days.
“Later, we went to the FamilyMart situated in Dulan. Someone suddenly came to Anita and asked if we made chili sauce. He was willing to help plant it!” Patrick says.It seemed like an opportunity came knocking on the door, and finally, the first light dawned upon them. Gradually over time, other farmers came to ask if they could cooperate so that their chili sauce production had a breakthrough in development.
Their products have been exported to Guam since last year, and they have also had orders from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Currently, they are also trying to sell on Amazon, and are vigorously expanded their sales channels.
Before Patrick actually moved to Taitung, he took a lot of time to visit friends or vacation to Taitung several times a year.
“My friend moved here from Taichung a long time ago. It wasn’t until Anita said she wanted to move here that we seriously considered the issue and put it into practice,” he says. Recalling the decision they made four years ago, Patrick has no regrets at all. Although the big city is convenient, especially with young children, it is difficult to live there due to the poor air quality.
“When we moved from the big city to Taitung, the pace of life slowed down. Sometimes one needs a little more patience, but I like the New South-Link Line and the Suhua Highway improvements. We often travel out and feel safer now,” says Patrick.
He goes on to say that he emigrated to Taiwan in 1998 and now has four years of living experience in the east. He describes to his friends who came to Taitung that moving to Taitung is like moving to another country. People in the east and west don’t feel the same when getting along with one another. “Once you step into this town, it feels like stepping into a completely different place,” he adds.
Whenever there is warm weather in Taitung, Patrick will take the children to the beach to enjoy the seawater. Patrick also likes to climb mountains. He often takes visiting friends to challenge the mountains in the east together. However, due to the increase in orders for hot sauce, there is not much free time for him. Nevertheless, he still feels that Taitung is a very suitable place for outdoor activities and strongly recommends that everyone visit should they have the chance.
According to Patrick’s observations, many people want to move from the metropolis to Taitung. “If you really want to move here, you have to think carefully about how to make a living. Taitung tourists are still very seasonal, and there will be fewer tourists after the end of the main events in Taitung,” he cautions.
The most difficult part of settling in Taitung is how to generate income. Now that Patrick has started a new life in Taitung, he is humbly thankful to the luck that has came into his life. However, duet to the joint efforts given by him and his wife Anita, their chili sauce products are able to be sold overseas. They are able to let more foreigners taste the amazing and delicious flavor originating from Taitung!
“Besides your hometown, it is not easy to stay in another place for two years. However, If you are able to stay in one place for more than ten years, it means that you have truly fallen in love with that place!” Matt says softly with a smile on his face. He has been living in Taitung for more than eleven years. At first, he just wanted to learn surfing and therefore came to Taitung. However, he did not expect that he would get married and have children. It was then that he became an authentic Taitung local.
Matt shares that his hometown is located in the East London area, near the seaside on the south coast of South Africa. Except for the weather, the geographical conditions are very similar to Taitung. “Taitung feels like home. The environment and the people here are great. To be honest, I knew that I wanted to live here within the first month I was in Taitung,” he adds.He says that when he first came, Chinese was completely impossible for him to learn. However, after interacting with the warm and friendly locals around him, he was not afraid to practice Chinese here.
“Although Taitung is a tourist-oriented place, local people do not always want to sell things when they see foreigners. They simply want to help. It surprises and moves them!” Matt says joyfully as he recalls his first impression of Taitung. At present, he teaches English at an elementary school in Taitung City. Matt and his friends Dave and Queeni have even created and recorded English nursery rhymes (Appendix I) in order to allow children to become more interested in English. Simple and easy sentences with animations have not only become his best textbook in the classroom, but he has also selflessly uploaded them to a video-sharing platform so that children or adults in other regions can enjoy and learn together. “In the beginning, these videos were just unintentional ideas. Later, I became more and more interested in them. In fact, we didn’t know how far this idea will go, but we will try our best to produce more and better English videos for everyone!”
Matt feels blessed to be able to teach in Taitung. In addition to spending time with young and lively children, Taitung’s mountains and the sea are also precious resources for him. “Although many South Africans live by the sea, they are so busy making money that they don’t enjoy a leisurely lifestyle. Taitung is a city that is suitable for a slow pace of life. There are many beautiful things to admire,” Matt says. He especially likes Taitung Forest Park, the unique Tiehua Village, the magnificent mountains and the sea view at Sanxiantai. He also particularly enjoys the small and exquisite art museum where he often takes his children to hang out. “Schools in Taitung are open to the public after school. This is not possible in South Africa!” Matt emphasizes, and adding that Taitung is like a paradise. It is difficult to find another place that can give residents a full and priceless sense of security, and he thinks the government has done a great job.
Since he came to Taitung, Matt has been able to realize his dream of learning to surf, as well as teaching, marriage, and children. All these have made his life more exciting. Although he didn’t know he would take root here deeply at first, Matt is grateful every day. “I feel that I am blessed to live in such a beautiful place and have an impeccable life!”
Appendix I: English nursery rhyme channel: Rock a doodle doo