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!

Event Recap: Celebration Canada 2016

Sometimes living abroad can be most challenging around holiday times. One cannot help but feel a longing for home life as they skim through pictures and read statuses from friends and families celebrating back home. Though pangs of homesickness set in most around holidays, expat communities in Taiwan help ease the agony of missing festivities back home.

In Taipei, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce hosts a Canada Day celebration to give expats and travelers a chance to celebrate while also sharing Canadian traditions with the local Taiwanese community. This year, Celebration Canada was held on June 25th, 2016 at the Taipei City Hakka Cultural Park from 1:00-9:00pm.

This year’s festivities included live music, a variety of local food and beverage vendors, a children’s activity center, an art corner, and even a bull-riding contest!

The CCCT also hosts a terrific raffle each year with all sorts of fun prices, including:

A round-trip ticket to Canada from EVA Air and China Airways, food coupons for Roots and Texas Roadhouse, hotel accommodations with Xitou Le Midi (米蒂亞套房雙人住宿券) and Zhongli Le Midi hotel accommodations (中壢米堤雙人住宿券), MacKay Charity Gala Tickets for two from the CCCT, Afternoon Tea for two at La Rotisserie, various items from Roots Taiwan, pearl bracelets from 引雅珠寶-珍珠手鍊, several bottles of Canadian red wine, various items from China Airlines, coupons from Alleycats Pizza, coupons from Carnegie’s Taiwan, coupons and coffee mugs from Campus Café, a number of Canada Beef Travel Kits, several coupons from The Diner, several packages of Canadian nougat, and three Le Midi Gift Bags.

The CCCT would like to thank our generous donators for our raffle prize. It gets bigger and better every year!

Celebration Canada 2016 - CCCT Reporter Caroline Hosey_2

Though the day started out cloudy and grey, the rain stayed away and everyone had a lovely time celebrating Canada! Many participants showed up in Red and White to show their Canadian pride! Everyone enjoyed the delicious food, music, and activities. Canada Day is a fantastic family affair, and it shouldn’t be missed by anyone traveling to Taipei in late June.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s event:

The diverse list of food vendors this year had something tasty for everyone!

Texas Roadhouse, a CCCT corporate sponsor, cooked up some smoky and delectable BBQ ribs and chicken. Mayur Indian Kitchen served up some tasty vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian options. Three Idiots Toast and Curry offered some wonderful vegetarian grilled cheese sandwiches and curries.

Maple Maple, a CCCT corporate sponsor, offered some typically delicious Canadian treats. Merkel and Meat Mate served up sausages all day long. Chelsea’s offered some delectable grilled cheese sandwiches, and Uncle Kunkel distributed some savory Tex Mex. Finally there was also a booth called Slyders selling sweet and tangy maple glazed pork sliders that absolutely hit the spot!

Celebration Canada 2016 - CCCT Reporter Caroline Hosey

This year the kid’s zone featured a bouncy castle and a blow up slide. There was also a face-painting booth and Canada-themed temporary tattoos so everyone could show their Canadian Pride! The children were grinning from ear to ear as they enjoyed all of the festivities!

Celebration Canada 2016 - CCCT Reporter Caroline Hosey_5

This year’s event would not be complete without the amazing lineup of bands. Nothing is better than dancing the day and night away to some fantastic live music.

We heard from Tony Taylor and the Rockits, Jesse Helton and The Green Machine, Pineapple Plaid, DC and the Funky Duds, Sam Lin, Red Cliff, and a special band that was organized just for Celebration Canada called the Canadian All-Stars! Many thanks to Brandon Thompson for organizing such an outstanding line-up of fantastic bands to entertain us throughout the day and evening.

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All day long, the bull riding machine had people lined up to try riding the longest in order to win the Grand Prize of a free ticket from Taipei to Canada. While some riders lacked the essential balance to ride more than a few seconds, a few skilled riders were able to hang on! This year’s lucky winner(s) were:

1st Place: Nick Coulson snatched up his grand prize with a whopping 95 seconds on the mechanical bull.

