Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Story Castle

The Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Story Castle 台灣原民故事館 is a very interesting building close to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Exit 3 (find on map here). According to this source, the building is a venue for exhibitions and various activities related to Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. They can even sell their food and handicrafts there. I find the building pretty interesting and it would really be great to have more architecture incorporating aboriginal motifs instead of gaudy Art Deco or classical Chinese styles, which are already aplenty. PS: I wonder, how long will that small building on the right remain intact.

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Former National Taiwan Science Education Center

This neo-classical Chinese building in southern Zhongzheng District close to the Taipei Botanical Garden was built in 1956 and is today known as the Former National Taiwan Science Education Center 原國立臺灣科學教育館 (homepage). It was designed by the architect Lu Yujun 盧毓駿, who also designed several buildings of the Chinese Culture University on Yangmingshan. In 2003 the center was moved to a newer building in Shilin (see map), the current building is ever since abandoned and was slowly decaying (source). This is soon about to change. The building is being renovated and when completed in April 2014, it will house the National Taiwan Craft and Research Institute 國立臺灣工藝研究發展中心 (homepage).

Let me show you some photos from August 2012:

The round-shaped roof is the building’s most notable part.

The whole area is full of older buildings.

I slowly walked around the building.

This is the backside.

Stairs leading up, but I wonder what is there.

This is the very back side, nearby is a small parking lot.

One of the entrances.

Run down windows.

This is taken from the Nanhai Road.

A view from the Nanhai Road: It’s very clear, that the building is not that small.

This is a photo from December 2012: Renovation works have already begun.

This building was always very interesting to me and I had no idea, that it’s much younger from the surrounding buildings, such as the National Museum of History or the former Chienkung Shrine. Those were originally built by Japanese in the first half of the 20th century and were later “sinicized” in the 1950s. If you want to see, how this round tower looks inside, check these photos. The building also appeared on old ROC stamps.


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Pinyin: Yüén Guólì Táiwān Kēxüé Jiàoyǜ Guǎn
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Tatung University
Chinese Culture University

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Difficulties of finding a new apartment in Taipei

The view from my current apartment.

Last week, when my wife and I were walking back home from yet another disappointing apartment viewing, I was a bit frustrated. We had a plan to find a bigger place by the end of the year and we wanted to move out of the old, noisy and extremely populated neighborhood we’re living in now, because we’re expecting a baby. It’s not only the environment that we want to leave behind, it’s also because the current apartment is too small for two, let alone three. We’ve been searching for few months now and every time we’ve returned from a viewing, there was something we disliked. The last apartment was nearly perfect. It was almost double the size of the current one and there rent was just a little bit over the current one, what’s more it was in a new condo and located in a completely new neighborhood. The interior design was great and it came with a nice balcony. The problem was the location: It was very far from the Blue MRT line, that connects eastern and western Taipei. Since I don’t want to drive a car in Taipei, because the traffic is just too crazy for me, we have to rely on public transportation, preferably the subway. The biggest problem with the latest apartment was its proximity to the nearest MRT station. We needed about 20 minutes to reach the apartment from there. And all in all it needs around 45 min to reach the Blue line. My wife would need around 1 hour and a half to reach her job, if we lived there and that would just be too much time wasted on commuting. That was a clear deal breaker for us.

Images from my neighborhood.

If you’ve ever searched for an apartment in Taipei, you can surely relate to our frustration. And there was something else that bothered us: We felt very out of place in that neighborhood, that was stretched along a very wide and noisy avenue. I just didn’t see myself raising my child there. As we were walking back to our place, we realized how “at home” we already feel here and that we’re perhaps more attached to it than we would admit. The roads are narrow and noisy here, the buildings are old and plastered with dirty tiles, there’s a big and popular day market, which can get pretty crowded and noisy in the evening. Scooters rule the world here and phrases like “pedestrian friendly” don’t exist. It basically feels like an old Taiwanese village and there is a sense of familiarity. By now many people know me, from the bakery to the biendang shop and all the way to the hair dresser, I’m one of the very few waiguoren in this area and a loyal customer.


Images from my neighborhood.

Two years ago my wife rented this apartment by pure coincidence and we didn’t expect, that we will stay here so long. But after a long search for something new, we started to appreciate what we already have. For example: It takes only 5 minutes by foot to the nearest MRT station; we live on one of the upper floors and have a nice open view (as you can see on the photo above); the apartment is merely few years old and it comes with a very reasonable price (it includes furniture, a small kitchen and a washing machine). The condo has a very professional security staff, that receives and keeps your parcels, they can even call a cab for you. We can use a fitness studio free of charge, there’s a big dining hall, that can be rented for birthdays and we also have a small swimming pool for kids in the courtyard. The waste collection is conveniently located in the basement, so we don’t need to stand on the street every evening and wait for the garbage truck. If I walk fast and catch all the trains in time, I could be at the Main Station in about 15 minutes. Most of these things have become part of our lives and it would be hard to let them go. I especially wouldn’t want to live on a lower floor or wait for the garbage truck. I’m also used to live in a secured condo, that’s just a few minutes away from the MRT. So I guess the search will go on well into the next year, because we still haven’t found what we are looking for.

