Last Wednesday, Ruby and I went to the Red House in Ximen Ding(at the next stop from Taipei on the blue line), home of the first and largest art market in Taipei, open every Saturday and Sunday as well as holidays. A website wanted to interview her about her handmade clothing brand, M+T Design (check out her Facebook page here) and we took the opportunity to have a snack and walk around the Ximen xī mén 西門(literally "West gate") area.
(With my parents the last time they came to visit me in Taiwan)
(This restaurant is really famous for their dà cháng miàn xiàn大腸麵線)
I really like this part of Taipei, and with all the bright lights and trendy fashion outlets, the street performers(I've seen tons of musicians, break dancers and even fire eaters here) and tons of nice restaurants, department stores and movie theaters, I always describe it to my friends and family as the Times Square of Taipei. Located in the Wenhua District, the area is filled with historic sites and lots of beautiful temples, notably Long Shan Temple lóng shān sì 龍山寺. It's well worth a visit, and I'll be blogging about lots of these places in the future.
After we finished up in Ximen, we headed back to the MRT and rode the next train to Fuzhong Station in Banqiao city. We took exit 3 and followed the signs to the Lin Family Mansion and Gardens lín jiā huā yuán 林家花園, which was only about a ten minute walk from the MRT station.
This place is huge and really beautiful. There is a plaque out front with some historical information about the Lin family and the building of their home, which cost more than the construction of early Taipei City! Make sure you have a few hours of free time on your hands when you go, as there is a lot to see and explore here.
(Just follow the signs)
(The gate to the family residence, the doors are painted red, as red is a lucky color that is associated with prosperity and wealth in Chinese culture, and the handles are made to depict the bā guà 八卦, an ancient Chinese divination tool)
(The path to the garden and a shot of the Lin family's sān hé yuàn 三合院, traditional three-house courtyard)
(Just a few of the pictures I took around the estates…this place is massive and I took hundreds of photos, so it was really hard to choose!)
(This is a really old tree. If you look closely, you can see that it grew-up around another tree)
(This is a jìng zì tíng 敬字亭, a kind of monument to words, and they often have special meanings written on them along with poetry)
(They also have a pretty cool gift shop, it's free admittance so they have to bring in some money somehow, right? So what are you waiting for? See you there!)
On the way back, you can check out a local traditional market, and there is also a rather larger temple dedicated to mā zŭ 媽祖, the goddess of the ocean, right across from the MRT station which is worth a visit.
(The local traditional market)
(At the temple dedicated to 媽祖)
To end the day, we did something decidedly un-Chinese…we had McDonald's! But it was good!
How To Get There:
Ximen Ding-Take the MRT to the next stop from Taipei on the blue line, called Ximen 西門.
Lin Family Mansion and Gardens- Take the MRT from Ximen to Fuzhong 府中, take exit three and follow the signs. The temple and traditional market are across from the MRT, nearby the McDonald's.
Chinese phrases of the day:
西門= literally "west-gate" a trendy shopping area in Taipei
大腸麵線= pig-intestine noodles
龍山寺= Longshan Temple, the name literally translates as "Dragon Mountain Temple"
林家花園= Lin Family Garden
八卦= an ancient Chinese divination tool
三合院= traditional three-house courtyard
敬字亭= a monument to the respect of words
媽祖= Goddess of the ocean