The “Spend a Night at Taiwan’s Presidential Office Building” project has concluded with a visit by Polish food and travel bloggers Lukasz Smolinski and Natalia Sitarska.
The project was organized by the General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC), the Tourism Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Applications opened in August, with 10 sets of winners chosen from 167 pairs of applicants from 33 countries. From October, they were given a free overnight stay each week in a guest room inside the Presidential Office compound.
“Promoting Taiwan’s visibility in the world should be continued,” GACC media and communication department supervisor Evangeline Tang (湯佩儀) said.
All the participants were impressed with Taiwan’s diverse culture, beautiful environment, tasty food and friendly people, as seen in the videos and material they produced for social media platforms when they returned home, Tang said.
The 10 pairs included Nuseir Yassin and Alyne Tamir of Nas Daily, a Facebook fan page that has more than 14 million followers, and deaf empowerment advocates Calvin Young and Sabrina Walker, as well as other Internet celebrities from France, Hungary, India, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
On Dec. 16, Lukasz Smolinski and Natalia Sitarska, the last pair of participants, spent the night in the complex.
“The room was really nice, very bright, so it was nice to have so many windows and we spent a nice time there,” Sitarska said.
The couple, who manage one of Poland’s top 20 food and travel blogs “Tasteaway,” tried a cup of pearl milk tea during a trip to Southeast Asia in 2011.
Upon finding out that the drink originated in Taiwan, they contacted suppliers in the nation and opened the first pearl milk tea shop in Poland, Smolinski said.
However, it was not until last year that they finally had a chance to visit Taiwan, and their stay in the complex was their second visit.
“Most of the people in our generation have bad memories from a young age because our parents pushed us to drink tea with milk, and we didn’t like it,” said Smolinski, who is in his late 30s.
“So it was a strange feeling when we started drinking tea with milk and tapioca balls in it and having fun,” he said.
Thai vloggers Kanisorn Pringthongfoo and Varaporn Rasmeekajorndej said that they were impressed by the unwalled Presidential Office compound, saying it reflects the openness of Taiwan’s government.
Canadian vloggers Lukas Martin and Sabrina Davidson said that Taiwan is an “ultimate travel destination,” because of its mountains and beaches, affordable and high-end food, friendly people and vibrant culture.
Yassin said he was impressed with Taiwan’s efforts to promote gender equality, evidenced in the legalization of same-sex marriage.
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