Somewhere tucked in the hills of Changbin 長濱 between Hualian and Taitung there lies a little stone house with the strangest dog ever. And I’m using the word strange here in as endearing a way as possible, because, as you will see, there really is no other word to describe this peculiar scene.
Every morning at about 10am, Max starts to whimper impatiently, trying to attract the attention of his owner Nian Yang. It’s time for his morning snack. However, while most dogs perform a little trick of “sit” or “roll over”, Max here, a full-grown husky with one blue and one hazel eye, starts to sing. And it’s not any ordinary singing. It’s an operatic duet of the highest quality, a man vs dog interpretation of Schubert’s Ave Maria, and man, it’s good.
Back to the household that houses this peculiar animal. The couple, Nian Yang and his wife Ci Bu, opened Sunny Buhouse about two years ago, not as a guesthouse but a place “to share with you our way of life”. They chose to base this new home in Changbin after falling in love with this mountainside location; the Pacific Ocean lapping quietly in the distance while the green precipice of the Hai-An mountain range hang precariously, yet majestically, at their backs. At night, the rooftop, still fresh with warmth from the morning sun, invites you to lie down and stargaze; a blanket of closely-knit stars fighting to embrace you with their radiance, and a shooting star rocketing past your eyes every other minute.
These are but two of the many reasons I fell in love with Sunny Buhouse at first sight- Max and beautiful Changbin. Yet there is so much more to this. There is the décor - clean, simple, yet dotted with touches of ethnicity – an African miniature totem, Indian furniture, aboriginal wall hangings and the smell of burning mugwort leaves to welcome you upon your arrival – a product of Ci Bu’s artistic and spiritual imagination. In the mornings, Ci Bu whips up a healthy buffet breakfast made with her heart and soul – homemade goji berry bread paired with plum jam made by a friend who’s left the rat race in the city to be a jam connoisseur, herbal tea concocted by a Chinese doctor neighbour, and a rosemary tea brewed from fresh herbs in the garden. Ci Bu explains all of this to you patiently in her soft, calming voice, itself a source of healing energy, while her husband, Nian Yang chatters excitedly on about his views on modern Taiwanese education.
In the end, no matter what reasons there are to love a place, it always comes down to the heart. Nothing beats the power of human energy and affection. At Sunny Buhouse, I felt the positive powers of yin and yang work in perfect harmony, creating a space that is both soothing and uplifting. I believed, the first moment I stepped foot on this piece of land, that I would be back here often. I believe I was right.
Sunny Buhouse is at 85 Zhongyong Village, Changbin Township, Taitung County
tel: 0933-990233 0933-664642
NOTE: Best to call and ask for directions from Taitung or Hualian, or visit their website