My first impression of Taipei was its greeness. The verdant green of the urban landscape unfolded as I drove across the city from the airport. After the dust choked browness of Beijing, the lush vegetation of Taipei was like visually drinking clear spring water.
My stay in Taipei was a short two days, packed with meetings and dinners. But in between I had brief impressions of a mature old city, stately and orderly manicured with old style buildings and roads. Numerous overpass highways crossed the city. On one car trip we talked about the recent rash of earthquakes and the necessary earthquake proofing of buildings. Taipei 101, until recently the world’s tallest building, was an architectural wonder for having a central equilibrium ball which absorbed earthquake shocks and dissipated vibrations. As I looked outside the car at overpassing highway and underpassing traffic, I thought of not wanting to be here during an earthquake.
My last impression of Taipei was of its thunderous population of motor bikes.Motor bikes outnumbered cars four to one. This was no more apparent as I waited to cross the street. At the change of lights a calvacade of motor bikes roared by. Riding four abreast, the orderly posse of bikes flowed through the lanes. Everyone wore helmets and every other bike sported a passenger. Every car owner also owned a bike, which he rode to work every day. The bike was the work horse vehicle, able to navigate back alleys and roadways faster than cars. With the automobile reserved for week-end outings and family holidays, most of my associates seemed relatively uncomfortable driving their vehicles in the downtown core.
I took very few pictures in Taipei, my stay was too short. Next time.
Taipei, March 2010