Tourists who visit the central Taiwanese city of Taichung will get a hands-on experience that will help them truly understand the lifestyle of a place often overlooked by foreign tourists, tourism industry officials said recently. Instead of just sightseeing and shopping, they can learn to make Taiwan’s famous beverage — bubble tea — invented in the city or do other DIY activities.
Since last year, Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau and local businesses have been setting up tourism activities that offer tourists an in-depth understanding of local culture.
For example, Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House, a famous bubble tea maker, offers lessons on making the popular beverage. A course that allows tourists to hand-shake their own beverage — complete with marble-sized black tapioca balls at the bottom of the cup — has been met with overwhelming demand.
Tea house project manager Angela Liu said eight months after the program was initiated, some 300 foreign tourists had tried it.
“It’s interesting to see how people of different cultural backgrounds react to tea-making,” Liu said, explaining that Japanese tourists spend a lot of time examining the details of the tea leaves, while Americans treat the tea as if it were beer to toast to each other with.
Likewise, the Pao Chuan Food Industry Co, which is known for its suncakes — round flat cakes containing malt sugar — also provides workshops so tourists can make the one-of-a-kind desserts.
“You can tell from the fact that most of the cakes the tourists made are not round-shaped that they are full of creativity,” said Ko Yueh-min (柯悅敏), shop manager of the century-old cake-maker.
She said the cakes came in a wide variety of shapes, including the outline of Taiwan, Chinese word characters and even cartoon figures like Anpanman.
The campaign to offer tourists a unique experience is being spearheaded by the iSee Taiwan Foundation, which works with the Tourism Bureau to promote in-depth travel in Taichung.
The goal of the campaign is to market the city’s carefree atmosphere and differentiate Taichung, making it stand out among other competitors in central Taiwan such as key scenic attractions Sun Moon Lake and the Alishan National Scenic Area, foundation officials said.
Taichung is often ignored by foreign tourists due to its lack of natural scenery. Organizers hope the tourism promotion campaign will not only attract more tourists to Taichung, but also enable the city to “make friends” with the world, providing an emotional connection with foreign visitors so they would come back again, said Susan Yeh (葉樹姍), director-general of Taichung’s Cultural Affairs Bureau.
“Taichung gives people a sense that it’s full of potential,” she said. “We hope our programs could allow tourists to not only enjoy the mood, but also become part of the inspiration.”