Taiwan and Hong Kong have enjoyed close connections for decades, thanks to their proximity, deep commercial ties, and some shared cultural similarities. However, a rapidly growing number of Hongkongers are now traveling to Taiwan to stay, uprooting themselves to establish new homes, jobs and lives for themselves and their families. The first seven months of 2019 saw Hong Kong immigration to Taiwan grow 28% year-on-year and the island is now the third most-popular destination after Australia and Canada for emigrating Hong Kong residents, who are reportedly drawn to the island by a variety of factors.
Taichung has attracted its fair share of Hong Kong immigrants from a variety of backgrounds and they are found in every corner of the city, contributing to the vibrancy of their new hometown.
Donna Chan 陳佩兒: Sensation Lounge Bar
Donna moved to Taiwan back in 1996 after marrying her Taiwanese husband. Initially, Taichung was a big adjustment and not what she imagined, lacking the tall buildings, big crowds, diverse food options and commercial district that Hong Kong had. There was also the challenge of learning how to speak Mandarin. Most of her time was spent at home, caring for her husband, their son (now 20 years old) and her father-in-law. Six years ago, her husband opened the spacious Sensation Lounge Bar, where customers can relax by a long bar or on sofas while enjoying a variety of drinks and music. Three nights a week, Donna now comes in to help supervise and has developed a good rapport with her staff and customers. As she has made friends and made Taiwan her home over the years, she says she has found the Taiwanese to be very “passionate” and considerate. She adds that Hong Kong friends started asking her about immigrating to Taichung back during the territory’s 2014 “Umbrella Movement” protest with even more making inquiries in recent months.
96, WuQuan Rd, 2F, West Dist
10 pm-4 am (週日休/closed Sun)
Wingo Wan 溫志斌 (煮意無間 Chef Infinity) & Cynthia Wong 黃綺華 (NeTCare360)
It only took Wingo and Cynthia a couple weeks to decide to immigrate to Taichung in November, 2017. Wingo had spent 30 years working as a chef in restaurants and hotels like the Sands Macao while Cynthia was working in lingerie merchandising for Victoria’s Secret. However, the long hours meant there was little time to spend with their two boys (now 6 and 8). They settled on Taichung because wasn’t “always raining” like Taipei, was less affected by typhoons and earthquakes, and had better education options for their kids. After initially operating a small restaurant for 18 months, they closed and relocated to a combined home and business in a quiet Beitun neighborhood near the Dakeng Scenic Area. Here, Ringo runs a private kitchen/chef business, organizing private meals for groups of 6-12 and on-site or outside cooking classes, and also producing pre-cooked, eat-at-home packaged food products. Cynthia also has a soap-making studio and is launching an on-line shop internationally marketing 100 or more “MIT” (Made In Taiwan) products from a growing number of suppliers.
Many Hong Kong acquaintances are now considering the same move with the couple hosting 4-5 groups of interested Hongkongers in November alone. Despite the challenges, Wingo and Cynthia say that moving to Taiwan was the “right decision” with benefits including a spacious living environment three times bigger than their former home and having their own car. She likes the fact that are so many opportunities to develop a business here with a bigger margin for trial and error. Ringo also enjoys traveling around Taiwan. “It feels comfortable and normal here now, like home,” says Cynthia.
0968-405-784 (溫志斌 Wingo Wan), 0968-405-788 (黃綺華 Cynthia Wong)
北屯區軍福十三路115號1F / 115, JunFu 13th Rd, 1F, Beitun Dist
Lam Fuk Yau 林福有: Cappero Italian Wine Restaurant
For Chef Lam and his wife Cheung Men Chi, the decision to move to Taiwan in July, 2017 with their two sons (now 9 and 13) was a way of taking a mid-life change of direction. After 12 years working at the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel, he felt things were a “little bit boring”. Preferring Taichung with its slower pace of life, central location and good weather, the couple also began research to open their own restaurant. The result was Cappero, a 20-seat, mid-priced restaurant focused on classic Italian cuisine. Lam notes that such a venture would have been unfeasible in Hong Kong, due to high costs. Taiwan’s lower costs mean that restaurants can survive on lower customer volumes, making it less stressful for owners. He says other benefits his family has enjoyed here include a much larger home and many easily-accessible, non-urban travel and recreation options. Besides the Taiwanese customers who have become friends, he says Cappero also attracts a steady flow of visiting Hongkongers who want to ask about the details of his life here. He notes that since this summer the tone of this questioning has changed: “Before, they would ask me, ‘How’s life in Taiwan?’ Now, they ask, ‘How do I move to Taiwan?'”
(04) 2301-1310, 0905-919-402
西區模範街34巷12號 / 12, Lane 34, MoFan St, West Dist
11:30 am-2 pm, 5:30-9 pm (週日、一休/closed Sun-Mon)
Adonis Kong 江東源: 沐Muweichai
Muweichai boss Adonis Kong–who has had a passion for painting since he was small–harbored a dream of opening his own gallery. In 2016, he moved to Taiwan and opened a restaurant-pub, combining an artistic approach with small dishes made with healthy ingredients, injecting a lively, youthful and graceful sensibility to both his paintings and dining experience. He chose Taichung as a place to start his business because of its good weather and abundance of culture–resembling an artwork-filled garden. Like any passionate painter, he hangs his own artworks on the walls. However, running the business also presented challenges. When he first opened, its lack of popularity and promotion made it difficult, although the situation is steadily improving now. He misses his hometown very much; every time he thinks of Hong Kong, the image of Butter Crisp Pork comes to mind, leading him to add this delicacy to his menu. He added a touch of creativity to make this dish resemble a bagel with a texture that’s like the soft-inside, crisp-outside Crisp Pork, naming it a “Not Bagel”. Friends who have sampled it think it tastes just like the Hong Kong original. He also enjoys Taichung cultural events like the Jazz Festival.
北區育才街3巷5號 / 5, Lane 3, YuCai St, North Dist
11 am-2 pm, 5-10 pm (週一休/closed Mon)
Chung Mei-miu 鍾美苗: December Gallery
December Gallery founder Miu came to Taiwan many years ago and studied industrial design at Tunghai University. After graduation, she worked for a period in Hong Kong and Taipei but an opportunity to open a coffee shop with friends on Tunghai Art Street led her back to Taichung. However, the SARS epidemic in 2003 plunged the entire Asian economy into crisis and to the shop’s closure. Miu, who loved painting from an early age, didn’t give up because of the economic downturn but instead took this opportunity to return to the industrial design business and teaching painting. She then set up December Bar before moving to a studio in 2011 to run a combined bar and gallery. In 2017, Miu’s determination led her to fulfill her dreams with the opening of a gallery studio. Despite the ups and downs, she is still deeply connected to this place, believing that there is an abundance of space in Taichung for artists to develop and express themselves. She also feels the city is filled with human warmth, where people are willing to help each other, infect each other with ideas, and behave positively towards those around them.
15-1, Lane 62, FuXing Rd, Sec 4, East Dist