Tag Archives: Taipei City

Taipei’s Elephant Mountain 象山 and Four Beasts Mountain 四獸山 and 9-5 Peak 九五峯!

It’s hot and humid and the middle of summer, and yet, Elephant Mountain in Taipei is packed out with people.  Not in the early morning so much, but mid-morning onwards, at the hottest time of day, hundreds and hundreds of everybody are going up!

Last time I was there was Chinese New Year 2016 and haven’t been there since, oh no!

So now I’m back, but early in the morning.  7:30 am.  Today.  Ready for the off.  Would be earlier, but that’s the earliest I can get there from the far end of Taiwan.  And boy, it is steep.  And hot.  Steps and steps and more steps going onwards and upwards.  The trail is excellent, and goes on round a whole ridge, another set of steps, but the views are amazing and worth every ounce of effort.

The views of course are of Taipei City, YangMingShan and Taipei 101 in particular. Check out these few photos!

And hope you like that final photo – a McLaren stopped at the red light just in front of me as I was taking a photo of that red crane in front of Taipei 101.  Love it!

Rixing Type Foundry 日星鑄字行 ~ the last Traditional Chinese Character Letterpress in Taiwan

Down a tiny little backstreet in Taipei City surrounded by hardware stores is just what you don’t expect to find ~ a shop full of rows and rows of tiny little Chinese characters!

This article titled, “6 Things You Didn’t Know About Rixing Type Foundry, The Last Traditional Chinese Letterpress In Taiwan” on the City 543 website says,

“The Rixing Type Foundry (日星鑄字行) is home to the last remaining collection of traditional Chinese movable type character moulds in the world, plying its trade for more than four decades with techniques that have been recognized since the Song Dynasty in 1040s…  In the 1960s, Taipei alone was home to 5,000 printing presses churning out a seemingly unquenchable deluge of work. Forty years later, only 30 establishments remain, and Rixing is the last print foundry in the capital….

Chinese script has no alphabet. Instead it consists of words made up of one to two characters, one of which can comprise of up to 25 strokes. Rixing has one of the largest collections of three-dimensional Chinese characters in Taiwan, with 120,000 moulds of different characters and more than 10 million lead character pieces.”

Apparently the world’s largest collection of traditional Chinese movable type. Wow!

There’s another article here from the Taipei Times in May interviewing the owner, Chang Chieh-kuan (張介冠),  son of the founder, who is worried about the future of the foundry. He was busy working out the back while I was there today.

This is one of the old letterpress machines – made in Taichung no less….

There’s another article here form Neocha Magazine with lots of artistic photos…..

And a Facebook page at Ri Xing Type Foundry …

The characters are all organized of course, this one happens to have 聖 ‘sheng’, meaning ‘holy’ right in the middle….

This one has the numbers at the top, going right to left…

And there’s 3 fonts and 7 different sizes…

So if you have a spare 30 minutes in Taipei, do check this place out ~ it’s fascinating! They make Chinese stamp seals, so I got one for my name (李凱玲 Lee Kai-Ling – the big character on the left is the ‘Lee’)…. this is it!

And this is the very unassuming main entrance…. there’s hardly even a signboard!

A great place, even if the temps in Taipei today were 36°C but feeling apparently like 40! Wow!

Happy Dragon Boat Festival 2017 @ Taipei!

It was all happening at Dazhi Riverside in Taipei this morning ~ the final day of 3 days of Dragon Boat Competitions!  The sun was out, the weather was warm, and everyone was rowing hard!

In good weather, and with plenty of time, the best way for me to get to Dazhi Riverside from here is by U-bike from Tamsui, and so off I set!  Before 7:00 am too, while the weather was still cooler.  It took maybe 90 minutes of slow riding, enjoying the scenery…

First stop though was the graffiti wall along by the riverside near to the Grand Hotel. The pictures are renewed often, so it’s worth checking out often!  There’s at least 50 works of art there.  These are my favourites….

And then to the dragon boat races, and after 30 minutes there – I sped off along the river in the sunshine, past the end of the Songshan Airport towards Nangang….

And so into Taipei City itself… not much traffic as it’s a holiday.

But trying to find Taipei 101 when you’re down on the streets is really hard!  Ah here it is!

Actually I was trying to find that DNA Double Helix building, the Agora Garden Tower, that I saw down below when I was up in Taipei 101 a few weeks ago (see my blog post here).  And here it is!

Y’know, from Taipei 101 looking down, the Double Helix Building is quite amazing.  But from ground level looking up, it is kinda bizarre. Looks like it’s going to topple over any minute!

While the rest of Taipei was clearly on holiday today, the Double Helix building was full of workers drilling and welding and doing things that builders do….

And next stop was Treasure Hill Artist Village on the other riverside at Gongguan…

By then it was midday, and the clouds were coming in, and starting to drizzle.  Drizzle drizzle, and so off I sped, back to Tamsui.  Got back to Tamsui soon after 2:00 pm.  Then on a packed bus home.  Tonight in Tamsui is the very big parade of the deities from all the temples – taking them all round the town in a huge long procession, while people make offerings and ask the gods for their blessings.  Pray for Tamsui.  It’s the highlight of the year for many people.  Sanzhi’s turn is on Thursday….

Yes, over 7 hours on a U-bike.  Ah, such a great way to travel!  Especially after 2 days of climbing mountains at Yang-Ming Shan.  Now stiff all over!  How on earth do so many people manage to cycle over 900 km all round Taiwan in 9 days?  Amazing.  One day is enough for me for a while!

So Happy Dragon Boat Festival to you all!

Taipei 4 Teens!

