Thursday, August 6, 2009
Usually I take advantage of my one free weekday afternoon to do some walking in the Tak'eng area, but today I decided to take a break from the outdoors and be a tourist instead, spending a couple of hours walking around downtown T'aichung 台中. Parking my scooter behind Taichung Station 台中車站, I first paid a visit to Stock 20, an area of old railway warehouses that have been converted into an art center. The current installation, Urban Bodies: A collection of art works by Taiwanese and Foreign artistes, was mildly interesting, but admission was free, and it's great to see otherwise-obsolete buildings being put to good use. The old city center in Taichung is declining rapidly despite numerous attempts over the years to revive it (look what's become of Chikuang Street), but there are several excellent examples of Japanese-era architecture still standing, the most obvious of which is the train station, dating from 1917:
Another old building of interest is the former City Hall, then later Bureau of Transportation and Tourism, and now an exhibition hall/gallery, built in 1920. Like Stock 20, it's free to get in, and while the The Eastern Fauvism: Wang Erh-Chang 王爾昌 Commemorate Exhibition was far from a waste of time (the three high school girls there spent a lot of time admiring the nudes), it was the building itself that provided the greatest interest. Kudos to the authorities for not tearing the structure down, and replacing it with a modern monstrosity:
Across the street is Taichung's current City Hall, a newer building from 1924. There have been plans for a number of years to move the seat of government to newer digs away from the downtown area - after all, what self-respecting modern administration can effectively govern from an 85-year old edifice featuring white stone walls, mansard roof and ionic columns? - but for now it's refreshing to see a fine old building not only preserved, but still carrying out its original function. More kudos (see, Cowardly Anonymous Therapy Patient, I don't hate everything about Taiwan!):
Walking away from City Hall, the skies opened up and the rain started to fall. Here's what it looked like while I was walking through Herbal Medicine Street - check out the woman's improvised rain boots:
I was intending on walking over to Taichung Park, but the rain convinced me to save that for the next time I feel like playing tourist.