recently, i booked my plane ticket to taiwan for my mom's 60th birthday. it's been years since i've been able to be with her for it, so i'm excited for the chance to celebrate with the whole family. buying the ticket reminded me that it's been a while since i posted a taiwan entry. i should probably get the rest of my photos from my last trip up before i take my next!
the streets of taiwan are ever changing, so i try to do a little exploring whenever i return for a visit. things are pretty different now from when i was growing up there. in the mid-nineties, my friends and i spent an inordinate amount of time at first square, a sub-par shopping center anchored by a forever streaky and less-than-impressive replica of the louvre's glass pyramid. first square's only saving grace was its cheap movie theater and an abundance of bargain shopping. (i bought a lot of earrings and clothes there as a 13-year-old.) we also did a lot of mtv-ing there. for some reason, "mtv" in the parlance of taiwan at that time did not mean the music videos or reality tv, but referenced businesses that offered rooms where you could 1) rent a movie of your choice to watch on a wall-sized screen and 2) order all manner of bubble tea, beef noodles, fried chicken, and other taiwanese snacky delights to go with said movie. it's not like we were living in the lap of luxury, but the entertainment that first square provided was right in line with our middle-school allowances. there were of course also the night markets (gloriously cheap), tea houses (on every corner), and department store food courts (the variety!). you could say that cheap eats was the theme of my adolescence. (really, not that much has changed.)
taichung, my hometown, used to be a distant second to taipei in terms of food, culture, and shopping. but these days, there's plenty to keep me busy during visits. last time i was there, i wandered away from the comfort of the gongyi road eslite branch down some smaller streets and ended up at the bookshop in fantasy story. it's a strange name for a venue - or rather, a series of them, i discovered - but basically, it's a collection of shops, cafes, and restaurants in the side streets around gongyi road and meicun road.
there seemed to be one main building, which looked like a conversion of old residential houses. parts of the complex were left in disrepair, while others were restored and renovated. nature staked its claim on these buildings long ago, and it looked as if it would have been a losing battle to fight back.
the domesticated parts of the complex housed boutique shops, populated by tiny potted succulents and bed linens. i think i also saw an architect's office, but i'm not completely sure.
and a few more photos of the intertwining of house and tree.