Welcome 2 Taiwan!
I haven't been here in years!!!! (Flying days don't count, they were merely overnight stays, and it's just in Taipei.) My last holiday trip to Taiwan was 4 years ago in November, and we met with a typhoon so our holiday was really disrupted, plus it was the kind of 10-days-go-from-Taipei-to-Kaoshiung-to-Taidong-to-Tainan-and-to-so-many-places-I-don't-have-impressions-anymore trip. The sleep on the bus, reach destination, wake up, take picture, then go back up the bus and sleep until the cycle repeats kind of trip.
The thing about travelling (to me) is actually exploring and knowing the place, its character, its people. I remember there was once a passenger asked me which city was my favourite. I thought about it for a while and replied "Singapore".
Because even though I travel all over the globe, I have not actually remained or been in one single city long enough to have attachment to any particular tree or lake, or really know its people and its background or any stories. I grew up in Singapore, I went to this school, I sat at this void deck with my friends chatting in the mid-afternoons, I played at this playground, I walked that route to the bus stop every morning on my way to school. You know what I mean? There are memories. Attachment.
Liking or loving a place has nothing to do with how pretty it is, or how atas it looked, or how famous that place is. It has everything to do with attachment. The same goes for people. How much you love a place, or someone. It works the same way. =)
Anyway, before I go off too far, let's come back to Taiwan. ^.^
I'm here to do a shoot for a kids' programme, where in each episode, we feature one kid exploring a particular city and doing things that he/she will never get to do as a regular Singaporean kid. Kinda interesting huh? I mean, kids probably are more well-travelled these days than before. But the places they go to...ah~ That's the thing. We bring them to places like Siem Raap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Hanoi and Sapa in Vietnam, Hualian in Taiwan, Laos...places which they (or their parents) would never ever have thought of going for their (because of the very limited number of leave days can allow, so very precious) holiday.
This trip to Taiwan, I'm at Hua Lian. Hua Lian to me sounded like a place where the mountains and seas are nice (山明水秀), the pace is slow, the people friendly...a place I heard that people, even from other parts of Taiwan, come to retire. It's at the eastern part of Taiwan, and on the way there, you will be able to catch the very breath-taking view of the Pacific Ocean. I get carsick with buses so it wasn't exactly an enjoyable journey there. I kept wanting to puke. Didn't help that it was raining the whole day and the bus had to drive up a mountain via winding roads with more bends than kent ridge (gao-zap-gap wan). I was nauseous and half terrified that the bus might slip and fall off the edge of the road down the cliff. (CHOI!) Imagine my utter discomfort.
(Tip: I recommend taking a shuttle domestic flight, or a train. 5 hours on a bus is no fun.)
When I arrived at the place we were going to be putting up at for the next 2 nights, I felt all was worth it.
It's a homestay. Hua Lian has the most number of homestays in the whole of Taiwan.
The names of all the rooms. There are only a total of 8 rooms. And each room has pretty names like 小寒，冬至，立春...
Each cupboard space is for the shoes of the guests in each room.
When we got there there was this super cute hyperactive playful 2-3 months' old puppy that greeted us.
His name is Ah Bui.
Not fat la...but I suppose Ah Bui sounds auspicious? Like, will always have food to eat so "bui" lor.
My room - 芒种. Meaning mango seed?
The keychain of the keys to my room...
Most of their furniture are Ikea ones. There's that iconic super comfortable Ikea rocking armchair!
Decent. They even provide shampoo, body wash AND conditioner! Like, pretty alright ones like Lux and Pantene. =) So you don't have to bring those toiletries. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shavers and combs included, and I can even tap on the free wifi (which they say is only availabe in the lobby) from my room. ^.^
I know. The pictures don't look that fantastic right? We arrived at night, about 9-ish, 10pm? It was dark but imagine a light drizzle, 19 degrees celcius temperature, country-like house with a pond and a friendly puppy that greeted us. That already felt...cosy...
And then, when morning hit us....
I walked out of my room, and this greeted me.
The lobby area looked prettier than it already was last night.
And flowers were in bloom~
The owner made us a very hearty breakfast (with love). And breakfast is never the same foods as long as you stay there. There for a week? The owner will prepare breakfast differently each morning. Coming with older people? They will prepare the oriental kind of breakfast (叫老人家吃西餐也许会蛮痛苦的）. Vegan? They will prepare it for you. Coming with kids? You'll get stuff like waffles.
This is what I call 用心。
Porridge. This one tasted soooo good... Looks innocent yah? You need to taste it to have the "eyes became wider in bewilderment" effect.
And the entree.
Yeah they call the porridge the appetizer. For most of us a bowl of porridge would have been the whole breakfast. So you can imagine I was really full that morning. And I'm not someone who eats a lot in the morning. 2 half-boiled eggs and I will be happy.
Still...homemade food made with love always tastes better than food you buy at any coffeeshop...
Red tea. Soy milk, Rice milk.
You can of couse ask for coffee or tea or milk. At no extra cost. It's all included in the price you pay.
The kitchen/pantry area. It's the house's kitchen/dining area la. It IS a homestay after all.
But given the great air and amazing weather, of course we're all sitting outside... ^.^
The view from the house as we're sitting there enjoying breakfast...
When they built this place (husband and wife team, with their then-still-young children), one mother duck and father duck came to visit (it so happened they have a pond), and laid their eggs there. From then on, they made justlike (that's the name of this place! Just Like! Like how we do in Facebook. Lol.) their home.
These ducks are a family, just like how this homestay makes people feel. Parent ducks, and their children which have become adults but still stick close together and do things together as a family...When the father duck moves, all the other ducks will form a line and follow the dad to wherever he's heading.
Backside up in the air means it's looking for fish.
I didn't know ducks eat fish.
Head probing into the grass means they're looking for worms.
I learn something new everyday.
You'll find all kinds of interesting plants here.This one, apparently, are the fruits of this particular plant whose leaves are used to wrap food. Other than pandan leaves and banana leaves, they use this for dumplings too!
And the plants which symbolises love. No, not roses...
Can one see this and not smile? ^.^
Tell you more about Just Like tomorrow. I need to go sleep.
Need to be up for a shoot early in the morning. Do come back. Because there's lots to tell you about this warm, beautiful, cosy homestay.
Read part 2 here.
喜欢. I really like.