Friendship that Sails across the Ocean of Generation

One afternoon, we received a box that was addressed to Logan, one of our tour guides. Upon opening it, we saw a huge stack of children’s books and picture books. Looking at the sender’s name, I did a good search in my mind and located the name of Pin Yoon, one of our clients who had just finished her trip and went back to Singapore.

The physical conditions cannot stop our guests from desiring to visit Taiwan again

Pin Yoon and her brother brought their over 90 years old parents to Taiwan. Although they both had trouble standing or walking for too long and had to rely on wheelchairs for moving, they still had a great time exploring the island. The grandpa was so excited the day before the trip that he couldn’t even sleep!

As Pin Yoon’s travel consultant, Nana took all the elderly’s special requirements into account. She mentioned that one of the key things about planning was for the elderly to return to the hotel room early every day for some rest. In addition, Pin Yoon also emphasized that showers are more preferable than the bathtubs in case their parents accidentally slipped while getting out the tub. Pin Yoon’s sweetness made a great impression on Nana.

Although it is a last-minute arrangement, we are willing to assist to make the clients more comfortable

Nana also remembered that; at first, Pin Yoon only requested for one wheelchair, and the parents could take turn using it. However, after getting in touch with the clients and assessing their physical strength, she figured that two wheelchairs would make the trip much easier. Therefore, she arranged another wheelchair right away and had it send to the clients’ next destination. “This last-minute arrangement came with extra cost, but in order to make the clients more comfortable and at home, we are willing to assist,” Nana said.


Accessible tour has its limitation but we believe the point is to create valuable memories together

Logan, who was the guide for the family, was also touched during the trip. “I admire and respect both the siblings who were willing to take their aged parents on a trip and the parents who, despite their physical condition, still willing to follow their children out for some fun. Plus, the fact that they chose Taiwan as their destination made everything more meaningful to me! I considered myself as a very critical role in this trip and felt super responsible to take good care of the family.” Even though accessible tour has its limitation, we believe that the point is for the clients to be with their family and create valuable memories together.

Clients visited Sun Moon Lake where the old couples once did on their honey moon many many years ago.

Logan walked with the clients beside the Sun Moon Lake where the old couples once did on their honey moon many many years ago. He watched the children took their parents’ hands down the road slowly and one step at a time. He said emotionally, “My wife and I met each other while I was leading a tour. Although a tour guide’s job means I can’t get back home everyday, the absence does make the heart grow fonder. I cherished my time with my wife and the children more. Watching the clients being there for each other reminded me that my own family has a wonderful future ahead and deserves to be treated with nothing but love.”


Logan’s family.

At every site, Logan helped with moving the wheelchairs and getting the parents in and out of the vehicle. His sincerity did not go unnoticed. Pin Yoon learned that Logan has two pre-schooled daughters. As a thank-you gift, She sent many children’s books they kept at home after going back to Singapore. This nice gesture from afar carries love and care from both sides and truly warms our hearts.

30代導遊與90代旅客   跨越世代的情誼

某日午後,公司收到了一箱寄給導遊Logan包裹。拆開來後,裡面是一疊厚厚的童書與繪本。看著寄件人的姓名,在腦海中搜尋了一番,想起了是參加完行程,剛回國的新加坡旅客Pin Yoon。

Pin Yoon和哥哥帶著超過90歲的雙親來台灣旅遊,兩位老人家無法久站與久走,多數時候必須仰賴輪椅移動。即便如此,仍不影響老人家們遊玩的興致,爺爺在出發前一天還開心得睡不著覺呢!

身為Pin Yoon的行程規劃師,Nana謹慎打點好長輩們的特殊需求。Nana說:「規劃的重點是要讓老人家每天下午能提早回飯店午休;此外,Pin Yoon特別強調,基於安全起見,飯店房間的衛浴,必須以淋浴設備為主,避免長輩使用浴缸時滑倒。」Pin Yoon對於父母親的貼心,讓Nana印象深刻。

Nana也回憶,原先Pin Yoon僅要求準備一輛輪椅,讓父母親輪流使用。但在實際接觸客人並評估他們的體力之後,發現使用兩輛輪椅會更有機動性,因此緊急將另一輛輪椅調度到旅客的下一個目的地。「這些臨時的安排雖然會產生額外的成本,但為了讓客人有更舒適的旅程,我們都願意來協助。」Nana表示。

