Taipei on two wheels – Riverside Park

April 13, 2014 § 1 Comment

If you ever considered biking on the streets of Taipei, you may be bombarded with scary riding stories from locals. Most of Taipei do not have marked bicycle lanes or signals. The easy, relaxed atmosphere that bikers enjoy in Amsterdam or Copenhagen is basically nonexistent. The streets of Taipei resemble something of a battlefield, with its army of scooters, manic taxi drivers and monster buses at every turn. It’s a feat that can be daunting for bikers who aren’t comfortable riding in chaotic conditions.

The Riverside Park is the answer to that. Bike lovers can enjoy a beautiful bike lanes while seeing a different side of Taipei. Though never mentioned in popular guidebooks, hunting out bite-size adventures at the Riverside Park is by far one of my favorite pastimes. Riverside Park (河濱公園) is a city-established parkway that wraps itself around the whole Taipei city, running along the Danshui and Keelong River. It’s a quick way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without leaving the city, with extensive bike paths that can take you from southern Taipei (Xindian) all the way to the northernmost part of the city (Danshui). In addition to wide bike lanes, you will also stumble upon an assortment of parks and recreational facilities such as tennis courts, basketball courts, dog parks and more. It’s a refreshingly new way to see Taipei, as it exposes you to different facets of daily life. There are many different parks, entrances and bike rental stations scattered around the city, so it is worth checking out the full map to know which parts of the riverside you want to be exploring.

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Beautiful view of the New Taipei Bridge and the Beitou Incinerator

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The other side of Grand Hotel Taipei in Yuanshan

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Did not know skating rinks even existed in Taipei

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The merry-go-round at 兒童樂園 (Taipei Children’s Recreation Center)

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Clean public restrooms

One of my favorite spots is the dog park @迎風河濱公園 where you can shamelessly pet other people’s dogs without being a creep about it.

Puppy on the left can’t even right now

 There are also designated graffiti walls for people to tag around the park. The walls are painted white periodically, so it’s a good place to get your spray practice on.

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Graffiti wall

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Another section of the wall

Bikes can be rented at stations around the river for around NT. 60/hour. You have to provide a government issued ID or a NT. 2000 deposit if you don’t have an ID. Many people prefer renting UBikes (map), Taipei’s bike sharing service. The first 30 mins is free and then NT.10 per 30 mins for up to 4 hours. There are different rates for 4 hours or more, so be wary of long bike rides. You’ll need an Easycard and a functioning Taiwan phone number for the 1-time registration.

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A UBike kiosk

And of course the delicious food trucks and coffee stands that are available everywhere!

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Delicious!

Have you ever biked around Taipei? Feel free to leave your stories in the comments!

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Observing Pisa (Tourists)

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Stunning view of Piazza del Duomo in Pisa

While most of my travel companions made the decision to conquer the nearby outlet malls, I opted out of the Prada sales and made a solo trip to Pisa instead.

It was a very warm sunny day

Many people were surprised that I made the trip alone; apparently small Asian girls are often discouraged from travelling by themselves. Keeping that in mind, I made sure to keep a tight grasp on my bag and tried to give off the airs of a black-belt karate master. Travelling alone might be dangerous but people are more likely to approach you if you are alone. I met a lovely Canadian couple who were on their 35th anniversary Italy trip. They were very charming and decided to keep an eye on me during our ride to Pisa.

I still haven’t figured out what the words mean but I liked the colors + Banksy-ish feel

The Piazza del Duomo (“Cathedral Square”) is situated at the heart of Pisa, home of the famous leaning tower of Pisa. You can also find the Duomo, the Campanile (bellow tower), the Baptistry and the Camposanto and the Piazza del Duomo, all surrounded by lush patches of green lawn. The weather was absolutely perfect, 75 and sunny. All I wanted to do was pass out on the lawn with some lunch and enjoy the beautiful architecture around me.

Laidback

Part of the Camposanto Monumentale

View of the Duomo from The Baptistery

The Baptistery

Besides checking out the beautiful and historical architecture, the bountiful supply of tourists from all around the world made for some  fantastic people-watching moment.

You’d think the leaning tower of Pisa wouldn’t be leaning anymore, with the amount of tourists pushing it straight.Though I didn’t get a cheesy picture of myself pushing the Pisa tower (one of the cons of travelling solo), I took way too many pictures of others capturing that exact moment.

Tourist exhibit #1

tourist exhibit #2

Tourist Exhibit #3, #4, #5…

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Unexpected Surprises

October 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

the corner

You never know what unexpected surprise may be lurking in the corner…

Taipei: The Stimulating City

March 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

It’s been about a month since I’ve moved back to Taipei. Although Taipei is technically my home city, the amount of time I have lived abroad far outweighs the time I’ve spent living here. The culture shock is always there when I come back; the small apartment-style houses, the sheer amount of people and the fact that people immediately pinpoint me as a whitewashed Asian foreigner. When I came back from the States about 10 years ago, I thought it was dirty and cramped. If you didn’t watch your step, you might unexpectedly set foot on a fresh pile of dog poop. The humidity was unbearable during the summer and caused buildings and things to erode at light-speed. As a result, the buildings always looked dirty and old.

