Muslim students help design travel itineraries in Taipei

Taipei, A Muslim student association at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology is working with Taipei's tourism authority to come up with Muslim-friendly travel itineraries in the capital city, the first partnership of its kind, to better tailor to the travel needs of Muslims.

Novi Irmania, an Indonesian student and secretary of the university's International Muslim Student Association, told CNA that they hope to review travel in Taipei so that Muslim tourists can have a better sense of the environment to meet their religious needs in the city.

The purpose of the itineraries is for Muslims visiting Taipei to enjoy the best of the city without having to compromise their way of living, said the 28-year-old.

For instance, she said, one travel suggestion includes the Da'an Forest Park.

"For Taiwanese people it might be just a park, but for us it's an excellent place to get close to both nature and religion," Irmania said, noting that the Taipei mosque is within walking distance of the park.

Irmania said she finds the park a great place to find inner peace and recommended it for those who do not mind praying outdoors.

Together with five partners from the association and Taipei tourism officials, Irmania has designed four routes in the city to offer a mixture of Taipei experiences.

For example, one of the itineraries features the Beitou District, including hot springs, the green building of the Beitou public library and the Yangmingshan National Park.

Irmania, who came to Taiwan four years ago to pursue her master's and PhD degrees, pointed out that the hot spring culture for Indonesians is quite different from those in Taiwan or Japan, as Muslims have to wear special swimming suits in public hot springs, even if they are all-female.

However, she explained that there are private hot springs, some of which are halal-certified, so that Muslim visitors can also enjoy the fun.

Chueh Yu-ling (???), a section chief of the Taipei Information and Tourism Department, told CNA that it is the city's first attempt to reach out to Muslim tourists through a student-oriented campaign.

"We hope to see Taipei through their eyes and will share their findings on social networks," Chueh said, adding that the timing is especially ideal as Muslims in the city prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, on June 17 at the Da'an Forest Park.

Chueh said there will be more campaigns before the festival, and added that the department will invite other Muslim student organizations in Taipei to join the efforts.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel