Wild Taiwan

A lady of leisure writes about wildlife in Taiwan.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Urban adventures

Didn't go anywhere WILD so I'll write about the 'wild' urban Taipei.

We went cycling yesterday by the keelung river. To cycle, we need to go downstairs, open three doors, bring the bikes down, one at a time, go back up and lock doors. We had enough exercise just climbing stairs ;-(

Not bad, to get there, we have to cycle from home, go via all the back lanes and cross major roads. We have to watch out for scooters and cars coming from all directions eventhough it's a one-way street. Since no one obeys traffic laws, hardly anyone horns at anyone. Quite challenging, since you know my cycling is only passable. Anyway, it was not crowded so it was quite enjoyable. Not much of a view since on either side of river are buildings. Apparently from the wharf, one can take the ferry to the Tamshui coast. The ferry company was having promotion, if a pair of lovebirds kissed in front of the ticket seller, they get a lovebird discount and a drink. Silly right? I saw numerous sparrows, two magpies, what looks like a stork but it was too far away. Some Kandelia candel was growing by the banks of the river.

By the way, their traffic light system is quite strange. Every junction has different timing, some 120s, 95s, 60s, some 20s. You see a green man slowly walking at first and then he starts to jog and then run , all on the green light like Singapore, except for the graphics.

No matter whether it's one way or two ways, one must always look out for traffic coming in both directions. No one is safe even on pedestrian walkway. So the motorcyclists park their vehicles there and they will drive on the pedestrian walkway. Some days when I walk out of the door and a scooter come zipping by, I do get a sense of panic. One time, I wasn't paying attention, while I was walking on the pedestrian walkway, suddenly a Mercedes drove right in front of me and parked. It was legal because he was in front of Royal hotel driveway. The driveway is exactly the same as the pedestrian walkway!

Parking is a huge problem in Taipei. There are simply not enough lots for cars and scooters.
Some owners advertise their parking facility beneath their buildings. So when you see this flashing red light, it means a car is coming out from the underground carpark. Some garages have double parking. The first car goes on a platform and then it sinks to a lower storey. Then the next car go on another platform and it goes on top of the first car. If the first car wants to come out, the second car's platform will elevate sufficiently for the first car to come out. Good use of space, I must say! Let's hope the levers and pistons work properly each time, or we'll see sandwiched cars.