If I had a roof terrace, it wouldn’t be as empty as they usually are in Taipei.

[My LIFE IN TAIWAN page][All photos by MKL, 2012]

Lin Yutang House, Yangmingshan, Taipei

The Lin Yutang House 林語堂故居 on Yangmingshan is one of those magical places above Taipei, where I could stay for hours, because I’m so enamored with its ambiance and the beautiful view. Located right above Tianmu 天母, a famous neighborhood in Shilin, the Lin Yutang House is one Taipei’s less known architectural gems. It was built in 1966 and designed by the writer Lin Yutang 林語堂 himself, who gave it its name (source). The design incorporates Chinese and Western elements: The decorative roof tiles reminded me of the ones at Liberty Square, but all in all it felt like a Mediterranean house, very similar to the ones I saw at my home country’s coastal region. Aside from being curious about the architecture, my wife and I wanted to take a rest after the extensive tour of the Chungshan Building and the Lin Yutang House was perfect for that, because it’s located next to a bus stop on the way down to Shilin. I wasn’t familiar with the famous Chinese writer who spent some of his later years here, but the exhibition on his life was very interesting and I learned a lot about him. There’s an entrance fee of 30 NTD, if you want to see it (check opening hours here).

Let me share some pictures with you from December 2012:

A welcome sign awaits you at the entrance.

My best shot of the house.

The main gate.

A peek inside.

The small pond inside the courtyard is very lovely.

A meeting room.

The spiral-shaped columns at the patio are very interesting.

Another view of the courtyard.

Koy fish in the pond.

The café with a view

The entrance to the café.

We chose the balcony, because of the view.

This is what we saw.

There is a small garden below, where Lin Yutang is buried. I have cropped out the grave out of respect for the deceased.

This is the menu.

I ordered cappuccino. It was excellent, but came at a price way over 100 NTD.

Wife wanted to try the waffle – it was pretty good.

It more than enough for two people.

We went around the house right around sunset.

This was my best sunset shot.

The backside.

The balcony, where we sat before.

A view from the side.

It was soon time to leave – wife lead the way.

Visiting here definitely feels like entering a world much different from the one in Taipei City. The view is magnificent, the ambiance very soothing for the soul. During our visit the house was mostly empty and we were lucky to get the seat with the nicest view, but I’m not sure that’s always the case. Truth is, the food and drinks are quite expensive, but you probably pay for the whole experience and you won’t be there all the time. If you want to see some images of the exhibition, check this Taiwanese blog. You can also read more about Lin Yutang and his in a very well written article by Epoch Times.


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Pinyin: Lín Yǚtáng gùjū
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NTU College of Social Sciences, Taipei

National Taiwan University College of Social Sciences 國立臺灣大學社會科學院 is a university complex in Zhongzheng District and part of National Taiwan University. The college, that was initially focused on law, has its roots in 1928. It was part of the Taipei Imperial University 臺北帝國大學 (source). It’s one of my passions to stroll around various universities and campuses in Taipei, I like the atmosphere and it makes me feel I’m discovering a part of Taipei’s history, that’s not so openly on display like the so often recommended landmarks. Here are some of my photos of the small yet beautiful college, the photos are from December 2012:

The wall that separates the college from the outside world.

I entered from the Shaoxing Road, it’s a side entrance.

The college is full of green spaces.

Beautifully renovated old buildings.

I really like the pathway.

I decided to go inside.

All buildings are nicely connected, you can’t get wet during rain.

This is between two buildings.

This is almost like a forest.

This is the way out to the main yard.

A small courtyard further up.

A bigger hallway.

The outer facade.

Another small courtyard with a nice garden.

The opposite side.

This is the main yard, which includes a driveway.

This looks like the main building of the college.

This is where I came out.

An old pine tree is one of the garden’s highlights.

The table was inviting, but I was headed to other parts of Taipei.

This is the main entrance, I exited here.

The main entrance at Xuzhou Road is actually right at the opposite of another hidden gem: The former Art Salon of the Mayor of Taipei, a wooden Japanese house from 1940. It’s called “La Mairie Cafe” today, you can have coffee or lunch here – I highly recommend you to visit both of them at the same time. The Donghe Bell Tower is also not very far from here.


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