A Departing Message from Our Chairwoman Carrie Kellenberger

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Supervisors with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan, we would like to thank our valued members and distinguished guests for attending the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan’s Annual General Meeting.

We would also like to thank you for your continued support and patronage to the Canadian Chamber.

This year has been another successful year for the Chamber, both in terms of activity and membership. The CCCT made great strides towards our mission objectives in 2017 and we had some huge successes in 2017 thanks to strong support from our members. None of our events would’ve been possible without their support in 2017.

We’d also like to thank the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei for their full support over the years and congratulate them on their own successes in 2017. It has been a pleasure for all of us here at the CCCT to assist the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei and, in particular, I’d like to extend our sincere congratulations for their work with MOFA this year in projecting the Canada150 logo on the government building in downtown Xinyi for the first time ever.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such amazing synchronicity before outside an Olympic event.

Just as Mr. Ste Marie and his team were lighting up Xinyi with the Canada150 logo, our CCCT team was hanging the original Canada D’Eh sign at Taipei Hakka Cultural Park.

It was just one of many moments in 2017 that stood out in our minds, and we are so very grateful for CTOT’s help, support, and friendship.

I would also like to thank and acknowledge our platinum sponsors this year, including the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, the Alberta Office, Air Canada, and The Grand Hyatt Taipei for sponsoring two of our three signature events this year. These four members should be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the Chamber.

Our members enjoyed a number of Chamber events because these four members were so involved with the funding of these events, especially Celebration Canada.

Just a few Canada 150 Volunteers with Director of Volunteers, Mr. Steven Clark.

The only way for us to throw a great Canada Day celebration and keep it free for the 60,000+ Canadians in Taiwan is to ensure that we have enough sponsors to help us throw the biggest Canada national day party in Asia.

Hosting an event like this is no small feat. It took months of prepping and teamwork to ensure that July 1st went off with a huge bang. (If you weren’t there for the fireworks show at the end of the night, we can assure you, it was one of our best yet!) I don’t think one person left the event without a smile on their face.

Just one of many board meetings to bring our events from us to you!

I’d like to thank our incredible all volunteer team, our Board of Directors and Supervisors for an incredible Celebration Canada in 2017. It was one of our best years to date, and it’s to these individuals that we owe our thanks, and to the volunteers on our committees who helped make our events a success.

Astronaut Scott Kelly wrote in his best selling novel Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery that:

“I’ve learned that an achievement that seems to have been accomplished by one person probably has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people’s minds and work behind it, and I’ve learned that it’s a privilege to be the embodiment of that work.”

Truer words have never been spoken, especially when I think of our team, so thank you, Team Canada. Congratulations to every one of you who assisted with our events this year. You are incredibly dedicated and talented individuals and it was a pleasure to work with you these past two years.

In addition to our Celebration Canada event, we hosted our 3rd Annual Maple Ball Charity Gala. This annual event has supported MacKay Memorial Hospital Children’s Wing for the past three years. Funds that we earned at our 2017 Maple Ball Charity Gala went towards assisting the hospital in opening a new bone marrow transplantation ward.

Over the past three years, thanks to help from MacKay Memorial Hospital and the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, we not only raised NT$460,152 for the opening of new bone marrow transplantation ward, but we also met our goal of donating over 1 million NT to the hospital over the past three years!

I’d also like to thank our main event sponsors for the Gala: our main event sponsor for the evening was Air Canada.

Northland Power, Elixir Herbary, and Il Mercato were all event sponsors for the night. We’d like to thank them for their kind sponsorship of this event, because without their assistance, this cheque and our special evening wouldn’t have been possible.

Among our other networking and happy hour events, we were also able to launch our third signature event of the year and make it a huge success thanks to our Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan committee. This was a new initiative that we undertook in 2015 and it was a roaring success for two years in a row. We already have sponsors lining up for our 3rd Annual Dragons Chamber Taiwan in November 2018.

Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan works to bridge the fundraising gap for entrepreneurs who need to raise up to NTD5 million. The initiative takers to this event are experienced foreign entrepreneurs who have lived in Taiwan for many years and who understand the challenges of fundraising. For years, we have watched the TV show Dragon’s Den offer a platform for entrepreneurs and investors to meet and now we want to do something similar in Taiwan.

On a personal note, I would also like to thank our members and the Board of Directors for putting their trust in me for the past two years. It has been my great honor and a privilege for me to be associated with the Chamber and the good work it does in our community, The Chamber’s Board of Directors and committee members are always looking for new people to get involved and I encourage anyone who is interested and has time, to join us in this very worthwhile cause.

