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WORLD INN HUALIEN – A PLACE THAT FEELS LIKE HOME





While travelling, you often get some random acts of kindness. Maybe because you’re more up to it, more open to it, and also more dependent on it. Here, I would like to share some of those encounters with strangers, some of those random acts of kindness, some of those great surprises I had with strangers, and therefore what I learned from it. I’ve got plenty of little stories that I’d like to share and write about. I hope this little saga will have the advantage of bringing a different, yet optimistic glance upon our world.


I’m telling you, folks. You can talk to strangers. That’s pure happiness. As crazy as it seems, last May, that day I got hammered right on my heart, I also found a family. And a place that I had already added to my list of ‘homes’ around the world. I opened the door of the World Inn hostel, soaked because of the rain and those tears on my cheeks, about to start my two weeks Workaway mission. Except that I ended up staying there for more than three months.


Since I started travelling over 2 years ago, I rarely stayed more than 1 month in the same place (except when I was working as a Banana Girl in New Zealand, or when I came back to France to work at the University Library in Strasbourg). I always get really itchy feet when I stay too long in one place, I get impatient and restless to explore more. But that was before I ended up in Hualien County, on the east coast of Taiwan. That was before my best Workaway mission ever. In World Inn, I was warmly welcomed by Una, the owner, and her husband, Aga, who’s a tourist guide for Taiwanese who’re eager to visit Europe. Una’s sister, Nicole, is living with them as well, helping from time to time with the laundry, and Hugo, the neighbour, used to come really often to taste my dishes and share beers and stories with us.


This hostel often resonated with laughter, Finnish music, ‘Bal de Bamako’, or Aga singing Chinese hits. There was also Emma, this young Finnish girl on a 4 months internship at the hostel, and Vincent, this Quebecois guy who was using the opportunity of volunteering to enhance his Chinese speaking. Between the three of us, we were a long-term bad ass team and bonded really quickly.


Team World Inn

Like a family, we took care of each other. We cooked together after our shift. Emma used to help me to separate the white and the yolk to bake chocolate mousses. Vincent helped me getting train tickets out of the Family Mart’s vending machine where everything was written in Chinese. I used to go swimming with Emma at Our Beach. I used to sleep with Vincent at the 7/11 convenient store before watching some hot air balloons in Luye.


Our team would grow bigger from time to time with new short-term volunteers, Masumi from Japan, Sasha from Philippines/South Africa, Joy from Taiwan, Dnyan from India who was travelling around the world with his bicycle. We would build strong ties with some guests as well, so much that we created a secret notebook with a chart of our best guests (and also the most annoying ones, the dirtiest ones, the hottest ones and obviously the best Workawayers ever – yeah, I’m hoping to be on this list by now!).

Our little family was surely motley, yet beautiful and full of humour indeed.This hostel, World Inn, it’s like Una and Aga’s little baby, their dream come true. When Aga told me how he decided to own a hostel, I couldn’t help but smiling: the idea hit him while in New Zealand when he stayed in the BBH hostels chain. Those hostels are kind of cheap homestays: not that many beds in the dorms, and a friendly homely atmosphere that makes all the difference for backpackers.

In fact, every little thing in World Inn is dedicated to travel. Each bed is matching a country where they would love to go travelling together one day. This is how I spent some nights in Argentina, then in Egypt, New Zealand and finally in South Africa. A world map is displayed on the first floor which allows the guests to choose their country beds by putting on a magnet with their home country flag on it. Una is actually very excited every time a new guest has to draw a new flag – it’s another flag for their big collection. The big wooden table on the first floor is in shape of Taiwan and there