Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Taichung (台中)

As seen from the window of a passing HSR train on Sunday afternoon; Taichung city must surely have the highest concentration of towers outside of Taipei. That and the fact that Taichung is always surmounted by heavy, dark clouds every time I pass it on the HSR must be two major reasons for the slightly dystopian impression of it I have in my memory. And then of course there's the popular association of Taichung city with organized crime.

Taiwan's second largest city by population is Kaohsiung (second largest by area is surprisingly Tainan), and yet Kaohsiung doesn't have the same density of tall structures at all and though it does have the iconic '85 building, and one or two other fairly tall structures, these merely punctuate the architectural profile of its' skyline rather than define it. Overall, Kaohsiung is not greatly taller than Tainan or Chiayi but Taichung certainly is. 


  1. Taichung (I want to type Taizhong, now that I have been Sinicized) is a very weird place. The foreigners who live there, or at least who lived there circa 1999, were a strange and generally unhappy and drunken lot. I lived in Tainan at the time and we had much truck with the other foreigners in Chiayi, Kaohsiung, the East Coast and in Taipei, but nothing to do with Taichung people. One of my good friends had spent a year there after he landed, hated it, and managed to escape to Tainan, where he was happy. He spoke of it the way ex-addicts will hint that they didn't like being addicted to smack. Another of my friends said once that Taichung has a dark heart, and that characterization really stuck with me. I got the impression that my Taiwanese friends felt broadly the same way. It's not cool the way Taipei is and also not homey and friendly like Tainan or Kaohsiung.

  2. Well "dark heart" might have been an allusion to Joseph Conrad's "Heart Of Darkness". I've only visited Taichung city once, so I can't really draw my own conclusions yet, but I do remember there didn't seem to be as many trees as in Tainan or Kaohsiung.

    Actually, the clouds in this picture remind me of Conrad's opening descriptions of the storm approaching the Thames delta in the late afternoon. But that's only because they're dark clouds.


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