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Taipei is a city I thought would be full of high rises like our financial district. It was a shock to me that they have so few buildings that are more than 10 floors. It might have to do with the geographic location, under occasion heavy typhoon as well as earthquakes. Their buildings are evenly spread out in similar heights. I could see the beautiful sky wherever I go. Their backstreet alleys are so accessible and many of them are shops. I’ve observed enough to understand how important many of these shops are to them, not only for the tourist but for the entire neighborhood. The entire street setting reminds me of what I usually see in Japan through media. Very organized and neat. I must admit I love their city layout. Lots of their old buildings were still intact, using the Cantonese ‘Qilou’ design. The pedestrian could walk in shelter away from the scourging sun and not to worry about rain.
One thing that actually scared me at first was the unfamiliar road traffic. The ‘right-of-way’ was a long time no see and what about the scooters rampage! I actually stood and saw the incredible scene of a few dozens motorcyclists waiting at a stop light. I thought I was at a Gran Prix race track. Motorcycles are actually the pedestrians in the city streets. Interesting enough, I could not find them on highway ever!
I’m completely jealous with what Taiwan has abundantly – their land. The entire trip, I questioned why we Hong Kongese struggle so much on living and public space while they could have well distributed and utilized public space. We enslaved by money and limited space, forgetting the meaning of life. I could just see how friendlier people can get when life is not as competitive, like a race. Can you imagine they actually have an open dance room with mirrors, at an underground shopping street. During the time I passed by at 8pm on a weekday, there were 5 groups practicing. I’m sure they have other things to worry about, such as grown men has to compulsorily serve in the army.
Their art cultural development is a lot encouraging with the environment and support given. Not only they have enough physical space, but also the freedom and acceptance to infuse art into people’s daily life. Not only it dresses up space, it plants seed to people. No wonder why many art creators in Hong Kong drool over the advantages in Taiwan. I just think that when living environment is not as crammed, their our minds can open up for inspiration. Ideas such as what do you want to do in life would come up.
I’ve never thought Taiwan has such thing as aborigines, not only one ‘tribe’ but a few. Just like all natives, they have a very different culture from the previous generations. Somehow I think they get turned into an attraction for tourists. Unfortunately, I’ve only come across with their language used in music and some knitted bags. It’d be a fantastic idea to get to know their history and life in future trips.
If wines pairs well with chosen cuisine and a party of friends, Then, I’d say coffee pairs well with high ceiling and chic/raw interior design. Coffee in Taipei is a culture alone. It’s so strong that I’ve only seen 1 Starbucks out of 30 cafés in different names. Just when I thought coffee is an luxury for the hip youngsters. On my last day of visit I ventured into a franchised cafe called ‘Cama Café ‘. It’s equivalent to Starbucks but with a much cheaper price for an actual coffee that tastes. There were mid age uncles that (I would not think they are that type of person) were getting their caffeine fix which normally these uncles here would just drink something else or just beer. The previous day I was at the SongShan Cultural District Park, the park alone had more than 20 cafés of different names. The street across it were full of them too. Too bad human can only intake this much caffeine daily, or I would go café hopping. My sister tried out an ice drip coffee and I enjoyed my loving hot latte in the late afternoon at Cafe Solé by the Red Dot Design Museum (also at the Cultural District Park).
This left me an impression of how properly a quiet relaxing environment should really be. Away from traffic, away from skyscrapers, away from the crowd. What a treat..
There was however a question of how some of these businesses survive with so few customers. In Hong Kong, with that amount of foot traffic they could go out of business almost immediately and how about the reasonable price they charge.
Read on next “XiangGang Lai De”