Showing posts with label old_taipei. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old_taipei. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Taipei: The New Old Berlin

So I was reading this article about how Berlin has changed and, as I read it, something about the old, pre-cool Berlin that the writer describes felt familiar.

I can't point to any one quote that captured this for me, just an overall feeling - a modern, capitalist, free city (well, half-free) that was not particularly inviting to outsiders, was off the beaten track, and was full of grubby neighborhoods that you could live in if you wanted cheap rent. If you were there it was because you wanted to be there, and not anywhere else, but anyone who wanted to be anywhere else generally did not give Berlin a second look. The "beautiful people" were in other cities (London, Paris, Milan).

And I realized, it reminded me of Taipei now. Taipei is not particularly cool. It doesn't have the cachet with Westerners that Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong or Tokyo (or more recently, Seoul) do, or even Bangkok or Singapore. Tourists from other parts of Asia come here but it is not a global tourist hotspot by any standard, and wasn't a tourist hotspot at all until Chinese tourism opened up. You are here because you want to be here - at least I am here for that reason - and not anywhere else. It's very local, and looming just across the straight is a massive Communist threat. I highly doubt Chinese missiles are going to rain down on my head anytime soon, but some days you can't help but wonder and be reminded of that during the occasional air raid drills. The beautiful people are in those other cities, and with them their beautiful overpriced nightspots and commercialized bar and restaurant scenes.

It can be nice and shiny and new - look at Xinyi (or don't - I kind of prefer not to). But entire neighborhoods are a bit grubby, and you have to look more deeply to find their charms (which they do have). It's so cool because it's not cool at all.

And, like that older version of Berlin, you have to work to understand it, and you might not always like it at first. You may remember that I did not really like Taipei when I first arrived. It was hard - foreigners generally make friends with coworkers when they first land but I didn't care for most of mine (the ones I liked I still didn't feel that close to, and they have pretty much all since left Taiwan). I cried on my birthday, after eating dinner alone at a terrible Indian restaurant, two weeks after arriving, on the Muzha line MRT because I could look down through rain-streaked windows at people on the street all going somewhere they belonged and probably seeing people who cared about them in lives that were anchored in some way, and I had none of those things.  It took another year or so before I felt like Taipei was alright, and probably another year after that before I began to really feel it, and Taiwan, was someplace special.

As an aside, so far I can count on one hand the number of people who know why this blog is called Lao Ren Cha. There is no special reason why I don't publish the reason publicly other than I never really felt like it. The people who know I felt, for whatever reasons I had at the time, deserved to know. Some still do! But, it's not a big deep secret, and perhaps someday I will write about that. What I'll say now is that it was very much intentional - not just a pretty name - and is very much directly related to my experiencing Taipei first in a muddy, dark, monochromatic sepia and only later a stunning, clear azure blue. It took more time than you would ever think such a thing would require.

And I'm not alone - when my cousin visited recently and stayed for a semester, he took time to adjust too. At first absorbing everything, then feeling a bit down due to the unrelentingly bad weather, then finally realizing one day that he had a solid group of friends and that Taipei was a super cool city to be in. The Taipei effect is not immediate.

I do wonder, as Taipei gets cooler - maybe not Seoul-level cooler but cooler nonetheless, with its plethora of perfect little cafes and increasing number of tour buses, increasing rents and gentrifying neighborhoods if it will start to become a victim of its own coolness. Part of me hopes it will bypass the Brooklyn effect, as it feels like it's already become too expensive to truly be a hip haven - and all the cool kids are already taking advantage of the better weather and cheaper rents in Tainan.

I wonder, I guess, if in 10 years (assuming I am still here, which I may be), what was an off-the-beaten track choice for building a life in Asia will start to be THE place to be and it will start to lose some of its street-level vibrancy and slightly grubby charm. Will I feel like that disaffected old expat in 10 years, complaining about all the new kids and how "this city isn't what it used to be"?

