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Monday, August 17, 2009

Spending the day in Shinchiku

台北の南西70kmにある新竹は、「新竹風」といわれるように風が強く、「風の城」という異名がある。東門城を中心に放射状に道が延びるごぢんまりとした町だが、郊外にある新竹サイエンスパークは、ハイテクアイランド台湾を牽引するシリコンバレーとして世界的に有名。
(地球の歩き方台湾)

I took the train up north this morning to Hsinchu 新竹 (the train station of which dates back to 1908)
to meet up with my friend Thoth. Thoth moved to Hsinchu three months ago, and he clearly enjoys living there, as you can tell from looking at his blog, The Montreal Writers' Storm Sewer http://thothharris.blogspot.com/. After being ridden around and shown some of the sights, I can understand why he likes it there. Outside of T'aipei (Taihoku) 台北, Hsinchu is probably the most foreigner-friendly city in Taiwan, due to the presence of the Hsinchu Science Park 新竹サインスパーク. Here are a few images from today's guided tour of the Windy City, courtesy to Thoth:

First up is a video I made from the back of Thoth's scooter, riding through the streets and into the foothills of Hsinchu. Filming stopped when my hand became too tired from holding up the camera.

Video link "Riding Through Hsinchu":

Here is Thoth outside his comfortable three-bedroom home. It's located in a quiet area in the hills above the city, with several inviting-looking dirt roads behind his street just begging to be explored:

Going back into town, we had lunch at a small cafe located across the street from National Tsing Hua University 国立清華大学. The menu was in English, and the dishes were American, ranging from grilled cheese sandwiches to Philly Cheese Steaks. I tucked into the first Tuna melt sandwich I'd had in god knows how long. There sure aren't any places like this where I live:

After lunch, Thoth showed me around the campus, which looks very much like any large American or Canadian university. Here I am looking appropriately philosophical outside the Casa de Socrates cafe on campus:

Next stop on the tour was the Hsinchu Science Park. With its Western-style apartments and large lakefront park, one could easily forget that they are in Taiwan (which was probably the designers' intention). The artificial lake had to be the first one I've seen in Taiwan not to include food vendors and Taoist temples. If only I were a highly-skilled professional living in Taiwan on an ex-pat package...:

It was at this point the rain started coming down, so we eventually made our back to the train station area so I could catch my train back to Fengyuan (Hōgen) 豊原, but not before doing a little walking around. Here is the East Gate, Hsinchu's landmark, dating from 1829 (though restored in 1999). It's all the remains of the old city walls:
I also made this quick pan of the area surrounding the gate:
Video link "Hsinchu's East Gate":

As someone is who tired of the hassles of having to live in a small provincial Taiwanese city, I can see why Thoth likes being in Hsinchu. My wife has a cousin and a friend who both work in the Science Park. Hmmm, I wonder...

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