I never thought when I got involved with the Chamber that I would one day be at its helm, and it has honestly been one of the most positive and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I’ll leave it to our new Chairperson to announce the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan’s new Board of Directors and Supervisors, and I promise you will be hearing from him shortly.

We welcome you to get involved with our committees in 2018 if you’d like to volunteer your time. We’re always happy to have new hands on deck and new friends helping out. Thank you so much for coming out to join us at our AGM on February 13, 2018. We wish you a a prosperous Year of the Dog and a very happy New Year Lunar Celebration with your family and friends.

Thank you once again!

 

 

Carrie Kellenberger,

Chairwoman, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan 2016-2018

 


This year, we are bidding a fond farewell to Ms. Shannon Watson, Co-Chair of our Membership Committee, in 2018. Shannon has served on our Board for four years. Among her membership duties, Ms. Watson has worked on all our Committees to assist the Chamber whenever possible.

We would like to thank our Lady in Red for her tireless work with the CCCT. Thank you, Shannon. We wish you well on your next adventure.

Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan 2017 Event Recap

On November 18th, 2017, the CCCT’s small business committee hosted the second annual Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan event in partnership with Meet Taipei and Business Next Magazine. Read more about Business Next’s write-up on Dragons Chamber Taiwan.

Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan is a competition where local businesses pitch ideas, strategies, and their own business models to a panel of expert judges. By participating in this event, local entrepreneurs are able to make connections with other business executives while also receiving valuable insights from experts in operating businesses in Taiwan.

Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan is open to a wide range of small businesses including, restaurants, start-ups, consulting companies, education, professional services, design, import/export, manufacturing, or any other organization — as long as they have a legitimate business model.

This event is especially useful to the foreign community here in Taiwan, as starting a business abroad sometimes poses many challenges. Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan essentially provides a forum for business executives to attract attention to their business, while also gaining new insights and perspectives about how to advance their strategies and business models.

This year’s Dragons (the judges) came from a variety of business backgrounds providing valuable commentary and thought-proving questions to this year’s contestants.

The Dragons were: Kelvin Sun – Vice President of WI Harper Group; Revital Golan- founder and CEO of Anemone Ventures; David Bostwick – Director of Trade and Investment at CTOT, and Elias EK- co-founder and CEO of Enspyre.

This year the Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan had five teams participating in the competition:

 MemePr  is an artificial intelligence marketing platform connecting enterprises with top global marketers. By using a computer robot, they are able to quickly and efficiently connect businesses to marketing influencers.

With partnerships in the United States, China, Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, and more, MemePr strives to save their members time by connecting business to these major global marketing networks.


Eatsmart is a company whose mission is to help busy people eat healthy on the go. By providing wholesome lunch boxes, their clients can select various menus to fit their dietary needs and goals.

Eat Smart’s chefs are trained in France and they offer a diversified menu specializing in European cuisine. Furthermore, the ingredients are locally sourced in Taiwan to ensure that the food is fresh upon delivery.


Woodpecker Learning provides a platform where the user can interact with online content to enhance language learning. This platform is designed for both teachers and students to make learning a language more engaging and practical.

It is also geared towards advanced learners who want to have a better understanding of digital content that is originally geared towards native speakers.

On this application users can learn English, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese with lessons in Russian to be offered in the near future.


KP Kitchen Taiwan is the place to buy familiar Western cooking and baking DIY kits. In Taiwan many home cooks struggle adjusting to small and cramped kitchens and also finding familiar ingredients for the recipes they love.

KP Kitchen has solved this problem by providing DIY sets for making recipes such as brownies, muffins, cakes, breads, and more!

The best part is that all of these recipes are tested and adopted to be made in toaster ovens or other appliances that are common in Taiwan. KP kitchen also offers delicious spice mixes which are all produced locally with love.


 My Room Abroad is a platform that connects international student to certified landlords.

Finding an apartment in a foreign country can be difficult for students, so My Room Abroad aims to alleviate this problem by providing a one-stop website where clients can search for their room and pay deposits and rental fees online.

My Room Abroad originated in Taiwan, and they are looking to expand to other countries in Asia.


All of the teams labored arduously  on their presentations and they engaged in thoughtful discussion while answering some tough questions from the dragon judges. However, only one team could finish as the first place winner.

This year the grand prize was awarded to Woodpecker Learning, with second prize to Eat Fresh, and third prize to My Room Abroad. The KP Kitchen and MemePr teams were also awarded prizes for their efforts.

In an interview with Peter Sutton from Woodpecker Learning, he provided some valuable insights for those interested in participating in next year’s Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan.