2nd Place: Jenna Robinette placed second with a very respectable 81-second ride. She took home a NT$1,000 coupon from Texas Roadhouse.

3rd Place: Tyler stayed on the mechanical bull for 70 seconds and took home a NT$1,000 coupon from Roots for his efforts.

Our bull-riding minors also took home prizes for showing their prowess on the mechanical bull. Natalie took home a NT$1,000 coupon from Texas Roadhouse for riding the bull for 164 seconds. Great job, eh!

We would like to thank EVA Air and China Airlines for offering two round-trip tickets for our mechanical bull prize and for our raffle prize.

Celebration Canada 2016 - CCCT Reporter Caroline Hosey_3

The success of Celebration Canada is all thanks to the participants from both the Taiwanese and foreign communities. Make sure to join us again next year for the 150th year celebration of Canada Day in Taiwan, which will be held on Canada Day, July 1, 2017.

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!

E-Commerce in Taiwan (Event Recap)

Date & Time: Friday, 6th May 8pm-10pm
Venue: Beer & Cheese Social House
Topic: eCommerce in Taiwan
Admission: Members FREE, Non-members $NT200

The CCCT’s Small Business Committee (SBC) invites you to attend our next presentation and discussion night on Friday, May 6th, 2016 at 8pm at Beer & Cheese Social House.

There will be a few short presentations for individuals interested in operating their own e-commerce business in Taiwan. Please join us, learn something, contribute something, and meet some cool people.

After presentations from our guest speakers, who are all knowledgeable and successful expat entrepreneurs in the e-commerce industry, there will be a Q&A and open discussion.

Our guest panel is:

*Mr. Anthony van Dyck, Founder of Taiwanease.com*Taiwanease 300x250
Originally a highly acclaimed magazine, Taiwanease was officially re-launched as an independent website on September 1st, 2012.

Since then, Taiwanease has grown to be the largest website of its kind in Taiwan, with bustling forums, classified ads, magazine articles, “how-to” guides, and a an island-wide directory with complementary smartphone app.

*Mr. Jake Morrison, Owner of Cogini*
For the past 10 years Jake Morrison has been running Cogini, a consulting company that helps entrepreneurs and startups build products.cogini-logo-name

He works them to define the product strategy and features, then builds the product, serving as their long term technical partner. Over the years, he has built dozens of custom e-commerce websites and mobile applications.

*Mr. Ofa Hsueh, Knowledge Keeper, Archilife Research Foundation; Consultant, Digital Movie Create Club, NTU*
Ofa has diverse experience in IT field as a programmer, hacker, manager and COO. He also travels between Silicon Valley Ofa Hsuehand Taiwan to develop his own start-ups philosophies. Mr. Hsueh will be talking about payment systems, including an overview of FinTech, why FinTech matters for eCommerce, and tips for building a modern eCommerce platform in Taiwan.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Yilan Is Magic – Cycling Through The Ocean Breeze (Part 2)

Yilan is Magic continued from Part 1 on My Several Worlds… Today’s guest post is brought to us by Joshua Samuel Brown. Mr. Brown is the author of Vignettes of Taiwan and 13 Lonely Planet Guides, including the 2007 & 2010 editions of Lonely Planet Taiwan.

Cyclists looking to chase the ocean breezes should hit the 13.5KM Seaside Cycling Road between Zhulan Bird Watching Area and the Dingliao Ecological Park. Other Yilan cycling paths include the 10K Dezikou River path, which passes through fish farms and protected wetland and the 10.5K Lanyang River path, which goes through the Lanyang River Bird Sanctuary and offers great views of nearby Guishan Dao (Turtle Island).

Seasoned cyclists who don’t mind sharing the road will find in Yilan thousands of kilometers of beautiful roads, most all offering beautiful views and some with relatively light traffic. Though on bigger roads you’ll ride beside the usual assortment of scooters, cars and the occasional tour bus (especially on the coastal highway, which is still a must-ride), on smaller inland roads expect to pass many a slow-moving farming vehicle on your ride.

