The last time I was in Taipei I was visiting for my Tattoos of Asia project in the middle of Typhoon Meranti. Surely, there are better times to visit Taipei, I thought? Not that it was a bad trip, there were plenty of stories to tell. I just figured there must be more representative times of year to visit! So it was, in August last year, that my wife and I decided to take a week off to visit Taipei and see if it was as wild, fun, and friendly as I remembered. Spoiler alert – that and more.
This was our 9th anniversary trip, so there wouldn’t be a lot of gear coming with me. Almost none, in fact. I had my X100F and a few batteries. It was liberating to work with such a small camera and simply not have the ability to change lenses again. If it didn’t fit in 23mm, I had to find a way to make it work. If it didn’t fit in the 5-minute window I had to make photos, it didn’t get captured. I had a blast trying to work this way for a change.
Starting with the flight, Taipei was giving Seoul a run for its money. Seoul, for all its positives, has awful weather. It’s either flat-grey cloudy or polluted to dangerous levels for more than half the year. The flight handed us gorgeous clouds and Taipei continued that trend with blue skies and gorgeous puffy clouds.
Getting into the city, I spotted my first frame as I saw people hurrying to get taxis. Taipei Main is definitely a place I want to spend some more time in the future. There’s so much going on and so much gorgeous light to photograph around the entrances.
The first afternoon was spent doing a quick loop of the Ximending area and then catching the brown line out towards the 101. It’s hard to skip the districts in between, so we took several walks through the streets around each station before arriving finally at Xiangshan for the sunset. Walking straight past the Instagram crowd, we beelined for a quieter area to watch the sun go down and the 101 light up for the evening.
After grabbing the obligatory 101 shots and seeing it in all its glory, it was time to get back down to street level and see things my way again. This gent laughed and tried to pull out of my way after I grabbed this frame, so I’m glad I managed to snag it. You’ll see that signature X100 flare on the streetlight back there. I don’t always love it, but in this one, I’m a fan.
It was really colours and light that held me in Taipei. The gorgeous greens of the post office, the deep blues of the skies, the harsh shadows in the alleys. All these things I simply don’t have at home. It’s certainly on my list to visit again and it should be on yours if you want a well organised and friendly introduction to Asian cities. There’s just enough crazy to remind you you’re here, but just enough Tokyo that it doesn’t really feel like Asia anymore. Can’t wait to go back!
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