Robert Allard made his mark in Kaohsiung in a relatively short time and serves as a good example of a foreigner making a difference. He is an adventurer, accomplished diver, a successful entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist. He is featured in My Kaohsiung for his love of Taiwan and his passion for ocean conservation. While he would have loved to remain in Kaohsiung where he has made many friends, his work has forced his relocation. We were fortunate to get his insights and recommendations before his departure.
You can not miss Robert when you meet him because most people mistake him for Leonardo De Caprio.
People mistook me for Leonardo especially when I was younger and Leonardo played in the movie, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Great movie by the way.
Robert is from a small town in Texas, USA, called Paris. Most people think of Paris, France, he says when he tells people where he’s from. But, like Paris, France, Paris, Texas, actually has an Eiffel Tower with a Cowboy hat on top of it. He began traveling the world when he joined the US Army many years ago. Since moving on from the military, his new job enables him to travel and explore many part of the world: 18 countries, to be exact. When he’s not working, diving, running a business, socializing, he’s pursuing higher education from a university based in the United States. He is currently enrolled in a full time, online, electrical engineering degree with Grantham University.
Robert arrived in Taiwan in the Spring of 2017. He immediately knew that this place would be a great new home for the next few years. Later that year, he started scuba diving and began to see that we have a marine conservation problem around the world, not just Southeast Asia, but everywhere. This realization spurred his activism. He became involved with cleanup efforts and promoted marine conservation. Ultimately, he founded a company and donates 50% of all profits to a different Ocean Conservation Organization every month.
Love a diver has for the ocean and sea life. – Passion Divers
Robert founded the apparel store, Passion Divers, to spread awareness of the crisis of polluted oceans around the world and create change to better the world. Since he was little, he has always wanted to be a part of something bigger.
I wanted to do something that i could call mine and say I did that. Passion Divers has given me that and I hope that I can promote change and the love for the underwater world as much as I love it.
Passion Divers online apparel store sells a variety of items, and not just for divers. From T-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs, to leggings, there’s something for everyone. Robert offers promotional discounts on the Passion Diver’s Facebook page. Remember, those purchases are going to a great cause, as he donates 50% of the profit to marine conservation organizations.
My Kaohsiung: How do you feel about Kaohsiung?
Robert: I have come to love Kaohsiung City. The people down here are like family and they make a person feel at home.
My Kaohsiung: Why did you start Passion Divers?
Robert: The amount of trash and pollutants that goes into the oceans is unbelievable, sea life is being affected everywhere, so I opened a website at the end of 2018 and Founded Passion Divers and Passion Divers Apparel, to spread awareness about this crisis and help organizations that are trying to clean the oceans and save sea life.
My Kaohsiung: What has been some of the fondest memories in Taiwan?
Robert: So many memories since being here, I would say the fondest would be the climb up to the peak of Syue Mountain, Snowy Mountain. The climb up and the experience over the three-day hike was amazing and the views were astonishing. The moment that we arrived at the peak was the best feeling of self-accomplishment a person can have. The peak is the second highest in Taiwan at 3,886 meters, just behind Jade Mountain.
My Kaohsiung: What has been the most challenging aspect of moving and living in Taiwan and what is your advice, if any, to others who are considering living here?
Robert: The most challenging and most frustrating aspect of living in Taiwan is the driving with scooters. My advice to anyone coming to Taiwan would be to make sure to always watch out for scooters no matter where you’re at. Taiwan is considered the scooter capital of the world. When you arrive, you will see why people call it that. Some days you will want to pull your hair out and other days it’s not so bad.
My Kaohsiung: What helped you assimilate to Taiwan’s unique culture?
Robert: Most people say I have a great personality which I’m very humble and grateful for. I can proudly say that it was because of my family and how I was raised in Texas. I make friends easily and I analyze a person not by their appearance, but by their heart and mind. I like to understand a person and their background no matter the type of person.
Least Favorite Food
1,000 Year Old Egg
My Kaohsiung: What have Taiwan given you…how have you benefitted?
Robert: Taiwan has given me a second place to call home and a second family. I do want to say that the Dive shop in Hengchun, Taiwan, named Divepro. It is, by far, the best ran business in Taiwan. From the day I arrived at their shop to learning my Open water course to today, they have always put their customers first and they will treat you with respect and kindness that most places won’t.
My Kaohsiung: What do you regret not having done in Taiwan?
Robert: I regret not traveling to Penghu Island. Penghu is the biggest of the surrounding islands of Taiwan, and it a very beautiful place from what I’ve seen and heard from friends.
My Kaohsiung: What are you going to miss most about Taiwan?
Robert: I will miss the friends I’ve made and the hospitality by the Taiwanese people.
My Kaohsiung: As you’re leaving Taiwan, what would you want people to remember you for?
Robert: I want to be remembered by the kindness I have shown and the respect I have given to this wonderful country. I will always remember Taiwan and the memories that I have made here. I plan to be back to visit in the coming years.
Robert is a humble guy from a small town with a world renowned city name. While he’s only been in Taiwan for two years, he’s already made a huge difference. An avid diver, he saw first-hand the effects of pollution in the oceans. Instead of ignoring the problem, he took action. He founded an online apparel company that selflessly donates 50% of the profits monthly to non-profit marine conservation organizations around the world. He’s not only made a difference here, but his activism is felt worldwide. We are truly honored to have Robert in Kaohsiung. Regretfully, he will be leaving Taiwan due to his work.
He should serve as an inspiration for many who want to make Kaohsiung a better place. One only needs passion to accomplish great things! Thank you, Robert Allard…for your contributions and selflessness. You have touched and inspired many people. May you have a safe journey. HOOAH!
Favorite night market: Ruifeng Market
Favorite place to spend a Friday night: Victory Inn bar
Favorite place to spend a Sunday afternoon: Relaxing at my home near Chengcing Lake
Favorite place to spend a holiday in Taiwan: Taitung
Dive shop: Dive Pro
Best restaurant: German Soul
Best Mediterranean Restaurant: 卡茲咖啡 Katsicafé
Best waterfall: Lovers “Waterfall” in Pingtung County
Best BBQ chicken in Taiwan: Alex’s Reggae Bar on Kenting Street
Recommended best place to go: Hualien- Taroko Gorge