Taipei City is capital of the subtropical island of Taiwan. It has a population of just under three million and is situated in the Nothern-most part of the country.
The Evening Standard newspaper contained a photograph on Thursday 5 March 2015, as part of the striking images series, of the rush hour mopeds waiting at traffic lights in Taipei City (above photo).
Taipei’s bike share program – Youbike – began in 2008 and now has 200 stations with 6538 bikes and over 56 million rentals since the program began. Of the 1.8 million motor vehicles registered in Taipei, around 971,000 are motorcycles.
The image is certainly striking, but just the previous day however, a more gruesome image may have been selected, when motorists snapped an ATR 72-600 TransAsia Airways aircraft (a private Taiwanese airline) turn on its side in mid air, hit a taxi, clip a bridge, then plunge into a river killing 31 of the 58 people on board.
The airplane hits a taxi then hits the bridge.
Rescue crews first attend the ditched aircraft.
The airplane is retrieved to shore.
The investigation begins.
Taipai is on a basin lake that was formed by earthquakes. In 1697 a Qing dynasty official Yu Yonghe was mining for sulphur and described the area as a muddy marsh.
Today its 105 square miles encompasses 9,555 neighbourhoods, 456 villages, over 1 million households and just over 2,700,000 residents. The Beitou district is known for its hot springs which fill the air with the odour of sulphur.
The Grand Hotel has 500 rooms and is a famous Taipai landmark. Established in 1952, it was ranked one of the ten top hotels in 1967. It has fourteen floors and is decorated with more than 200,000 dragons, including a bronze one that is 24 carat gold plated.
The 1,667ft tall Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building when it opened in 2004 until 2009 when the accolade passed to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The 101 floor building has an additional five floors underground.
In order to toughen its resistance against typhoons, it has a damper at the very top. Inside there is a 828,000 sq ft mall which includes a three Michelin star restaurant.
This stabiliser is 730 tons. It sways gently to offset the movement of the building under high winds.
Taipei has a few tourist attractions that are a delight to visitors. Among them is the Eslite bookstore on Dunhua Road. It comprises no less than 182,986 sq ft of book space and has been open 24 hours a day since 1999.
The Eslite Bookstore
The Formosan Blue Magpie
Taipei residents assigned the formosan blue magpie (aka Taiwan Magpie) as their official city bird of Taipei. It lives in forests between altitudes of 980 and 3,940 ft above sea level. For this reason it also goes by the name of the ‘long-tailed mountain lady’.
The Neihu Technology Park is Taiwan’s Silicon Valley with more than 3,000 technology companies operating from there. Steve Chen, the co-founder of YouTube and Jerry Yang the co-founder of Yahoo, were both born in Taipei. in fact the city provides free public access to the internet through 9,000 Wi-Fi hotspots which caters to more than 100 million registered users.
Taiwanese cuisine is majorly associated with China, being that officially the island is part of the Republic of China. But it also finds influences from Japan introduced from the period when Taiwan was under Japanese sovereignty until 1952. And to a lesser degree influenced by the Philippines located to its South. Taiwan is surrounded by culinary traditions that come together to create a fusion of its own native dishes.
Similar to Indian culture, beef is not a preferred meat in Taiwan. It comes from a respect for the hard work these animals do that has been the difference between life and death for generations. In this respect the main ingredients are Pork, seafood, and chicken, with rice and soy being a common denominator. Twice-cooked pork is an established Taiwanese dish, first boiled then fried.
Due to strong culinary influence from China at the turn of the 20th century, beef did gain more familiarity and Taiwan beef noodle soup is today one of the most popular dishes enjoyed.
Taiwanese beef noodle soup
Also to be tried is pig blood cake made from pork blood and rice which is served on a stick like a satay – what we might call a black pudding (being pig blood and barley). It’s dipped in soy or a spicy sauce then rolled in powdered peanuts and flaked with coriander. There is also a duck blood cake.
Taiwan food is not afraid to use strong flavourings and spices as you can see, which has become a defining part of its cuisine. Deep fried tofu stuffed with noodles and sealed with fish paste, fried in savoury oils and drizzled with spicy sauces on the outside – as an example.
Again, similar to India, vegetarian food is widely consumed due in large part to the Buddhist culture there, vegetarian restaurants are commonplace. Popiah is a wrap with a filling of vegetables and powdered peanuts. A platter of very spicy vegetables is often a central dish.
Salted eggs and salted pork are particular favourites. Iron eggs have been repeatedly stewed in spices and air-dried resulting in brown chewy eggs. The salt bring out the flavour of the duck and differs from being roasted in that it has a lighter taste and is less greasy.
Taiwanese salted duck