I came here just in the audience last year, and it was very interesting and  I enjoyed it. So I would definitely recommend anyone who has a business to come. Even if they think they might not win, it is a great venue to promote your product, and it is a great way to get experience.

Peter Sutton also provided a comment on how he felt to win first place at the 2017 Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan event.

There were some interesting people in the audience today, both from the point of view from the education sector and also from the point of view of investing. So we would like to follow up with them for partnerships. And I think it is going to be good publicity to win this, and hopefully people will download or app.


On behalf of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Taiwan, we would like to give our thanks and appreciation to everyone who made this event such a success. First, a thanks to our Gold Sponsors: FutureWard, JusRegal, Anemone Ventures, and Musa Trademark who all donated prizes for the top contestants.

Also we would like to thank our Silver sponsors for their contributions: DDG, Geber Brand Consulting, and  Pachuco.

Finally, we would like to thank the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei for partnering with the CCCT to make the 2017 Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan a tremendous success.

We hope to continue to see more small businesses come and compete in Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan in 2018!

 

 

 

The Advantages of Bone Marrow Transplantation for Children

Bone marrow transplantation is an effective therapy for children suffering from diseases such as Leukemia, Lymphomas, Aplastic anemia, Sickle cell disease, metabolic diseases, and other cancers.

Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found inside of bones and it is responsible for the storage and development of the majority of the body’s blood cells. The goal of bone marrow transplants is to transfuse healthy bone marrow cells while also eliminating unhealthy bone marrow.

Children suffering from cancers must undergo intense rounds or chemotherapy and radiation, and during these procedures bone marrow becomes damaged or destroyed. Therefore bone marrow transplantation is an effective treatment method because it replaces diseased, nonfunctioning bonne marrow with healthy, functioning marrow. It also helps to restore the bone marrow’s function after high doses of radiation therapy.

This year the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Taiwan is honored to be assisting MacKay Memorial Hospital in opening a new bone marrow transplantation ward in the Children’s Wing of the hospital by raising funds through its 3rd Annual Maple Ball Charity Gala on November 4, 2017.

With the help of our sponsors and attendees, we are so pleased to be able to assist MacKay Memorial Hospital in funding for its new bone marrow transplantation ward for children who are suffering from life-threatening diseases.

Top Image Source

Colours of Peace by Vincent van der Pas 

 

A Message From Our Chairwoman Carrie Kellenberger

Dear Members and Friends of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan,

Thank you for your support.

2016 was an incredible year for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. It was a busy and transformative year for us from May 2016 onwards, as we had a few key players leave our team this year to move on to other adventures.

Carrie Kellenberger - Chairwoman Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan

I am proud of what the CCCT accomplished in 2016. Canada Day 2016 was a great success, and our 2nd Annual MacKay Charity Gala for MacKay Memorial Hospital doubled in size. We raised over $10,000CDN for the hospital and we celebrated the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei‘s 30th Anniversary in Taiwan.

This year, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce stepped up its game in the small business and foreign entrepreneur communities in Taiwan by hosting its first ever Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan, an event that is geared towards Taiwan’s vibrant and growing start-up scene.

Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan 2016 helped to bridge the fundraising gap for entrepreneurs who needed to raise up to NT$5 Million to start their businesses. We’re pleased to announce that four out of the five teams we worked with this year received assistance from angel investors and from other individuals who were interested in these new and innovative ideas from our foreign community through our Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan event.

We would like to thank Business Next magazine, Meet Start-Up Taipei, and Elias Ek for working with us on our mission, and our plans are proceeding for our 2nd Annual Dragons’ Chamber Taiwan.

Meanwhile, we are continuing our hard work with the CCCT’s Small Business Network to connect small business owners and entrepreneurs with industry leaders in Taiwan, and we started 2017 with some excellent lunches hosted by our Business Luncheon Committee, including a well-attended luncheon with Mr. Pierre Loisel Sr., a proud Canadian and a legend in Taiwan.

We are also making great strides with the CCCT’s dedicated Membership and Events Committees that are hard at work to bring you even better events in 2017.

2016 truly was a year to remember, but we know that 2017 is going to be even better!

For example, in 2017, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary on Saturday, July 1st, 2017 at Taipei Hakka Culture Park. We hope to see you there!

Our event planning team for Celebration Canada 2017 began meeting in November 2016 to ensure that this is our biggest and best Canada Day celebration ever. We have a number of new surprises in store for you at Taiwan’s largest outdoor foreign national day event in Taiwan.

I would like to thank you, our valued sponsors and members.

I’d also like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation towards our all-volunteer Board of Directors, Board of Supervisors, and their hard-working committees. These individuals generously donate their time, money, and energy into making the CCCT the success it is today. Without these key players, the CCCT would not be what it is today.