Always accept a challenge!  And one of my challenges this week was to take 2 very lovely American teens around Taipei for the afternoon.  They were very interested and very keen to see everything!  Their parents were busy at a conference, so I offered to show them a few sights…

First stop was the Changing of the Guard at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, whose days may be numbered, so it’s worth going to see now.  Not for the memorial itself but to see the guards. It’s hot work and they stand there totally not moving for a whole hour while the sweat drips off them.  Only one fan each blowing a bit of air around.  And they’re wearing tons of clothes.  Then they perform a wonderful choreographed display with their bayonets, every move coordinated with their fellow guards, as 2 of them change places. The place to stand to watch this is right in the centre in front of the statue.  Looks like this guard almost punched me in the face, he was that close!

Then walk down to the Presidential Office ….

And by MRT from Taipei Main Station to Taipei 101, which on a fine day is worth going up, or worth looking at from below.  It’s NT$ 600 for adults – which is not cheap so don’t bother if the weather isn’t good! I took my visitors up, and it was very empty up there – it used to be always full of Chinese tourists, but no more.  Fastest elevators in the world and all that.  Engineering heaven with that big ball up there that sways to steady the building in a typhoon or earthquake.  Video recordings on display of the ball swaying.  Check it out.

Taipei 101 is surrounded by construction sites, and some of the new buildings are amazingly high.  Pretty good views though!

But by far the most interesting new building in view from Taipei 101 is the construction of ‘Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut’s DNA double helix-shaped Agora Garden Tower’. Check out the Taiwan News article here for pictures of what it’s gonna look like when it’s finished.  Must go and visit it from ground level next time there’s a sunny day. Here it is below….

Finished at Taipei 101, and it’s time to eat – the food court on Taipei 101 Level B1 is good, and in the early evening midweek there’s not many people so you’ll easily get a seat.  By then it’s dark, and the only place left to go is of course a night market.  Shilin is the one to go to, and the must-see for teenagers is the live snakes – and the bottles of bits of dead snakes waiting to be made into soup.  No photos allowed though.

My visitors were staying in Nangang 南港 at the far eastern end of Taipei.  Full of businesses and office buildings. Not like the rest of Taipei at all.  I’d never been there before at night, in fact I’d hardly ever been there during the day come to that.  Full of colored lights, changing color all the time – this is the red look!

These Nangang photos were taken at 8:30 pm.  Still tons of lights on, people still at their desks!  From there it took me 2 hours to get home.  But hey, it’s so easy, just sit on a train and bus.  Taipei is just so convenient and easy and safe and worth seeing.  Morning, afternoon or night.  Tons of stuff to see and do.

So do come and check it out!

Taipei MRT: Underwater Office and Coffee Shop in the Clouds!

Passed through Songjiang Nanjing MRT Station in Taipei yesterday ~ this is some of the public art – I love it!

The Wikipedia website says this about the Public Art:

‘The theme for the Songshan Line station is “Metropolitan Images of Daily Life” (都會眾生相). It uses four elements (earth, fire, water, wind) to present surreal situations of the combination of city and nature.

Earth: Business in the City Jungle
Fire: University in a Flash
Water: Office Under the Sea
Wind: Coffee Shop Floating in the Clouds’  

Fun eh?

Amazing Brown Paper Art Landscape @ Happier Café 更快樂實驗所, Taipei!

Happier Café is part art installation, part café, part social education centre and part fun!

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The focus is on helping people take action for a happier world, based on the ‘Ten Keys to Happier Living’ which are ~ firstly how we interact with the outside world through our daily activities – using the acronym GREAT: 1) Giving – doing things for others 2) Relating – connecting with people 3) Exercising – taking care of your body 4) Awareness – living life mindfully 5) Trying Out – keeping on learning new things.  The second five keys come from inside us and depend on our attitude to life – using the acronym DREAM: 6) Direction – having goals to look forward to 7) Resilience – finding ways to bounce back 8) Emotion – looking for what’s good 9) Acceptance – being comfortable with who you are 10) Meaning – being part of something bigger, finding purpose in our lives….  The philosophy is one of positive thinking and well-being rather than the promoting of any religious faith, and is full of good ideas for people to put into practice.

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The café is temporary, the lease is for 6 months – so they are making the most of it, and it’s based in one of the buildings on the compound of what used to be the HQ of the Taiwan Air Force (TAF), now known as the TAF Innovation Base in Taipei City.  Normally only open Mondays to Fridays during the daytime, I was fortunate to visit when they were preparing for an evening event last night, so I had time to wander around and take a few photos.  It’s the sort of place where you help yourself to what you want to eat and drink and then make a donation.  Not that I had time to do that, as I had to move along, but hey, maybe next time!

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The art installation part is the use of huge rolls of brown paper which are draped and hung around the room, drawn on and painted on, used as spaces to socialize in or just for decoration. It’s quite amazing!

Highly recommended is for you to check out the following article here on a design website where there’s lots of really great photos of the café…. and the Happier Café Facebook Page here

Amazing what can be done just with rolls of plain brown paper!

My Kinda Art @ 2 Taipei Exhibitions!

Mostly my kinda art doesn’t appear very often, so it’s quite nice that Taipei has 2 exhibitions on that are actually my kinda art!  Both kinda discovered by chance a few days ago when wandering in the area…

One is at the Gallery at Taipei 101, where there’s an exhibition of really fun sculptures by Korean sculptor Kim Gyoungmin, this is one of them!

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Then just around by Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store on the outside plaza there is an exhibition of very beautiful elephants called Elephant Parade, highlighting and encouraging elephant conservation. There’s a total of 42 elephants and 15 of them are there in Taipei, the rest have gone on a tour around Taiwan. This was my favourite!

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Ah yes, Taipei, always something new to discover!