Monday, October 7, 2013

Lovably weird

My Lonely Planet guidebook calls Taipei a 'surprisingly weird' city. Perhaps the straight-and-narrow part of its reputation owes itself to its focus on technology and the East Asian flavour of conformity, but here in Ximending I'm finding thinking inside the box the exception, not the rule.

It may be the colourful shop names, like Psycho Nerds or O'Girl, with a liberal use of the palette animating the ideographs even when they're not glowing at night, or the vast range of youth-oriented companies sprouting here, there and everything. Walking from my guesthouse to the nearest internet cafe takes only a minute, but in that time I have a lot of adventures: Whether it's giggling at the chemistry-friendly number of my room (CO2), the unself-consciously hip boutique Good Hands or the handmade candy store called Papabubble, there's always something fun to wrap my eyelashes around. All that, and there are eyelash extensions if I want them. (I don't, but occasionally you wonder what you would look like.)

To be fair, I do get tired of the constant noise of Ximending, and dodging motorcycles and taxis loses its appeal after the first five days, but its the sheer exuberance of the people and their funky gadgets that keeps me from spending too much time on the net or reading in my tiny room. Taipei has charisma.  

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