As the Chamber has grown and changed over the years, it has become even more important to work and plan together with common goals and a united leadership.

We recognize and appreciate those who have shared this vision, created these goals, and led the efforts that our CCCT community currently enjoys. We have much more in store for you, so please keep an eye on the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan‘s website or give the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan’s Facebook page a ‘like‘ to show your support for Canada and Taiwan. Follow our Events calendar for upcoming events. We promise, we have much more in store for you in 2017.

It is my honour and pleasure to serve as Chairwoman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan and its governing body for 2016 through to 2018. It is my great privilege to be walking in the footsteps of those who have made the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan into what it is today.CCCT

Please help us to make 2017 an even greater success.

All the best,

 

Carrie Kellenberger

Chairwoman, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan

Maokong – A Place For An Afternoon Escape in Taipei

Taipei is such a spectacular city due to its variety of geographical features. Lush, green mountains surround every angle of the city, so escaping to nature is easily achieved by just hopping on the MRT.

One of my favorite places for an afternoon escape is Maokong, a mountain famous for growing local oolong and green tea. Maokong is located in the Wenshan district of Taipei, City and it is accessible by taking the brown line to Taipei Zoo station.

There is a gondola located adjacent to the MRT. The cable-car ride is about 20 minutes to the top, and it stops at the Taipei Zoo South Entrance, Zhinan Temple, and then finally Maokong.

During the gondola ride, one can achieve a panoramic view of the city skyline and mountainous city border. For those seeking a more thrilling adventure, every fifth or sixth car features a glass bottom for more exhilarating views. If you are not afraid of heights, opt to stand in the “crystal cabin” line to experience this invigorating ride!

Once you arrive to the terminal station, meander along the ridgeway to find a teahouse or local restaurant. There are many restaurants that incorporate tea to infuse flavor in their dishes.

There are also delicious pineapple cakes, traditional Taiwanese dishes, or other local snacks to enjoy. I tried the tempura mushrooms from one of the cafes, and I must say they were scrumptious!

If you decide to enjoy the local tea, I recommend purchasing the option that comes with a presentation of the tea ceremony. The waiter or waitress will demonstrate how to properly steep and pour the tea for the best flavor and experience.

They will show you how to warm the cups and pot, and they will tell you how long to steep each brew. Drinking the Maokong tea on the mountain ridge will surely help you to unwind and relax from the bustling Taipei city life.

Maokong is open from 8:30am-9:30pm on weekdays and 8:30-10pm on weekends. Though tea is wonderful at anytime of the day, I highly recommend going in the late afternoon and staying for the sunset. It is a stunning sight watching Taipei light up in the night sky. Furthermore, be aware of weather, especially in the summer, as the gondola may close during thunderstorms or stormy weather.

 

 

48 Hours of Luxury at the Grand Hyatt Taipei

By Joshua Samuel Brown and Stephanie Huffman, Special to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan

Joshua Samuel Brown - Lonely Planet Author

Image Source: Tobie Openshaw

For a long time I scoffed at luxury hotels, but this was largely because luxury hotels were way out of my reach. (“A Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing is your ticket to the finer things in life” said no undergraduate advisor ever.)

Then I began my illustrious career as a guidebook writer, and not only could I still not afford to stay in luxury hotels but I was obliged to visit them regularly to review them on the sly, conducting clandestine inspections of some of Asia’s best known five-stars by day bedding down in hostels by night.

This oft-used technique is employed by many an honest travel writer – for a full report on the potential pitfalls of this method, click over to My Parents are Little People.

But Taipei’s hostels are no place to bring a lady, especially a jet-lagged first time visitor who’s come to Taiwan sight unseen as part of a strangely-hatched literary mission / life transition.

So when Paul Ou, Marketing Communications Manager at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, offered Stephanie and I a soft landing place at the start of our Formosa Moon Research Trip, we accepted with great gratitude. The two-day stay would give us a place to relax in style and to plan out the next three months of travel and writing around Taiwan, a trip during which luxury would definitely not be the planned focus.

We had arrived in town on New Year’s Eve, and as even the humbler hotels were booked we’d spent the previous two nights couch-surfing. Still bedraggled and road-weary, we were whisked up to our apartment on the 20th floor to begin our 48 hour luxury package.

Yes, apartment. With two bathrooms (one more than our actual apartment in Portland, Oregon), a huge living room that doubled as our office (or would have if we’d gotten any actual work done), a bedroom fit for a king in more ways than just the king-sized mattress, the Grand Executive Suite deserved to be called no less.

