By Frank Visser — photos by Mirjam Bleeker
— p. 98
A trip to the new Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, which has undergone a radical transformation in the past 30 years, while maintaining its traditions among skyscrapers, parks and cycle paths Taiwan is a 13- hour flight from Europe, but something unique awaits travellers landing in Taipei: a rapidly- developing megalopolis that offers plenty of large green spaces. Cityscape. Taipei 101 stands out on the city’s skyline and is the fifth tallest building in the world. Designed to be earthquake- proof, the landmark is visible from every district. Among these, one of the oldest is Treasure Hill: here, blue collar workers’ houses have been turned into studios for young artists. Meanwhile, Xinyi, one of the city’s more recent neighbourhoods, is home to government offices and has a cosmopolitan feel. Bars& Restaurants. One of the most characteristic bars, and a trendy meeting place, is Tandole, perfect for sampling traditional dishes at lunchtime. The place to be for dinner is Raw, in the new area north of the Keelung river, in a new building designed by Camiel Weijenberg. Chef André Chiang’s “bistronomy cuisine” presents haute cuisine of reasonably- priced seasonal dishes. Hotels. One of the city’s most famous, the Grand Hotel, is an imposing building in classical Chinese style, built in the 1970s. At the heart of the Cultural & Creative Park, the Eslite Hotel offers a fitness centre, two sophisticated restaurants and a library/ lounge. Design, shopping and culture. Another trend in the city’s development is the so- called creative parks. For example, Songshan, built on the area of a former tobacco factory. The industrial- heritage buildings have been carefully restored and now house the Taiwan Design Museum, set amidst a large, leafy park. The smaller Huashan 1914 was originally a rice wine and liquor factory. In February 2016, the ‘ Upside Down House’ was built there, with rooms turned on their heads: a funky building that’s become the city’s most Instagrammed attraction.