~*Bopiliao Old Street*~
As mentioned in the previous post, we experienced the serendipity of discovering sights in Taipei that weren't in our mental itinerary simply because we chose to walk. Bopiliao Old Street (剝皮寮老街) was one of the accidental stumble which I enjoyed a lot while on our way to visit Longshan Temple (龍山寺).
For easy to read information and photos of Bopiliao, head over to Taiwan Explorer.
The rustic red bricks made for a great backdrop for wedding photoshoots.
Retro posters flanked both sides of the glass elevator. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator came to my mind when I saw this glass shaft.
I love how there was an amalgamation of ancient and modern-- red brick walls with brown steel bars and sleek glass! Definitely an enthralling sight from where I was standing.
It was fun climbing the stairs and onto the roof of these red-brick buildings. We were the only ones who did that. The rest of the tourists and locals stayed below.
Where I was sitting, I could peek into the window of the 2nd or 3rd floor and was shocked to see somebody staring back at me. Yup, this was part of a roof top.
These stones and path seemed to be there for ages.
Thought bubble for the hubz read, "I'm standing like a sissy coz I'm carrying my wife's stupid LV bag."
What a redundant doorway.
We were intrigued by the many narrow spaces and tiny features like this little space between two tiny buildings...
... and intrigued by this mini door too.
Since it was an accidental stumble, we merely walked through and took photos. If this were one of our planned stops, we would definitely have visited the exhibitions and the Education Center which seemed to be the gems of Bopiliao.
For more information on the exhibitions and the education Center, head over to Wanhua District.
At 4pm when 3/4 of the day was gone, we left Bopiliao and finally made our way to one of our planned stops-- Longshan Temple (龍山寺).
Longshan Temple (龍山寺) was built in 1738 by settlers from Fujian, China. It served as a place of worship and a gathering place for the Chinese settlers. The temple has been rebuilt multiple times after by earthquakes and fires, and even bombing in the last days of WWII. The main building and the left corridor were damaged and many precious artifacts and artworks were lost. Longshan is seen as an emblematic example of Taiwanese classical architecture, with southern Chinese influences commonly seen in older buildings. Like most temples in Taiwan, the temple worships a mixture of Buddhist and Taoist deities. [Edited and condensed from Wikipedia.]
Despite the many positive reviews of the temple, it felt just like any temple in my opinion. I wasn't able to appreciate the "impressive structure with sweeping swallowtail eaves", the "colourful jiannian (mosaic-like temple decoration) figures on the roof" and the "elaborate stone and woodcarvings". The electronic neon display board sort of modernized the temple and I thought that looked cute.
Many locals and tourists alike roamed the outer courtyard of the temple and the only way to spot tourists was when they whipped out their cameras and snapped 38403943 of the courtyard and the waterfall.
I looked like I had an easy shot with this waterfall but the truth was that everyone also wanted a shot and we had to wait for quite a while to snap this. And those PRC tourists simply do not know when to give up their spots for others to take photos.
On the other side, we had a dragon and a fish spewing water.
Behold the almighty golden dragon spewing 3 jets of water!
I did not take photos inside the temple as I thought it was only polite not to do so at religious places. There were many people chanting in unison from a holy script and I wondered if there were fixed prayer sessions at the temple.
The whole temple was really crowded with barely enough walking space. The air was filled with burning incense and soon I felt suffocated. We decided not to explore the place anymore and headed for fresh air at a big fountain located just opposite Longshan Temple. I stared at the lacklustre water patterns of the fountain and wondered aloud why Longshan Temple was a MUST-VISIT place in Taipei. Probably because I come from Singapore whereby temples could be found in almost every neighbourhood, I did not find this place of interest interesting at all.
Our next stop was Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. Most people would take the MRT but we continued with our walk, seeing how the walk had taken us to many interesting places not within our itinerary. An interesting sight was this overhead bridge. I do not know how common such L-shape overhead bridges are as we do not have it in Singapore. I found it really unique yet thought it was pretty redundant on an empty junction like this. I would most likely use the zebra crossing or jay walk.
Have you seen a full square overhead bridge before? I haven't. Now this made more sense on a wider junction that's difficult to jay walk.
Scooters is the common mode of transport in Taipei. Many ladies ride scooters and so there are girlish helmets to cater for this group of riders. The helmets were so cute, I felt like riding a scooter just so I could wear one.
We walked past a parrot shop with colourful parrots all perched obediently in rows and a little doggie that looked bordered up only to see at 2nd glance that it was not.
~*Taipei Botanical Garden*~
Initially we felt it was our good fortune to have stumbled upon the Taipei Botanical Garden. I wondered to kh if it was listed as a place of interest to visit since I did not really chance upon any review on it during my online research. In retrospect, I don't understand how people could describe the garden as "well maintained", "top of my list to see in Taipei", "lovely peaceful place full of birds" etc. To me, the garden looked really sad. I did not see flowers blooming. Neither did I see many birds. The whole place was unkempt and had a very dark atmosphere. Don't get me wrong. I love rustic wilderness but seeing the wilderness knowing that I was in a Botanical Garden was just not right.
Walking into the garden, we were shrouded in darkness. Upon looking up, I felt that the palm trees foliage wasn't too bad to look at but why the darkness when there wasn't any thick foliage?
The Information Service Counter looked like it had been abandoned for years.
Top left: The purpose of the top left pic in this collage was not to show what plant the sign was depicting but to show the disgusting flies all over the signboard.
Bottom left: The bridge must be the most beautiful part of the garden.
Top and middle right: Apparently a horde of avid photographers were trying to photograph a particular bird among the trees, spurring lots of passers-by to stop and stare into the foliage as well.
Bottom right: Unkempt with its own wild style.
Lots and lots of no-no in this garden. Taiwan is a country well-known for being dog-friendly so the first no-no left me puzzled.
Well, the highlight of the garden was this blind cat, a blind cat with a keen sense of hearing.
Next Taipei post would conclude Day 1. Stay tuned! In the meantime, please keep the love notes coming in!