Two weeks before arriving in Taiwan, Jennifer and her husband, who were from the United States, contacted Travel Consultant Amy to ask her to plan an itinerary for them and their six- and seven-year-old daughters. What struck out the most to Amy was Jennifer’s insistance on participating in the “Live as Local Sweet Potato Mama Volunteer Project,” and so of course she gladly helped to arrange that for them. On the day of the project, the eagerness with which the entire family had in selling the sweet potatoes made Amy realize that this was the main reason for their trip to Taiwan this time.
Dirty, alcoholic, smoker, begger, social issue, lazy, it is their choice … ect.
I’m Jeweanne, from Malaysia, one of the participants of this walking tour. The words above were my previous stereotypes towards the homeless. I use to hold onto the belief of “Where there is a way, there is a will.” It wasn’t until this tour that I realized this might not be always true. These guides I met worked extremely hard and yet weren’t able to escape from the homeless life for a long time. After joining this tour, I became much more appreciative of what I have and who I am right now. I started to love myself and the world more and more day by day.
Throughout this walking tour, I got to know more about their daily living. Their lifestyle really opened my eyes, although sometimes it made me very sorry and sad. I also did a lot of self-reflecting. I tried putting myself in their shoes and imagined, with my limited knowledge, opportunities and network, what I can do? A big obstacle is society’s ingrained discrimination towards the homeless. My emotion went up and down during this walking tour. Frankly speaking, if you do not imagine yourself as them during this walking tour, this perhaps will be just an interesting homeless story for you, but if you do, you will not only learn from the tour guide but also a lot about yourself.
It was quite an interesting and impactful walking tour for me throughout my travel journey in Taiwan. Before joining My Homeless Tour Guide, try to think about these few questions:
1. What do you think about yourself?
2. What do you think about your life right now?
3. What do you think about them, the homeless? Is it their choice to become a homeless, wandering on the streets, begging for something … or…
So give them a chance to be your tour guide to eliminate the stereotypes between you and them, and to see homelessness in a different angle. Let them tell you their stories, it will surely make an impact on your life. You’re indirectly helping them to build up their confidence and career, letting them escape from being homeless.
Sometimes, learning not to discriminate is more powerful than simply giving money.
“Dressing up in a kimono and hanbok are often highlights for tourists visiting Japan and Korea. In Taiwan, Topology Travel also offers the Beijing Opera Makeup Session to provide foreign visitors with an authentic Chinese experience.”
On a beautiful sunny morning, boxes after boxes of large black cases were loaded into the office of Topology Travel, signifying that a sumptuous costume party was about to begin.
Beijing Opera makeup teacher, Mr. Yu Shan Qian, opened up the professional makeup case, and attentively arranged the various tools as if preparing for a solumn ceremony. Just like the cartoon of Doraemon pushing open the Anywhere Door, the lighting of the makeup mirror instantly transformed the office into the backstage of a Beijing Opera performance. With Teacher Qian’s magical hands, three American girls were going to convert into the leading female characters of the Beijing Opera.
Just two days ago, the three lovely sisters had enjoyed a sonorous show of Beijing Opera at the TaipeiEYE, where they danced alongside the performance’s exciting plotline. They were extremely thrilled in anticipation of becoming the classical characters of Beijing Opera.
With all the materials ready, layers of white and red powder were laid on the girls’ faces. Their innocent faces gradually matured into expressive, womanly complexions, such that one would have trouble believing they were in fact only teenagers.
With application of the makeup, interestingly, the girls also became more quiet and bashful. Even their breathing grew more careful, as if they were actresses trying to calm their nerves before going on stage. As Teacher Qian applied black eyeliner around the contours of their eyes, the girls’ eyes seemed to sparkle, adding to the charming essence that was found in all Beijing Opera female characters.
Afterwards came the elaborate process of hairstyling. Professional hairstyling required that a cloth first be used to secure the hair near the forehead, in order to accentuate the vividness of the eyes and create an animated expression. Teacher Qian took out what looked like kelp from his treasure chest. This was made from sap that was hand extracted from elm trees, which was used as hairspray in the past. Not only did it create a particular hairline, this was natural and didn’t hurt the scalp, no wonder people praised the ancient people’s wisdom to use it.
Teacher Qian paid much attention to forming the hair’s various angles, so that the girls’ hairstyles appeared elegant but natural. He even designated different roles based on their personalities. The oldest sister, donning a glimmering coronet, became the grand Yang Guifei. The middle sister, displaying a hairstyle from the Qing Dynasty and wearing a shoe last mould that made her look like she had bound feet, was a graceful princess. With a distinct fabric hanging down her waist, the youngest sister appeared to embody a mischievous handmaiden. Under Teacher Qian’s conscientious care, everyone showed off their particular personalities.
Lastly, the red lipstick final touches could not be forgotten.
The time-consuming and labour-intensive Beijing Opera makeup and costume session is precisely a cultural journey. With every step one could sense the profound and unique charm of Beijing Opera.
Stacey, the mother of the girls, happily proclaimed that although the girls had previously shown interest in Beijing Opera, this makeup session was an eye-opening experience that would definitely be the highlight of their trip. Watching the girls merrily pose for photos that would surely become memorable for a lifetime, one couldn’t help but think that this fascinating experience could perhaps cultivate a budding interest for the performing arts.