In addition to breaking up the rut of our nine-to-five workdays, travelling offers the exact refreshing stimulation needed to reawaken our passions for the world and our families. Travel consultant Core has felt the immense warmth throughout the entire progress of planning a family trip for her client Erica.
Core and Erica first met at the beginning of October 2014. A mother of two lovely daughters, Erica has not been back to Taiwan for over twenty years ever since she immigrated with her parents to the US at the age of ten and then subsequently started her family there. In 2015, she planned to take her husband and daughters on a journey of finding their roots, to let the kids to learn about the cultural and natural beauties of Taiwan and experience the homeland of their grandparents.
As discussions went on, more and more family members joined the trip, adding to the impending excitement. Other than Erica’s family of four and her parents, her brother, who just became a father, is also bringing his family. Members of this group ranged from 6 months to 70 years old, the largest age gap that travel consultant Core had ever worked with. Attentive consideration needed to be taken in order to tend to the different needs of the different aged individuals; moreover, the most interesting challenge was meeting the special expectations of Erica’s family for this trip.
Erica’s husband Mark is a cycling enthusiast, having ridden on a bike tour of over 3000km in 2013. Hearing that his wife’s homeland offered some world-class cycling routes, he eagerly suggested to include some biking to their Taiwan trip.
At first, Core wanted to help Mark find an appropriate bike in Taiwan. Unfortunately, Mark’s gigantic 190cm frame was an anomaly in the Taiwanese population, and Core was not able to find a properly sized rental bike that Mark would be satisfied with even after contacting countless bike shops and factories. Consequently, Core decided to let Mark bring his own bike, and would help him with the shipping procedures.
On the other hand, Erica’s two daughters loved butterflies, and knowing their visit would coincide with the Purple Crow Butterfly migrating season, asked Core if there was a chance to view flocks of these butterflies fluttering alongside the highway. As per request Core did some research and added good viewpoints of butterflies to their itinerary, adding an ecological component to the trip.
After months of discussions and preparations, the trip was about to get underway!
Clint, a conscientious and enthusiastic tour guide, was responsible for leading the group. Through chatting with Erica’s family, he found out that Grandma Catherine went to Taipei Second Woman’s Highschool, which has now been renamed Zhongshan Woman’s Highschool. It was close to the hotel that they were staying in, and Clint particularly took Catherine there so she can reminise about the past, putting a wonderful start for the root-finding aspect of this trip.
Clint also put extra care into planning meals, since Grandpa James was a bit of a picky eater who avoided all foods containing garlic, onion and strong spices, and was not used to Chinese cuisine. In a small town where it was difficult to find a Western restaurant, Clint managed to find a place that prepared fresh salmon, allowing James to eat happily and healthily.
Between Chingjing and Wuling, Mark got his wish to ride his Iron Horse. As experienced as he was, he had no problems conquering the climb up the mountain. At Wuling, we held an interesting ceremony where Clint gave Mark a small prize prepared by Topology Travel, an intricate model of a Giant bicycle, as a souvenir of his Taiwan bicycle adventure.
The day of arrival in Hualien just happened to be Grandma Catherine’s birthday. Of course we had some special surprises for her.
Upon returning to the guesthouse from that day’s activities, the host was already waiting with the cake to celebrate Catherine’s birthday. The ambience was truly heartwarming as Catherine read outloud the messages that every member of the family had written on their affectionate card for her. At that moment, guide Client took out a photo album filled with pictures of the travels thus far, which he put together in his spare time of the last few days, to give to Catherine. The present touched Catherine deeply, who had tears brimming in her eyes.
Even though they all lived in the US, the family reunited only a few times in any given year. This week that they spent as a group back at their homeland after leaving Taiwan so many years ago, staying in the warmest guesthouses, enjoying collective meals, and laughing together, bonded them closer and left sweet memories for a lifetime.
Erica’s family was not the only one who felted completely fulfilled on this trip. Core also realized just valuable and meaningful his services are to the customers. The smallest details can make the biggest differences on the trip. Hopefully Erica’s family will still be able to clearly hear the laughters of this time when they open the time machine many years down the road.