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Busy days

Below you'll find part III of my "How I ended up in Taiwan" story. Remember, you can still read the previous episodes in case you missed them.

Deutsche Welle just published the English translation of a report I did on Taiwan's travel numbers: New arrival record in 2016, despite China sending less tourists. How could that happen?

Next Tuesday, February 28 is an official holiday and the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident (or 228 Massacre). If you don't know what happened in Taiwan back in 1947, read up on it. There are also museums you can visit, two of them in Taipei alone.

I will be busy doing some reports for German news websites and radio stations. Let's see if anything gets translated into English.

Also, this weekend I'll be down in Tainan to shoot a web video that will definitely be in English. I will keep you posted.

Take care!

Want to re-read the previous newsletters? They are right here.

Taiwan Resources in English

Over the last year, I really discovered the beauty of podcasts. There is just so much time spent walking from A to B, waiting for the bus, sittung on the subway that it's great to keep the mind occupied and also have a reason to not constantly peek at the smartphone.

Here is some Taiwan audio content you should check out:
  • ICRT Taiwan This Week
    ICRT FM100 used to be the radio for American forces stationed in Taiwan back in the day. It's still broadcasting today, though I am not sure who is tuning in to FM radio anymore. Probably taxi drivers brushing up their English, and that's fine. I am a huge fan of Taiwan This Week, a weekly (you guessed it) talk about the biggest news topics. Host Keith Menconi (Twitter) invites different guests each week, mostly journalists (including yours truly), but also bloggers and experts on one field or the other. I never found myself regret listening to any episode. If you don't regularly use any other news media to keep up to date about Taiwan, listen to this show.
  • Taiwan Talk
    Because Keith was not busy enough hosting Taiwan This Week, he recorded a lot of even longer and more in-depth interviews with people who have something to say about Taiwan: Film makers, labor activists, surfers, entrepreneurs... you name it. This show is on a kind of hiatus right now since Keith started free-lancing, but the episodes are still online and waiting for you.
  • Travel Tape
    This is an "immersive travel podcast" by Robert Scott Kelly, an author with exhaustive Taiwan experience. He co-authored several Lonely Planets on Taiwan. In episode 5, he introduces the life of TC Lin, an American who took on the ROC citizenship in the 1990s and did his military service in Taiwan's army. He talks about his experiences at length, and it's fascinating listening.
  • Radio Taiwan International
    RTI is a government-run radio station broadcasting in different languages from Taiwan for the world. It was established by the KMT government as the Central Broadcasting System in Nanjing in 1928. It went through many different iterations since then. I am not a regular listener, but please tell me what you think about their programs,

By the way, I use the Android app "Pocket Casts" to subscribe and listen to my podcast feeds, and I can recommend it. What are you using?
If you want to support my work in Taiwan, here is what you can do.

My Taiwan Story (Chapter 3)

To my surprise, getting the Taiwanese government’s scholarship was pretty easy. Basically, as soon as I applied to the Hamburg representative office, they asked me “When do you want to go?” I guess there were not that many journalists who applied.

So just a brief time after replying to the fax I spotted at my TV station, I was on my way to Hamburg’s posh Rotherbaum neighborhood where the “Taipeh Vertretung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Büro Hamburg” is located. This was still 2007.

By then, I had tried to read up a little on Taiwan’s background and current political developments. Even though I could peruse my TV station’s archival research service, I realized that there was not really a lot of Taiwan coverage in German media. This was something I should keep in mind.

Everyone at the Büro – the station chief, the head of the PR department, the assistants – was really nice and forthcoming, and I decided to go through with my three-month trip. We settled on March to May 2008. At one of the follow-up meetings, I was informed that I would take my Chinese classes at NCCU, or Chengchi University (it means “politics”). And so 政治大學 were the first Chinese words someone ever asked me to speak out. I still remember how unsure I felt trying to repeat these strange sounds and the intonation, not even knowing where a word began or ended.

I informed my editors at NDR TV about my upcoming absence, told my friends and colleagues, and decided to set up a blog to document my trip. Blogs were still quite cutting-edge back then. (Facebook was virtually unheard of. In June 2007, a former classmate from Scotland had asked me to “join this Facebook thing”, but I didn’t really see the point. I just realize I still have access to 10-year-old e-mails.)

I set up the Wordpress blog I still use and that today can be found at (boy, do I need to update the design). On February 18, 2008 I posted my very first entry, noting that I still had not read the Lonely Planet travel guide I had bought for this trip.

And finally, on March 1, I was on a China Airlines Plane bound for Taipei.

Oh boy, did I not know what was waiting for me there

(To be continued.).

Photo of the Week

Soon after arriving in Taiwan, I noticed the charming warning signs that are everywhere. One of my first blog entries was about the fact that Taipei MRT (subway) escalators must be real death traps, considering the sheer amount of warnings. Over the years, I collected many examples, from "Beware of falling coconut leaves" to graphic warnings of what must be giant wasps. I especially like this one, because seriously, aren't Formosan Black Bears just too adorable?
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