Taipei neighbourhoods: Zhongshan

Dear Taipei,

I wonder how many times you have made people stop in their tracks? To make someone on their way to an important meeting, or in the busy morning commute to work, or even in a mindless wander to stop- even just for a moment- and take a proper look at what’s in front of them.

I think it’s often difficult to stop both in a physical and mental sense- especially in this age which encourages, and to an extent, demands, that we keep ourselves in a cycle of constantly being busy and as a result, stressed. We use our levels of busyness and stress as a twisted (often subconscious) measurement of our achievement and success. I wish I was above this myself, but alas, I am not, and will more often than not proclaim of being both when asked.

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I admire those people who have a disposition to not let the demands of life taint their ability to “stop and smell the roses” per se (excuse the use of an overused expression). It’s too easy to feed into that cycle of rushing- and as someone who often finds myself overwhelmed with too many things to do and not enough time- I understand that moving at a speed you almost can’t keep up with is at least to me a paradoxical mix of adrenaline and exhaustion.
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Something that will always captivate me and make me steal a second from whatever rush I’m in is street art. I wrote previously about my views on the importance of public art in my entry about Treasure Hill. That:

Art is one feature which comes to mind when I think of a city with soul. I think it sends a very clear message about the character of city when public art is proudly on display. Taipei city seems to be an active proponent of the importance of art in society. There is no need to keep your eyes peeled to stumble upon interesting public art in Taipei. I’ve passed by countless statues strolling along its streets, admired the seasonal displays of art in the shopping hub near Taipei 101, and cast my eyes on the paintings featured along the walls in many MRT stations (Taipei’s subway system). I always try to stop for at least a moment to let myself appreciate the work before I carry on way.

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After a picnic with a friend in Zhongshan yesterday we took a casual meander around some of Zhongshan’s backstreets.

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I have found myself in Zhongshan a couple of times before, but I didn’t really take due time to take in my surroundings. This time however, I came across walls adorned with quirky designs and eye-catching murals which compelled me to stop.

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One wall that particularly caught my attention is the one pictured above which was in a narrow alleyway. As you see it features these rather gorgeous monsters speaking in Mandarin and English. It’s a playful work that certainly does not seem to be making a grand political statement like those of Bansky et al, and in fact, it seems like it was commissioned by a cafe so it could just be wonderful “marketing”. But I don’t think that matters because, it  got me, and I’m sure thousands before me, to stop. Reading the little speech bubbles (both the English and Mandarin) I couldn’t help but smile at the simple positivity and friendliness of the words.

“Today is a beautiful day!”

“Every day is the very best day”

“Have a good dream”

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I came across a couple more covered walls, but it was only a brief walk so there must still be many more that I’m yet to come across.

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In Zhongshan you will find a plethora of gorgeous boutiques, fancy eateries and major department stores. But take a back street and you will stumble an interesting mix of auto repair shops with impressive stacking techniques, hole-in-the-wall galleries, design shops with handmade wares from local artists, old men standing along the sidewalk having heated discussions in Taiwanese, and hip, young folk sitting book in hand sipping a coffee in quaint cafes.

It seems like worlds old and new coexisting.

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Zhongshan is one of those places in Taipei I find myself very drawn to.

Look beyond the main drag and you too may find yourself compelled to s.t.o.p.

-TTT

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2 comments

  1. Great article! Taipei is awesome for wandering, and I too love the graffiti that brings so much more life into the place (i can’t imagine it without it, it’d be so drab, brown and grey everywhere). Have you also noticed the graffiti/art that is on the shutters of storefronts that you can only see at night/morning when the rollers are down?

    Also, there’s some really nice street art/graffiti in Ximen Ding, near the Eslite building alleyways!

    Like

    1. Hey Chris!

      Thanks so much for the encouraging words!

      Streets like these remind me of Melbourne (which incidentally I feel more connected to than Sydney!)

      It’s nice to know that someone else appreciates these things. It’s kind of like a thankless thing these artists do. They never know the impact their work can have over the years (or days, week or months if their is replaced) and in a way that makes it all the more beautiful.

      Oh I must check out Ximen more closely. I often go but must say I haven’t noticed. Must walk with wider eyes:)

      Liked by 1 person

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