Soul of Taipei?

I remember reading a while back when some distinguished international architects came to Taipei they studied the buildings here and made, unsurprisingly, a slate of non-offensive remarks. What was interesting to me about the whole thing was how one wondered about what is really the soul of Taipei and Taipei life.

There are a lot of things that hint at it. There is presently mass hysteria from SARS, the normal state of social chaos and confusion as evidenced in traffic, subway travel, etc, the obsession with appearance. So what do you think? What lies at the heart of Taipei life? How would you describe the soul of Taipei? Is there one? I am sure there is, but sometimes I wonder if it is more like a veneer copying other cultures than anything original.

Taiwan peelings of an onion open crying to see if there is more than 99 on a Sunday or if ladies night is still the betelnut crazy girl on the street that makes me fender-bender my little guy downstairs that plays his damn Budhist chanting at all volumes of the day and night in the market for deep-fried spleens on a stick this right up your asp.

Night markets are the soul of Taipei. Everything you love and hate about Taipei si in a nightmarket. The ‘renao’ the overcrowding, the food, the smell, the illegal activities, the police turning a blind eye to the illegal activities, the dirtiness, the excitement, the bargains, the ripoffs …

Maybe another topic, but where do you think is the centre of Taipei? Xinyi/Sogo/ZhongsiaoDunhua area (for business and shopping)? Ximending (for youth)? Railway station? Shida/Taida area (for students)? My centre is Shida/Guting/Taida.


I would add the small alleys, who can be bustling and serene, ugly and beautiful, and sometimes all of that at once.

Taipei is a funny place, it’s futuristic and decaying all at once. The soul of Taipei is in the contrasts you are constantly bombarded with.

Reminds me of Los Angeles 2019AD in “Blade Runner”.

Reminds me of Los Angeles 2019AD in “Blade Runner”.[/quote]
Yes, the obvious analogy, but you are so right; Taipei does look like the set of BR, especially on a night like last night.

Why, this is easy. The soul of Taipei is in its people. The sublime and the offensive, the fascinating and the prosaic, the ebb and flow of Taipei is in the minds and actions of the people living here.

If Omni were commenting here, he might say the soul of Taipei is in the devlish grin of the shaojie staring at him from across the room, or the one with her hand on his leg. I would agree.

Yes it definately has a soul & a great one. Thats why despite it being one of the ugliest places I have visited, I love it (well like it a lot anyway).
It comes out best at night with the people, the noise, the smells in one word…activity wherever you look there is something going on. Since living here I have been amazed when I go home & observe how “dead” my home country cities seem in comparison to Taipei, particularly at night.

Everyone is so (dry nonproductive cough) poetic on this thread. Where’s Popo?

I think Wolf is channeling him. :wink:

Not quite - as a matter of fact, Popo used to be my other identity. It was good to have when I felt like blowing off a bit of steam, even though all the poetry crap was a challenge to come up with.

In order to prove that I in fact is Popo, I will post an offensive picture below:

[Snuff porn image removed]

Well said.

I think you answered your own question… everyone’s universe has a different center. Incidentally, we apparently share a center… why is it that you see things from such a different perspective from mine? :wink:

The soul of Taipei? I have to agree that it is a mishmosh of things similar to a night market, it’s dirty, bustling, disgusting, foul-smelling, but it has some nice quiet spots can make you proud to be a part of the human race at times when you are up to your arse in it (the human race), lots of friendly people ready to help you, and most of all…full of bargains (and scams, but more the former than the latter). It’s a living example of contradictions and paradoxes all wrapped up into one lime-coated leaf…waiting to be chewed up and enjoyed by the heartiest among us.

blueface wrote: “Reminds me of Los Angeles 2019AD in “Blade Runner”.”

Funny, that’s what my expat friends in Tokyo say about TKO!

Taipei is aweird place. For a European, where the street grid of his home town was laid out in the early middle ages, it seems square and soul-les, but when you enter the small alleys, you just feel snug in a way. However, I have opted to live far away from the big city, in a residential development with no soul whatsoever.

i agree, it is the narrow alleys that are the soul of Taipei. i think that’s what gives Asian cities and towns their appeal. the big streets suck!

Better get that looked at. It’s a primary SARS symptom.

[quote]I would add the small alleys, who can be bustling and serene, ugly and beautiful, and sometimes all of that at once.

Taipei is a funny place, it’s futuristic and decaying all at once. The soul of Taipei is in the contrasts you are constantly bombarded with.

I agree entirely. And those of you who talk about the alleys are spot on too. I remember I’d been here several months before I realised “the lanes - it’s all in the lanes”. Now I’ve moved to a little corner of Zhong Zheng District which is real old Taipei (part of old Banga City I expect). Tiny tiny - squeeze for a scooter - lanes of one and two storey houses. Different again.


In my eyes when I was younger, Taipei’s glamour lied in its liveliness, especially in lively night life including night markets, late hours at cinemas, KTV, MTV, pub/club, beer houses (

Damn! As I was reading through the replies and comments here, I was thinking toughts very similar to yours above.

I am at a stage in my life where I feel almost completely divorced from any concerns about the “soul” of Taipei. I work in the day and in the evenings, often into the early morning hours (hence my self-given title “Saturday’s Child”). I’m definitely cought in the proverbial rat race… sometimes feel like I’m spinnin’ my wheels… can’t get no traction…

I have lately started responding to inquiries of “why did I come here” with “everyone’s gotta be somewhere.”

That bothers me a bit… because I did come here with a purpose…

While at times I feel increasingly detached from Taipei, or at least from its soul, at other times I contemplate the difficulty I will have when the day finally comes to leave here. I know that I will feel a certain degree of discomfort wherever I go from here… I expect it will be odd living among people who have no common perspective regarding Taiwan…

Where will I, or any of you, fit in when (if) you leave here?