Yilan’s agricultural roots run deep, and over the last several years Yilan has morphed agriculture with tourism, leading to the creation of several leisure farm, areas consisting of several – in some cases, dozens – farms and agricultural areas that supplement their agriculture output with tourism. In some cases, tourism seems to have overshadowed agricultural output entirely.

One such leisure farm is the Jhentoushan Agricultural Leisure Area, a collection of attractions spread out over several kilometers rice paddies and former farmland east of Yilan city. Jung Lung Jai is a a traditional Taiwanese farmhouse that’s been renovated and brought back to life as as a café serving coffee, kumquat tea and homemade pizza. The café sits next to Wang Long Tang (Dragon watching Pond), an artificial lake that’s home to a multitude of water-birds multi-angled bridge shaped like a lightning bolt leads to an island with a pavilion, as good a spot for dragon watching as any you’re likely to come across.

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The author in a giant pitcher plant at Bo’s Farm – the Living Zen college

Other parts of the Jhentoushan Agricultural Leisure Area include quirky spots like Bo’s Farm – the Living Zen college. Even if you’re not in the market to buy carnivorous flora, its still worth a visit to see the thousands of  pitcher plants and Venus flytraps that are Bo’s agricultural output. There ‘s even one you can sit inside, if you’re in the mood to feel like a mosquito. Somewhat more straightforward in nature is the Agrioz museum of Candied Fruits. Part factory, part store, Agrioz earns the right to call itself a museum thanks to the educational tours, complete with courses in DIY candied fruit-making. The museum is run by second-generation candied fruit maker Lin Ding-gang, who enjoys regaling visitors with Taiwanese opera songs about – what else – candied fruit.

Though not in the Jhentoushan Agricultural Leisure proper, the Fang Yue Tea Garden holds its own in the quirky-cool-agricultural department, offering lessons in the finer points of of traditional tea-cake preparation under the careful instruction proprietress Hong Hsou Ing. Though the ingredients are deceptively simple – Green Tea Powder, Green Bean flower, and various fillings made of pomelo & mulberry (with a hint of orange peel) – making the cakes takes a bit of practice.  Mrs. Hong promises that all her charges will leave not merely knowing how to make green-tea cakes, but but with a box filled with 15 cakes presentable enough for gifting or eating on the train back home.

If DIY tea-cake making doesn’t bring out your inner child, than a visit to the San Fu Leisure Farm just might – more jungle tour than farm, San Fu’s chief ranger is a jovial, hyper passionate man nicknamed Elephant, who leads tours through the extensive jungle paths while teaching about both the flora and fauna of the area, which include an endless variety of butterflies, spiders and frogs, some of which Elephant (given name Chen Han Ching) will hypnotize for your amusement.

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Image Source

Finally, Yilan offers more adult pursuits, and those with a taste for fine spirits will want to hit the Kavalan Distillery, Taiwan’s first and only whiskey distillery, the Kavalan Distillery is said by some in the high-price booze know to produce the world’s finest single-malt scotch. Tour the factory and learn how Whisky is made from start to finish. If you’re of drinking age you can sample various blends in Kavalan’s tasting room. Underage visitors and teetotalers will have to content themselves with the angels share, the fumes given off by the evaporating whisky that permeate the factory.

And if that isn’t enough to relax you, there’s always The Art Spa.

Joshua Samuel Brown is the author of Vignettes of Taiwan and 13 Lonely Planet Guides, including the 2007 & 2010 editions of Lonely Planet Taiwan. He currently leads bicycle tours around Taiwan for Bicycle Adventures, and considers himself a semi-honorary Canadian by virtue of having once lived in Newfoundland. Follow him on twitter @josambro, and buy his most recent book of short stories, How Not To Avoid Jet Lag and other tales of travel madness at Smashwords or Amazon.

