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MAGAZINE, May 2002.
around on the cheap
By David Greenberg and Stephan Larose/Photos
by David Greenberg/Translated by Sharon Yang
you're just passing through or planning to stay awhile, there are
plenty of options for budget accommodations in Taichung. For a quiet
and convenient place to crash in that won't bankrupt your wallet,
you might give a local hostel a try.
Hostels, or guest houses, have been
popular in North America and Europe for the cost-conscious traveler
because they offer several advantages over expensive chain hotels.
These places are a good place to meet other similar-minded travelers
and to share information, look for jobs, or hear about the hot spots
in town. Also, because you are typically expected to wash your own
linens and help clean up a little around the facilities, the costs
are very low and only go towards paying for the general operations
of the hostel. This no-frills approach means that the cost of staying
at a hostel can be several times cheaper than the least expensive
hotel in a popular tourist area.
such option in Taichung is the Hacienda
Guest House (17, Lane 66, JungJeng [ChungCheng]
St., 5F-5)(Closed). "Hawaii"
Steve, a 12-year American veteran resident of Taichung, has
been running the Hacienda for over two years and has a steady
stream of travelers, thanks in part to a nice write-up in the
The Lonely Planet. With a comfortable living room, cable TV,
full kitchen, laundry and several air-conditioned rooms on different
floors to accommodate small or large groups, the Hacienda is
conveniently located behind Napoli in the Canal District.
Another advantage of the Hacienda is that, because
of the high rotation of foreign teachers, the lobby phone rings
constantly with new English teaching jobs and other information
for foreigner guests. However, there are also a number of Taiwanese
guests staying at any one time. Steve places much importance on
security and maintaining a "wholesome" atmosphere. Room
rates vary but generally start in the very inexpensive NT$200+ range
per night (vs. NT$600 per night for train station area hotel rooms).
Weekly and monthly rates are also available. The Hacienda was the
starting point for many of Taichung's current residents.
the Hacienda's overflow is a recently completed newcomer to
Taichung, The Loft
(125, JungJeng [ChungCheng] St.)(Closed).
Opened by two award-winning Hollywood filmmakers, a Canadian
graphic artist and a Taiwanese travel agent, this is part guest
house, restaurant, and bar/art lounge. The Loft is also located
in the Canal District near Napoli, directly across the canal
from Night Bar at the intersection of Hua Mei West Street. The
Loft has several guest rooms (also in the NT$200+ a night range
with longer-term discounts), and the owners have artistically
decorated each guest room in a different Asian country theme.
With drink specials, cheap beer, good food and a
comfortable lounge open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., the owners aim to improve
cross-cultural exchanges by catering to both Taiwanese and foreigners.
Billed as "the funkiest art lounge in Taichung", The Loft
serves food in the "Nipa Room" restaurant and outside
on their fresh-cut, all-bamboo deck. Live acoustic performances
happen every week in the underground "Red Lantern Room"
bar/art lounge. Other services/features include Internet access,
cable TV, AC, dance/kung fu classes, scooter/cell rentals, and "beat
any price" air travel tickets. Coming soon is "The Zone"
dance floor and V.I.P. lounge room.
51-year old landmark in Taiwan is the Taichung
Hostel C.S.F. (400, MeiTsuen [MeiTsun] Rd., sec.
1; tel. 2372-1954), across from the Art Museum. With over
30 rooms averaging NT$1,100 a night and up, this hostel caters
to a mix of out-of-towners, Taiwanese college sport teams and
foreigners. This establishment was heavily used by American
military personnel in the 50s, 60s and 70s and includes a restaurant
Other nice features include parking for cars and
nice gardens in the front and back, plus some bungalow-style rooms.
A place where you definitely don't do your own linens, the Taichung
Hostel is comparable to many of the nicer hotels in Taichung and
is pricier than a typical hostel, but offers a higher class of accommodation
for shorter-term visitors.