Taiwan, a little island off the coast of Mainland China, was once described by Portuguese traders as Ilha Formosa, or "Beautiful Island." This title has stuck with Taiwan over a long and eventful history, and visitors to the Beautiful Island often find themselves swept away by friendly locals, delicious cuisine, and an abundance of traditional Chinese culture. Unfortunately, said visitors aren't nearly as many as they should be, since for some mysterious reason, Taiwan has never registered in the public conscious like Mainland China or Hong Kong. This is changing in recent years, however, with Taiwan pop stars like Leehom Wang and Jay Chou becoming well known, Taiwanese movies like Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale getting an international release, and websites like CNN Go's Flavors of Taiwan all playing a vital part in attracting more attention to the island and its treasures.
One new blog, Taipei 543, is an upcoming member of this new movement to put all eyes on Taiwan. Founded by Taiwan-born Christine Yeh and a crew of other UC San Diego students, Taipei 543 takes its name from Taiwan's capital city as well as the phrase 543, which means "random stuff" in the Taiwanese dialect. Designed to be the perfect resource for visitors coming to Taiwan, Taipei 543 primarily features articles on hot areas in Taipei city, including restaurants, clubs, museums, and more. Want to know where to find the best California style sushi in Taipei? The nicest romantic spot to take a date? How about an in-depth guide on the city's nightlife scene? Taipei 543 has all of these bases covered, with more articles being produced on a regular basis--several of which not only focus on Taipei, but also on other areas of Taiwan, such as the central city of Taichung or the east coast paradise of Hualien. With a directory of top restaurants, night spots, and other venues also available on the site, Taipei 543 is particularly excellent for the sort of visitor that Taiwan needs more of: the wide eyed, never-been-to-Taiwan tourist who needs up-to-date information on the best ways to truly enjoy everything that the Beautiful Island has to offer. With a lack of other Taiwan-oriented blogs on the internet, Taipei 543 is filling a much-needed niche, making inroads for both the Taiwanese and international community. Site founder Christine Yeh was kind enough to answer some questions regarding the site's mission and future.
When did you start Taipei 543 and what was the point of the blog originally? How has it changed over time and grown?
Taipei 543 was launched in May this year and was formerly known as Taiwan 543. The original blog was founded in the summer of 2011 by a group of UC San Diego alumni, and it was first designed to be a team blog that covered a wide range of topics on all things Taiwanese. The purpose of the blog was to highlight the achievements of Taiwanese Americans, and we carried out interviews with various influential individuals in the community, such as Michelle Krusiec from Fringe, Lynn Chen from Saving Face, the Instant Noodles Crew from America's Best Dance Crew, and Youtube Superstar Dawen. During that time, we only hoped to inspire and connect people by telling stories about these amazing artists, but along the way, we also happened to generate a lot of general interest in Taiwanese culture and entertainment. We kept this interest in mind when a few of us 543 members were in Taipei for the New Year's Eve of 2011. During that time, we ran into a lot of other visitors from the States who were having a hard time looking up information about Taiwan in English. Therefore, we decided to change the direction of the site and turn it into a food and travel focused team blog for the international community in Taiwan, specifically those in Taipei city.
In your eyes, what is the main mission of Taipei 543?
The main reason why I wanted to start this blog was to amplify Taiwan’s international presence. Taiwan has so much to offer the world, but many people just don't know about the island or can't find any English resources on topics like travel, nightlife, and food. That's where Taipei 543 comes in. We want to take care of the foreigners in Taiwan and connect the international community with the local community, making sure that both groups have a fantastic time discovering Taipei and the rest of the island.
How do you plan on promoting the site and making it expand?
At the moment, we're focusing on core marketing channels such as social media, search engine marketing, and link exchange campaigns. All of these are part of our basic promoting plan, and we've also teamed up with local Taipei restaurants to offer special deals, such as coupons that can be purchased on the site via Paypal and then redeemed in person. Finally, we’re in the middle of working with local venues to organize events, such as our upcoming “Rumble in the Jungle” party on the 15th of August. The last party we held was a 4th of July event at Taipei’s Dazzling Champagne Bar, and it was a huge success.
In terms of expanding, we're always looking to cover stories of interest for our age demographic--which is primarily young expats--across many different locations. For now, though, our main focus is on Taipei and Taiwan.
What's been the most rewarding thing about starting a blog like Taipei 543? Where do you ideally see the blog in three years?
“People don’t buy what you do but why you do it.” The most rewarding thing about running this team blog is being able to bring people together and create a community. People with various backgrounds come to us as a writer or reader just for that one same reason--they want to explore the best of Taiwan. Three years from now, Taipei 543 will be the site that all the foreigners and travelers in Taiwan check everyday whether they are in town or not. We have some plans in the upcoming year that are sure to catch your attention, so stay tuned!
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