Li Cheng-Shu is a Photographer and tour guide based in Yilan. Find him on Facebook at CS Art Space & Studio (青水工作室)

Working in the Education Industry in Taiwan (Event Recap)

A few weeks ago, the CCCT Small Business Committee had another Taiwan Small Business Network event, aimed at presenting some deep background and top tips for expats interested in starting an education based business.Tribeca Taipei

It was a really successful event, thanks, of course, to our enlightened speakers, and to enthusiastic participation by the attendees. Many thanks to TRIBECA for hosting their second small business event with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. We truly appreciate your support and patronage!

Our first speaker was Brian Hockertz, CEO of Oh! Study Education Group. Brian is a very long-term Taiwan expat, having worked for the Canadian Trade Office in Taiwan even before Taipei 101 existed! Going from heading the education department at the CTOT, Brian went on to open his own successful educational consultancy for Taiwanese students bound for overseas study, first in Canada, then also in the USA, and now worldwide.Oh Study-2016

Brian shared with us the distillation of his business experience in Taiwan, presented as points of advice:

  1. Respect your core competency. Stay focused and committed to the thing you do best;
  2. Go local, that’s where your market is;
  3. Keep clean books, because your business competitors will try and get you audited, if you actually start making any money;
  4. Standardize your operations as if it were a franchise. That’s called efficiency and it’s much easier to train staff in this kind of system;
  5. Be one of the top 5 companies in Taiwan the world at what you do. Be world class, and you will get customers;
  6. You might very well be copied, so keep innovating.

Thanks Brian for your business bushido!

Carleen's English SchoolNext Carleen Emma, founder and owner of Carleen’s English School, a mid-sized children’s cram school in Neihu, told us about her experiences starting and growing her now-successful business. And, wow! What a story!

Carleen talked about the financial tightrope she walked, the constant struggle with surprise costs and revenue slumps, and the big risk she took when she bought out a larger location. But running her business wasn’t just about money: She also very frankly told us about the tough times when she was teaching classes with her infant daughter strapped to her body, and about the deep connection she had with the local community achieved by protecting and educating their children, listening to their concerns, and being a positive part of the scene day by day, month by month, year by year.

A great origin story with a happy ending!

Thanks Carleen!

Our next presentation was from Bob MacLeod. Bob became a partner with Rick France, who is the founder of ACES. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, ACES is the top franchise in Taiwan of a business model that was formerly called “hardcore foreign-run buxiban”.Aces English School

The model is of an expat-owned cram school hires (reasonably) bilingual foreign teachers to do very focused and disciplined classes where words and sentence patterns in English are directly translated into Mandarin. Each class has an aggressive pace, and the students’ mothers are often seated at the back of the room, helping to motivate both student and teacher. ACES teachers get quite decent pay if they build up their skills and class size, and stay with the school for many years. There are now 13 branches in Taiwan.

Bob’s talk was mainly about how he came to Taiwan with a strong background in education, looking for an education-based business opportunity. He found out about ACES, and partnered on a new school in Hsintien, which has become a success. Opportunities are out there if you are sharp enough to see them!

Brief takeaway from his starting a business in Taiwan experience: Always overestimate your expenses.

Cheers Bob!

Last but not least, Joel Laughrin, owner of Guidelines International English Academy, and Professional Support Leader, Asia Pacific Cambridge English, gave a great talk. Joel explained the benefits to all stakeholders – parents, teachers, students and schools – of having a professional third-party independent language ability assessment. Especially, of course, when that system comes from Cambridge University, a global leader in EFL.

Takeaway: if you can be involved at an ownership level in a respected global EFL brand in Taiwan, your business will likely have decent growth potential over time. Quality pays off.

Thank you Joel!

We look forward to seeing you at our next event at CODA. We have guest speakers that will be talking about their experience operating your own sporting business in Taiwan. Come and check it out!

Operating Your Own Sporting Business in Taiwan (Recap)

Our event at CODA on April 8th, Operating Your Own Sporting Business in Taiwan, was another success. Thanks very much to our expert speakers!

