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She asked me back in Mandarin when I showed her the website screenshot with the address of the place I wanted to go. It’s obvious that she didn’t know the place. And me? I just stepped out from the Hualien Train Station and she’s the first person I met in the city. I knew no one and directions.
She was the taxi driver who drove me to Andante, the name of the place where I stayed in Hualien. After giving a call to Andante staff, she managed to find way to that place. In fact, the place is actually pretty easy to find, not hidden, and it is at the busy junction right in the middle of Hualien city. So, I guess that either the place is not well-known yet or it is just a coincidence that she didn’t know or aware of Andante or Andante House & Restaurant in full name.
The 2 hours train ride from Taitung to Hualien was bearable but unfortunately not the weather which still felt like summer although it was already late November. From inside the cab, I saw one young lady and one young guy had already stood in front of the door waiting for my arrival. I felt welcomed and much helped by the people I met during my days in Taiwan which I was very glad about.
Andante House and Restaurant in A-zone Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park
Andante House and Restaurant is actually two separate buildings, the houses and the restaurant, located within a-zone Hualien cultural and creative industries park which was built about 100 years ago on 3.3 hectares land. All the buildings in the park used to be winery factories. Taiwan Ministry of Culture supports in preserving this old cultural asset of nation and promoting more cultural exhibition in local area. Maybe it is more popular as a cultural park rather than as a house and restaurant. The fact is, we won’t also really notice there is a complex of houses in there unless we get off and walk around the area.
The young lady assisted me in check-in process which was done at the restaurant receptionist while the young guy helped me to bring my luggage to my room. Or precisely, to my house for coming two nights. I keep on saying that it is a house because it is a real house, not a hotel neither a hostel. The check-in process was simply fast and she walked me to the Andante houses located not too far from the restaurant.
The Andante House, The Little Japanese Village
When I found this place online, I immediately attracted to this Japanese style of houses. There must be some interesting facts about it, so suddenly like, “AHA!” appeared in my mind that I got something to explore and write about. Maybe there is other place like this in Taiwan but I am pretty sure it won’t be as original as this because it was built long time ago, in year 1928-1933, and it used to be a dormitory for Japanese employees during that time. Because of that, when we walk in this complex which has 13 houses, we will feel like walking in a little neighbourhood.
The Andante House, Living In Older Days
I believe it is not easy to maintain this place especially the house itself. The house has been retouched and modernized at certain part for the convenience of the staying guests.
Two unique things about here are: One, they don’t provide electric water boiler, so if we need hot water, we shall get it from the water dispenser located at the public library in the complex. Two, the hot water is limited to the water tank placed behind the house. So, if it runs out, we have to inform them to refill. But no worries though, the water provided should be sufficient for the staying guest. They should have already calculated the normal amount of water each guest usually needs daily.
Why is that so? That’s to keep as much as possible the originality lifestyle in the house.
One common feature of Japanese houses is that they have many sliding doors, so does this house. One room to another room is separated by sliding doors made of paper squares glued on a wood lattice that allows soft light to pass through. Tatami mats are also used to cover the floor of most of the rooms.
Bathroom and toilet is separated. There is a bath tub and accessories made from Cypress wood which gives off pleasant fragrance when wet. They also provide towel, hairdryer and amenities such as shampoo, body lotion, and etc. In fact, I love the smell of the lotion.
Remember that I said earlier if we need hot water, we can find it at the public library in the complex? So, here is the library. We can find a water dispenser and also some magazines on the shelf for our reading or just spend sometimes here watching television together with other guests. Basically, it is like a refreshing or relaxing room.
I flipped some of the magazines in the library and then I left to get ready to pack up my stuffs and check out. 3D2N flew fast because there are many things to see and do around the area. It was an unique staying experience, and not forgetting all the lovely and friendly staffs I met during my stay there until the drop-off service to the train station by their shuttle bus driver, all were excellent.
Next, stay tuned for my sharing about the art workshops that they conduct regularly for their guests, the food at the Andante Restaurant and also the activities around A-zone Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park. :)
Andante House & Restaurant
中華路144號（文創園區), Hualian City 144
Tel.: +886 3 835 5811