At the risk of showing my age, let’s start with the bathrooms.

The main one boasted a rainforest shower, a tub big enough for a romantic evening with two full-grown mermaids and a heated toilet with a bewilderingly soothing number of water-spouting accoutrements.

The living room bathroom had the same cyber-toilet but lacking either the tub or shower seemed more geared towards executive business. The living room water closet also lacked wall-to-wall and nigh floor-to-ceiling windows, which is noteworthy only in that it was literally the only room in the entire suite in which one could not look out upon everything in Taipei city south, east (and in one spot close to the front door) west of Taipei 101.

In mathematical terms, our suite boasted 3/4 of a 360 degree view, which according to Siri means our suite offered a 270 degree view of Taipei (and the fact that I needed to bother Siri on such a stunningly simple calculation should tell you all you need to know about why I chose a career in writing).

Grand Hyatt Taipei and 101

Image Source: Tobie Openshaw

The view, showing Taipei in its busy glory by day and neon splendor by night, could be blocked out at the push of a bank of buttons that raised and lowered blinds, sent blackout curtains sliding from hidden compartments, turned lights on and off, operated the large flat screen TV and would call room service to order kippers for the mermaids in the bathtub.

We did not send for room service (though it was an 24/7 option), opting instead to try as many of the Grand Hyatt’s dozen-or-so eating spots as possible over our 48 hour stay. The Pearl Liang restaurant served up authentic Cantonese fare with just a hint of fusion, while the first floor café had a buffet rivaling the Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza greenmarket in its international bona-fides.

Our favorite spot turned out to be the 22nd floor Grand Club Lounge, both for its daily breakfast, all-day snack selection and evening cocktail parties. It was during one of these parties where we reconnected with an astrophysicist we’d met on the flight over, discussing over hors d’oeuvres both the smallness of the world and the vastness of the universe.

We were also taken to wander avec chaperon through some of the other rooms at the Grand Hyatt (one of the perks of travel writing) and were impressed by managements’ overall attention to detail. All hotels keep a few books in their rooms, but these are usually either decorative Reader’s Digest type collections, or religious tomes designed to dissuade the lonely traveler from doing something they might regret after having a few too many from the mini-bar.

But each of the rooms we visited (including our own) had books worth buying – graphic novels, guides to astronomy, short story collections. As writers ourselves, we were encouraged. Not enough to tear us away from the bathtub, 270 degree view of Taipei, flat-screen TV complete with first-run pay-per-view movies and other diversions to do any actual work. But…almost.

Cuisine, accommodations worthy of a Sultan (of Brunei or Swing, take your pick) and being allowed to spend time recuperating from a lengthy journey while preparing for an even lengthier one was but a part of our 48 hour luxury package.

The other part was a three-hour long treatment at the Grand Hyatt’s brand new Oasis Spa. But for that description, I’ll pass the keyboard to the other half of the Formosa Moon Team.

Joshua Samuel Brown and Stephanie Huffman

Image Source: Tobie Openshaw

Stephanie?

What did I do to deserve such luxury?

Before our session had begun, we’d been invited to soak in the gender-separated spa area. I hit the sauna first, hoping to sweat out the processed-food toxins from many days of travel, but the sauna proved too hot.

Bailing after just a few minutes, I moved to the steam room, settling into the overall vibe, listening to the mellow hiss of steam. Everything in the spa had clearly been designed with comfort and serenity in mind.

The spa’s centerpiece, the main hot pool, was designed to allow the water to rest at the stone pool’s upper edge. As I entered it spilled over the sides into the drain surrounding the pool. After I had settled into a comfortable spot the water stilled and again the water level rode right to the pool edge.

The scene was quiet and relaxing. A small cold pool sat nearby. I worked myself up to walk down the steps and submerge myself to my shoulders. After a few breaths I returned to the heated waters of the main pool.

I was repeating this process, alternating between hot and cold when my masseuse came in to get me, wrapping me in a thick white robe before bringing me upstairs to our couples massage room. Joshua was already seated, soaking his feet in a brine of scented water, sipping flower tea in (uncharacteristic) silence.

I joined him as our masseuses readied the tables while we drank a flower tea in silence. We were then beckoned to our heated massage tables, where we, after being slathered in black mud, were wrapped in a coating of thick plastic and covered in heavy blankets. My masseuse applied additional mud onto my face with a soft brush, which I found quite soothing. I’d done many spa sweats in New Mexico and had always enjoyed the experience.

It had been several years since I had done such a sweat, and I was floating on a pleasant cloud of heated mud and perspiration.

My reverie is interrupted suddenly.