同樣也深有感觸的是Logan,他是Pin Yoon一家人在台灣期間的導遊。Logan說:「不管是願意帶高齡父母出來旅遊的兄妹,或是即使身體有些不方便,仍願意跟兒女們出來玩的長輩,都讓我感到非常欽佩!加上他們又選擇台灣作為旅遊目的地,我就覺得更有意義了!認為自己扮演了一個關鍵的角色,有強烈的使命感要把客人的安全給照顧好。」 縱使無障礙旅遊的行程難免有所受限,但我們相信對客人來說,更重要的是能夠創造家人相處的時光。


每到一個景點,Logan會幫老父母搬運輪椅,並且扶他們上下車。他的真誠,Pin Yoon都看在眼裡。得知Logan有兩個還沒上幼稚園的女兒,Pin Yoon回國後,特地將家裡留下來的童書寄來台灣送給Logan,表達她對Logan的感謝。這一份遠方捎來的心意,蘊含著雙方誠摯的感情,讓人心頭暖暖地。

Tour Guide like a Breeze ── Our Tour Guide Irene

Spending time with Irene is like coming across a gentle breeze—a light yet incredibly refreshing and healing touch.

The experience in the financial industry makes Irene a detail-oriented person.

Due to her past hard-working days at the financial industry, Irene is very detail-oriented. Before every trip, she will hold a stack of notes and jot down the features and notices for every place. If there are places where she has never been to, as long as the time permits, she will check them out in person.

Irene always puts safety of the travelers first and took care of everyone like a professional should.

Since most of the clients she serves are multi-generational family, Irene always puts safety of the travelers first. “One time, not until I met the clients at the airport did I know there were two visually impaired members in the family. It was an unforgettable experience.” Although she didn’t have time to prepare for this situation, Irene took care of it like a professional should. She made sure that everyone was having a relaxing and fun time by teamwork. “I asked some of the family members to take care of the children, so I could focus more on the needs of the visually impaired clients.” After ensuring the members’ safety, Irene let them experience Taiwan by other senses like hearing, smelling, and touching. Her attention to the details were so highly praised by the travelers!


” Being a tour guide enriches my life!” 

“I once led tour with a group of Israeli clients. They were so interested in Taiwan that they even formed a study group to come up with questions to ask. During our time together, not only did I learn more about the situation and the global view of Israel, but also the earnest side of its citizens.” This job allows Irene to meet with travelers from different countries; and most importantly, through their positive feedbacks, she finds sense of accomplishment and joy. “Being a tour guide enriches my life!” Irene said.


“Showing the professional charisma of being a guide” is Irene’s all time self-requirement.

Irene hopes that through her arrangement and lead, the travelers will be able to enjoy a more exquisite tour. “I like to bring the local lifestyle into the journey.” Irene explained, “for example, when we are visiting a historical site, and there are local venders in the alley selling fruits. Simply planning the route in advance allows the clients to enjoy some fresh fruits on the way. Or with just a little extra time, while taking in all the beauty and soothing vibe of the Ali Mountain, the clients also get to appreciate Ali Mountain Tea and learn more about Taiwanese tea culture.”

Our interview came to an end surrounded by the tea aroma. I remembered a saying in the world of tea ceremony: “One Encounter, One Chance.” This means that since every encounter is unique and cannot be recreated, the ceremony is all about making sure every participant has a great time. Irene must adopts the same mindset while treating every traveler who comes from afar.







Interview with Logan: A Peter Pan-Like Guide with whom the Fun Plane Never Lands

“Playing” was one of the reasons why Logan became a tour guide.

After graduating from the department of philosophy and completing his military services, Logan hadn’t decided what to pursue as a career. Therefore, he began a motorcycle trip around Taiwan island with his friend. Two young men traveled for a whole month with just a couple of sleeping bags. On the road, they met a variety of travelers and share their philosophy of life with one another. Experiencing this amazing journey, Logan realized that life doesn’t have to be unwrapped only in a certain way. He grew curious about the meaning of travel and decided to search for the answer by becoming a tour guide.

To take good care of the clients, the items on a tour guide’s to-do list never end.

“Fantasy is always wonderful. Many people think that being a guide means that I get to play around all day. But the truth is that in order to take good care of the clients, the items on our to-do list never end. For the tour to proceed smoothly, not only do we have to plan in advance, but also to be able to handle anything good or bad that comes our way,” Logan said with a smile.


There is a tattoo about Taiwan on Logan’s leg which shows his love to his country.

“Our job is to promote our country and culture, and to allow the travelers to experience the beauty of Taiwan.”

