Simon Foster & Tot Foster

It was the summer of 2017 when the bright sun, which shines down on Provincial Highway 11 along the beautiful coast of Taitung, led the mist in the Coastal Mountain Range to call upon a small family from the UK to settle in Chenggong Township.

Simon and Tot Foster, a married couple from the UK, along with their two daughters live in a small village not too far from downtown Chenggong Township. Compared with the low temperatures and diluted sunshine of Europe, the abundant sunshine and year-round warmth of Taitung brings limitless joy to those who are fortunate enough to live there. It was just past noon when I arrived at their home, just as everyone was escaping the summer heat indoors. Tot, who was clearly unfazed by the heat, was waiting patiently for me outside her home with a bottle of Coke in her hand.

Although they have been staying for a long time in Taiwan, it was only two years ago when they made the move from Kaohsiung to Taitung. When asked why they chose Taitung, she didn’t need any time to think of her answer. “I love the cleanliness, peacefulness, and natural scenery of Taitung, as well as the slow pace of life. The beautiful beaches are just amazing!” says Tot with an energetic smile on her face.

Sasha, the eldest of the two daughters, is a first-grader at Chenggong Elementary School. Being the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed student in her class, she attracted a lot of attention when she first arrived. “There aren’t many foreigners here, so when we moved here, many locals would drive up to our home and stare at us.”

As time went by, the neighbors’ curiosity transformed into familiarity. They have even made friends with locals, and often exchange kitchen ideas. The girls’ have become accustomed to the local cuisine, with Sasha exclaiming the school cook’s food is better than her mother’s. Tot is hesitant to say it, but her daughters prefer eastern cuisine. They have adapted well at school, and have become friends with their classmates. After asking Sasha what she likes most about Taitung, she replies with big blue eyes that Sanxiantai, the hot springs, Donghe steamed buns and the beach all top her list. It was then when she went to get her bicycle to go visit her neighbor.

Simon Foster & Tot Foster

Tot’s husband, Simon, is a travel writer. He is the author of The Rough Guide to Taiwan, an English travel guide. He enjoys traveling around Taiwan. He and his wife do not live in downtown Taitung City, rather they chose Chenggong, a quiet and harmonious countryside township north of Taitung City, and situated between the mountains and the sea. For Simon, this is the place where he can continue creating his works. “Taitung’s characteristics are worthwhile to introduce to foreigners. For example, the Harvest Festival is a great hit!” he says. Tot adds that her friends want to attend the Harvest Festival, and are interested in Aboriginal clothing, song and dance, and cuisine. However, there is not a lot of available English information about this festival. If there was more English information online, more foreigners would come and take part.

Toward the end of this interview, their other daughter, Molly, appeared. Although she was shy to begin with, there was still a big smile on her face as she was jumping up and down chasing her neighborhood friend. “ To live here is a blessing. I am happy to raise my two children here!” says Tot while watching her youngest daughter play. This small family living a low-key, happy life in Chenggong, and satisfied with the beauty and harmony of Taitung, they praise Taitung for its uniqueness. Can you feel the happiness that the people of Taitung experience on a daily basis?