Two young women on Saturday wrapped up a four-month tour of Taiwan, during which they had put on performances of music and dancing in a “work for accommodation” plan that enabled them to travel around the nation on a shoestring budget.
Kao Yi-hsuan (高依璇) and Pan Pa-nai (潘巴奈) said they had both long dreamed of traveling around Taiwan, so together the two students devised a project that they called the “shimmer plan” (微光計劃).
Kao’s grandmother is a Paiwan Aborigine. She plays the guitar and writes her own music. Pan is an Amis who loves dancing and expresses her ideas through performance.
For their “shimmer plan,” they decided to share their music and dancing with people in exchange for accommodation at various stops in different communities.
To cover their travel expenses, they solicited funding by going to the “Flying V” Web site, a platform for public donations to worthy causes.
Overwhelmed by support and feedback from netizens, they received donations totaling almost NT$30,000, which was twice their original target.
After receiving the funds, the two young women started out from Yilan County on Feb. 22 on their 128-day tour.
They completed the tour on a low budget, averaging NT$3,000 per person per month, in exchange for what they said was “the most enriching life experience.”
The women said that the most unforgettable time was their four-day stay in Dawu Village (大武) in Pingtung County, a community which was devastated by Typhoon Morakot in 2009 and has since been under reconstruction.
At the village, the two women worked in the fields with the villagers, planting crops.
“We worked and breathed together. With the villagers, we got to experience their deep love for the land,” they said.
Their travels also took them to Kinmen, where they shared their music and dance with local residents.
Through this visit, Kao and Pan said they got to experience the culture and historical wartime background of Kinmen Island, while the locals learned about their “work for accommodation” travel plan.
“From our journey, we witnessed Taiwan’s many small, beautiful places. The beauty of Taiwan lies in this ‘invisible power.’ We met educators, farmers, children and many others who are diligently, yet quietly, doing their jobs,” Pan said.
“Taiwan is beautiful. It is not just the natural scenery, but the people are beautiful too,” she added.
“The ‘shimmer plan’ is not just about the two of us. It is also about meeting these people. They showed us that there are shimmering lights in every corner of Taiwan,” she said.
For others who have similar plans to tour around the nation, their advice is: “Do it. Travel around Taiwan, it’s very safe because Taiwanese are friendly and full of warm hospitality.”