Yes, I do realize expats before me have already said that, but I wasn't here then so LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

Part of me wants Taipei to get that international recognition. Part of me wants it to stay the way it is.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cool MRT Art (For Once)

I know that's a little unfair - I do kind of like the art at NTU Hospital Station, after all, especially the weird entwined-fingers-and-palms bench.

But otherwise, the MRT seems to be a repository for weird hanging things, fiberglass primary color sculptures without much hidden meaning, sometimes-good, sometimes-not art from winners of local contests, terribly-photoshopped advertisements, and occasional poetry (again from some local contest), most of which I don't particularly care for.

I passed one small bit of public art, though, at Zhongxiao Fuxing Station on the mezzanine above the blue line, that I really liked. 


It's a cartoonish MRT train (eh), but in each window is a lovely diorama depicting different scenes of life in Taipei, with both modern and historical street scenes - in some cases intertwined. There's a night market:


A school building rife with Chiang Kai-shek iconography:


A Dihua-like Old Street:


A shadowbox of evolution from mom-and-pop midcentury store to convenience store:


...and more.

I often lament that the East District, which feels like it's slowly taking over Taipei with its shiny storefronts and air-conditioned department stores, has little of interest. Little to no good public art, few if any historical buildings, and a lot of expensive crap I don't want or need (and a lot of expensive bars I don't care for). I've always preferred looking westward in Taipei - West of Xinsheng/Songjiang and I may like it, east of Xinsheng and I probably don't.

This little smidge of public art proved that it's not all doom and gloom - there are still occasionally bits of actual culture as you head east. It's not all Sogos and Luxys.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Throwdown: Taipei vs. Shanghai


So, last month we took advantage of the 48-hour transit visa allowance for foreigners transiting between countries via Shanghai. It was a great way to see the city without all the expense and trouble of getting a Chinese visa. Which, you know, is a lot of expense and trouble (I know, I'm American, I can't imagine how difficult it must be for a lot of Chinese to get visas to the USA - glass houses and all).

Before our trip had really begun, as we left Shanghai for New York, I was casually offered a job there while stretching my legs at the front of the plane and chatting with other passengers. Another friend said that during her visit to Shanghai, she had a job opportunity pop up too. Both would have been very well paid. For all the speculation on the Chinese economy, one thing is for certain: if you're talented and want to make it in Shanghai these days, you can.

And yet, this post is not my announcement that we're moving to Shanghai. I'm still here in Taipei. The thought though - the fact that it would be so easy to just make that happen, prompted me to consider the relative merits of the two cities. Why do I choose to stay in Taipei? What's the pull? What about Shanghai would be better? Let's take a look.

Because that's how my photos appeared, let's start with architecture/general environment:


That's a classic shot of The Bund, but people generally don't go to The Bund every day. That said, Shanghai is peppered, and not just in the French Concession, with gorgeous old buildings that have mostly been preserved:



These two are at the popular spots of Nanjing E. Road (above) and the heart of the French Concession (below). But there's more to it than that:


I love Taipei's older buildings and Japanese-built brick shophouses. I love the charm of the Western end of the city. And yet, I have to give this one to Shanghai: Taipei has its share of heritage buildings and charming architecture, but Shanghai has more of it, and it's more accessible throughout the city. Sorry Taipei.


The famous Yuyuan Gardens

Yuyuan Gardens' Starbucks gives you a good view of the tourist mayhem outside

Shanghai isn't the most tourism-site packed city in China. It's got a few great things (a fantastic museum, some shopping areas, People's Square, Yuyuan Gardens, Nanjing E. Road, The Bund, the river cruises) but it doesn't have, say, a great, I dunno, wall or anything like that. You could fill up a few days in Shanghai doing touristy stuff, but beyond that, it's a city to live in rather than visit.