Once worked in a traditional travel industry, Logan truly found a travel style that is close to his own value after joining Topology Travel. “In the past, traveling and shopping were always glued together. The guide cared more about making more money than making the travelers happy which totally diminished the value of travel. Our job is to promote our country and culture, and to allow the travelers to experience the beauty of Taiwan. Becoming a part of Topology, I found that my colleagues treasure the experience of the clients more than the profit of the company,” Logan said.

“I believe every place has a story to tell.”

Logan’s first assigned task was taking two kiwis to visit the Bao’an Temple and the Confucius Temple. “Actually, I panicked! I was not sure what kind of contents interested them at these places.” Despite all the preparation, Logan’s anxiety was not truly gone until he met the clients. “They couldn’t stop gasping in admiration, clicking the shutter, and recording every detail of the decoration of the temples. Seeing the look on their faces, I came to realize that we have been taking these for granted that we often neglect the beauty in our lives. Not until we put ourselves in the shoes of the travels do we see that Taiwanese temples are just as fantastic as the churches in the Europe.” Since then, Logan deeply believed that every place has a story to tell. And through him, the tale passes on and makes more travelers grow fond of Taiwan.


Logan took the guest to try stinky tofu!


“I like to use everyday language to express my feelings and thoughts.”

Logan discovers that there are more and more non-English speaking travelers coming to visit Taiwan. Instead of using hard words to show off his English proficiency, Logan prefers making the contents easy to understand. “For example, the first time foreigners smell stinky tofu, they all think it’s terrifying! However, I try to let them understand that in fact that there is stinky food in every culture, such as the durian in the Southeast Asia or cheese in Europe, but they are actually delicious!” By comparing cultures, Logan allows the clients to take the culture shock in an enjoyable manner.


Logan once recommended that the travelers try pig blood cake and crawl beneath the palanquin.

“If I had a local guide when I was traveling abroad, I hoped that he would take me to experience stuff that I never knew when I was traveling alone.”

Speaking about his philosophy of leading a tour, Logan said, “I always imagine that if I had a local guide when I was traveling abroad, I hoped that he would take me to experience stuff that I never knew and never would have tried when I was traveling alone.” With this thought, every tour is a whole new adventure to Logan. As a result, he once took the travelers to try betel nuts and to crawl beneath the palanquin, and encouraged them to take part in all kinds of interesting folk culture. “I will observe their level of acceptance to new things by interacting with them, so don’t worry! I will never force them!” Wearing this, we all laughed so hard.

Say “YES PLEASE!” to Logan’s invitation

Listening to Logan this whole time, I feel like he is more of a Peter Pan on Neverland. As long as you are willing to trust him, he will share anything you want to know and explore the unknown together with you. Double the curiosity; double the fun! A journey unforgettable starts with saying “YES PLEASE!” to Logan’s invitation.


[Taiwan Tour Guide] Let’s have a yummy Taiwan trip with “Yummy”

This tall, super tanned, and full of laughter person is our Taiwanese tour guide Yummy. His name always make people wonder what the story behind it is. The reason is simple enough—he has a big appetite. In order not to fail this interesting and impressive name, Yummy likes to take the clients on a food tour. “I am from Chiayi, and there are a lot of famous local cuisines, such as fish head casserole, cold noodles, and turkey rice. As a result, when it comes to recommending food the clients, I prefer the local dishes to the renowned restaurants praised by the media or bloggers.”

Delicious street food in Chaiyi: cold noodles, fish head casserole and turkey rice.

Yummy emphasized that; nowadays, clients would like their trip to be more free and flexible, and want to eat like a local. “Side dish platter, goose slices, chicken rice, or stir fries are usual cuisines that you don’t have to spend a fortune, but the clients can still taste a variety of our daily delicacies. Sometimes a good two to three hundred NTD (about 6.5-10 USD) worth of food is enough to cover the whole table! Every time I take the clients on such experience, they all feel amazed. Satisfying both to the stomach and the wallet. Most importantly, the clients feel like the locals, which is always the one thing they desire the most during the trip.”

Besides being a gourmet, Yummy has his own unique philosophy when it comes to leading a tour. “A tour guide is like a boy pursuing a girl—every tour requires enthusiasm.” This metaphor perfectly demonstrates Yummy’s constant passion for travel since the day he became a guide. “We might have been to the scenic spots for tens or hundreds of times, but every time is a first for the clients. Therefore, we have to give them our all, tell the best story, and share the most knowledge.” For Yummy, the true value of a tour guide is not just “to guide a tour,” but to accompany and experience with the travelers every step of the journey.

Yummy and his guests.

