Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WANHUA: 01 - Window Shopping at Ximending



Ximending was not really on the itinerary. Neither was Taipei, but from what I have realized, and you have to excuse me for resorting to using this abused phrase: "You can take the boy out of the city, but you cannot take the city out of the boy". Hualien was a city alright, but I just needed to see some skyscrapers to relieve me of my homesickness. And so instead of going to Taitung and risk doing nothing because of the not so pleasant weather threatening my island hopping plans, I just bought a train ticket back to Taipei.


The fast train was no longer available, which meant taking the slower one that came NT$100 cheaper. I arrived at Taipei late in the afternoon, with a few more hours of sun. I hopped on the metro to Ximen, which is just one station away from Taipei Main, and got lost. I thought the shopping area would be hard to locate because whoever devised the maps at Ximen station seemed to have overlooked them. When I got out, however, I found out that it was no longer necessary. To my right was a flamboyantly decorated area bustling with people and full of stores selling everything from clothes to food. I did not find Ximending. Ximending found me.


I really do not know what 'Ximending' means as a whole. 'Xi' means "west" while 'Men' means "door" and as such, 'Ximen' would roughly translate to "west gateway" or something to that effect. 'Ding' must have something to do with shopping because this is what this are is all about and most famous for.


What amused me most was the variety, popular clothing brands such as Uniqlo and Giordano next to ones you have never heard of before. It is the same case with the food stalls, with the likes of KFC and McDonalds sharing the limelight with local food stalls, such as that shaved ice stall where I had my share of their mango shaved ice, which was probably the only one to be able to tickle my taste buds that way while here in Taiwan. That came towards the end of my sightseeing tour though, thanks to the rain and the necessity to seek some shelter.


Before that, I was just taking a leisurely stroll around the area, window shopping and taking photos. Ah yes, taking photos. Just point your camera somewhere and shoot. You are bound to capture something interesting without trying too hard. Back to shopping, a part of me was wishing that I were a hardcore shopping addict in order to maximize my enjoyment of the place, but I concluded that it did not have to be the case, as I did have fun back in the loving arms of capitalism. I could not believe I just said that, but who am I kidding. We are all under its influence. There is no use denying it, especially at Ximending.


The good thing is that I now know where to go just in case I decide to have a makeover, but definitely not today. My wandering about brought me to the eight floor of the building right next to the exit of the MRT. The while floor is occupied by an ice skating rink, neither too big nor too small. I think I spent half an hour there, just watching. Getting in was not an option because we all know how tiny the toe picks of those rental boots are, and I was not trained on hockey skates. I suddenly missed my Riedell's. I decided to end the day early if I wanted to get to Taichung early the next day. I am just glad that my half day break from nature was not in vain. I think I love Taipei.

WANHUA: 01 - Window Shopping at Ximending

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