Travel with me #118 : Ximending (西門町), Taipei!

in #travel5 years ago (edited)

Dear Steemit Friends:

I am back to writing and I have missed you all! I have been doing some exciting things for the last month, which I am excited to share with you in the future, but for now it's top secret! You may try to guess what I've been doing but I will be revealing nothing until the right time. I like to build your anticipations!

In today's blog I present to you a local view of Ximending which is an area of the Wanhua District in Taipei in Taiwan! Ximending is an important area in Taiwan's capital because it serves as a central source for fashion, culture and social activities. Most of the little area in the middle of the city is pedestrian, the first pedestrian only zone in the entire country. This makes it an amazing place to spend many hours, strolling around at your own pace with all of the other fashion lovers.

Ximending neighbourhood has a heavy influence on the youth and pop culture of the capital. It blends Taiwan's fashion in with other cultures from Japan and also the west. It has thousands of shops, stalls and food outlets, making it a great place to spend the entire day just soaking up the atmosphere of modern Taipei. It also boasts twenty theatres which are very popular, making it not just a centre of pop culture, but creative culture too.

We will explore all this charming shopping district has to offer from theatres to markets to shopping to art and of course, to food. Are you ready to start exploring with me? Let's go!

Ximending Red House Theater, a Japanese relic

So famous for its theatres, the most iconic is the Red House Theater which was built in 1908 to serve as a market place during the rule of the Japanese. In 1945 its use changed to become a theater and it soon became one of the most popular, and visually impressive. It is classed as an important historical site and for many, it's the heart of Ximending, representing all things artistic and cultural and providing a beautiful focal point to the large central square.

Surrounding the Theater you find a stark contrast between its age and the modern age. As soon as you turn around from the old red bricks you are met by concrete, high rise buildings and advertising. I love the mix of old and new. Red House Theater or Ximen Red House as it is sometimes known, was the heart of bustling commercialism in the area during the Japanese rule and then the heart of culture being used as an opera house and movie theatre. It's a great metaphor for Ximending which itself has seen ups and downs, re-purposing and rejuvenating.

Once the centre for theatre goers and shoppers, the area lost much of its popularity in the 90s. In a clever move, the city pedestrianised the area, causing millions to flock back to the area and enjoy the more relaxed shopping atmosphere. Taking advantage of the pedestrianisation and increased popularity, market stalls and food vendors scatter every available space in Ximending meaning you can find anything you could ever want to buy and eat.


Street art and pop culture from the youth of Taipei!

Many of the open concrete surfaces of the modern buildings have been heavily painted, some legally, some not. But all of the art found in Ximending has its own form of beauty. It represents the hopes, dreams, frustrations, interested and lives of the young people that live here.

On many buildings, nearly every surface possible is covered in paint.

I loved how the artist here had covered the pillars of the building with natural motifs like the tree trunks. In a place where there is very little greenery, they bring their own.

Almost Renaissance style figures mixed with modern motifs

Modern style graffiti contrasts and mixes with each other

The streets and shops of Ximending

Apparently there are more than three million visitors to the shopping district every single month. Retail certainly sits at the forefront of the appeal for most of these visitors who come for the hundreds of different designer shops and fashion outlets.

The focus is very much on the young with shops vying for who has the best and most attractive shop front. They range from grungy to modern to futuristic, but what they all have in common is that they are all stylish! The crazy neon shapes of Debrand caught my eye and of course I ended up buying something too.

This storefront had a look like the game 'Fallout'

Now that's some crazy advertising on the back of a bus! The strangest I've ever seen. Certainly made me stop and look at it when I thought a girl was climbing onto the bus!

One of the central pedestrianised shopping streets full of shops

Art is everywhere here in Ximending. Not only is the fashion a change for people to express their culture and their creativity, so too are the walls. This spray painting of Michael Jordan reminded my very much of the famous graffiti artist Banksy... does he also work in Taiwan?

Life in Ximending starts early!

If you've read my blog long enough you'll know that I love a good night market. I don't know if you've ever been to an area that has night markets, but usually in the day they are quite quiet and a little eerie without the hustle and bustle of the expected market stalls. Ximending is amazing at night, but it is almost as busy in the day! I was up early and ready to explore and I was amazed at how many shoppers there were here already. Perhaps it's just a 24 hour shopping festival!

There were loads of market stalls set up everywhere and I realised that many people were also visiting the area for breakfast, not just for dinner at the night market! I'll call it the Taipei Breakfast Market.

Some of the many adverts for shows, shops, movies - colour everywhere!

Life in Ximending stays up late...

What shopping district would be complete without a night market? Ximending is known as the Harajuku of Taipei, and that becomes even more apparent at night. For those who don't know what Harajuku is, it is a district in Tokyo in Japan. It is synonymous with youth culture in Japan and is one of their centres of new and cutting edge fashion. Widely known as one of the centres of the Eastern and Western fashion worlds! Ximending is doing a great job at becoming a rival!

There are reportedly thousands upon thousands of shops and stalls in the district and looking at these photos again, it's not difficult to believe. Follow me now as we walk through these thousands of stalls. Most of them are fashion or food related but, as you can imagine, you can find a bit of everything here.

Though night markets are always overwhelming, they are also often extremely cramped, making it hard to see the size of them. You are more focused on squeezing past the person in front of you. But Ximending is such a large district and is so well managed, that you can see down most streets to see the sheer number of shops and stalls available. That's what made it so overwhelming!

Together now, we'll explore this market and I want you to take time over each image to see the colours, the items for sale and to soak up the atmosphere with me. They are talking better than I ever could!

At night, it's nearly as bright as in the day time with so many lights!

Of course, what post of mine would be complete without animals! Look at these spoilt little guys. They have their own chauffeur to take them around Ximending to shop for their favourite things. I bet they picked out some new collars for themselves, some tasty doggy treats for dinner and perhaps were on the look out for a new bed to sleep on too!

Even cats were getting in on the action in Ximending!

Ximending isn't just a night market

Ximending doesn't just have market stalls. All of the shops stay open late too, making it a fashion shoppers paradise. You all know me, I love my clothes and my fashion and I was in absolute heaven here.

A very popular game in Taiwan and in much of Asia is the toy grabber machines. Found in every single arcade all over the world, they are a glass cabinet filled with items, usually toys. The game is, you need to use the claw located in the top of the cabinet to grab and then drop the toy into the slot where you can retrieve it! I have seen perhaps one of these in arcades in other countries, but in Asia, and particularly Taiwan, they are much loved. So as you can see here, there is a 24 hour toy grabber machine arcade with dozens of game cabinets! You could play 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you wanted... and of course in the best colour ever too.

Not just theatres, cinemas too!

Locally, this street is known as Cinema Street and it's pretty obvious why. There were dozens of cinemas, all showing the best of Eastern and Western cinema, Anime and more obscure films too!

As you can see, the street comes alive at night when all of the bright lights of the big screens light up the street and tempt you in to watch their movies.

This IMAX cinema is absolutely huge. Which movie would you want to watch on IMAX?

One of the cinemas showing off giant replicas of your favourite movie characters!

Singing the night away with some Karaoke!

As many of you know who have followed my blog for the last couple of years, I love to sing and dance and express myself! Of course, that's one of the joys of blogging on Steemit in the first place, to express yourself and all your loves and passions. While exploring, near the end of the night, I saw a beautiful KTV place! I just had to go and have a go because I LOVE karaoke.

Karaoke bars are usually called KTVs in Taiwan which means 'Karaoke Television' and they are extremely popular, as they are through much of Asia. There's many different ways to take part in Karaoke, from clubs where you can take a turn on stage, to a set up in the corner of a bar, to the private booth set up.

Sorry, if you've never heard of Karaoke, let me explain. Karaoke was first developed in Japan and helps normal people like you and I, have fun, sing along to your favourite song, and feel a bit like a pop star. They play recorded music, without the usual singing, and then you sing along to the words which are printed for you to sing a long to on a TV screen. The karaoke market world wide is said to be worth $10 billion! As you can tell, it's very popular.

The first Karaoke machine was build in 1971 by Daisuke Inoue, which played music and allowed people to sing a long to the words through a microphone. Originally, the machines were in restaurants and bars, off to one side, for people to use. Over time, the more private style of entertainment started to take off where you could have a private area with your group of friends to have a good time and sing together - these are my favourite because I still get nervous if I had to sign to a room full of strangers!

Look at these chandeliers!

What I love about Karaoke is that it is very fun and very liberating. Your first time you are very nervous to sing in front of people, even just your friends, but you are all doing it together and that makes it great fun. You can express yourself and just have a great time, usually socialising around some food and drinks, and cheering each other's performances.

