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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

International Art Street 国際街・芸術街

Today was a national holiday in Taiwan. Called "Double Ten Day" 中華民国国慶日, it celebrates the events leading to the establishment of the Republic of China (you can read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Tenth_Day). There are parades and fireworks in T'aipei (Taibei) 台北, but in a small city like Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原, it's just another holiday. In our case, we drove into T'aichung (Taijhong) 台中 in order to visit International Art Street 国際街・芸術街.

Here's how the street is described in my copy of the 地球の歩き方台湾 guide:

その名の通り、芸術的な雰囲気を持つセンスのいいストリート。おしゃれでかわいいカフェ、小物やアンティークの店がたくさんある。足に自信があれば、中華路を挟んで向かいにある学生街で歩いてみよう。安くておいしい屋台がたくさんある。路地にも店が点在し、付近には設計事務所なども多く台中芸術村となっている。

Or, roughly translated, it's a street that, true to its name, has a good, artistic atmosphere. There are many stylish and cute cafes, and shops selling accessories, antiques and so on. If you're up to it, try walking over to the student area across the road (the school in question is Tunghai/Donghai University 東海大学, and the road is Taichung Harbor Road 台中港路), where there are many cheap food stands selling tasty snacks. The alleyways, too, are dotted with shops, and the neighborhood, with its many design offices, is becoming Taichung's art village.

The description above is generally accurate. International Art Street is a pleasant area to walk around, though I wish it were a pedestrian-only zone, at least on Sundays and national holidays. Walking with Amber meant having to keep one eye on the constant stream of cars and scooters going by. And as the old saying goes, it's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Why do people sink their savings into buying small houses crammed together on narrow lanes that make it a nightmare to drive through, let alone to find a parking space for their cars?


Lunch. I got to take home the wooden cup on the left.


Orange Cat is a cafe that is crawling with...cats. There were at least a dozen when Pamela and I visited several years ago. We even brought our Chinchilla, Chiou-chiou 球ちゃん, with us at that time. Though we didn't go in today, it was reassuring to see the cafe is still in business. Unlike Japan (where cats have long been kept in homes for their mousing skills), cats have been feared and loathed in Chinese societies. Generally speaking, most Taiwanese dislike felines (probably another reason why I, a cat lover, feel more comfortable in Japan than Taiwan). For a society that prefers dogs, however, many people don't seem to know how to take good care of them, but that's a topic for another day.


And, as always, Amber thoroughly enjoyed being outside.

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