The Tainan City Government is in the midst of promoting its English-friendly environment policy. It recently extended its feelers to the rural districts of Liuying, Baihe, Dongshan, Houbi, Yanshuei, and Sinying, working with locals to create four English-friendly rural travel itineraries. The aim was to give foreign backpackers the opportunity to experience the beauty of Taiwan’s traditional villages in depth. The city government’s Office of English as the Second Official Language (OEASOL) invited famous travel blogger PJ and two foreign students to follow two of the routes and experience the two-day journeys in person to assess the completeness of the transport, tourist attraction, accommodation, shopping, and dining information, and also offer suggestions.
The OEASOL says blogger PJ, who participated in the route planning and exploration, has lived in Indonesia for many years and is the author of two travel books, “Bali Island” and “Java Island.” Although she has lived in Indonesia for many years, her travel books are written from the perspective of a foreigner. They explore local places of interest and are aimed at backpackers visiting Indonesia. The city government sought her participation in this project because it wished to draw on her ample experience to assess whether every single aspect of the itinerary was suitable for and appealing to backpackers. The route and attractions that PJ explored will be posted on her travel blog. Those interested in exploring off the beaten path attractions and the local conditions and customs of rural villages can also get more information online.
PJ says the countries that she is most interested in exploring in depth are those with a long history and civilization, such as Indonesia, Peru, and others. Tainan is one of the oldest cities in Taiwan. She fell in love with its rich cultural and historical background, as well as its unique mountain and sea scenery. Therefore, when she received the invitation from the OEASOL, she didn’t think twice and immediately accepted. PJ adds that she hopes to use this opportunity to get to know a different side of Tainan and then share the beauty of rural Tainan with foreigners.
Two foreign National Cheng Kung University freshmen, Carlos and José, also helped to test out an itinerary. Though they only moved to Tainan a short while ago, they already spend every weekend exploring the city’s famous scenic spots, such as “Anping Old Fort” or “Chimei Museum.” Carlos and José say they normally travel in urban areas due to the transportation factor. They were really interested in the rural scenery in the northern part of the city, but transportation was an issue. Moreover, it wasn’t easy to get information in English from shops or restaurants. This was why they didn’t really consider rural travel. Carlos says travelers would be more willing to visit rural villages if the public and private sectors work together to provide fast and convenient transport options and bilingual information.
One of the recommended accommodations is Moo Time Inn. Manager Ray previously moved to Taipei to work in automobile design and project management. He also lived in Czech capital Prague for a time. One year ago, he returned to his hometown of Tainan, wanting to explore his homeland and change the image of rural villages through artistic beauty. Ray says Liuying District has many special scenic spots. For example, the former residence of Liu Chi-hsiang, one of four important artists who studied in France in the 1920s, is located near the inn. Meanwhile, the “Liu Family Ancestral Mansion” is the birthplace of the Feeding Crane martial arts style. This style has fascinated foreigners and spread to the West, where it is practiced by Special Forces for close combat. The bilingualization of route information will be great news for foreigners hoping to explore the mysteries of Tainan’s countryside.
This time, two of the rural travel itineraries were scrutinized. They were the Sinying-Liuying Route and the Yanshuei-Houbi Route. The remaining two routes will be examined in the future.