Jun-Yin Tsai and his wife Yuen-Jou Shien own a brand new Scania bus. They are a good example in the Taiwanese bus market, where 60 percent of all buses are sold to individual owners and drivers.
“He drives and make sure we don’t get lost and I take care of the passengers and our route planning,” Shien says with a big laugh.
Together, Tsai and Shien run a small but prospering business, taking religious tourists to visit some of the island nation’s 10,000 registered temples.
On tour in southern Taiwan with 40 passengers, they have a quick break at a rest area outside Tainan City and some time to talk about their family business.
“Domestic travel and religion tourism are our main business. When we bought this bus we wanted something extraordinary, reflecting the Taiwanese culture. So we had it painted with motifs covering the many, many temples here in Taiwan. This bus stands out and attracts the large and growing group regularly visiting our temples,” Tsai explains.
That decision has made their bus an attractive and coveted transport service for the huge segment of the Taiwanese tourism industry that could be described as “religious tourism.” An estimated 35 to 40 percent of tourist coaches on the island are used for these purposes.
Passengers feel safe
We all love Scania, Shien says, pointing out how the bus is painted with almost as many Scania motifs as religious ones.
“Many groups chose our bus because of the religious motifs. Other do it because it´s a Scania. They know they will get a comfortable ride.”
“The engine’s power and the stability of this bus are very good. Our passengers say they feel much more comfortable and safe than in the Japanese buses, especially on the bumpy roads leading to some of the more remote temples.”
Taiwan´s temples range in size from single-room shrines to vast multi-story complexes. And these temples are not simply museums or relics of bygone eras, but active places of worship.
There are three main varieties of temple in Taiwan – Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian – reflecting Taiwan’s religious make-up.
A typical tour with Tsai and Shien lasts for two days. The group leaves Taipei early in the morning and heads south along the west coast highway. The passengers have time for 3-4 temple visits before they head back to Taipei the next day.
21 years with Scania
Jun-Yin Tsai has owned and driven Scania buses for 21 years.
“Being a bus driver in Taiwan can be a challenge. Today the buses are technically advanced with so much electronics. The Scania Opticruise is not always the best option in the busy city traffic here in Taiwan. Then I shift to manual, which I really prefer. I´m a little bit old-school in that way,” he says.