Talking about the most unforgettable experience, Yummy laughed and said that there is too much to share! “The first time being the driver, the car broke down; the first time being the guide and taking the clients to Jiu-fen, a storm came and broke off the plan. Of course I was nervous, but when I found out that that was not going to help me with my situation, I stop being nervous.” Speaking of his growth, behind the laughter is the attitude of facing the crisis heads on, calmly assessing the situation, and taking the best solution rather than being panic and ruining the whole trip.”

“Before becoming a guide, I was a driver. At that time, when chances of visiting different scenic spots presented themselves, I always insisted on taking every opportunity. I absorbed knowledge from many guides and developed my own style of tour-guiding.” Yummy recalled that one weekend, when he drove the guide to pick up a group of travelers at the Port of Keelung, the client’s debit card was stuck in the ATM. “The guide stood so firmly on his ground that the bank was persuaded and was willing to help with the problem even on holiday. This was a huge lesson to me.”

One time, Yummy himself received a family from Singapore. Their one-year-old son was sick during the trip. However, the nebulizer machines they brought was not working due to the incompatible voltage, and the client, Gladys, was very worried. Yummy, with his quick thinking, managed to borrow the only one and available transformer from the hotel they stayed in the morning, and convinced the hotel to let them bring it along for the rest of the trip. This was the saving grace, otherwise they would have to admit their son to the hospital and cancel the rest of the trip. At that moment, Yummy showed his ability of crisis resolution, which was the accumulation of his past experience. Yummy also mentioned that for the trust he gained from this event, Gladys assigned Yummy to be in charge of their family trip next year.

Before the interview ended, we asked Yummy to recommend us some ways to explore Taiwan. He said that in comparison with walking, he thought that the speed of bicycle was more suitable for taking in the different paces in Taiwanese city and country. Next time, look forward to exploring Yummy’s hometown, Chiayi, with him on a bicycle, and experience the unforgettable taste of journey together!

Yummy recommends that cycling is one of the best way to explore Taiwan!

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[Taiwan Tour Guide] Clint: Travel Is the Interaction with Life

“Please do take care of Clint well. He is a treasure of your company!” A customer once gave this feedback. It makes you wonder what the Taiwan tour guide who receives this praise is like.

Clint is always calm and at ease. Thanks to this trait, Clint is always easy to get along with. 5 years ago, he left the electronics industry and stepped into tourism for his passion to travel around. The innate characteristics allowed him to adjust to the new career rather quickly and made him one of the most popular tour guides in Topology.

Clint is easy to get along with. Just link your friend!
Clint is easy to get along with. Just like your friend!

For Clint, one of the most important takeaways as a tour guide is to know the land that he grew up on better. “Although we live in Taiwan, we don’t really know it as well as we thought. Some contexts of our land were not taught to us at school. However, in order to introduce the beautiful country to the customers, I went back to learn it all. After piecing the history together, I found it fascinating! Especially, when I share the Taiwanese aboriginal culture with the customers, they are all very interested and amazed!” Exploring Taiwan again as a tour guide, Clint did his work. His mobile phone is filled with pictures of Taiwan’s scenery, culture, cuisine, relics, fauna, and flora. Whenever and wherever the customers have questions, he can always answer them with these materials.

Furthermore, Clint starts learning photography so that he can capture every precious moment during the trip.

Clint is always your personal photographer who would like to  capture every precious moment for you!
Clint is always your personal photographer who would like to capture every precious moment for you!

The interaction with the customers also left something special in Clint’s heart. Among all, the most unforgettable memory was from David and Sandara, a family from Singapore.

David and Sandara used to work together in Kaohsiung. In 2015, they decided to bring their 5-year-old son back to travel, and Clint was their guide. That trip created lots of memory for the family; hence, in 2017, they chose to visit again. However, Sandara’s mother was diagnosed with cancer right before the start of the trip, and Sandara had to stay and took care of the grandma. Only David and the son could come. “Although Sandara could not make the trip, they brought a doll that symbolized the mother along the way. Their love touched me to the bottom of my heart.” What’s more heart-warming was that their grandma felt better the next year and joined the travel to Taiwan. Sandra, an animator, transformed their trip into a touching painting. Sadly, the grandma passed away this year, but the memory they created together will last forever. For the family, Clint is not just a tour guide, but a close and precious friend who has participated in the journey of their life.

Sandara painted a touching painting which includes the elements of the family trip: Baiyang Waterfall at Taroko Gorge, the beautiful mountain and coast in Eastern Taiwan. Sandara’s family the animals in the cart, the guy on the bike is Clint.

Clint also mentioned that many of his customers were Chinese immigrants. They visited the relatives in Taiwan every few years. Many of them choose Clint as their regular guide. “I feel like I am growing with the family. Some members were just babies in my arms the first time we met; suddenly, they might be jumping around or discussing serious issues with me on the next trip. These are all special experiences.” Clint said that these families all have friends and relatives here in Taiwan, and know the country well enough to travel by themselves or to easily pick the tourism products that best suited them. Nevertheless, they still choose to travel with Topology because they treasure our unique value. “Customers fancy the depth of our cultural tour. We also help them arrange tomb sweeping, reunion dinner, and even finding long lost relatives! Most importantly, they feel like they are traveling with a friend.” Clint believes that the connection between people grows stronger through travel.

This is the second time that Erica’s family traveled with Clint.

“The connection of massive travel groups usually breaks with the end of the trip, but the one of a customized trip is not. Sometimes, traveling with the customers for 10 or more days feels like living together. I am able to communicate with each and every group member and adjust the itinerary according to their likes and dislikes. I hope to think ahead of them and to provide enough information and suggestions so that the customers are well prepared before every scenic spots and activities. This way, the elderly and the young are taken care of, and other members will have nothing to worry about and have a great time.” Clint certainly raises the bar of this job with his attentiveness.

More stories about Taiwan tour guide Clint
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A Promise Is A Promise: A trip that has been waiting for over 40 years.

Last October, my client Asher who is from Israel had been diagnosed with lymphoma. He must do the relevant examination and treatment as soon as possible; therefore, he had to cancel his scheduled trip to Taiwan. At that time, my mother also did chemotherapy in the hospital, so I understood his situation. I told him that I believe a cheerful heart is good medicine and sent my sincere blessing to him, hoping the examination and treatment will be pretty smooth. On the other hand, I returned the tour fees as much as possible to him and invited him to visit Taiwan once he gets better. Read more

The Man behind Topology—Steve: The wish to give back to the tourism industry of Taiwan was what got me started

My grandfather brought me up, and when I was young, I used to play with a mini globe all day long. My grandpa told me that I could find all the countries on this tiny ball. Looking hard for Taiwan on the globe, I found out that Taiwan was unbelievably small compared to the other countries.

When I started to attend to school, I realized that my knowledge of my homeland was so little. Every time I read the articles praising Taiwan was the Kingdom of Butterflies and Bicycles, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all true or not. This wondering stuck in my head for a long time until the year that I left Taipei for university in Hualien. This change allowed me to see Taiwan in a very different perspective.

About a decade ago, Hualien was not as flourished as nowadays in terms of tourism. Many stores preferred “one-off consumption.” To put it simply, instead of keeping the customers coming with good quality and service, they only thought about cutting off as much meat as they could from each customer. A few years later, following the trend of blog, travel posts and delicacy posts went viral which brought many more tourists to Hualien. The government also told people that with more tourism income comes a better quality of life. However, I discovered that the poor quality of tourism only brought the local people in Hualien heavy traffic and polluted environment.

I always wanted to do something, but never had a good way of approaching the problem. Dream finally came true when I met Peter, the founder of Topology Travel, and became his second employee.

I found out that many foreigners who are working or studying in Taiwan like to travel around the island during the weekends. Unfortunately, once they set foot out of Taipei, there is not enough information written in English or other languages for them to arrange their own tour. The tourism environment of Taiwan was still not friendly enough to the foreigners. This is where Topology Travel comes in. We fill this gap with great service from our travel consultants and tour guides. This was totally different from what other travel agencies were doing back then, which was to focus more on the Chinese tourists. We chose the path less taken by providing English-speaking tour guides and customized tours so that foreign travelers can experience the real Taiwan in a way they prefer.

Through my work, I bring foreigner travelers into Taiwan which allows me to know friends from all over the world. Through them I learn how special Taiwan is and have more sense of belonging. Today, I don’t need to travel abroad to interact with foreigners and to learn different cultures. Taiwan possesses many unique qualities, such as super high level of convenience and quality of service. I truly believe that my hometown has a lot to offer, and for that I strongly recommend you to come and see for yourself.

Setting off from the small island in my memory, I have been searching for Taiwan’s position in the world and also working hard to let the world see the real façade of Taiwan.

Local Recommendations: As someone who spent his college life in Hualien, I recommend Chihsingtan Beach and Sanjhan River to you. Hualien is a fantastic place for downshifting; that is, doing nothing is the right thing to do. Just lay on the beach, listen to the whisper of the ocean, and let your body and mind wander in the wind.