The first few weeks back, I spent a lot of time just walking around the city and paying my due to various bookstores and Starbucks. It was a nice change to not have to drive anywhere and walk a few steps to get to a 7-11. After the first few days, I started getting adventurous and took long walks to nearby neighborhoods.

Coming back now, I got the feeling that the city is hungry for an aesthetic makeover. Everyone is on the market to find the hottest new apartment buildings. Bookstores are stocked with architect and interior design magazines. All around the city, new fancy buildings sprout up from nothing. This change didn’t occur overnight but these thoughts seemed to have spread like a virus in the past decade.

The biggest change however, is probably my mental attitude. Instead of constantly comparing Taipei to other metropolitan cities and focusing on its faults and blemishes, I started focusing my attention on the differences and characteristics that sets Taipei apart from the other cities. Looking at everything with a fresh set of lens and taking pictures along the way. Not taking for granted each details and structure but in fact, thinking about why they’re there and how these things are reflective of the culture here. Like people watching, I put together the pieces of my observation and created short stories of what Taipei is about.

Here are just a few of the pictures I have taken:

I’m rather impressed with the street art I’m seeing around the city. 10 years ago, you might see the occasional tags that weren’t very exciting. Now I find hidden gems in the narrow alleys around the city:

my slightly failed attempt to create a panoramic photo of the alley graffiti i found

Temples in Taiwan are rarely treated as a sacred holy site. When I was younger, I didn’t understand why the temples weren’t more beautiful and isolated but now when I think about it, I prefer them the way they are now. Visually, it’s quite bizarre to see them next to a KFC but when you think about it, the temples are really integrated into the people’s daily lives. People don’t have to travel far to connect with their gods. Isn’t that kind of what religion is about? Having God with you at all times? A place of comfort within a few steps away? You see temples and shrines of all sizes everywhere in the city.

a KFC next to a temple. of course

 

 I never understood why people willingly put metal bars on their windows and doors. It looked like everyone in Taiwan lived in a bird-cage. However, I learned that people have those metal bars not just to keep thieves out but to buy themselves a peace of mind. In the past, theft was a real problem and people didn’t feel safe in their homes. The metal bars aren’t a cage per say but a protective barrier.

the cage

 The newer buildings don’t have cages anymore so slowly, these will probably disappear from the city.

 When I went to Beijing 2 years ago, I saw a lot of these ‘forbidden signs’ everywhere. It seemed quite unnecessary for me since it never occurred to me to litter or spit in public. I realized quickly that I was probably the rare few that didn’t need the reminder. People spit like crazy over there! Trash was also everywhere on the streets. 

I see less ‘forbidding’ signs in Taiwan but when I do come across one, I find them hilarious. They get really creative with how they represent different prohibited actions, that’s for sure! Guess it never hurts to remind people that they need to clean up after their dog…dog poop was always a big problem. Though, I think it’s not because owners don’t pick up after their dogs but because there use to be a huge stray dog problem in the past. That’s another story though.

these types signs are everywhere...when nature calls...hehe

 

During one of my walks, this building stuck out among all the other apartment buildings. I loved the colors and just snapped the shot on the spot.

unexpected building, stuck between a cluster of apartment buildings

 

I tried to come up with a word or a phrase to sum up Taipei but I haven’t been able to a suitable one yet. So right now, I just dubbed it “The Stimulating City” because it’s such an oddball place of sights, smells and sounds. It’s not uniformed nor can you easily categorize it as one thing or another.

But for right now, it’s home and it’s good to be back.

Wasteland Adventures

February 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

I went to visit my friend Will, who is out in Central Valley. We explored some abandoned boxcars and here is what we saw:

abandoned boxcars adorned with graffiti

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The Power of a Rainbow Graffiti

January 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

If I’m not unloading my miseries onto my friends when I’m having a bad day, I’m probably sitting in front of my computer, pouting at the screen. The internet is my go-to place to escape reality and just immerse myself with the endless (and mindless) flow of data, images and videos out in the virtual space. It’s distracting but in these cases, a distraction I welcome.

These awesome rainbow graffiti’s have been showing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico:

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Light Installation Graffiti by Armsrock

November 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Danish outdoor artist Armsrock has graced the city of Copenhagen with his graffiti-style installation art series, Markinger. The temporary light installation was created by projecting unique engravings done with an etching needle on black Pani slide. « Read the rest of this entry »

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