I volunteered in YMCA since 2009, I enjoy doing services and this opportunity had brought me lot of precious memories along with some of the best people I’ve ever met.
Under a global citizen scheme of YMCA, I had a volunteer exchange aimed at elderly issues in臺中TaiChung (middle part of Taiwan) for 10 days in winter 2014. We had a inspirational and unforgettable trip to volunteer in a whole new environment. Since we were taken by staffs in Taiwan YMCA, they offered us some ultimate activities we never expecting with the tribes that you can’t come across in a travel guide.
Private Hot Spring in the Woods
After spending two days visiting the services center and exploring the city in南投Nantou, we arrived 野百合民宿 YeBaiHe Hostel, located in a valley with natural hot spring in 仁愛 RenAi province. If you’re looking for a hostel that relaxing in the nature with high privacy, this will be the ideal place to spends a few nights.
The hostel is very hidden, needed to be picked up by the owner to a narrow, one-way path (barely called a road). First thing we came across is the open garden with the public hot spring, we were arranged to a dorm for 4 and each room has its private hot spring pool as well. The owner of the hostel was from布農族Bunun, one of the Taiwanese aborigine ethnic groups, the taught us how to make some tribal accessories and offered us hot pot and grill of local farm’s ingredients.
We spent the night bathing in the private hot spring and slept like babies!
Beauty Alert: Hot spring is very good for blood circulation due to its temperature, and the minerals in it refreshed your skin. However, don’t jump in a hot spring if you’re too hungry or full. Don’t stay in for too long and remember to keep yourself hydrated and cool down after a while in the hot spring.
Adventures in the Rainforest
TaiChung still kept some of the rural environment of Taiwan. We visited one of the rainforest and guided by another tribe. We had a brief session of simple safety precaution and basic knots making skills before going in. We walked through the mist along thousands years old woods. The guide stopped us in front of a fairly empty space with massive trees surrounding us and told us it’s the time to swing on the tree like. The moment we were still in confusions, he pulled a string on one of the trees like 15 meters high and started tiding a safe lock on the lock on our body . WE HAD TO SWING ON THE TREE! I was bit terrified when it came to my turn, I step on the holder with one foot standing straight and both hands grabbing the string, while other pushing me up hill then released, I was strung in the air like 10 meters above the ground! I literally felt like Tarzan and swing across the forest, it was an amazing experience to feel the excitement and freedom!
If you want to have some adventures like this, there’s local travel agency that customize different tours around the area according to your needs.
Volunteering in Rural Taiwan
I know it’s a bit hard to accomplish but definitely worth a go, especially a very special and precious chance for me to volunteer in a different country and culture.
Due to the mountain and valley type geometric condition of南投Nantou, leaded to transportation problems for health care and low job opportunity, the area are left with lots of elderly that their family are working big cities in Taiwan. The aging and elderly problem is the focus service in this trip.
We arrived a charity run day-care center for elderly in埔里鎮Puli, that elderly in the area can gather for food and activities. We had a warm welcome by the elderly in the center with a lovely dance and eventually we shared our performances and little gift that we’ve been preparing for the entire trip. Although we speak different languages (most of them still speak Japanese due to their history that some of the tribes are taken by Japan) we had an amazing time together.
The experience was differ from I thought, the elderly in the center are very healthy despite their ages, they go to day care is looking for companies and better way to spend their days. They were so happy even we just sat and talked, the moment when they held my hand and giving me blessing touched me deep down. All they want is not money sent from the city but their family and accompany.
Watching Sunrise on top of the Tea Field
Don’t miss the sunrise in Puli! Driving to the top of the hill at 5 am, first the sky was covered in mist, then there’s a yellow string curled up the clouds and finally golden light beams burst through. It was just like a water color painting and blessed to see what the nature had gave us.
Photo credits to my best friend Michelle.C 🙂