I feel like a butterball turkey roasting in its own juices.”

Joshua, apparently, has reached his own heat tolerance, and begins unwrapping himself prematurely from his mud cocoon. He makes a beeline for the shower.
Not long after, my masseuse gestures for me to sit up. As I ease into a standing position, a mixture of mud and sweat pours down my body. The masseuse folds the plastic around my calves, allowing me to waddle to the shower without dripping on the floor. After washing in a beautifully warm shower, I join Joshua on the couch and await the next round.

We’re given a light snack during our break, mochi – a sweetened glutinous rice cake – and more tea. The sauna mud wrap having begun the process of melting away the soreness from days of awkward sleeping arrangements, I’m now ready for the massage to evaporate the rest. I am not disappointed – my masseuse knows her trade well, using enough pressure to work my muscles without pain.

After the massage, we’re invited to relax again on the couch with more flower tea before beginning the last part of the treatment – the facial. Lying still on the table, a seemingly endless array of gentle paintbrushes caress my skin with sweet smelling lotion. Again, I find myself drifting away.

The facial complete, we are offered more tea and advised to let the oils and other unguents from the various stages of the Calm treatment to to soak into our skin for the rest of the day before showering. Every inch of my skin velvety soft, Joshua and I head upstairs for a mid-day rest, Calm, relaxed and serene.

Foyer of the Grand Hyatt Taipei

Image Source: Stephanie Huffman

Joshua Samuel Brown has authored or co-authored 13 books, including Vignettes of Taiwan and a dozen or so guides for guidebook titan, Lonely Planet. He and his partner Stephanie Huffman are in Taiwan working on a collaborative project called Formosa Moon, to be published by Things Asian Press in 2018. To learn more about Formosa Moon, check out www.josambro.com or their Facebook page at Honey Trekkers

Grand Hyatt Taipei

2, SongShou Road, Taipei, Taiwan, 11051

Taiwan Lantern Festival – Sending Wishes to the Sky

The lighting of Kongming lanterns, also known as sky lanterns, has been a popular tradition for centuries throughout most of Asia. Like a hot air balloon, the lantern is propelled by a small flame that guides it up towards the sky during the Taiwan Lantern Festival each year.

Taiwan Lantern Festival 

In Taiwan, lighting Kongming lanterns is especially popular during the Lunar New Year holiday. The locals believe that these lanterns carry their prayers to the sky to bring them a fruitful and fortunate new year.

In Pingxi, there is an annual festival where thousands of lanterns are floated into the sky together. It is said that the floating lights resemble a constellation of stars as the lanterns flicker and float away into the night sky.

Though watching thousands of lanterns fly into the sky together is a majestic site, fighting the crowds and getting to Pingxi can be a bit of a hassle. It takes some advance planning.

Personally, I would advise getting a hotel in Pingxi if you decide to go, otherwise it can be challenging getting back to Taipei after the festivities end.

If you are like me and prefer a more relaxing way of doing things, then I suggest visiting Shifen, just three train stop before Pingxi to send your lantern of hopes and dreams skyward.

Lighting lanterns is available at all times of the year, so you don’t have to wait until the new year festivities to have this special, memorable experience.

As soon as you exit the train at Shifen station, you will be in the heart of the charming old street. Shops selling souvenirs, Taiwanese sausages and other delicacies, and artisan crafts stalls fill the market along the tracks.

If you walk beyond the train tracks, you can visit the stunning and magnificent Shifen Waterfall, which is just a 15-minute walk from the town’s center.

Signs mark the waterfall trail, so it is easy to find upon arrival.

There are many shops selling the Konming lanterns in the market area. The train passes by every 30 minutes, so during this time gap, people go onto the tracks to send their lanterns into the sky. Before sending the lanterns up and away, you can decorate your lantern using a traditional Chinese paint brush and black ink.

The shops provide an easel-like stand to paint the lantern on the side of the train track. You are free to express yourself in anyway that you wish.  Some people paint pictures, others write a message, and some traditionally write their prayers or wishes.

When I visited Shifen, I traveled with my brother, so we set up the stand in a way where we could not see what the other was paining until we were finished. It was amusing how differently we interpreted what to do with the lantern. Sending the lantern into the sky was a joyful moment, and it will be a memory I cherish for a long time.

In order to go to either Shifen or Pingxi, take the northbound train from Taipei Main station to Ruifang station.  Make sure not to take the Keelung northbound train.

Once you arrive at Ruifang station, you will transfer to the Pingxi Line. Shifen is only three stops down, while Pingxi is a total of six stops. Overall the trip takes about an hour and half, maybe two hours if you have to wait for the trains.

