Thursday, 25 February 2010

Taipei Trip 2nd Post: Tamsui

So back to our trip to Taipei last week. We left on the thursday morning arriving there around 12pm, but after having checked into the hotel, showered, changed and made a few MRT jumps, the light was already starting to fail by the time we arrived in Tamsui. There is an old market street there with faux road cobbles and, though I couldn't clearly identify the terraced shops as belonging to any particular architectural style, there was a definite European feel to the architecture of the terraced shops and the whole street. How much of that is original (it was presumably built by the British in the 19th Century - which would make it Victorian), and how much of that is modern reconstruction I wouldn't like to guess. Anyway, I didn't get any pictures of that because it started to rain quite heavily - so we retreated into a little hotpot restaurant (with which I wasn't too impressed).

When we got to the San Domingo Fort the rain had eased off to a drizzle. We took a bus from just outside the old street, though by the time we arrived, we realized we might as well have just walked; the distance was a five minute walk (if that). Incidentally, that's one of the little things of daily life in England - walking - that I miss when I have an opportunity to do it (especially on a cold, rainy day); by and large the streets of Taiwanese towns and cities are simply not designed to cater to pedestrians and in the summer months you really don't want to be walking in the sweltering humidity anyway. This is a measure of just how much riding scooters and motorcycles has become second nature to me; I cannot imagine life here without them (cars are generally useless here due to the congestion and extreme difficulty of parking - they're only useful for those with a family to bus around). I'll have to write a whole series of posts on traffic in Taiwan at some point... christ I could probably write a hundred if I went for it.

Anyway, San Domingo Fort. As mentioned, the rain had reduced to a drizzle by the time we arrived, and I did get a couple of pictures outside before it started up again and we were forced indoors. The picture in this post is of me standing outside the governor's mansion. Photography indoors was prohibited - which is a crying shame because I found so much of interest inside with most of the rooms being preserved with their nineteenth century British furnishings (the Fort, along with the house in Sizihuan, Kaohsiung, had housed Britain's consular service in Formosa prior to the stupid decision by the FCO to do nothing to prevent the Japanese from annexing the island in 1895). After touring the governor's mansion, there wasn't enough time left to properly take in the rest of the Fort and we had to start making our way back to the old street and the MRT station. Shambolic, I know.

Perhaps later in the summer I might be able to engineer another opportunity to visit San Domingo under better skies, and take my time about photos and note-taking.

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