Janet Hsieh, Host of the Popular Local Travel Show
"Fun Taiwan," Shares Her Taiwan Experience
Janet is everywhere nowadays, literally. And chances are high that you have seen her image on the streets of Taiwan's big cities or on local TV. Maybe you have even met her in person while traveling in Taiwan, on a hiking trail in the deep mountains, on one of Taiwan's offshore islands, in downtown Taipei, at a major cultural event, a fundraiser for a good cause, or on scene for a commercial shoot.
After arriving on the island, Janet discovered the kindness, openness, and genuine friendliness of the Taiwanese people.
Within just a few years, Janet Hsieh from Texas has become a celebrity in Taiwan and the envy of thousands of young women who would love to do what she does for a living and who wish to have her looks and her talent. Janet is truly a rare species. Smart and intelligent; outgoing; slim, tall, and in top shape; speaks several languages; plays the violin with virtuosity; graduated from MIT; studied medicine. And if all that is still not enough to make one envy her, she is also very pretty and very friendly. So, how did she manage to get what she describes as "the best job ever," and what is it exactly that she does?
Born and raised in the Lone Star State, Janet is a true Texas girl, but at the same time she is also an "ABT," short for "American Born Taiwanese." Being part of the third generation of a family which immigrated to the U.S., Janet's first language is English. Her second is not Mandarin, the official language of Taiwan, but Taiwanese, the dialect of the nearby southern Fujian area of China spoken throughout the island, which she learned from her granny. Talking about her childhood and family education, Janet points out that money and material things always played a secondary role in her upbringing. Her parents made sure that she received a broad education, with lots of time spent traveling and exploring the world first-hand rather than through cable TV.
Her love for travel has brought Janet to numerous places around the world but nothing prepared her for what she would experience when she finally arrived in Taiwan seven years ago. Coming here in search of her roots, she was in
for a strong dose of culture shock and a significant period of adjustment. Making things complicated in the beginning was that her spoken Mandarin Chinese consisted of not much more than saying "ni hao" ("hello"). She admits that it was quite a struggle to understand the many facets of the local culture at first, but at the same time she also discovered the kindness, openness, and genuine friendliness of the Taiwanese people.
After working as an assistant doctor and model during her early time in Taiwan, Janet's big break came when she was asked if she would be interested in hosting "Fun Taiwan", a travel show about Taiwan. The show have beeen highly successful and Janet has been the main reason for the program's huge popularity. Her unique way of introducing places and people, her willingness to try out new things, and her sensitive way of approaching the people she meets has been well received by the Taiwanese audience. The audience has responded well to the refreshing format of the show and its novel way of introducing Taiwan to locals from a foreigner's perspective but - thanks to her roots ??with an "inside track" to a deeper understanding of local culture.
After shooting more than 70 episodes and visiting all imaginable corners of Taiwan, what have been the most memorable moments for Janet? High on her "best memories list" is a trip to the top of Yushan (Jade Mountain) on a cold winter day. The snow- and ice-covered mountain was hard to scale on that day and Janet had a hard time breathing, but standing atop Taiwan's roof taking in the sunrise was a most rewarding moment.
Janet also has very fond feelings for Taiwan's offshore islands, especially Lanyu (Orchid Island), where she likes the many possibilities for having outdoor fun, including hiking, diving, experiencing indigenous culture, or just relaxing in a pristine environment. The very different Matsu, a cluster of islands just off the coast of Fujian, intrigued her with its unique traditional stone houses and the very yummy local fare.
The memory, however, that stands out most in Janet's richly filled treasure vault of Taiwan experiences is a trip to Lishan, a town high up in the mountains of central Taiwan. There, she was to meet a group of local policemen and firemen who once had a band called the "Seven Wolves of Lishan" in Chinese and - less poetic - "Police Band" in English, but whose members had later moved to different places around Taiwan. Visiting Lishan during a typhoon, Janet and her crew didn't expect anyone to show up; after all, it would take each of the men seven to eight hours just to drive to the town. Surprisingly, all of the "seven wolves" turned up, just to do a show for Fun Taiwan. With people from the neighborhood joining in, it became a grand big-family party. Janet was very touched by the sincerity of the songsters and the genuine friendliness of the Lishan people.
Arriving at a simple conclusion, Janet sums up her Taiwan experience to date with a simple: "Taiwan is Beautiful!" (She loves the island as a place that offers something for every visitor and impresses with beautiful scenery and beautiful people, and she will continue to host Fun Taiwan to share her travel experiences with viewers around the world.