First, Kathleen Batchelor talked about her journey that took her to being a successful Taipei instructor of Zumba, a globally-popular aerobic dance exercise program that incorporates Latino dance styles and hip hop.Kathleen Batchelor

After dabbling in ballet and burlesque, she says she was hooked after her first Zumba class. After her Zumba instructor left Taiwan, she stepped in and took over the class, soon thereafter receiving her official certification as an instructor. She now has hundreds of students, and is well on her way to leaving ESL teaching completely behind.

Persistence and skill were part of it, but she claims her success is mainly based on Free Electrifying Joy! Anyone can succeed if they follow their true passion.

Thanks for the inspiration Kathleen!

nigelandersonSecond, we heard from Nigel Anderson, owner of the Scubar in Fulong Beach, where in addition to providing food and beer, he takes divers out to sites on the North East Coast. He starts his trainees at the Taipei Songshan Sports Center pool, a step he says is essential for safety.

A licensed PADI instructor, Nigel says that it was always his dream to be a business owner. So when he had an opportunity to buy the Fubar (a popular foreign-owned restaurant in Fulong), he jumped at the chance.

Nigel had gone diving in Canada’s Vancouver Island, Okinawa, Australia and Thailand. But when he first started diving in Taiwan, in Longdong, he was taken aback by the limited number of dive sites that led to massive overcrowding. So he and his crew went exploring and found lots of good coral – 32 new sites, to be exact.

Now business is good, and he has signed on with the big new Fullon hotel in Fulong. But problems remain: he still gets flack from fishermen who think that scuba divers scare away all the fish. And his relationship with his landlord went south when he asked for an upgraded electrical connection. However, his drive to explore has helped him bring his business dream to life. Thumbs up, mate!

Next, Shawn McClelland gave a talk. Shawn is a successful serial entrepreneur whose startup credits include Luxy, OMNI nightclub, the Green Room, and MIT English Schools. One of his big current projects is 03 Fitness Taipei, which has top-quality modern equipment and innovative fitness programs that incorporate boxing, kicking, yoga, interval training and more. o3-logo

One of Shawn’s main points was that selecting business partners is of the utmost importance. Not only is it essential to share a clear vision with partners, it is also crucial to enumerate any troublesome situations that might come up and have a clear plan for them in black and white. People can have a very different sense of fairness, especially if they are “sweat equity” partners – those who contribute something other than money, such as skill or contacts, to the business. If you don’t have a clear system for dealing with possible disputes, there can be grief, so always have an exit strategy.

Shawn also said that the legal requirements for owning a gym are quite onerous, especially regarding obligations toward clients. So get a good lawyer to write up your contracts, but don’t automatically trust them to do their best for you. You yourself are responsible for making sure you get contract terms that protect your interests.

Last but not least, he mentioned that it is useful to use group cohesion to keep customers engaged. Get some class spirit going so members will nag each other into not missing classes. This is good not only for your business, but helps satisfy your clients’ fitness goals as well.

Next, Tomasz Hasinski of Runivore gave a great presentation. “Eat Superfoods and Run!” is Runivore’s moto, and the company Runivoresells nutritious Chia seeds and Chia-based food products. Their company was created by three runners, who found that their middle-aged bodies weren’t up to the demands of 100k runs powered by burgers and fries alone! Like Shawn McClelland, Tomasz discussed the importance of finding the right partners and having a dispute resolution system. For them it is usually based on going on a run together after an argument! But they also have scheduled “airing out” meetings on a regular basis to keep things real.

He also emphasized the importance of quality: never take any shortcuts when it comes to quality. It took them a while to find the right clean and safe manufacturer for their Chia seed bars, but they did: one that also produced for Starbucks and hospitals.

The company is in the midst of expanding to Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. Good luck guys, and thanks for sharing!

Last but not least, we heard from Andrew Lunman, creator of CODA, Bongos, Forkers, and other successful restaurants in Taipei. This was Andrew’s farewell to the CCCT Small Business Network, as he is returning to Canada, and it was a sad one for all concerned. Andrew’s experience and community spirit has been a driving force for the Small Business Network. His last message was that it was a real pleasure to him to see so many expats with creative ideas. His final official words to the expat small business community, regarding any small business plan they might have: “Go ahead and do it! Do it!”