All Chambers Taiwan Golf Tournament 2016 – Congratulations to our Canadian Golf Team in Taiwan

With Tom Cumming (Deputy Director Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei), Steven Clark, John Kellenberger (Director at Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan), and David Merrifield.

Congratulations to our Canadian Golf Team in Taiwan for bringing home 1st place for the All Chambers Taiwan Golf Tournament on Saturday, November 5, 2016. The trophy is displayed at the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei | 加拿大駐台北貿易辦事處 (CTOT) for the next year. See you then!

Way to go, guys!

Feathered Fortunes

One of the greatest aspects of living and traveling in Taiwan is the opportunity to delve into the anomalous daily practices of local life. Experiencing the unfamiliar helps us to broaden our horizons while also gaining a deeper appreciation of local culture. In Taiwan many ancient Chinese practices and traditions have been preserved, so travelers and expats can easily seek out treasures from a bygone era.

One tradition that is still upheld and practiced regularly is fortune telling. Booths can be found throughout the city, usually around temples or night markets. In Taiwanese society, fortune telling is a revered and essential component of social and business culture.

The role of the soothsayer is essential when businessmen are making important investments or management decisions. They also help people socially by resolving personal issues and inner conflicts.

If you are traveling to Taiwan, the fortune telling booths may be particularly busy around holidays, and they are especially occupied in the days and weeks before the Chinese New Year. Many of these soothsayers use Chinese astrological charts to determine one’s fate. They also typically use techniques such as palm reading and investigating a client’s facial lines and features.

However, my favorite are the ones that use birds to chose the cards for the client.

Personally, I have always been enchanted by the idea of fortune telling. Though I am unsure how much truth may lie in the reading, I am still fascinated by the process and experience. One day, I suddenly had the urge to finally give Taiwanese fortune telling a try. My brother was visiting me, so I wanted to give him an experience that was truly unique to Taiwan. I was most enthralled at the opportunity to try out the bird fortune telling.

My brother and I went to the underground shopping market that is connected to the Longshan Temple MRT station. I chose this location, because I had previously been informed that there were English speaking translators and fortunetellers. Bird fortunetellers can be found by other temples and night markets; however many of these locations can only offer readings in Chinese.Fortune Tellers in Taiwan

As I sat down at the booth I was greeted with warm smiles and curiosity. The translator explained to me that I needed to deeply ponder the question that I sought to have answered.

Once I knew my question, I was then told to speak it to the birds. It was a bit difficult to ask the birds my question with a straight face, however I did my best to act as serious and composed as I could.

I stared at the birds and uttered, “Will I go to graduate school at NCCU this fall?” Suddenly, the birds became very spirited. As the fortuneteller opened their cage, the birds began vigorously pecking at the bright orange envelopes. These feathered creatures were quite eager to determine my fate!

The fortuneteller then laid out my cards in a past, present, future layout. She told me I was very lucky and hardworking, and that I would soon benefit from my determination and hard work. Honestly, I found her interpretation to be quite vague, and it seemed she was just trying to please me. I wondered if she was reluctant to say negative things due to me being a foreigner.

I decided to dig a little further and ask her what I need to watch out for, or should I have any concerns or worries. She then took my hand and asked to look at my tongue. She told me that my father should take care of his heart, and I should eat more mushrooms. It was quite interesting, indeed!

Whether one believes in the credibility of these soothsayers, participating in Taiwanese fortunetelling is a memorable and alluring experience. I highly recommend paying a visit to these feathered fate readers to see what the future has in store!

YouBike- Taiwan’s Bike Sharing System

Taipei is a city that has many outdoor attractions. Whether it is parks, temples, gardens, or the night markets, much of daily life is spent in the midst of the bustling city streets. Taipei’s bike sharing system, YouBike, is a great way to get out and see some of the incredible sites Taipei has to offer.

In 2009, the Taipei City government teamed up with Giant, a world-renowned bicycle manufacturing company. YouBike started with only 11 kiosks in the Xinyi District of Taipei. Now there are 190 rental stations with over 6,000 bikes in circulation! YouBike has also stationed kiosks in Taichung, New Taipei, Changhua County, and Taoyuan.

How to Register for YouBike

In order to check out a YouBike, you will first need to buy an EasyCard. This card is an essential purchase in Taiwan because it is used to access the Taipei Metro, buses, and taxis.

You can even use the card for purchases at convenience stores. Cards can be purchased at 7-11, Family Mart, or any other major convenience store. For further information about the EasyCard, you can visit their page here.

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The process of registering the EasyCard for YouBike is quick and easy.

