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Sunday, November 29, 2009

A short step back in time

We had some business to attend to in the morning in T'aichung 台中, and as our daughter has a swimming class anyway on Saturday afternoons in the city, we decided to spend the entire day there. Pamela had found a blog containing an entry on an old neighborhood in the Nant'un Disrict 南屯區, and suggested we check it out, and so that's how we ended up killing most of the time before we had to be at the pool for Amber's class.

After lunch, we drove into Nantun, and found the neighborhood in question. According to an English sign, the area is known as "Down Maple Village", and dates back to 1736 B.C.! There isn't much to Down Maple Village except for a brick-layered street, some old houses, several shops and a small canal. Crowds were noticeably absent - no one else was around except for young couple taking photos. The neighborhood isn't very attractive, but that's what was so interesting about it. This is what most of Taiwan looked like just a few short decades ago, unlike the many "old streets" all over the island that cater to the tourist trade:

One of the few places open for business was a small crafts shop called "Taichung Honest Shop" in English. The name is derived from the fact that no one is manning the cash register. There isn't even a cash register - if you see something you like, you put your money into a large urn. I have provided photographic evidence that we did, in fact, deposit the NT20 (60¢ or ¥50) that was required for removing a bottle of water out of the small refrigerator and taking it away from the premises:

And that was pretty much all she (or I) wrote about Down Maple Village. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to visit, but if you're in the area and have some spare time, it's worth a quick stop. There's no telling how long old neighborhoods like this one can hold out against rapacious property developers - even in this locale, new row houses were located just across the street. Just watch out for the betel nut-chewing, helmet-less おじさん riding scooters - you could end colliding with a relic from Taiwan's past.

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