A New Vocation in Taiwan

I’ve always suspected I might really enjoy renovation work, and my new job in Taiwan confirmed that I do indeed love it. I remember helping my mum and dad scrape wallpaper off the walls of our old house when I was a kid and thinking it was so incredibly satisfying I could do it all day.

Today I started my second HelpX project (the first being at a cram school) – this time in Hualien City in the East of Taiwan, helping to transform an old building into a cool hostel.

A spot of grouting on a Sunday afternoon
A spot of grouting on a Sunday afternoon

Lead helper Jessie (the most enthusiastic ambassador for CouchSurfing I’ve ever met) showed me the ropes and we quickly got to work filling in holes and smoothing over the walls, chatting along the way until lunch, where she introduced me to a really nice South African woman called Ronell (who had kindly brought us coffee) and her cute little toddler Felix who are based in Taiwan for a while.

After lunch I got to work on a large tiled area of the room (soon to be showers and toilets), scrubbing it all clean which I found to be just as satisfying as peeling wallpaper.



After we finished a day’s work Jessie took me and our South African friends to a vegetarian restaurant. If ‘you are what you eat’ is true then I’m definitely becoming a dumpling – it’s all I eat here and I certainly feel like one with the amount of food I’ve been shovelling in!

My experiences here so far have just strengthened my feelings about Asia and Taiwan – hospitality here is just the best. Everybody is so generous, not just with things, but with their time too. The owner of the hostel Allen took me to his house to have dinner with his wife last night, and Jessie will happily show anyone around Hualien in her free time and nothing’s too much trouble. Their generosity is not only heart-warming but also infectious and I’ve been truly welcomed here. I’m glad I can help them with their renovation work, and am looking forward to another day of it!

Want to volunteer abroad for free? Read about my first HelpX placement here and check out HelpX.net for volunteering opportunities.


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