Taipei: A City for Driving (Introduction)

Last August, I took my first international vacation from Japan, heading to Taiwan for a week of sightseeing around the country. While my trip actually finished in Taipei, I decided to recap my visit by starting in Taiwan's most famous city.

Below are some pictures from around Taipei before I look at individual locations.
 This is the Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial Hall and Library, located near Taipei 101. The first impression I had of Taipei as a city was how big everything is. The economic boom of the 1980s brought about modernization and redevelopment, including very wide boulevards and lots of space. There are still plenty of narrow alleys off the boulevards, similar to the narrow streets of Tokyo, but these are broken up by the wide main thoroughfares. In addition, many of the monuments (such as this one) and modern buildings are gigantic! Tokyo builds high but narrow buildings; Taipei builds up and out. I should note that the east side has more of the boulevards, being newer - the western side of Taipei has more of the smaller buildings and narrow streets.
 I really enjoyed the walking man on the street crossing signs. I think this sign was at a location where you had to cross about ten or twelve lanes of traffic. The man starts out moonwalking forward at a slow rate, but as you get closer to zero he speeds up and starts flashing. There are about 7 million people in the Taipei metro area, and I think there are almost as many cars and motorcycles. The motorcycles are parked and sometimes are driven on the sidewalks .
 Being such a large, spread out city, Taiwan has a lot of public transportation options. Depending on your destination, the subway, buses, or a taxi may be your best bet to get around. At times, the nearest subway station could be a 15-20 minute walk from your location, or the buses may not have a direct route from point A to B. But when you can take the subway, be on the lookout for art. This strange piece was inside one of the metro stations in Taipei!
 As I mentioned, the buildings are huge. The architecture of Taipei is worth looking at, from Taipei 101 to the sports stadiums, offices, and malls scattered around the city.
 Japan has a big influence in Taiwan, because it ruled the country until the end of World War II. Baseball, pop culture, infrastructure, and more can be seen relating back to Japanese. This elephant for the Japanese Hawks team was sitting in a shop window along with some other toys. Be sure to keep your eyes open when walking from place to place in Taipei, because you never know what you'll see.
 Taipei is hot in the summer, and there's no better way to cool down than to have a smoothie. This smoothie was made fresh before my eyes, and then the lid was put on sealing it, protecting it from bugs. Just poke a straw through the top! Yes, it was delicious.
Speaking of food, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the sprawling east side. While you should try Taiwanese staples and experience the country's culture, there's nothing wrong in taking a rest and having a slice of pie. Mmm. Pie.

Okay, now that I've warmed up, I'll start bringing you a recap of the locations I visited in Taipei and the rest of Taiwan! Until then...

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