That said...everyone seems to visit it anyway. I don't blame them - it really is a cool city. What this means, though, is hordes of tourists - more than you'll see at the National Palace Museum, Sun Moon Lake, Taroko Gorge or Taipei 101 - jammin' up Yuyuan Gardens and bringing out the touts. We got approached so many times by people who would just not leave us alone: "HEY LADY! Watch? You buy watch! WATCH WATCH WATCH WATCH WATCH! Watch!!!!" "Excuse me, can you take our picture?" (as a ruse to get you into a teahouse that will extort huge sums from you for a 'tea ceremony'), people approaching us with everything from fancy laser pointers to changepurses to in line skates (?) every minute or so. It got tiring. One thing I like about Taipei is that while there are tourists, I can enjoy the city unmolested. Point: Taipei.

Money Money Money $$$:


There are a quadjillion job opportunities in Shanghai, and with some of 'em you can make bank. Especially in recent years, a lot of my students who used to take business trips to Guangzhou now take them to the Shanghai area (more like Kunshan). It is, basically, the closest thing the world has to a Land of Opportunity right now. I don't know how long-termers deal with visas (can one even get permanent residency in China? Not Hong Kong - I know that's possible after 7 years - but China?) but if that's what you want - make it here, so you can make it anywhere - Shanghai's the place for you. I could quite possibly land my white butt up at the airport and get myself a corporate training or in-house position like...snap. That quick.

On the other side, my poor beloved Taipei. I *heart* you, Taipei, but your job market sucks. Unemployment is low, but underemployment is ridiculous (I'd emphasize that with a "ricockulous", but I'm pretty sure that went out of style 8-10 years ago. Young ones, what say you?). Almost everyone I know, including several of my colleagues and peers, and pretty much every Taiwanese person I know, is both underpaid and underemployed, with the bonus of being overworked. There's no end in sight: the government clearly doesn't give a damn. They think cut-rate skilled labor makes Taiwan "competitive". No, it just causes brain drain, stagnation and unrest. What I wouldn't give for a minute with Ma Ying-jiu to tell him exactly what I thought of his governance. I know I'm not the only one.

I mean, just don't even get me started on the job market for English training in Taipei. There are opportunities, but a lot of companies seem to think skilled corporate trainers should be happy with NT$60,000 or so a month (that's not my wage, if you're curious, but I'll stop there) or less than $1000 an hour depending on the contract offered. No, dude. I've worked my way up in this career and acquired mad skillz so I could get paid, not so I could be your butt monkey. I figure either freelance work or in-house training would be a better deal, so that's what I'm keeping an eye out for. I'm done with companies that would farm me out to different businesses and then pay me a (laughable) cut of the fee.

And why is all the skilled labor in Taiwan willing to work so hard for so little? Why? They think they have no choice. I hope it does erupt into real unrest. Maybe a rash of organizing, unionizing and strikes. Like "The Jungle" except without the mutilations and canned meat. Then maybe something will change.

In short: I love you Taipei, but no. Shanghai wins. Stay in Taipei if you love Taipei. I do. But if you want to really make it...go to Shanghai.


Shanghai has more and better Western and international options than Taipei, but the convenience store food can be downright gross (do NOT buy a sushi roll in a Shanghai Family Mart - and don't say you weren't warned. JESUS.) There aren't a lot of convenience stores, and there are very few street food choices. As a colleague once said to me: "in Taiwan it's like, if you want food, good food, just walk out on the street. It's practically on display - 'look at all our food! Come eat! Food!' In China it's like a mile of wall and then some dead buildings. Maybe a bank or some other shop. But no food. I was walking around and I was all like, ' the food?' Even searching for breakfast - near People's Square so we weren't sequestered off in the middle of nowhere or anything - I had to walk for several minutes longer than I would have in Taipei to pick up food and coffee, and even then I ended up at a Cafe 85.

We ate well in Shanghai - that dinner at Jesse was truly memorable, the crab changed my life - but otherwise, Taipei wins. Better food and more of it. You don't even have to look for it. And you can get that crab in Taipei if you want.

I mean, even when there is street food, they imitate Taiwan!





