Six Easy Places to Get Lost in Taipei
I’m a walker. I don’t ride anything with wheels in this town unless I’m paying someone to operate the vehicle (and technically speaking, public transportation counts as a pay-for-play experience).
Exceptions made for trusted friends with cars (like my boss; but then again, if he’s driving instead of his wife, I’m not getting in the fuckin’ ride). Anyway, it’s just another Sunday evening for me to walk from one side of town to the other, beer in paw, for no other reason than a navigational system update of every 7-11 and convenience store along the way.
These spots are all fairly central, MRT-accessible-ish. I’ve ranked them according to my own sense of disorientation after getting hopelessly lost, partially due to regarding a gov’t-posted map as something legitimate and trustworthy. Until these people figure out how to use North properly, I don’t count on maps, period. [Please note: I almost never use GPS on my phone in Taipei. This is based purely on stubborn principle; I’m an Eagle Scout.]
(1) Taipei Medical University
[Keelong Rd. (west); Songren Road (east); Xinyi Road (north); and Fuck-All (south)]
One might think you could use Taipei 101 as a beacon down there, but half the time you can’t see it. And then when you can, you’re at a weird angle, which makes it nearly impossible to draw a vector. All you can hope to do is walk toward 101 - but then turn a corner and it disappears! Take a stroll down Wuxing Street, make a right somewhere and you’re fuckin’ L-O-S-T. Google Maps can’t help you down there. All the streets are caddy-whompus and there are plenty of dead ends to keep you properly fucked.
Or this one: Try to follow Wuxing Street. Just try to stay on it. Anyway, once you get near the university it’s a labyrinth of lanes, alleys, and dead ends, like fuckin’ Alley 21, Lane 260, Wuxing Street, isn’t anywhere near fuckin’ the “real” Wuxing Street and dumps you out on Lane 284, which could take you absolutely nowhere. Last time I went down there I had to hail a taxi to get me out of there, and that fucker got lost, too.
(2) All of Wanhua District
My favorite get-lost walkabout is to disembark at Longshan Temple and start walking in any direction. Stumble over to the clusterfuck of Huaxi, Guangzhou, and Longshan Night Markets. I can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. It’s all piles of crap on top of crap with creepy dudes pushing shopping carts full of junk past street hookers under the arcades. Unfortunately, I’ve done this trek so many times I’m not really getting lost anymore. However, there’s always some new back alley I haven’t seen before, so it’s still a popular route.
(3) South of Shilin Night Market
Now the Shilin Night Market itself is an easy mark. I’ve been so fuckin’ disoriented in that mess I’ve wanted to cry. This walking route will fuck. You. Up. Flyovers and rivers to wrangle with, lack of a grid and zero bearings except an innate sense of north and south. You ain’t got that, you might not return on your own recognizance. Here’s the drill: Get off at Jiantian MRT, walk south about 100m to Jiantian Road, make a right. Keep walking. Now, if you’re a wise guy, you’re gonna roll up on Chengde Road, which is your ticket back to the civilization. If you’re not so sure what’s going on, for instance, you’re thinking, “How the fuck am I gonna get over that bridge?” You might keep walking west. And that gonna take you to a maze and then dump you at the river. Go north, eventually you’re gonna say hello to Zhou Mei Road or some shit. Not good. Go south. Oh, where’s fuckin’ Chengde Road again? Goddammit. Cruise down the riverside, you come to the bridge and notice the flight of stairs. There’s a pedestrian walkway, how ‘bout that? Or, you could cut down under the bridge and see where that takes you. Good luck. Leave a trail of bread crumbs or something.
(4) From Xinsheng Park to Dajia Riverside Park
Try to walk from Xinsheng Park to Dajia. It can be done, but it isn’t pleasant, pretty, obvious, or even recommended. Start from the “Pavilion of Future” and head north.
(5) Ningxia Night Market Area
[Nanjing Road (north); Civic Blvd. (south); Chengde Road (west); Zhongshan N. Rd. (east)]
This one isn’t so much a Get-Lost excursion as a Gee-I-Didn’t-Know experience. There are a bunch of alleys and lanes and hidden pedestrian areas down there. Some seriously interesting shit. Most of the time it’s hard to get truly lost since you can see Taipei Main or that other stupid building; and of course, the elevated highway. If you head northwest, you can wind up in Daodacheng (Datong) or whatever it’s called – the “old” part of town. I fuckin’ hate it over there. Especially that interminable riverside park. What a waste of public space. At the same time, I don’t mind walking through the time machine of Dihua Street mainly because I know it’s a temporary trip.
(6) Northeast-ish of Jingmei Night Market
Xinglong Road will fuckin’ ruin you if you let it. Get out at the Jingmei MRT station, sniff around the night market, and head northeast. Pretty uncharted territory back there. Not a lot to see, either. Another variation is to get off at Wangfang Hospital and start walking. That whole region is a wasteland. God help you if you make it to Muzha. Now you’re really lost. One time I found myself out at Muxin Road and National Chengchi University.
Of course, there are dozens of other places in the city to get “lost”. These are merely my favorites within the city proper. The Shilin route counts because it’s just one stop over the river and your goal is inevitably to get back across. Although Xindian has a million and one ways to get lost, I feel like it’s a bit too far out of reach; like Danshui, it’s the end of the line. If you really want to fuck yourself, get off at any MRT terminus. The Blue and Brown Line terminal (Nangang) leaves you in the Anal Fissure District. No idea what’s going on over there. While I rather like Xindian, Beitou, etc., one could argue they’re out of bounds. I dunno. You wanna get lost? Zhonghe and Yonghe will fuck you up. I try to avoid inclines and there are very few hills in the developed basin of Taipei City, which is optimal for walking. I’ve done the Yangmingshan Steps and bugged out up there, but it’s not so much an urban feel. Elephant Mountain is cool, but again, you need bug spray up there.
As always, y’all are welcome to chime in with your spots. Rock on. Or, should I say, “Walk on”?