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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Back to school

After a number of days of spring-like weather (temperatures in the high 20'sC/high 70'sF), things suddenly took a turn for the cold and wet today - 10C/50F, windy, raining in the morning and overcast the rest of the day. Intrepid fellow that I am, however, I rode the 20 or so kilometers in the cold this afternoon to pay a visit to T'aichung (Taichū) 台中, and Tunghai (Tōkai) University 東海大学 in particular. Naturally, when in Tunghai one has to photograph the university's most noted site, the Luce Memorial Chapel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luce_Memorial_Chapel), and so one did:

The previous couple of occasions when I'd visited the university and checked out the chapel, the sun had been out and the building had reflected the light, so it was a little strange to see it under more subdued conditions. Also, the other times had both been on weekends, when the area around the chapel becomes a park, and the site is teeming with people. Seeing it standing all alone this afternoon, it struck me for the first time what a simple, yet beautiful design Chen Chi-kwan and I.M. Pei came up with back in the early 1960's. Postwar Christian churches in general have been architectural bores, but not so the Luce Chapel.

Unlike the other times I'd come to Tunghai, with plenty of time on my hands today I took a walk through the campus. I was glad I did so, for there is plenty of greenery, and many of the buildings are Chinese-themed in design:
I haven't visited too many universities in Taiwan, but I'd wager that Tunghai's campus is arguably the island's most attractive. I was a little put off that there is a Chiang Kai-shek (Shō Kaiseki) 蒋介石 Memorial Hall (where are the student activists when you need them?), and it was simultaneously funny and scary to see that the female dorms were surrounded by high brick walls topped with shards of glass and razor wire (one mustn't forget that Tunghai is a Methodist university!), but all in all the school grounds make for a pleasant walk, and a respite from the typical Taiwanese chaos lurking just over the walls.

Leaving Tunghai, I rode up the hill the short distance to Tunghai (aka International) Art Street. This area of boutiques, crafts shops and cafes is hopping on the weekends, but was understandably deserted on a bleak Tuesday afternoon:

Next week, weather permitting, it'll be back to the mountains, something I haven't done since before the Lunar New Year holidays.


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