The Coolest House in Taipei: The Lin An Tai House

One of the drawbacks of traveling in countries or areas with a lack of diversity is that the cultural destinations and history tends to be the same from place to place. For the most part, temples in Japan are the same from place to place - similar design, layouts, colors, floor plans - though the most popular ones tend to have something special that makes it worth the trip. Seoul's royal palaces are almost indistinguishable from each other in many of the photographs I took, due to identical architectural elements and the similar styles involving mazes of courtyards, rooms, and buildings. And while Chinese (Taiwanese) architecture is more flamboyant than the others, it can run together as well.

But I had the most fun I can remember exploring a house while at the Lin An Tai House in Taipei. It was raining fairly hard, and despite carrying an umbrella I managed to get fairly wet. But I wandered through the gardens and house and took a ton of pictures!
 The house itself is a single story, and spread out like palaces - there's a large central courtyard and four small ones inside the walls of the house. Around the house is a garden and other buildings.
 Getting there is half the fun. I highly suggest bringing a detailed area map in Chinese if you're taking a taxi - my driver had no idea where to go even though I had the address and name written in Chinese. Buses do stop nearby as well. Once you've found this sign, you're there!
 The garden was my first stop. It's separated by vase-shaped partitions and it always felt like I was wandering into a new secret garden every time I passed through a doorway!
 I tended to scurry from overhang to overhang. The garden might have been better than the house, and I'd love to explore similar Chinese gardens in the future.
 This symbol was in the wall, and you could see through it. It reminds me of a bat.
 Several buildings are scattered through the gardens. I believe this is a tea house.
 There is a rock garden in the garden too.
 Wide open spaces weren't too common, but the hill here separated a nice private area.
 Despite the downpour, the garden had so much in it I never felt bored.
 A pond sits in front of a hall and pavilion.
 An arched bridge sat at another end of the pond.
 Here is a closeup of the hall...
 And a closeup of the bridge.
 This i sa better look at the artificial hill with a waterfall.
 And another look at the pavilion.
 I peeked inside to get an idea of what was inside the buildings. It looks like it was set up for a lecture.
 That airport isn't too far away, so sometimes the sound of jet engines interrupted my walk.
 Yet, it remained beautiful.
 I arrived in the late afternoon, and the place was essentially empty.
 Once I left the garden, it was time to explore the house.
 Since the house is in the shape of a rectangle, long open spaces can be found. Lots of windows provide light and breezes in the summer.
Some rooms had artifacts, generally furniture.
 A close-up...
 Some rooms had more of a museum feel with displays.
 It looks like this is a display on adulthood rituals.
 Want to know about wedding gifts and customs?
 The rooms are nice, but generally empty. On the other hand, it was great seeing the layout of the homestead and imagining owning a place just like it!
 So, once I left the house, I walked alongside the garden and around the crescent pond seen in the first picture.
 That led me to the Gu Zhu Ming Shan (Artificial Clay Modeling Hill). It's like a magical mountain dropped in front of a house!
 There are stairs to climb and arches to duck under. It is its own world!
 Travel through a small cave and find your way to the top...
 Enjoy the sculpting, which really reminds me of a sci-fi movie. There are places to stop and rest, and perhaps hide from peering eyes with a girlfriend.
 I'm almost at the top! There are several paths up and around.
 Just a little further...
Ahh, the view from the top! Here you can get an idea of the lawn, crescent pond and front yard in front of the house.

The Lin An Tai House is free and a must-see while in Taipei, open 9-5 every day except Mondays and holidays. It's the way houses used to look in Taiwan before skyscrapers and apartments took over. As I mentioned, it's hard to find on the ground, even though it's right across the street (to the north) of Xinsheng Park, and east of Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the Taipei Story House. It's easy to get from one spot to another, though like everything in Taipei, it takes some time. But as a historical location and as a thing of beauty, I hope you have a chance to visit in person.

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