The Difference between Taiwan and Germany – Insights from Our Intern from Germany


My name is Lukas. I am 19 and from Germany. I worked at Topology for four and a half months. My tasks were about organizing and hosting tours as well as promoting and improving them together with my colleagues.

Photo: I am the one in the middle of the first row.

I chose Taiwan because I wanted to experience Asian culture. In my opinion Taiwan has the best mix of it. Furthermore Taiwan offers a lot of nice landscape and huge choice of activities.

Taiwan and Germany are very different starting with religion and cultural influences and ending with food and everyday working. Following I will give you a small insight into the Taiwanese everyday life and point out the main differences between Germany (or European countries) and Taiwan.


Photo: Taiwan has variety of fruits and most of them are pretty nice!

Taiwanese have a special relationship to food. They love to eat many different kind of good and clean food. Eating together and inviting a lot of people to share food and stories are common.

I was invited by the boss of the hostel I stayed several times to have dinner together with his grandma and once we did a barbecue during a typhoon. There is not really much that can stop Taiwanese from a good barbecue.

The food itself is very delicious but very uncommon for Europeans. Furthermore the overall preparation of food is different. Germans don’t eat rice and noodles that much and particularly pork tastes different. I think the difference is caused by the feeding and preparation of the animals. All in all it tasted so well that I ate tons of it.

But the main difference between here and Germany is the dinner itself. Taiwanese will meet their friends, buy a lot of food and have kind of a buffet. Additional they have the Chinese tables which have a rotating plate in the middle.I like that very much. You simply don’t have to eat what you don’t like.

Another advantage of having dinner here as a guest, you will get offered tons of food. They don’t accept a simple “No thanks. I’m full”. You have to say it 4-6 times before they understand that you cannot eat anything more without exploding.

And don’t be afraid of dirty food, it nearly doesn’t exists here. Nevertheless would have a small first aid set in my backpack in case I don’t stomach some food.


The environment in Taiwan is really stunning. Everything you want can be found. Hiking in the famous Taroko Gorge or even just in Taipei (e.g. Elephant Mountain), natural hot springs in the north and along the east coast (Beitou, Jiaoxi in Yilan or Chipen in Taitung…etc), surfing and swimming all over Taiwan, aboriginal culture, temples, huge cities and a lot of small fancy villages like Jiufen or Dulan. All this makes Taiwan one of the most worthy countries to travel. If I compare it with Germany, hiking in the Alps and visiting the north sea are amazing but Taiwan has more options, especially when it comes to activities and distance. The thing you should notice it that there may be typhoons during summer time.


The people in Taiwan are all very kind and helpful. It is amazing how they care about you even if you are a foreigner. Getting lost is very hard because everyone will try to help you. And don’t be afraid if you travel Taiwan as a European or American. It might be strange that a lot of people will eye you, because you are different. But no worries, the most smile back.

When it comes to language it is hard to communicate in English if you are not in Taipei. But there is always a solution. They will ask someone, who knows English, to come over and help or communicate with hand and feet. Taiwanese are great at that.


They also have a remarkable mix of culture and history. The Japanese ruled Taiwan for 50 years, so there is a lot of influence from there. Furthermore Chinese culture, of course. You also can visit aboriginal tribes in eastern Taiwan. Additionally Confucian values are very important. You can find huge plates with the characters for “honor your parents” and “loyalty” in elementary schools. You will find a lot of these values in the everyday life.

As a traveller, altruism is the most present. I experienced to be invited to family dinners, being driven to the next train station, showed around the city and doing activities together. I didn’t experienced something like this in Germany yet. Particularly asking people if they need help finding the way and taking them to their destination is what Taiwanese makes so special.

Additional you can talk and discuss almost everything. The people are very open minded. Also the way of dealing with conflicts is different from other Asian countries. Talking directly about the things you don’t like or criticize is more common here, still not that hash as in Germany, but it was very easy for me to adapt to it.

Travel Guide Book vs. Real Life Experience

Getting lost while travelling is not something very spectacular. During my trip around Taiwan I got lost many times but this was mostly caused by non-existent skills in Chinese.

I travelled with Lonely Planet, Bradt and several online Blogs as well as with the advice from Topology Travel. But the main difference between the travel book and the experience is that you will meet several inconveniences which don’t show up in the book. Sights are described very beautifully but they do not mention how to get there by public transport. For example at the east coast of Taiwan, public transport is very limited. Sometimes there is only one bus a day but the travel guide doesn’t mention it. Or the famous Walami trail in Hualien, which is described as one of the best hiking trail. The travel books never mentioned that getting there is very complicated if you don’t have a car or a scooter.