Honouring Our Ancestors on Tomb Sweeping Day

Every year on April 5, Taiwan honours its dead with a special festival. The festival is called Qingming, but it is often referred to as Tomb Sweeping Day. In Mandarin, Qingming is roughly translated to “Pure Brightness Festival,” and the day is intended for people to go outside and enjoy the spring weather while paying respects to their ancestors.

On Tomb Sweeping Day, the people of Taiwan traditionally go on family outings to visit the graves of their departed relatives. The families will usually pray at each grave site before sweeping and cleaning the grave as a sign of respect. Some families will even sing and dance at the gravesites and offer food and wine to the deceased.

Willow branches are a very common sight on Tomb Sweeping Day. It is believed that willow branches will fend off the evil spirits that roam around on Qingming. As such, people will carry willow branches with them, and some will even hang the branches from their front doors.

Another Qingming tradition you’re sure to come by is a bite-sized snack called caozaiguo. Caozaiguo consists of sweet dough made with rice flour, sugar and East Asian herbs that give the snack a green colour. The dough is then usually filled with ground meat or bean paste.

Tomb Sweeping Holiday-1988

Since 1975, Tomb Sweeping Day has always been observed in Taiwan on April 5, in order to honour the death of Chiang Kai-Shek, a Chinese political leader who ruled Taiwan for 30 years. Chiang’s legacy is the subject of much debate in Taiwan, but Tomb Sweeping Day is still recognized every year on the anniversary of his death.

For Canadians in Taiwan that are looking to take part in the festival, the Danshui Foreign Cemetery in Taipei is the perfect place to go.

Many Canadians are buried in the cemetery, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been maintaining the grounds every Tomb Sweeping Day since 1984. Don’t miss your chance to take part in this unique and meaningful festival!

The Legacy of George Leslie Mackay

One of Taiwan’s best known and most loved expats was a Canadian man from Zorra Township in Oxford County, Canada, which is now known as the Province of Ontario.

His name was George Leslie Mackay and he was the first Presbyterian missionary to visit Formosa (Qing-era Taiwan). He arrived in Southern Taiwan on December 31, 1871 and began his life in Tamshui (Danshui) in northern Formosa in early 1872. He remained in Tamshui for 30 years until his death in 1901.

Mackay had the honor of being the first missionary to be dispatched by the Presbyterian Church of Canada. His mission was to bring the gospel to those who had not heard of Christ.

My commission is clear; I hold it from the King and Head of the church: …To get the gospel of the grace of God into the minds and hearts of the heathen, and when converted to build them up in their faith – that was my purpose in going to Formosa.” (Mackay p. 135)

Right from the very beginning, Mackay was known to avoid the small European community in the Tamshui area. The local European and Christian communities did not take well to his arrival. Moreover, the environment during that era was somewhat hostile for foreigners. Mackay was often labelled as a ‘foreign devil’ and a ‘black-bearded barbarian’, and the locals were reluctant to become involved with him.

Shortly after arriving he wrote:

“I am shut out from fellowship with Christian brethren, yet I am not lonely nor alone. I feel my weakness, my sinfulness, my unfaithfulness. I feel sad when I look around and see nothing but idolatry … I can as yet tell little about Jesus, and with stammering tongue. What can I do? Nothing; But, blessed thought, the Lord Jesus can do all things. .. Jehovah is my refuge and strength.” (Mackay p 18-19)

Since Mackay had no means to speak with his parish, he decided it was of the utmost importance that he learn the language. When he was not able to find a tutor, Mackay spend his time with local herds boys, and they agreed to teach him Taiwanese. He learned vernacular Taiwanese, the language that is spoken by the common people of Taiwan, and it was in this way that he was able to preach his basic gospel message.

Upon mastering Taiwanese, he helped to adapt the Taiwanese language to a written form by adapting the Latin alphabet to represent it phonetically. From then onwards, this style of writing was used by the Presbyterian missionaries and by the indigenous Presbyterian Church of Taiwan.