Both cities have their interesting characters - just see above - but I don't think anyone would argue that Shanghai has friendlier people, or even as friendly people - in Taipei. A friend of mine went to Shanghai for five days recently and said that people were not only brusque and unsmiling, they were downright rude - brushing her off even after asking something in Chinese. People warned us that service in restaurants was not exactly like what we've come to expect in Taipei. There are those ever-irritating "WATCH WATCH HEY LADY YOU BUY WATCH" people, too.

I didn't find Shanghai people quite that rude, however. Employees at restaurants and bars were mannered enough, although maybe not as inherently nice as those in Taipei (and let's be honest, there are some real jerks in Taipei). Nobody openly brushed me off. I did get the sense, however, that if I lived in Shanghai people would generally not be as friendly or welcoming as Taipei. It might well take me a lot longer to make local friends. I also get the feeling that there's a larger contingent of shady expats, just because there are more expats overall. I got the feeling there'd be more "I'll be polite to you, but we'll never be close because you foreigners can't understand our 5,000 years of Chinese culture" than in Taipei.

Winner: Taipei. Not even a contest.


Shanghai's subway is fine, but it closes far too early in a city with more expensive cabs. Some trains leave their origin station as early as 10:30. What the what? Taipei isn't much better, but the buses make some sense, the trains close at midnight, the MRT system is beautiful and clean, and taxis are cheap. Taipei wins.


Glamour Bar at M on the Bund

This is a tough one. Shanghai has cooler bars, a more international scene, more places to go, and a greater variety of choices. That said, those choices seem to be overrun with expats (not always a bad thing unless it's a meat market, which in Taipei it often is), are definitely too crowded and cover charges and drink prices are ridiculous. They rival New York. You have to wait awhile to get into some places. I've never had to wait in Taipei, and I rarely have to pay a cover charge. Drinks are not cheap, but not horribly expensive either. You can go out for a night in Taipei and not ruin yourself. The only time we went and got truly ripped at Saints & Sinners (a friend had just lost her job and was in a bad place) with a group, and got the insane bill, it was $8000NT ($260 US or so) for 5 people. That's not too bad, seeing as I collapsed on a pool table at one point.

But...but...cardamom mojitos! Try finding a regular mojito in Taipei! (you can, by the way: China White has them. But at that place you feel like you should be doing lines in the bathroom or the staff'll kick you out).

But..Taipei has a whiskey bar and I can actually afford to go to it!

Score: tie.


Don't even get me started. You can't see the end of the runway at the airport most days in Shanghai. It's not as bad as Beijing, but Taipei wins.


Well, I couldn't check Facebook or Blogger and had trouble with gmail (it worked on my iPhone app but not via regular Internet connections). You can see those sites, if you're willing to circunvent the law (and I was, because screw that, but with just one day it wasn't worth figuring out how). You can more or less say what you like in Shanghai, but you can't necessarily say it to a public audience and you certainly can't publish it consequence-free.

In Taipei I might be pissed at the current state of things, but at least I can say so. I can even protest. I can go online unfettered. Taipei wins.


Another tough one. Shanghai's got more Chinese-style stuff that foreigners like, and more options. Both cities have a varied and fascinating design scene. There are more choices in clothing for foreigners of different sizes in Shanghai, and more stores not available in Taiwan (Sephora, The Gap - not that I would go to The Gap). But everything is more expensive, and those super nice teapots and silk scarves can be found in Taipei if you hunt...and for less. Also, Taipei has night markets, but Shanghai has more "stuff from around China". While there's more variety and more to appeal to tourists in Shanghai, you can afford more in Taipei and still get some pretty cool, locally-made stuff. I think I'll give this one a tie.

One thing both cities have in common - people with tiny dogs:


In conclusion:

Shanghai gets points for nightlife, money, shopping and architecture. That's 4.
Taipei gets points for food, people, nightlife, shopping, transportation, freedom and pollution. That's 7, but I'm going to take away one point because wage stagnation and underemployment in Taiwan is so damn bad that it deserves to lose a point, because f*** you, government for not doing anything. Like, not even trying. Like, trying to keep it that way. So that's 6.