Thank you for joining me on my day shopping and touring around Ximending shopping district. It's really nice sometimes to be able to just take a step back from the hectic daily life and just enjoy a day walking around town, with no real goal other than to enjoy ones self and just 'be' in that place.

I hope you could see and enjoy the area and the atmosphere. Of all of the activities of the day, I saved the best until last. As you can tell I love KTV Karaoke and I just wanted to share that love for it with you all. I hope you enjoyed learning about it if you haven't heard of it before and if you have, but haven't tried it, you must go and experience it - don't be nervous or shy and just take some good friends.

If you've enjoyed the blog then please vote and follow and I would love to catch up with all of my new and also long time followers in the comments below. Thank you and have a great day!





















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What a great post. Beautiful photos. I loved the Street Art and your animated gif showing all the sides of that building is a lovely addition.

I have only seen Taipei in old Taiwanese movies from the 80s. What a difference!!! 😃

Thanks for sharing.

hi trincowski, nice to see you here ! I was realllly impressed with the street art, and more so by the fact they are a welcome part of the neighbourhood. Normally these things would be covered up quickly back home in China, but evidently not so in Taiwan. There was a period of history where Taiwan had a lot more attention, particularly in the booming 70's and 80's where the entertainment industry featured Taiwan and Hong Kong quite a lot. To my surprise, Taiwan seems like it hasn't changed much from then (not that I was around).

There is a culture and an artistry that captivates the visitor. From the graffiti and stonework to the pulse of the people, there is a fusion of images and energy that comprise the tapestry of this city. Thanks for sharing this artistic pulse with us.

Absolutely, certainly for retained culture and sense of identity, Taiwan really is a precious gem. A lot of it comes from it's short history and influence from the Japanese and KMT, but the rapid development in the 70's and 80's and subsequent levelling off has really helped Taiwan stay grounded.

All the love and appreciation for you and all members of this special community
I hope you follow me and support my attractive publications. @lfgiaa
All love, appreciation and respect for you

Very classy. Props to your photographer as well!

thanks kevbot! We've had a lot of opportunity to practice!



that also my caught my eye! i will be scared if i saw that..whew!

你實在是太厲害了.... 連我看得都想去了.... XD..... Steem應該聘請你當行銷主管的.... 讚!


哎,我可是認真的… 😁😁

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Greetings, Miss Sweetiejess

You're beatiful as always. I really liked the video. The look shown on it is very different from the country where I live. This makes me happy to be able to meet new places by viewing your post here on steemit.

The photo I liked the most, besides the video, was the one with the hehehe puppy.

Thank you and I wish you a good day !!!

hi julisavio, I must commend you on being one of the best engagers on my posts, i'm always impressed with how quickly you get through them and leave a comment, I really appreciate that! I think Asian locations can be quite interesting for the crowd here on Steemit because most people are in the west. However, no matter where I am, I hope to give my own perspective on things and give you guys some useful information in the process!

Thank you. No wonder I do that. I think you are very cute and your posts are kind. I always wait for them.

Thank you very much!!!


Hellooo Sandia,

Iam so happy to see you again writing and sharing on Steemit, it's like ages since i saw your new post and as expected that if you pist anything new then most probably i have to save atleast 15-30 min. To read everything that you shared,

It's like more then a year since i know you and read your blogs but still each new post feels as fresh and new as i read your first blog post on Steemit.😇

It's also good to know that you are working on something very special and secret 😉 and trust me can't wait to know about that.

Well this post full of beautiful night markets, cinemas etc and especially you and your mom's chemistry in the video.

Btw i like your "Steemit Is My Boyfriend" t-shirt,😅😅 good one really.

Keep posting dear bcz i really love to see your posts more frequently.😇

hi shiva, so lovely to see you still around and commenting! Also, i'm still impressed you aim to get through the entire post thoroughly, some how they seem to be getting longer and longer! Me and my mom are the best partners in travel, I really have taken after her I think!

It's good to read your post bcz of rich and good variety of Content with a good mix of knowledge and Photography.

Wow 1200 votes. Crazy.

WOW, such a colorful and vibrant place, I want to go there! Have you ever been to the Philippines? I'm going there in January.

hey mark! I haven't had the opportunity to visit Philippines yet, but I've put it very high up on my bucket list, I will be looking at your blogs for ideas what to do!

I haven't been to Taiwan before. I'd like to go one day.

Definitely worth the trip i'd say!

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