Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taiwan Travelogue: Overlooking Tao Yuan City

Tao Yuan City Overview
(click on Images to enlarge)

On the very edge of the city is a small mountain called Hu Tou Shan (Tiger Head Mountain). A while back Emily and I took my scooter up there to look at the city. We took a few photos to give you an idea of what the City we live in is like.

Tao Yuan City, is the county seat for Tao Yuan County. We are approximately 30 km southwest of Taipei City. The population of Taoyuan is approximately 300,000 people; roughly the same population as Riverside California. But it is a much smaller geographic area. Because of the small geographic area the city is built up instead of out. People live in apartment high-rises; one friend lives on the 17th floor of her apartment building. Other people live in homes called Toutians. (pronounced Tow teeans) These are homes that are up and down. For example, on the first floor of our home there is a garage and one bedroom and a bathroom. The second floor contains the living room, Japanese tea room, the dining area and the kitchen. The third floor has three bedrooms and the laundry room. The fourth floor is the patio and a bedroom. There are no yards; the house is right on the street. No curb, no gutter the house is built right to the street. The patio on the fourth floor gives people a place to go outside in the evenings when it is a little cooler.

Tao Yuan City is known for the number of parks it has. There is a city ordinance that says If you own a vacant lot. The lot must either be fenced completely or turned into a park. So parks are everywhere. Other people take that land and put up a temple. You go around a corner and there’s a little neighborhood temple, in fact there’s a little temple about a half block from our house. People go there and light incense to their ancestors or leave offerings of fruit for the neighborhood god.

This photo shows the downtown area. This is the main place for shopping and business. There are a lot of large grocery and department stores in Tao Yuan. The two biggest are Da Ren Fa (which is called RT Mart). Sometimes Feng Shui masters name the stores. Companies pay them to give them a name that will guarantee prosperity. There is another store called Carrefour. Carrefour is a French company and the stores are huge. The one nearest to us is five floors and has everything from appliances to food to clothing to electronics: And just about anything else you could think of. RT mart is the same way, but Carrefour caters more to foreigners, they have foods and merchandise from foreign markets. RT Mart has more Taiwanese style foods and merchandise. We prefer RT mart because it’s closer and usually less expensive.

There are also a number of Traditional markets in Taoyuan. These places are much like swap meets in Southern California and they have absolutely everything. They are noisy and crowded. Hawkers are calling out what they have for sale. People are everywhere. It gets so crowded that sometimes you can’t get a scooter through. They're outside and Brenda and I love to go there.

Finally there is the night market. These are very popular places in Taoyuan. We have to ride past one twice a week and the place is thronged with people, rain or shine. Mostly they sell Taiwanese snacks and food. But there are also bargains on clothes and other simple things.

Here are a few random photos from the overlook and the road there:

Left: The Twelve Dragons at the Shrine of The Martyr. Right: A large Apartment Complex. (It was a hazy day, not all that is smog.)

Left: A temple on the road leading up the mountain.  Right: Winter vegetation on Hu Tou Shan.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Taiwan Travelogue:   Old Ceramics Street
Taiwan Travelogue:  The Traditional Market

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