In sum: Shanghai's got a lot going for it, but I'll stick with Taipei. It wins 6-4. I do love it here. So friendly. So much cleaner. So much easier to get around.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gems of Brick

As ugly as many expats find Taipei, I really don't find it such (although there are plenty of horrifically ugly buildings, I'll grant you that). 

I haven't had much time or energy to post these past few weeks, but I have managed to amass several photos over the past few months highlighting some of the best of Taipei's old architecture - which is thankfully starting to be restored rather than culled. 

I do believe it's worth it to occasionally post a few of these photos, as my tiny, eensy-weensy contribution to an online archive of Taipei's considerable architectural gems - and to remind people that these gems even exist.

So, I'm not going to bother with captions - just enjoy. Most of these photos were taken somewhere in the vicinity of Yanping N. Road, Anxi St., Liangzhou Rd., Dihua Street, Minquan W. Road or some intersection thereof.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A-Cai's Restaurant (阿才的店): 黨外國人!

This past weekend I put together a group outing to A-Cai's, a historic restaurant that is scheduled to be shuttered (and possibly, but not assuredly, relocated) when the building it's located in is torn down as a part of Taipei's ongoing, and controversial, urban renewal projects.

Mao Po Tofu - spicy, too!

Fish Scented Eggplant (Yuxiang Qiezi) 

 You can read about the history of the place above, and a review here - the place is hardly off the beaten track, as much as it looks like it.

I put this dinner together now because A-Cai's the window of opportunity to go is potentially so short: I asked upon leaving if the tear-down was still in the works and was told that yes, it would happen, but "not that soon". I hope they're fighting it, I really do, but the Taipei City Government is run by such buffoons that I don't hold out much hope.

All I can do is throw in my word as another recommendation for this place. Dirty walls, old Taiwanese knickknacks and memorabilia, old-skool wait staff and good food with strong flavors that practically begs you to drink large quantities of Taiwan Beer - what could be better?

Plus, despite not being a Sichuanese restaurant, the Sichuan-style dishes we ordered were genuinely spicy. Not as fierce as Tianfu, but they put on a pretty good show of chili.

I also loved the service. None of this cutesy Japanese-style welcoming or overly-attentive waiters. We came in and they knew who we were ('cause I sound like a foreigner on the phone, natch), said "over there". We sat, got a menu, and a few minutes later - "你要什麼?" No extra pleasantries or "我可以介紹一下喔", just, "Whaddya want?" I let them know that despite a reservation for 9, that actually 11 would be coming (two friends wanted to bring guests) - no muss, no fuss, just "好" and a few more sets of chopsticks dumped on the table. LOVE IT.


So...go. Lend your support. Give 'em business. Throw a 加油 in at the end. Fight the power! Write about it. Enjoy good food. Drink beer. Beg them to re-open in a new location. Don't let this piece of Taiwanese history disappear.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Taipei Building


After finding that my class at noon is postponed, I read a bit of the Washington Post and came across this article:

Tel Aviv's Abundance of Bauhaus Architecture

Bauhaus is not my favorite style - I'm a fan of Art Nouveau and that Japanese brick-and-cement colonial "baroque" style, especially when it's combined with Chinese and Japanese elements in its doorways, windows and flourishes - but  even I've noticed a few Bauhaus-inspired buildings dotting Taipei's landscape. That got me thinking.

Just as Tel Aviv should be renovating and rehabilitating its architectural motherlode, so should Taipei. This isn't the first time I've had this thought, or probably even the first time I've blogged about it, but I believe it sincerely. We shouldn't be tearing down everything in sight - the KMT idiots did that from the '50s onward,  destroying forever some of Taipei's greatest architecture, which could have been a major tourism draw now had it been allowed to stand (and the city expanded in different ways). Sure, in that time some other interesting stuff went up, but most of it was hideous. Instead, a government program to help property owners renovate buildings of architectural significance would be, if not a replacement for urban renewal projects, at least a complement to it, a program to run alongside it.

