We planned a one-week trip to Hualien, and booked two nights at Manado Hostel (美那多民宿) based on Trip Advisor's review, just to experience the minsu (民宿) experience in Hualien. And Manado did not disappoint.
Just before our arrival, I sent email to Manado asking for suggestion on the best way to travel from the train station to Manado, given there were five of us and a few luggage bags. The owner, Ms Wang (王秋凉小姐) offered to pick us up and drive us to Manado. We later found out there are Toyota Wish taxis in Hualien and they are not very strict about the number of passengers to take (whereas in Taipei they abide by the rule of maximum four pax per taxi). So it was out of her kindness that Ms Wang provided the transport to us.
The hostel is bright, colourful, pleasantly and tastefully decorated. We booked a quad room (for four) with one additional headcount, but Ms Wang let us choose between this room and a larger room for six. We opted for the larger room, and she waived the rate difference! The room given to us is spacious and very comfortable. Breakfast was simple but delicious. My wife especially loves the pumpkin-soya bean drink. Both Ms Wang and her assistant, Xiao Wei (小薇) were very warm, chatty and helpful. Given our initial rough plan (we booked a few accommodations in Hualien on different days), they helped us plan our detailed itinerary for the entire week (not just the three days we were with them) and arranged for transportation and chauffeur to drive us on days that we planned to visit Highway 9, Highway 11 and Taroko Gorge. With their arrangement, we also went for a river tracing (riverking.com.tw/) trip and enjoyed it. They even dished out discount coupons and VIP cards for us to use at shops and hot-spring houses. Such helpful people!
I remember sipping coffee on the ground floor after returning from the river tracing trip and chatted with Ms Wang. She recounted her experience in China before returning to Hualien to start Manado. She spoke like an old friend, sharing her stories and feelings freely. With the surrounding, the 30 minutes there made me feel like I was visiting a close friend.
In conclusion, Manado is more than just a well-decorated house - it houses friendly and helpful hosts who treat guests genuinely as their friends. Their mission (which they try really hard to accomplish) is to make your stay at Hualien (not just at Manado) enjoyable and memorable. Strongly recommended!
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