Beautify Taiwan?

Taiwan’s government is mulling over some beautification according to this article.

Anyone think this is going to really happen? Think they can pursuade the locals to actually part with the steel bars over their windows?

I would guess that the reason 46 people viewed this post and no one responded is because the Taipei Times article it refers to sucks. This one belongs in the Dragging a Newpaper into the Sewer in 3 Years forum.

The article states that the govt is reviewing a couple of bills dealing with uneven sidewalks and bar-covered windows, and non-compliance could result in fines that would “serve as an effective deterrent.” But the article never once mentions what the laws would prohibit or what the fines would seek to deter.

Would all uneven sidewalks be banned? All window bars be banned? What conduct might subject one to a fine? Who knows. The reporter forgot to mention minor details such as the substance of the proposed law on which he was reporting. Oh well, what a surprise. :unamused:

In general, Taiwan could do with lots of beautification. Beautiful livable places can be found, ask maoman and he will come up with his place.

I went to check out a NT$12k 3 bedroom house with garden in a gated community in yangmei today. You won’t believe it. Everything well-tended, clean and livable. With a bit of cleaning, the whole island could resemble that. Another good example of a nice well-tended palce with a bit more Taiwanese flavor is the old street in Daxi. (Mentioned by chung. )

Sorry Holger but you shoudn’t have to live up some hill somewhere or way out in the countryside to find decent places to live. Nice places are few and far between. At least Taipei city is literally ‘streets’ ahead of everywhere else. While mayor Ma Ying Jeo might be a bit of a joker and KMT at that, his sponsorship of efforts to clean up Taipei and imrprove the place would get my virtual vote anyday.

The idea of beautification and slapping people with fines might be a good one (ok, slapping them with a fine may not be but what else would help?) though you should ask: who is going to enforce that?

Just look around and you will see what I mean … :cry:

Whether it works or not, I am glad someone is thinking about it. Kudos to DPP Cabinent for trying to do something!

Coming from the UK, where supposedly “an Englishman’s home is his castle” and Sundays and Bank Holidays at any DIY store seem to testify to this fact, I can’t understand why people don’t do some basic “beautifying” of their homes.

The front of the house looks okay (for the first few years), but the sides are just concrete walls, with those bars sticking out, ready for the back kitchen to be added. Just giving all those bare concrete surfaces a lick of paint would help…a little at least.

I think that most Taiwanren lack the ability to recognize esthetic beauty. They are perfectly content to live in such ugly buildings because beauty is not an important value to them. In Japan, on the other hand, neighborhoods are much more attractive and people take pride in beautifying the fronts of houses and shops. Every morning they sweep and hose in front of their houses. Here they just don’t see or care about the ugliness. To the Japanese, beauty is important not just in housing and gardening, but in fashion, food, etc. The Tokyo National Art Museum is so much more fun than Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. So much diversity: beautiful kimonos, lacquerware, furniture, etc. as well as the paintings and ceramics, unlike Taiwan’s museum with 1,000,000 variations on the same object. I don’t mean this as an insult, but it is my observation. Every culture appreciates different values. Some cultures recognize, appreciate and treat beauty as an important value, but Taiwanren do not.

If you go to most peoples homes,you’ll notice that the windows are for bringing a bit of light in, they are not intended to look out of. I am currently hunting for a better place to live. We have seen more than one place, where the sitting room was without much in the way of natural light. View? Forget it.

You use that Taiwan ren crap a little too loosely. Part of the reason that Taiwan’s architecture is not that beautiful is because the KMT thought of this place as a temporary place to live. No need to plan anything, or invest in beautiful buildings. The KMT construction companies also contributed to shoddy architecture. Finally, all of the the low class poor KMT soldier’s shanty towns are still an eyesore all over Taipei. So happy that President Chen, when he was Taipei’s mayor, tore so many of them down to make parks, like the No. 14 park on Nanjing and LinShen and the Da An park as well. Still many more KMT shanty towns to tear down. Taipei was a much more beautiful place before the KMT came here.

