Day 1, Ancient and Modern Taipei

As Mr. Chou, alumnus of MIT Sloan put it: Tea and cloth merchants already engaged in international trade in Tataocheng hundred years ago. This district used to be the Wall Street of Taipei ~ the primary business center, its fortune went into decline as Danshui River silted up. Nevertheless, Mr. Chou and others were so inspired by its profound culture and heritage they decided to revive this area. They used venture capital as an incubator to develop numerous creative industries which in turn brought about cultural agitation to this place. Today, Tataocheng has become a cultural landmark for Taipei, and without a doubt, the most popular gathering place for Taiwan's hipsters. It is also a hot spot for foreigners who wish to experience the glory of old Taipei.

A mixed smell of dried goods, red date, dried scallops and mullet roe greeted us as we walked down Dihua Street. Not far away is a traditional fabric store that neatly displays the most fashionable cloth of the 60s. At the corner, an old gentleman wearing a hat sitting alone in an old style cafe. Next to it is Mr. Chou's art store , inside a wide variety of plain yet elegant chinaware and tea pots made us linger long. Having been to many cities, the feeling of spaciousness and its perfect blend of ancient and modern cultures here attracted us the most. We bought a picture of old Dihua Street, and we would have loved to order a well-fitted cheongsam at the nearby Yongle Market, had we had enough time.

It is said that God of Taipei Xia Hai Cheng Huang temple protects Taipeiness, interestingly, women also worship his wife; they pray that she will stop their husbands from indulging in sensual pleasures or running away with mistresses. The most liked deity in the temple is the God of Love, our tour guide said many young women come here to ask the God to bring true love and marriage into their lives. And ironically, many young men are in the place too, supposedly looking for their true love as well.

Puppet show was the most common amusement for our parents and grandparents in their childhood. Their themes were usually about fights between hero and devil , much like those of modern Dojinshi animated film . We visited Taiyuan puppet museum where has the most complete collection of puppets in Asia, its ambiance seemed to bring us back to the past. There are plenty of interactive games too, fellow students had wonderful time improvising a play.

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