In addition to learning the local language, Mackay employed a number of different methods to find converts. He preached predominantly with aboriginals in mind, and his earliest converts were illiterate natives. He wasn’t a doctor of medicine, but he had sufficient skills in medicine to be able to provide aid to those who suffered from tropical diseases such as malaria. His most notable method at the time was an itinerant dentistry practice that he used to extract teeth, all while singing and preaching his message. He was eventually granted a honorary doctorate by Queen’s College in Kingston, Canada for his many achievements in Taiwan.

Danshui Foreigners' Cemetery

By 1888, he had 16 chapels and 500 converts among the native Taiwanese.

His marriage to a Taiwanese slave-woman named Tiu Chhang-miâ is also another example of Mackay’s success in going native to find converts. His marriage caused a considerable amount of controversy in Canada and in the foreign community in Formosa. However, his wife, known by the name of Minnie in the West, proved to be a formidable force in the mission. She helped to raise money in Oxford County for the construction of Oxford College in Tamshui, and she also acted as matron of the girls’ school. Their marriage was a happy one, and they had three children together.

In 1895, Dr. Mackay authored a missionary ethnography and memoir of his missionary experience in Taiwan in 1895. His book was called From Far Formosa: the island, its people and missions. It is is best known because of its defense of gender and racial equality, but it is also of importance to many historians and scholars because it lends an important anthropological understanding of Taiwan’s peoples and cultures during the nineteenth century in Taiwan.

Dr. Mackay is responsible for many incredible achievements in Taiwan, including the establishment of churches, schools, the first western medical hospital of its kind in Taiwan, and a dentistry practice for aboriginals. The churches that he founded eventually became part of the present Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.

Although Dr. Mackay achieved many incredible milestones during his lifetime in Taiwan, perhaps his most significant achievement was the building of the MacKay Memorial Hospital, which was established on December 26, 1912. It is one of the largest medical centers in Taiwan, and it is deeply rooted in the Presbyterian tradition.

The original Mackay Hospital was initially called Mackay Clinic, and it was built in Tamshui in 1880. The hospital was closed in 1901 at the time of Dr. Mackay’s death, but it reopened in 1905 and it was eventually relocated from Tamshui to Taipei in 1912. The hospital was renamed as the Mackay Memorial Hospital.

Mackay showed great love and pride for Taiwan and because of his achievements, he was eventually loved by Taiwanese and expats alike. Some families in Taiwan today, especially of lowland aboriginals of the Kavalan ancestry, can trace their surname to ‘偕’ (‘Kai’ or ‘Kay’), which not only demonstrates their love and respect for Dr. Mackay, but it also shows their family’s conversion to Christianity by Mackay.Mackay and wife grave

Dr. Mackay was one of those rare individuals who allowed himself to be transformed by the people he served, and his life is truly something to be celebrated. Taiwan would not be what it is today without George Leslie Mackay’s significant contributions.

He dedicated his life to bringing medical, dental, and spiritual guidance to the people of Taiwan, and was directly responsible for establishing more than 60 local churches, Oxford College (Aletheia University), the first girls’ school (Tamsui Girls’ School on the east side of Oxford College in 1884), and Tamsui Middle School, which is now known as Tamkang Senior High School.

Mackay might be unknown to most Western scholars of religion, but in Taiwan he is revered as Taiwan’s most famous ‘native son’. His story and memoir provide valuable insight into his life, background, and legacy, as well as the Taiwanese cultural background in which he worked. His lifetime achievements are a true demonstration to his love for Taiwan and its people.

How dear is Formosa to my heart! On that island the best of my years have been spent.
How dear is Formosa to my heart! A lifetime of joy is centered here.
I love to look up to its lofty peaks, down into its yawning chasms, and away out on its surging seas.
How willing I am to gaze upon these forever!
My heart’s ties to Taiwan cannot be severed! To that island I devote my life.
My heart’s ties to Taiwan cannot be severed! There I find my joy.
I should like to find a final resting place within sound of its surf and under the shade of its waving bamboo.
-“My Final Resting Place” by George Mackay