Now hold on Hobart. I know that Taipei is ugly in large part because it was built with absolutely no foresight in order to accomodate millions of KMT who didn’t plan on sticking around. But it’s not just the old KMT buildings. It’s more than that. Visit Japan and you can’t help but notice the greater importance of beauty and cleanliness in many aspects of their society, from their buildings, fashion, art and food to habits such as daily sweeping in front of the houses and not picking at their teeth in public. I’m not suggesting that Japanese society is better than Taiwanese at all – I’m just saying that beauty and cleanliness seem to be more important to them. I recognize that it’s hard to keep Taiwan beautiful with so many people crowded in such a small space, and with all the traffic and pollution. But I don’t buy that as an excuse either.

I’ve searched all over Taipei for an art gallery to buy a painting – not a flower market painting of gold fish or horses or the Matterhorn, but a real painting – and found only one (Caves Art Gallery–now closed). Tokyo and Kyoto are loaded with fine art galleries. So are Bangkok and Hanoi. European cities have them. Even my tiny town in California has more art galleries than the capital of Taiwan. Taiwanren apparently do not buy art (other than traditional paintings or calligraphy perhaps). There is an “art” store below my apartment but I’ve never seen such a load of rubbish posing as art – fake art deco statues and garish paintings. Garbage. As for Taiwan’s Modern Art Museum, I found that greatly disappointing.

So I stand by my assessment. But of course it’s only my opinion, is not meant as an insult, and is only a generalization that is subject to exceptions. But, it seems reasonable that different cultures might have different values. So it hardly seems improper to me to suggest that in Taiwan beauty is generally less important than other values such as hard work, conformity and making money.

Gao Li Tsai,

How long have you been here? It gets better and better every year not worse.

Just 30-40 years ago, this island was quite poor. Get on your sccoter and ride over to NeiHu or look around the Warner Village area. Look at the new buildings that are rising up from tore down concrete blocks in areas like Chung Ho. Look around at the new parks in Taipei and the way Tien Mu is changing recently. Notice the new regulations that all new buildins must not occupy the land to the perimeter lines of the property. I think they have to allow for 30% or maybe more of the land space for public areas now. Finally look how they are trying as displayed in the link at the beginning of this thread.

Look at how they remodeled the old street at Ying Ge a couple of years ago or the new park at Sun moon Lake and so on.

Comparing Taiwan to Japan is not fair. Japan has been a rich nation for far longer than Taiwan. They are also two entirely different cultures. Once a nation has second and third generations of money they start to change. Look at all of the families in IKEA on the weekends. They are trying to remodel.

You also should try to meet more rich Taiwanren and see some of their homes. Quite beautiful. Big houses int he suburbs, fancy apartments in downtown. Some of the places are really swank. Found a nice community in the moutains of Hsintien, expensive homes and quite nice.

I know a lot of people here cannot afford to live in swanky places. You need to spend a lot of money for that. If all you see when you rent a place is crappy apartments it is also likely that the ones with nice apartments that are newer still ive in them and don’t want to rent. For fun, go and take a look at NT$100,000/month apartment and let me know if you think the Taiwanese cannot decorate or care not about beauty. Real Estate is horribly expensive here. Perhaps you need to see more of the good stuff.

Regarding your comment about sweeping and cleaning in front of your house in Japan as opposed to Taiwan, first, Japan has a lot of single family homes, so they clean in front of their home. They do that in Taiwan in front of the shops and on my street full of single family homes, they all clean around their house and others clean the community. but for example, in front of building with 10 families who is going to clean up the street in front of the building? Anyway, I think it is much dirtier in many parts of NYC and HK than here in Taipei.

Finally, who is going to paint the outside of their old building or change the tiles, if not everyone in the building agrees on it. Half the building is going to pay for something that all of the occupants benefit from. No way.

The older generation remembers the hard times and they are cheap bastards, the younger generation wants to live in a nicer home. Those 4 story buildings with no elevator and are ugly looking ont he outside are not selling very well now. Only those that can’t afford to live in a newer building live in them and waiguoren that are here temporarily and don’t care.

