After spending two weeks quarantined in a small hotel room where the only other life form I spoke with face to face was a police officer asking for my passport, it’s needless to say that I was starved for human contact.
Once my freedom had been earned I knew I wanted to start my Taiwan adventure by heading south and after browsing some travel blogs it looked like the city of Taichung was shaping up to be my first stop. Hostelworld is always my go-to website when looking for somewhere to stay while backpacking, so I opened up the app on my final night of quarantine and started scrolling. First Step: filter all results by hostels with a rating of 9.0 or higher. Second Step: filter results even further by setting a max price range (gotta choose an affordable option). Final Step: scroll through hostels until you find somewhere that looks comfortable, friendly, social, and has some sort of outdoor space. After scrolling for a few minutes I came across “T-Life Hostel” and it checked all of my boxes, so I decided to book it for one night. I knew after stepping into the hostel for the first time the next day that I had made the right choice.
Walking into T-Life I knew that this was the sort of hostel atmosphere I loved. A nice common space with natural light, comfortable seating, a clean kitchen, a dining table to use as a work space, and most importantly, friendly looking people using all of these spaces. One of my favorite aspects of T-Life is that the staff hangout at the hostel even when they’re not working. T-Life is essentially a second home for a lot of the awesome Taiwanese staff members. They come to do anything from chill with the guests, jam out on guitar, cook a meal, play games, study for university, or workout using the punching bag just outside the hostel. Because of this, there’s always a warm social atmosphere in the T-Life common area.
After staying for a few days as a guest I’d already started helping some of the volunteers with a project they were working on. Unlike many work exchange positions, T-Life facilitates creativity and lets their volunteers choose something to work on that they’re interested in in exchange for lodging. I thought this idea was really cool, so after staying for a few more days I decided that I wanted to become a helper as well. Over the next couple of weeks I ended up building some outdoor seating for the hostel and filmed a promotional video which were both tasks I chose myself and was excited to work on. I felt like I hardly did any work in those 2 weeks I stayed at T-Life as a helper. Now I say that not because I literally didn’t do any work, but because I enjoyed everything I did there so it didn’t feel like work.
Another aspect I loved about T-Life is the fact that the staff are always looking to plan fun trips with the guests. When I stayed there we ended up going on a lovely camping trip to Sun Moon Lake with 12 people. We biked around the massive lake, visited some beautiful temples, and had an awesome family style barbecue at night. After I left T-Life I heard there were other hiking and camping trips planned by the staff for the guests to take part in.
Finally, I want to talk about how well located T-Life hostel is. T-Life is about halfway between the Taichung train station and the ocean which means you can take a short bus ride to just about anywhere in Taichung from T-Life and it will take you no time at all to get wherever you’re going. Here are a few of my personal highlights from Taichung that are easily accessible from T-Life: the Gaomei Wetlands, hiking in Dakeng, the Feng Chia night market, Donghai University, and all of the food in Longjing.
I’m not much of a foodie, but I’d have to say that the street food in the area surrounding T-Life was some of my favorite in Taiwan. You can find tasty dumplings located right across the street from a cozy cafe named “It’s David” and a milk tea stall right next to the cafe that has the best Soy Milk pearl tea I’ve had in Taiwan. Down the street you’ll find hands down the best Gua Bao in Taiwan, delicious Taiwanese pancakes, sweet potato fries, sweet potato balls, another dumpling stall, a tasty churro stand, and much much more. Along with all of that there are great buffets, a nice BBQ spot, an amazing vegan buffet (and I’m not even vegan), a curry house, and another area with a collection of international restaurants. Best of all there’s a restaurant basically right outside the front door of T-Life called “Jackie’s”, or at least that’s what everyone referred to it as, that serves up a delicious lunch box. You won’t struggle to find good food in Longjing.
I came to T-Life hostel as a guest with the hope of finding a few people to socialize with for a couple days while I explored Taichung. After living at T-Life for three weeks I can easily say it’s one of my favorite hostels in Taiwan. I made so many new friends, explored some awesome places in Taichung, had opportunities to be creative, practiced my Mandarin with the lovely Taiwanese staff members, and felt like I joined a family.