"There's only negative news on TV, and I do not believe Taiwan is such a bad place," said Yu Tzu-wei (俞子維), a third-year student in the department of mechanical engineering at National Taiwan University of Science and Tech-nology in Taipei.
As a personal challenge and to find the true voice of Taiwan, Yu set out on a journey around the country last month without bringing a single dollar. He finished the tour in nine days, proving that Taiwan is a warm and friendly place.
In the early morning of Aug. 5, Yu left a note for his parents and took off, taking with him only a light backpack. Although he met with many refusals, many more people were willing to lend a helping hand, enabling him to travel along the west coast to Kenting and return to Taipei along the east coast.
PHOTO: LIU LI-JEN, TAIPEI TIMES
Along the way, he hitched rides in BMWs, sports utility vehicles, freight trucks and scooters. He slept in private homes or a tent, and returned home safely just over a week later on Aug. 13.
On one occasion, when threatened by a vagrant, bystanders helped him to safety. Some people urged him to go home because of the potential danger of traveling alone, but others offered their assistance in numerous ways, helping him to fulfill his dream.
Yu asked everyone who helped him to explain why they did so, and the answers ranged from "It's cool! This is what a young person should be doing," to "I just wanted to see if you were a ghost."
However, everyone seemed to admire Yu's courage. Yu added that the most rewarding part of this trip was to break down stereotypes and experience the nation's pure and passionate heart.
Yu said that in the future, he will attempt to travel around the world in the same way. He also said he wants to launch a safe hitchhiking campaign.
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