However, I agree about the looks of Taipei, and all of Taiwan for that matter, but things are changing for the better fast!

Hobart, I agree that many of the newer developments in Taiwan are more attractive than those of 30 or 40 years ago. You make some good points. But I still feel that Taiwanese generally are not very capable of discerning and appreciating beauty. But maybe you are right and it is not fair to compare Japan and Taiwan due to their different stages of development. As a friend of mine likes to point out, “you have to remember, 50 years ago they were all peasants; today they’re peasants in Mercedeses.” :laughing:

Agreed, newer flats and developments are much better - looking. However, even single family houses in Yangmei are unpainted, rubble greets the sides of them and the odd wrecked car complements everything. If you go to a gated community, then the general level of cleaninesswill approach western standards. All neat and tidy.

It’s so true that most of Taiwan’s older buildings are ugly and that there doesn’t seem to be any city planning, but you shouldn’t make the mistake to think that Taiwan is dirty. However, I think that Taiwan and its people are extremely clean.

It may not appear clean with some shops that do not have interior design etc., but people’s homes, shops and the streets are very clean. Look at their immaculate floors. They hate carpeting and prefer white tiles so that they can clean better. Carpet is disgusting to them because especially in Western countries people walk around with the shoes on and bring in bacteria and grime from outside into their home. Carpet can never become that clean. Not like tile floors. Ever see carpet in a hospital? They also hate sofas or chairs with material instead of leather because the material cannot be cleaned very well. They also take a shower in the evening not the morning because they do not want to get into their beds with dirty bodies. Here in Taiwan they also take out the trash every night on the street instead of leaving it in dumpsters like in American and perhaps European cities where rats and roaches congregate.

One problem however, is that people in Taiwan do not care about the public areas. Why clean up something like the stairs in their building our outside their stoop in building that many people share? They take care of their home but not the public areas. Although I have seen some people that do. And not sure if you have ever seen the cities street sweeping and street washing trucks. There are also people employed by the city to sweep with a broom all around the city. At least I have seen people with governemtn shirts manually sweeping the sidewalsk in addition to the street washing trucks.

Finally a lot of you guys simply live in bad neighborhoods with low class people. If you move to upscale buildings that cost twice or three times as much, your opinion might change.

The Taiwanese people that I know think that the area around ShiDa/TaiDa is not the classiest of neighborhoods. People that live there are different. Go out MinChuan Rd. over the bridge out to NeiHu and keep driving. Go through the tunnel and look around. Quite nice. Check out Tien Mu b[/b] too, or Dam Shui b[/b] or Jen Ai Rd. or TunHua Rds. Remember though there are people that have been in those areas for over 30 years when the neighborhoods were not that great. OK, then look at a new area like Hsin Yi b[/b] Area around the Warner Village and World Trade Center. Things are different there and you might just be living in a slum.

That’s not saying too much. Nowhere to go but up, after all.

As to what the other posters are saying, I’d have to agree with them. It’s pretty ugly here, and one of the main reasons is that a sense of aesthetic beauty is not at the top of the list when it comes to desirable virtues here, unless you mean “ke ai” (cute, a la Japanese-style kawaii!!!), or “la” (spicy/sleazy).

Some recent examples I have seen:

People driving a 3 million dollar vehicle and they still have a plastic helicopter over the airvent, and a stuffed tiger with kleenex sprouting out of its backgracing the rear window.

People who spend a fortune renovating their bathroom, and then put a stained pink plastic bucket adorned with “Hello Kitty” for the shit paper between the toilet and the sink.

People buying an apartment and putting bars on a 9th story window with no balcony. Who do they think they’re keeping out, anyway? Spiderman?

People who spit when they’re idling at an intersection, not even aware that their mucous and spittle landed only inches form my foot.

Businessman whose phone goes off in the middle of a meeting, giving one-and-all a tinny version of “Fur Elise”.

The lack of beautification to the outside of people’s residences. Now, I know you’ll say that that’s because they pay more attention to the inside. I’m sorry but that’s like calling a mentally-handicapped person “differently-abled”. The fact is, it’s a deficiency.