With the Shilin Wang family case still somewhat in the news (it's still going strong among my Taiwanese Facebook friends but seems to be dying down in the English media), urban renewal has been on everyone's mind. While I generally tend to side with people like the Wangs, some part of me does feel that if your building is not historically or architecturally significant, and a project is going through to improve a community, it might well be in that community's best interests to just make it happen - as long as compensation is fair and inconvenience and upheaval are kept to a minimum. Generally, I don't have a clear opinion on the topic, and I've heard differing reports on the age of the buildings razed (the newspapers are now saying decades-old. I heard one almost certainly false report that they were 134 years old).

I mean, there's a lot of ugliness in Taipei that could be improved. I'm mostly in favor of preserving vintage architecture, but I'm not against attractive modern buildings going up, and definitely not against some of the monstrosities of Taipei being torn down. Prague has done a remarkable job of melding modern with historically significant, as has New York.

Honestly, most of this can just be torn down for all I care. Build something nicer.
It's tough, though, to make a judgment call on what's worth saving. For example, I find old two-colored tile facades to be quirky and interesting, and worth preserving despite their often dingy appearance:

Keep it.
 But anything that's a bare expanse of cement, or has a tin roof, can go:

Raze it! I like the eye graffiti though.
All in all, I think two things:

1.) The Taipei City government has done a middling-to-bad job of architectural preservation (although they're improving - I have seen a visible rise in the number of interesting buildings being renovated and fewer are being torn down) and a terrible job of urban renewal: just ask the Wangs. What goes up in these projects is not likely to be much better than what's being torn down. There are so many architecturally interesting, but somewhat dilapidated, buildings in Taipei. A lot of people could be housed in those buildings were they to be renovated, which wouldn't solve the problem entirely, but it would make a dent in it.

That said, I disagree with the general derision heaped upon public housing. I live in public housing, and it's fine. Then again it was built for veterans and is not "low income", at least not now. People here range from middle class to quite wealthy, with only a few working class families around. Not that I'm anti-working class: I loved living in working-class Jingmei even though I hated my apartment. I'm just stating a fact. My public housing building boasts good insulation, stays cooler on warm days and warmer on cool days, has had far fewer problems than our apartment in Jingmei did, and services in the area abound - including a very low management fee and an on-call plumber at low rates. The buildings are ugly but not the ugliest in Taipei, and residents have improved them with flowers and window casements. Our walls have a few issues - the brightly colored paint on our walls revealed several building flaws, including sweating pipes and weird seams - and we can hear our upstairs and downstairs neighbors, but generally I'm happy with the place.

2.) I hear a lot of bitching from the expat community on how ugly cities in Taiwan are. Yes, most of them are pretty horrible, especially the medium-sized cities in the counties, but I don't get all the whining about how ugly Taipei is. OK, fine, it's not Prague and it's not the best of New York, and it's got some really horrible buildings (from ones made of corrugated metal to hulking concrete monstrosities), but it's got a lot of gems, too, and a lot of quirky style. You just have to look. If anything, Taizhong is a much uglier city, albeit with better weather.

