It was a wet and foggy morning. So we decided to go pluck some strawberries. We got the first batch of strawberries of the season at 晶晶草莓园. They are small but very sweet and tasty.
Taipei train station is a busy transportation hub. The HSR(高铁, TRA(台铁, MRT(捷运 and long distance coaches converge into this station. For many folks coming to Taipei from other parts of the country to find work, this will be their first stop. During the Chinese New Year holidays, the station will be filled with folks going home to reunite with their families. The station is complemented by subterranean retail shops and eateries which stretch to the next MRT station in all directions. It is a labyrinth and you can spend days exploring the ecosystem.
The Xinyi district is a bustling cluster of shopping malls, departmental stores and cinemas. This is it if Cartier, Dior, Jo Malone, etc are your thing. We were there on a rainy day and it was the perfect excuse for the missus to spend some "quality indoor time". The district is accessible from the Taipei City Hall MRT station. Taipei 101 is about 10 mins walk from Xinyi district. That is accessible from the Taipei 101/World Trade Center MRT station.
Being a Starbucks addict, the missus insisted on a visit to the highest outlet in the world. Starbucks at Taipei 101 is located on the 35th floor. It's not a large outlet, it holds about 30 to 40 person max at any time. Only few seats along the windows are available so be prepared to rush for them the moment you exit the lift (tip: if you rush into the lift on the ground floor first, you will be the last to exit the lift when you reach Starbucks).
Things to take note of if you plan on a visit.
Reservation is required(at least 1 day in advance).
Dress code is smart casual. No shorts for guys. No flip flops.
You have to wait at the ground floor lobby for someone to bring you up. They are on time so don't be late for your slot.
Each person must order at least a set of drink and food.
You can stay for 90 mins max.
It's still a Starbucks so I suspect most folks will not return fr a second time.
I was reviewing work done for 2015 and decided that this is my favourite of the lot.
Blocks 74 to 80, Commonwealth Drive were built in the mid 60s, an era of nation building and restructuring of the urban composition. Dismissed as slums at a point in time, these 10-storey flats are results of an audacious high-rise, high-density planning strategy. Soon, they will meet the wrecking hammer, again in the name of urban rejuvenation. Residents were relocated to brand new 40-storey flats across the street.
The façades are articulated with modular structural grid. Visually, this grid amplifies "pigeon holes", a term(with a hint of sarcasm) synonymous with public housing in Singapore. The grid also mirrors a rigid and uniform ecosystem. The layout of every flat is potato-stamped. Affordable housing was in dire shortage at that time and this is an efficient way to house the nation in double quick time.
A man perfecting his golf swing(have fun spotting the bucket of golf balls and his club) and the footsteps of passers-by making their way to and fro the nearby Biopolis break the silence in this lifeless precinct. Despite being deserted, the lights at the void decks are switched on without fail every evening. Without the distraction of residents, cars, noises and other lights, these transient spaces take centre stage. Now they draw attention.
Striking a stark contrast, the regimented and clinical order of the grid is broken up into seemingly spontaneous and disorganised fragments at the void deck level. This is of course, an optical illusion but it is a fitting metaphor for void decks - spaces free of definite programmes and usage. Camouflaged in shadow during the day, these fragments are better appreciated in the evenings.