The ladies’ swimming suits I see at the pool every day are the dowdiest things I’ve ever seen. The men’s aren’t much better.

Yesterday I wanted to take my sweetie to one of the swankier restaurants in town for a birthday dinner, so we went to Lawry’s The Prime Rib at the top of Jing Hua Cheng/Living Hell Mall. We dressed up, becuase we heard that the restaurant was very posh. And it was. The restaurant, that is. However, the majority of the clientele should have gone to the night market. The TV hostess Zhang Xiaoyan, of the show “Swallow Time” was there. She was wearing jeans that ended just below the knees, an untucked plaid shirt, unkempt hair, and plastic flip-flops. The family next to us were wearing t-shirts with Taiwan “English” written on them, shorts and bare feet in sandals. Now, I have no problems with this kind of attire for a lazy Sunday - in fact I dress down on my days off too. But not if I’m going to a swish restaurant. It seems there’s no sense of appropriacy.

Taiwanese people are not very discriminating when it comes to their aesthetic choices. If you challenge someone’s perceptions, you’ll hear the same old tired refrain: “Women meiyou xiang nemma duo!” (We don’t think that much.) That’s nothing to be proud of.

Now despite all my bitching and moaning, I believe things are getting better very slowly, but at a miniscule pace, and only because of an increased awareness of the outside world/globalization.

Bravo, Maoman! Bravo! Now if we could just introduce the ROC to some Las Vegas construction managers, the pace of construction would pick up dramatically. And just imagine the number of firework implosions for those Taiwan-built concrete buildings. Even the Koreans can rebuild their old buildings with some swanky highrise residences. For Asia, I mean it is Hyundai Construction of nice, clean, and quite large apartment buildings is affordable for even the blue collared middle class. Taiwan can do better if the western romantics don’t block progress. Export these type of guys to China before communism fails and so they get some true experience in utopia.

As for taking out trash, that’s a new concept, only about 5 years old. There used to be humongous piles of trash on every street corner. It was far more unsanitary than dumpsters. I hear it’s still like this in the south.

And as for bad neighbourhoods, perhaps you’re right in some respects. Where I live now is a Taipei heaven, but you still see beach towels completely covering windows (with a view of the mountainside??), low quality shoe racks (with equally low quality shoes in them) outside everyone’s doors, and like maoman said, some really awful swimsuits! It’s the matching caps that get me, especially on the poodgy-bellied, bird-chested businessmen in their ‘loose’ spandex trunks. What’s with the swimtrunks here anyway? The men never wear shorts, they wear high waisted, not g-string (thank god), spandex numbers…and the women wear these high necked, black or navy blue things that look like what greco-roman wrestlers would wear on the mats.

Before going to the gym, and now the pool, I used to think Taiwanese people were slender. That’s not my impression now. It’s their bone structure which is slight, and generally they are more appealing clothed. They don’t have a heck of a lot of muscle tone unless they’re labouring types, who’re often looked down upon by the poodgy bellied ones.

They should beautify Taiwan by providing a wealth of physical activity centres and parks all over the city for free and encourage those fat little boy children to take up sport and excercise so they don’t become poodgy bellied businessmen when they grow up.

Of course, this is all coming from someone concerned about her own poodgy belly due to being brought up in the US where there is now, GASP!!! 30% obesity!!!

In some ways I think the ugly buildings, messy homes (not dirty), and plastic flip-flops at expensive restaurants are part of the charm here. No pretensions – no bs .

Sometimes the almost obsessive concern with how “things look to other people” and the maintanence of community aesthetic standards that I see back home can be oppressive.

I only wish they would take enough pride in their surroundings to keep things safe and free from garbage. Otherwise who am I to judge the choice of Hello Kitty garbage cans.

The south is everything outside Taipei. There is a “nice” pile of garbage outside my flat in Yangmei. But what the heck. the stray dogs need to be fed as well :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp:

Maoman and alien live in a “dump” in Xizhi. I live in a middle-class neighboorhod in Yangmei. Not all of us live near Shida, as a matter of fact, most posters here probably live someplace “nice”.