Another Afternoon in Taipei – Part 1

When in Taipei, I always staying at the Grand Hyatt located close to the city’s highest building Taipei 101. Not that it is the fanciest and newest hotel and the hotel isn’t the cheapest either. I suppose what brings me always back here is some kind of habit and intimacy. Or maybe it’s the untold stories the hotel keeps in a safe place for me.

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I come for business to Taiwan two or three times every year. Once a year I try to spend a couple of days in Taipei. It’s routine to get here: taking the high speed rail to Taipei Station, switching to the Bannan Line MRT in the direction of Nangang Exhibition Center, getting off at City Hall Station, walking through the station mall and the basement level of a department store towards city hall and finally crossing Song Shou Road to enter the familiar site.

Usually I arrive during rush hour after a busy day of meetings and phone calls. After checking in, I take a shower and relax a bit. If I’m not too late, I have dinner at Irodori, a Japanese restaurant right inside the Hyatt. The restaurant serves ‘all you can eat’ and always fresh sashimi, sushi, seafood, tempura, yakitori and so much more. Could I find a newer and better place close by? Perhaps. But again, it’s all about allowing the past creeping in the vacant crevices of the present.

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The same applies to the last stop of the evening to have a good night drink: The Brown Sugar, a restaurant and bar with a live band playing jazzy and bluesy tunes. I’m aware of the hip folk lining the way to Brown Sugar. But I choose to ignore them and the bars and clubs they hanging out in front as well. Even though the names of the places do sound familiar, they ain’t the places of my past.

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The next morning starts with a breakfast and getting the camera ready for a long walk which seems to be the repetition of last night: Recapturing the steps I did before. To a certain extend it is, indeed, just that and more by finding new things amidst the well known. So, I step out into the street crossing the same Song Shou Road again to take a look at the square in front of City Hall.

There is always something going here. It’s a place for public events and often demonstrations of the Taipei citizens. This time not even a handful of workers were dismantling a stage. Just across the square starts the area around the Sun Yat Sen memorial hall. I’ve never been inside during the 14 years of visiting Taipei. Just walking around the square and the little park gives me the opportunity to take some images. In the past years the square was always full of tourists from Mainland China. DR. Sun is highly regarded as the father of the Chinese Revolution and his early death certainly helped his name during the Communist years. On this warm Saturday in April I find a little local event. Just don’t ask me what it is about. The little red stools aren’t inviting. I still sit on one afraid it might fall apart under my weight just to be level with my photographic subjects. Looking at the images now, I always wonder why a 2m guy with a huge medium format camera goes practically unnoticed when taking pictures in Taiwan.

Read on …

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