Maybe it's that recently I've been feeling more annoyed than usual at foreigners complaining incessantly about Taiwan: I feel some amount of blowing off steam is fine, even necessary, but when I hear someone just go on and on and freakin' on about what he doesn't like (it's usually a "he", but women certainly can do it too), I have to wonder. If it's so bad, why don't you leave? You don't have to move home. Find another country. If you don't like it so much, why are you still here? And if you have a good reason to be here (study, job opportunities unavailable elsewhere, family), wouldn't you be better off looking for the positives instead of harping on the negatives? There are negatives - even I, ever the Taiwan-loving optimist - know that, but there are some really great things that balance them out or at least make them something you don't need to focus on so much. For every hideous building there's a hidden gem. For every rude person there's a friendly one. For every difficult encounter there's a lovely surprise. And, most of the time, I find the positives outweigh the negatives. I can understand hating China - I spent a year there and left because I wasn't happy and was constantly sick - and to some extent I can see how extreme culture shock could render some to hate Korea, and the insular and overly polite nature of Japanese society could destroy someone's faith in Japan, but I don't see what's so bad about Taiwan that it deserves such kvetching. Even India, which I love, offers a lot of good material for the complainer to latch onto. But Taiwan?

Anyway, back to architecture. If you think Taipei is ugly, fine. I think the weather sucks, so we're even. If you think it's ugly enough that it warrants repeated comments - and not the kind where you laugh it off as I do the weather - why are you still here?

Sure, so many buildings in Taipei are so unrelentingly hideous that they should just be razed:

Seriously, this thing is horrible. You could make a case for painting it with funky murals
but it's probably best to just get rid of it.

Some have been lovingly restored (and others half-heartedly):

They could do better with this one. So much potential.

This set of buildings on Dihua Street is fairly well-known
This is one of my favorite window facade

And some are functional/restored, but seem to be noticed by nobody but me:

For example, this is my dream house (although I'd prefer it not be right on Yanping Road), but it seems to be largely ignored.
This funky old building and ones like it are easy to miss, but lovely when you're  looking for them and worthy of being kept in good condition.

Interestingly tiled buildings with curved or unusual facades abound - also worth saving

This one on Guiyang Street is a little more well-known but is still largely ignored
This one, too, on the north-central end of Yanping
This is on or near Hengyang Road, which has many gems

By 228 Park

Whereas still others have not only been restored but  have become art installations

These are not doing badly

And yet still others are barely hanging on, and in desperate need of renovation:

A few interesting shophouses in the area between Ximen and Longshan Temple

I'd love to see this Guiyang Street building renovated
I realize that I took most of these in the older parts of Taipei - Wanhua, Dadaocheng. They were just the most accessible photos, though. There are all sorts of buildings dotting Taipei that are not in those areas: Chang'an and Zhongshan boasts at least one true gem and a few other interesting tidbits. Heping E. Road just west of Guting has a few. Jingmei has one crumbling facade down by Shi Hsin University that deserves a renovation,  half a three-sided farmhouse attached to a building and a few alleys of old shophouses. There is some really funky, almost Bauhaus stuff you can still see around Raohe Night Market. There's a totally fascinating dark cement Gothic-looking building in the lanes near Jianguo N. Road, just north of Nanjing. I wish National Taiwan University would renovate its old Japanese buildings. In the far west of the city,  in the no-man's land by the river northwest of Ximen and southwest of Dihua Street, even farther west than the old warehouses that are being renovated, are some gems of Japanese wooden houses that deserve renovation, even if newer buildings that can house more people go up around them. Even my neighborhood - central Da'an - has a few two-color tile buildings that look vintage 50s and 60s that would be worth a good scrub and a renovation. Xinyi has a few still standing out behind the cabbage farm near Taipei 101 (is that still there? I haven't been out that way in awhile). Changchun Road has a few interesting buildings worth seeing, Minsheng Community on Sanmin Road has a cool curved brick building,  Qiyan has some interesting old warehouse spaces, Roosevelt has some lanes around Guting - mostly to the north but a few to the south - that have stuff worth looking at. Bade as you head east has some weird, cool stuff going on amidst the ugliness, and old temples and shrines from Taipei's farmland days dot the landscape.

These buildings dot the city, even if they're concentrated in the west.

So...why aren't we saving them? Why are they falling apart? Why are they often uninhabited? If the owners can't afford to fix them up, why is the government pouring money into monstrosities like the Yuanhuan Circle "food court" and not into helping the owners make their properties functional and beautiful again?