I wouldn’t recommend driving there if you are not used to Taiwanese roads and driving style. The roads are very narrow and can be very dangerous. In my opinion only experienced drivers should drive there.

Concluding travel guides are good to get an impression of your destination and the surroundings, but for actual travelling, I recommend to use more than two different travel guides, several blogs and get help from locals!

A local travel agency offers you the best advice and some of them, like Topology travel, offer customized tours. This may cost money, but you can be sure to get the most reliable information. Hiring a travel agency is also the easiest way to get good information.

If you are travelling low budget, the staff from your hostel and other travellers you meet are also really nice opportunities to get advice.

Furthermore I really recommend to get a SIM card and mobile internet. Google maps was one of my best friends while travelling!

With all these experiences I made, I would really recommend to get some help. If you can speak Chinese you might don’t have a lot of these problems, but a few spots are a bit tricky and you will need help. The choice is up to you!

A Valuable Experience of Receiving Muslim Travelers during Ramadan

Sitting around a small coffee table, we were listening to Felix from Indonesia sharing the culture of Islamic Ramadan with us. The Ramadan is a once-a-year event significant to the Muslims. They are not allowed to eat and drink until the sun has set. The Muslims sympathize with the struggle of the hungry through the Ramadan and at the same time learn to keep their own desire under control. According to Felix, during the time of the Ramadan in Indonesia, a volunteer who is in charge of the “morning call” will shout on the street for everyone to wake up in the early morning so that they can get something to eat before the sun rises. This way, people won’t starve and have the energy to work during the day.

The sharing makes us think of that we had arranged a tour for a Muslim family from Indonesia during the Ramadan in Taiwan before. The experience was very impressive and valuable, which let us learn a lot about how to receive Muslim visitors well.

Janice’s family are Chinese Indonesians. They were the first group of guests that Allan received when he was first starting up as a travel consultant. It was also the case that impressed Allan the most; you can call it his masterpiece.

That year, Janice’s family scheduled a trip to Taiwan in the end of July and wanted to visit Kinmen County. The family had some special requests: they wanted to live in a five-star apartment hotel, they were very specific about the choice of car, and Janice also emphasized that the activities that included sunshine and sweat should be as little as possible. “I guessed the guests would like to have a luxury vacation at that time. I was challenged because apartment hotels were not that common when they traveled out of Taipei” Allan’s memory was still vivid.

From the guests’ dietary of not eating pork and drinking alcohol, Allan deduced that Janice’s family should be Muslims. With further research, he found out that during the time of their visit in Taiwan, it was the Ramadan. A thought struck Allan: all of Janice’s requests made sense! Staying in an apartment hotel was for the convenience of preparing and consuming some food before the sun came up. Reducing the outdoor activities and avoiding sunshine was for the purpose of not dehydrating too quickly. After all, during the Ramadan, even drinking water is forbidden.

“Since there are so many restrictions during the Ramadan, then why do you choose to travel in this month?” Allan asked Janice curiously. It was because that the family members lived on different continents. Janice’s siblings were studying in England, America, and Singapore separately, while her parents lived in Indonesia. The family seized the chance of summer vacation, eliminated all the obstacles, and chose to have a reunion in Taiwan. This showed their strong and inseparable bond. Among all the family members, the oldest sister, Jessica, was the latest to arrive in Taiwan. Their father, David, specifically asked the guide to take the whole family to the airport to welcome Jessica. It was not hard to see how much they were eager to see each other.

Actually, the relationship between Janice’s family and Taiwan goes way back. Janice’s father, David, used to study in Chung Yuan Christian University in Taoyuan city and couldn’t forget the taste of Taiwanese cuisines since then. That time visiting Taiwan, he hoped that he could show his children his Alma Mater. Even though the schedule and the roads that they took were rough, their driver guide, Taddy Zheng, did everything he could to make their wish came true. He drove for nearly two hours to Chung Yuan Christian University so that Janice’s father could revisit his glorious time in Taiwan as a young man.

For the Ramadan, the guide, Taddy, made many sweet gestures. In addition to providing parasol for the guests to hide from the sun, he also avoided eating in front of them. All the details indicated that Taddy respected their culture. Besides, Taddy also prepared boxes of sliced fruit in the container so that the family could eat some juicy fruit as soon as the sun had set. When the sun was about to rest, Taddy could hear some noise in the back seat while driving because after a long day of traveling around, everyone was starving. They all grabbed a box of fruit from the container and were ready to dig in. The father counted down with his watch. As the number zero was announced, everyone started to eat without further delay. Seeing the guests eating with their hearts’ content, Taddy felt satisfied as well.

