25 October 2016
Hualien's scenic beauty makes it one of the favorite destinations of local and overseas visitors. Photo: internet
Hualien's scenic beauty makes it one of the favorite destinations of local and overseas visitors. Photo: internet

Small town, simple life — Conney couldn’t ask for more

Knowing that she loves frangipani, Conney’s Taiwan landlord planted a frangipani tree across from her building in time for her return from a New Year visit to Hong Kong.

Conney brought almost everything with her when she moved to Taiwan at the beginning of the year, so she had tons of used boxes lying around after she finished unpacking.

She gave all of them to an elderly woman who collects and resells boxes.

In return, the woman gave Conney fish caught by her son.

Conney treasures these tiny little things.

Which might explain why she chose to settle in a small town in Hualien, a county sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and Taiwan’s central mountain range famous for little blessings from nature.

These include the Taroko Gorge, rich coastal and marine life and a sprinkling of scenic attractions.

Conney had been doing well for herself in her job with a magazine publisher but she knew something was missing.

After toying with the idea for a year, she finally decided to launch her “Go Taiwan” project with four friends.

“I have seen a few courageous people. They don’t think too much about whether things would work out or not,” Conney told Apple Daily.

“As long as it’s something important, something they really want to do and believe in, they go for it.” 

Last year, Conney and her friends pooled HK$40,000 to rent a five-story building in Hualien, intending to turn it into a tourist hostel.

“Hualien is very close to nature and people here are also close-knit,” Conney says.

“Small town, simple life, this is the kind of life I want.”

With a size four times that of Hong Kong and a population of just 350,000, Hualien is a paradise for Hongkongers seeking more space and fresher air.

The move into the new premises was no picnic. The renovation was “hard as hell”, Conney says, but it was also a rewarding learning experience. 

The opening ceremony took place on July 1.

The hostel takes up the top three floors, above a gallery for Hong Kong artists and a ground-floor store selling Hong Kong handicraft and snacks.

Hong Kong snacks have been most popular with customers. Preserved prune is the landlord’s favorite.

Conney and her partners are planning to introduce more Hong Kong flavors.

Watch out for mini egg puffs, chu qian yi ding instant noodle with luncheon meat slice and egg toppings.

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EJ Insight writer

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