Saturday, November 04, 2006

Taipei Geography Lesson

August 7, 2006

On a footbridge crossing Zhongxiao West Road (忠孝西路) in the Taipei Main Station area. The tallest building on the right is the Cosmos Hotel, which is where I was going to meet my uncle for dinner. Taipei Main Station is off to the right behind where the buildings end. This is looking west close to sunset. Zhongxiao Road is a pretty important road. All major north-south roads north of Zhongxiao are designated "north", and south of Zhongxiao are "south".

Now, if we turn around...

...we look east. The road crossing Zhongxiao Road right there, going left-right in this frame is Zhongshan Road (中山路) (don't get me started about how hard these names are to remember because the words and sounds are so similar). So the left hand side is Zhongshan North Road (中山北路), and on the right is Zhongshan South Road (中山南路). Now, Zhongshan Road divides major east-west roads, and designates them "East" or "West". So while I'm standing above Zhongxiao West Road (忠孝西路), on the other side of that road is Zhongxiao East Road (忠孝東路).

You'd think that this important intersection would be somewhere central, dividing Taipei into somewhat even quarters, but that's not the case. It's skewed to the northwest, so that the majority of major roads in Taipei proper are designated "East" or "South". So for example, while Nanjing East Road is quite long, you can't go far on Nanjing West Road without falling into the proverbial (and literal) river.

The logical reason for this is that the intersection was designated early on as the crossroads, and then Taipei naturally grew to the east and south. I'm still awaiting some sort of confirmation of this, because it's difficult to assume logic in this city. This design can easily just be out of bonehead administration for some unintuitive political reason.

iTunes soundtrack:
1. The Air (Modest Mouse)
2. Talby (Pinback)
3. Another Day (live) (Sting)
4. It's Too Late (Carole King)
5. Twenty Four Hours (Joy Division)
6. Start (Peter Gabriel)
7. Love Child (The Supremes)
8. Man With An Open Heart (King Crimson)
9. Li Hai (Wu Bai & China Blue)
10. Donna ("Hair")

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