Fortunately, when the family arrived in Kinmen, the Ramadan had ended; thus, they could relax and enjoy all the mouth-watering food there.

Taddy had never been to Kinmen, so before the family arrived, he took his parents and wife there to familiarize himself with the place and to gather all the information about the restaurants. This way, when the guests came to Kinmen, they could taste the food that was not only delicious, but also was allowed by the Islamic law. Taddy’s professional attitude was worthy learning. Therefore, every cuisine that Taddy recommended, no matter it was the beef noodle or the oyster vermicelli, the family relished with absolutely no worries.

Kinmen is the famous home town of the overseas Chinese. In the earlier period, many people from Kinmen emigrated to make a living. Most of them relocated in the Southeast Asian countries. Many emigrants worked really hard to earn enough money to send home for the local construction, but they never set a foot on to the already unfamiliar hometown. As an overseas Chinese family, there must be a sentimental reason for them to choose to visit Kinmen. The family visited the most classic building in the Shuitou Communities: the De-Yue Building. The magnificent building happened to be exhibiting the dress and food from Southeast Asia. I wondered if the family felt that they belonged to this land. “Many visitors who come to Taiwan have a deep connection with this land,” said Allan. Being able to bring alive the connection was one of the most valuable things that Allan could do.

Allan also went to meet the guests while they were still in Taiwan. The family gave Allan a “Batik” which they brought to Taiwan all the way from Indonesia. This kind of colorful shirt was the dress that represented Indonesia. It possessed the characteristics of their people and was also a precious gift for the Indonesians.

It was well-expressed that the family was very satisfied with their trip in Taiwan. Through the experience of receiving Janice’s family, Allan realizes that every request has its own reason. The travel consultant needs to get to know the guests actively and raises questions whenever needed so that s/he won’t misjudge the guests due to his/her one-sided opinion. For Allan, this trip is an intercultural communication that creates a meaning for his career that can never be reproduced.

Family Legacy—A Root-Searching Journey

Every year, travelers from around the world visit Taiwan for different reasons. Some come to visit their friends; some for the passionate Taiwanese; some for the food; some for the view, and some are like Pan’s family, who simply just “come home.”

Pan’s parents moved to the US a long time ago. They worked really hard in an unfamiliar country to create a better future for their offspring. Pan and his sister were born and raised in the US. Due to their parents’ work and the long distance across the Pacific Ocean, they seldom had chance to visit Taiwan. Growing up, Pan and his sister were married and had children of their own. With Pan’s parents growing older, they decided to came back home to visit Taiwan with family members who hadn’t yet seen this beautiful island.

Besides sightseeing, they had another important mission—tomb-sweeping. This was for the ancestors to see the new generation and to pass on the family legacy. Pan mentioned in the letter about their requests. Because this was a very rare and valuable trip with all three generations traveling together, he hoped to visit more scenic spots. On the day of their arrival, they made a beeline for the cemetery in the northern Taiwan. Afterwards, they spent a half day exploring Taipei. We all knew that after a long flight, people could get really tired especially the elderly. Therefore, we reminded Pan that if anyone felt too tired and wanted to rest in the afternoon, we could end the tour at any time and headed back to the hotel.

They set on a journey to the cemetery in Tainan. Due the limited time frame, they took a round-trip High Speed Railway (HSR) to and back from Tainan and filled in some spare time to do some sightseeing there.

To avoid being lost, we tried to get all the information on the location of the cemetery. However, Pan’s parents hadn’t been back to Taiwan for many years, so they could only provide its general whereabouts. Ensuring a smooth trip became a challenge. According to the clues provided by Pan’s dad, we became detectives and began an adventure on Google Map. Typing in the information that we had, we screenshot some landmarks and asked Pan if they were near the cemetery. If they were nowhere near it, we just kept searching. A few corrections later, we were finally able to confirm its location. We owed the success of this tour to the guide and the driver who dedicated themselves to make the customers satisfied.

One week after the tour, we received a letter from Pan’s brother-in-law. He thanked us for our effort and mentioned that for the first-time travelers in Taiwan, he and his children, they had a wonderful time.

A perfect journey combines a detailed communication and preparation beforehand, a well-experienced driver who know the roads in Taiwan inside out, and a seasoned guide who can manage all the requests that the customers might have. Only with the three combined can the customers experience a tour whose quality is beyond their imagination.

Photo: Albert, Tour guide of Pan’s Family.