Huandao Day 7

From Taipei to Hsinchu, the semiconductor capital of Taiwan…

Long exposure photo of New Taipei City Art Museum.
New Taipei City Art Museum. Photo: Zhen-Kang.
Distance 100 km
Ride time (with stops) 5 hours
Number of parochial baristas 1

Taipei’s only the fourth-largest city in Taiwan, but the Taipei metropolitan area—which includes Keelung and New Taipei Cities—has over 9 million people.

Today I rode west through this metropolis, then onwards to Taoyuan (2.2 million), and south to Taiwan’s Silicon Valley: Hsinchu City (450,000).

My journey was only 100km, but it was a mostly-urban ride that took three hours, or five with stops.

Photo taken from the point of view of a scooter rider waiting at traffic lights beneath a multi-level arrangement of overpasses in Taipei.
After enjoying uncharacteristically good weather in Keelung, I also struck uncharacteristically good weather in Taipei. It’s usually gloomier in winter.
Long exposure of the New Taipei City Art Museum, an avant-garde multi-story building that looks like a rectangular box clad in vertical round metal pipes.
I met a friend for coffee in New Taipei—a city that literally encircles Taipei—and followed him to the brand-new New Taipei City Art Museum. It’s a building that’s still under construction, but largely complete on the outside.
Close-up of some of the vertical round metal pipes used to enhance the exterior of the New Taipei City Art Museum.
The exterior’s covered in these hollow aluminum tubes.
A double-height space beneath a building, open to the outdoors, comprising multiple levels of tiled spaces with low concrete walls.
We could freely roam the lower floors, which are an open-air maze of different levels and spaces. We hit two dead-ends when trying to find our way out. The enclosed floors above are not yet open.
Photo looking across a public park and beneath an overbridge to the skyline of Taipei City in the distance. Taipei 101 is circled in the image.
Taipei 101—my favorite tall building—was visible in the distance. It’s 25km away in a straight line, or an hour by scooter. (Speed limits vary from 30–70km/h, but there are a lot of traffic lights.)
A large ceramic art installation, approximately five stories tall, in the middle of a grassy field. The installation looks like an unrefined clay vase.
This enormous ceramic piece sits at the other end of the grounds.
A three-story house in a leafy Taoyuan garden.
I followed my friend to Taoyuan, where he currently works. We had lunch at a vegetarian burger restaurant on the ground floor of this house, one of the older buildings in a neighborhood that’s popular with wealthy TSMC employees. My friend said the house next door was worth NT$40m–50m (NZ$2m–2.5m). I saw electric BMWs parked in driveways.
Close-up of a vegetable burger served on a round wooden tray with a side of potato fries.
The burgers were excellent. The owner was excellent too: she said I have “beautiful blue eyes like glass balls”.
A Lamborghini Gallardo at one end of a paved parking lot, next to two scooters parked on the grass.
When we left, a Lamborghini Gallardo was parked next to our scooters. This picture depicts a wealth discrepancy of roughly 8,000%.
Photo of the center of Hsinchu city, showing a paved bridge across a canal lined with hedges and tall palm trees, with tall buildings in the distance.
I arrived in Hsinchu just before sunset.
Night-time photo of Yieng-Siyi Gate in Hsinchu, a historic Qing Dynasty-era city gate, viewed through the ruins of a reinforced-concrete wall in the foreground.
Later, I met another friend for a walk in the city. This is the Yieng-Siyi Gate, completed in 1829. The remains of a more recent (reinforced concrete) structure have been retained in the foreground.
Wide-angle shot of Hsinchu Railway Station at night. Two people are sitting in a wide, shallow ampitheater in the foreground.
Hsinchu Railway Station is one of many Japanese-era buildings in the city.
The former Shinchiku Prefecture Library building in Hsinchu, Taiwan, at night. It is a concrete building with wood-framed windows, and an illuminated Starbucks logo on a 1.5-meter-tall sign at the front.
We stopped for coffee at this Starbucks, in the Japanese-era Shinchiku Prefecture Library building (星巴克 新竹州圖門市). Taiwanese Starbucks staff always speak English—although they don’t always understand my non-American accent. Today’s barista had no problems though: after learning where I’m from, she told me that Kaohsiung’s too hot (true), and Hsinchu’s the best city in Taiwan (hmmm). I said Hsinchu is indeed beautiful, but I hadn’t been here long enough to reach a conclusion. (Although, when I do reach a conclusion, it will be that Kaohsiung is better.)
A woman praying inside Hsinchu Cheng Huang Temple. It is a richly-illuminated scene of flowers and a god on an alter, surrounded by thousands of electronic candles in a symmetrical arrangement.
Our last stop was Hsinchu Cheng Huang Temple (新竹都城隍廟), one of the ‘Top 100 Religious Scenes of Taiwan’. Built in 1747, it’s dedicated to Cheng Huang Ye (城隍爺), the city god who records the good and bad deeds of every person in Hsinchu. It’s a place to pray for justice, a better life, and the absence of extreme weather. All things I hope for during my final four days of huandao.

Day 7 soundtrack

  1. The Finn Brothers – Everyone is Here (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  2. Minuit – The 88 (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  3. Minuit – The Guns EP (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  4. Super Doobie Bros – Super Doobie Bros (Bandcamp)
  5. Tom Petty – Wildflowers (Apple Music) (Spotify)

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