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June 27, 2017

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Explorer: 4 things to do in Hualien that might surprise you

Everyone knows Hualien — azure ocean views from the outside and rough-and-tumble mountains on the inside. But take a leisurely ride or stroll through any part of the county and we guarantee you'll stumble onto some surprises. Here are four to get you started.

The chickens and the eggs

RANGE: FREE

Nearly all poultry farms in Taiwan raise chicken in cages and give them antibiotics and hormones to stimulate growth.

Hsiangting Poultry Farm (鄉庭畜牧場) is an old-fashioned farm that doesn't.

The farmer, Chang Chin-yi (張進義), set up fences along the natural curves of the mountain on which he lives, so that his chickens are free to roam about, climbing trees or foraging in grass and finding the occasional peach.

He only has two types of chicken — the wild mountain chicken and silkies — but they're some of the cleanest poultry you can get. There are free-range eggs, too, which have better nutritional value.

Stop by and he'll give you a tour. Book ahead to sit down for a delicious barrel-broiled chicken dinner.

In the photo supplied by Farmer Chang, the chickens are running so freely and so fast you can hardly see them.

Interested? Visit 8651315.com

It's Goodwill for kids

THRIFTY SHOPPING

Children growing up in rural areas like Hualien face many challenges. Many of their parents move to the city for work, leaving them in the care of grandparents, who have a tough time keeping an eye on them.

This community group-run thrift shop, Five-Flavour House (五味屋), tries to keep them out of trouble by giving them somewhere to go and something to do during the day.

The kids help tend the store, which sells donated goods. You'll find everything from coffee makers and potato peelers to oven mitts and overalls.

Browse enough and you're sure to find a bargain — maybe even for something you want.

Right across the street is an unaffiliated shop selling "vintage" clothes, mostly for women but also some men's items, including a stack of ties.

Money spent here doesn't go to help the kids, but hey — who's going to turn down a mint-condition pair of real Levi's for NT$300?

Interested? Visit 5wayhouse.org/sec01p07.html

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