My third post in this exciting project on “Profiling the Unseen in Taipei”.
I’ve made a local friend who has also become my local guide and been kind enough to show me around Taipei 🙂 Phoebe Cho, one of the people I met right in the beginning of this project, is one of the most inspiring people I have met here in Taipei – at barely 20 and working as an intern, she has already taken time off to bike all around Taiwan in 11 days by herself, taken a solo trip to the US using all the money she had, taught herself three different languages and is full of zest for life. She wants to travel the whole world before she turns 28.
That sounds a little bit like the girl I wanted to be, and yet somehow I’ve managed to make my life very complicated.
Phoebe Cho – my local guide and friend here in Taipei. This project has also helped me realize how much better it is to travel with locals, than with just family and friends. Traveling in Taipei with Phoebe and other locals has allowed me to visit places I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, and experience the city from their lens. It has changed my perspective on traveling forever – traveling alone and immersing myself in the local culture would be the next step.
So, continuing with three more people I’ve met here in Taipei.
7. Meet Ms. Lijeng Lai and Mr. Cheng-Hai Hsieh, owners of a small organic tea farm in Taiwan
I met them on a weekend, in the farmer’s market in Taipei. They own a tea farm – it is now their third generation business. They sell all kinds of teas – Oolong tea, Black tea, Green tea, etc. They’ve recently added organic tea to their portfolio. They had to travel all the way from their farm in the middle of Taiwan the previous day, to come to farmer’s market in Taipei on Saturday.
Ms. Lijeng and Mr. Cheng-Hai have discovered the wonders of the internet – through their online shop, they sell their tea even in London and China. Their business is doing reasonably well – enough to lead a decent life. Their goal is not to make a lot of money, but to sell good tea that makes customers happy.
Right now, it is just their family doing everything – so just 3 people taking care of the farm, selling online and offline, marketing, everything. That’s a lot of work! Their children are in university and they’re not sure right now if they’ll carry on the business. But Ms. Lijeng and Mr. Cheng-Hai are ok with whatever decision they take – whatever makes them happy 🙂
8. Meet Licar, who works at a local Electronics store in Taipei
Taipei is full of electronics stores selling all kinds of interesting little things for such cheap prices!
Licar works at one of these electronics stores – he takes care of the store, processes orders, runs the shop and makes sure the customers gets what they want. He has another job – he works for a sports marketing company too, where he helps them write proposals, create campaigns, etc. But hang on, that’s not the end of it! He has a third job – he teaches swimming! Yes, that’s right, he has three jobs. He has taken no vacation for as long as he can remember. Once in a while he likes to go for surfing with his friends but that’s it. What does he dream of doing? He wants to own and run his own hostel for travelers in Taiwan – be his own boss 🙂 A dream that many in Taiwan seem to have – be their own boss.
9. Meet Ms. Tsai (or Yu-Jie in Chinese), who volunteers to help mentally less gifted people
On the streets of Taipei, it is common to see a volunteer helping a “mentally less gifted” person sell various things and help them interact with other people.
Ms. Tsai is one such volunteer. She works with a local organization that helps mentally different people (called “children”) have a job and get the chance to interact with other people. Ms. Tsai’s child is Mr. Chen – she helps him make cookies, and then stands with him for the whole day, making sure he gets a chance at a normal life too as he sells his hand made cookies and talks to people.
Ms. Tsai does this as her full time job, for no salary. She is only 22, and yet understands that a good life should involve helping other people. She says that on an average, they sell to about 10 or so people every day. Yet, her goal is not to help the child make money, but to give him the chance to interact with other people. It is clear she feels responsible for Mr. Chen and is protective of him. She doesn’t know yet what she wants to do in life, but she is sure it will involve helping other people.