Do note that the only way to register your EasyCard is to have a Taiwanese cell phone number.

  1. If you are just visiting Taiwan, you can purchase temporary SIM cards from major Taiwanese carriers at the International Airports.
  2. The next step is to register the EasyCard at any of the YouBike computerized kiosks. To find a YouBike station, you can download the YouBike app and check the map to see the station locations. You can also typically find YouBike stations outside of most MRT stops.
  3. To register the EasyCard, just follow the instructions on the screen. Directions are available in both Chinese and English.
  4. First you will select “Join YouBike.”
  5. Then you will need to agree to the terms and conditions.
  6. Finally a confirmation code will be sent via text message to your phone.
  7. Submit the given code, and then place your EasyCard on the sensor. In a matter of seconds you are ready to ride!
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Simply click “JOIN YOUBIKE” and you will be on your way!

If a visitor does not have a local Taiwanese cell phone number, they cannot use the EasyCard for YouBike transportation.

However, there is an option to use a credit card registration instead. To do this, select the “Single Rental” option from the screen. Then agree to the terms and conditions and follow the instructions for inputting your credit card information. YouBike puts a temporary hold of NT$2,000 on the credit card until the bike has been returned. Once the bike has been returned, the proper amount will be credited and the hold will be removed.

The cost of renting a YouBike is based on the duration of use. The first 30 minutes costs a mere NT$5. After the first 30 minutes, the rider is charged NT$10/ per half hour for the next 3.5 hours. After four hours of use, the rate increases to NT$20/per half hour for the next 4 hours. The final rate increases to NT $40/per half hour if the bike is used longer than 8 hours.

How to Check Out a You Bike

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Error codes in English.

Checking out a YouBike is extremely simple!

  1. First select a bike from one of the kiosks. I suggest checking the seat and tire pressure to make sure the bike’s condition is suitable. The YouBike maintenance crew is quite efficient in picking up faulty bikes, but occasionally a bike might have a loose seat or a flat tire.
  2. After choosing which bike to ride, swipe the EasyCard on the “Sensor Zone”. When you hear the beeping sound, you can remove the bike. A screen will also display your balance, so you check how much money is on your EasyCard. More money can be added to the EasyCard at convenience stores or inside any of the MRT stations.
  3. Occasionally an error message might appear. In that case a number will pop up to let you know what the issue is.  Each number corresponds to a different error message, so just check the number to see what the issue might be. There is a chart adjacent to the sensor that has the numbers and their corresponding problems. If the sticker only displays the problems in Chinese check the adjacent bike slot for English instructions.

Best Places to Cycle in Taipei

Once you get the bike, its time to enjoy all of the sites Taiwan has to offer!

In many neighborhoods there are bike paths. If the bike paths are not marked on the sidewalk, just stay to the side that is closest to the street. In some cases the sidewalks may be too narrow or crowded, in that case it is acceptable to ride in the street. Just make sure to follow traffic rules and stay to the far right.

Conveniently marked bike lanes are throughout the city!

Conveniently marked bike lanes are throughout the city!

Though it is quite easy to ride anywhere in the city, I highly recommend taking the YouBike to the riverside.

The best places to access the river are at Songshan, Gongguan, Tamsui, and Yuanshan MRT. The river path is rarely crowded, and it will give you the freedom to ride as quickly or as leisurely as you prefer.

Stunning riverside views near Tamsui

Stunning riverside views near Tamsui

Returning the YouBike

Returning the YouBike is just as simple as checking it out.

You do not need to return it to the same station.

Instead, just find a kiosk anywhere in the city.  If you are having problems finding a station, there are three solutions to solve this problem:

  1. First you can check the YouBike app. On the app, a map shows the locations of all of the stations. The app also tells you if the kiosks are empty or full.
  2. Option two is to visit YouBike’s website. The website has a map feature to assist you in finding the bike stations.
  3. The final option is to use Google Maps to find the closest MRT. If you can find an MRT station, then you should be able to locate a YouBike parking zone close by.

When you arrive at the YouBike station, just slide the bike into the lock and scan your EasyCard. The card should beep and show your remaining balance.

Caroline Hosey - YouBike8

Also, if you want to park the bike, have no fear! There is a lock feature, so you can leave the bike anywhere you would like. On the front wheel of the bike, there is a removable key and a cable attachment. Simply, just secure the bike wherever you wish using the attached cable. Just be careful not to lose the key!

By choosing to ride a YouBike, you can get great exercise while also decreasing your carbon footprint! You can explore more area than would be seen on foot, and you can easily access any point of the city. I highly recommend to anyone, young or old, to get out and enjoy a ride!