Taipei Streets

25 Jul
Some time ago I described driving and biking in Taipei. If you missed that post or tend to liberate unnecessary information from your mind, just picture a video game, say Grand Theft Auto, multiply the obstacle amount by four and add an anxiety level appropriate for endangering your actual life. Today, for example, a blue truck (not a simple pick-up truck) pulled out onto Tong Hua street without looking, causing me to swerve into opposing traffic in order to sustain my current bone configuration. This was .4 seconds after I had carefully calculated a deviation to narrowly miss a lady toting a bag of vegetables yet not interfere with the scooter on my left nor the pedestrian attempting to cross the road by dodging oncoming traffic two steps at a time. To the man in the blue truck, I shouted, “Watch out!” which probably was a lot like what, “少心!” sounds like to me. But my scowl was an unmistakable sign of road rage and malice.
I showed you photos of people sitting on scooters, opening scooters, driving scooters in precarious locations such as sidewalks. That was nothing. It’s time you see the way children, dogs, and old people roll. Parents don’t pull children in little red wagons, dogs don’t ride in pet carriers in the backseat of a Ford, and old people don’t sit in nursing homes, waiting for… well, you know what they’re waiting for. Instead, they all cram onto a scooter OR walk in the middle of the street. Keep in mind that the following  photos show fairly empty streets because this is when it’s most reasonable for me to pull out my camera: at a stoplight, in the market, near my house where traffic is light. What I really need is a photo of me harassing photographing the public on their way home from work. Then my collection will be complete.

This kid gets a 10 for posture.

Here is a step by step procedure for getting a little kid to take a ride with you. First, you find one in the market and offer an alluring toy, preferably something dinosaur or Transformers related. For female riders, anything pink will do, and if it’s reflective enough to see your own grimace, then it’s perfect. Think cubic zirconia.

Act nonchalant as he climbs aboard, and definitely don’t help him.

Before you drive off, look forward because the market is pedestrian land. (Note: This photo is a non-example)

Seeing a child on a bike with mom, dad, or grandpa is very common. So common, that I’m not even sure if it’s interesting at all. But I remember thinking so when I first arrived here. Especially with the bustle of a big city around them. I remember as a little girl having to practice sitting still in the dining room on Sundays when I wiggled around too much at church that morning. The pews were stationary.

The above photo shows how the scooters (and bicyclists) often wait at stop lights, in between the cars. The car on the right is probably surrounded by scooters. So when the light turns green, it will wait for the path to clear. At rush hour, the traffic guard will often signal for scooters and bikers to begin crossing about 8 seconds before the light turns green to help everyone stay sane and safe.

No helmet. She gets on and they drive off. I have a photo of that part too, but you can’t see the little girl as clearly in that one. I’m sure they’re just going around the corner… although that involves passing twenty grandmas, 30 scooters, ten cars, two buses, and eighty nine 711s.

Yea helmets!

They can fit much more than this.

This scooter has a little trailer bed hooked up behind it. I guess I should explain how the trash service works here for this to make more sense… coming soon… ish (but in the mean time, this is not the official city trash service, the official truck has a more powerful engine and plays classical piano music like Beethoven’s Für Elise)

This game is called “Where’s the White Poodle?” You win!

This game is called… You win!

Traffic has built up at the Liuzhangli Circle intersection, but it’s mostly scooters. I took this at around 5:30 pm from my seat on the bus (clean windows).

This is a little misplaced, but I really wanted you to know that in December some of the bus drivers dressed up as Santa Clause and had a little bag of candy.

After you’re done noticing her unpleasant expression, look at the patterned cloth pieces attached to her handle bars. These are used even in 90 degree weather. The purpose is to keep the sun off her hands. The reason I like this photo is because it shows the fabric type used by many. Where are these purchased? Reminds me of visiting my grandma’s house. Maybe my grandma has an internet business.

This guy makes foldy bikes look cool. Folding bikes are really popular here. I suppose the cheaper price and the fact that you can take them on buses and the MRT are the appeals. Can’t be how cool you look riding it or how fast you get to your destination.

Take note of the lady riding her bike with an umbrella (due to sunlight, not rain). I just noticed the cut-out man in the window of the second floor shop.

This is a common site- older person on a bicycle like this one. The seat is usually set really low as well.

This is at the top of Maokong mountain. I think I remember him having a flat tire.

Pick-up trucks are a rare sight.

And we’ll close up here with a more average looking photo.

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4 Responses to “Taipei Streets”

  1. Linda July 25, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    How ready are you to come home? Say.. scale of 1-10?

    • Emily Clark July 25, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      10 being the most ready, in a desirous sense, not an actual suitcase packed and bills paid way, I’m a 6. With each passing day, I’m less ready, whereas I thought I’d be more ready. I suppose I’m just scared, and I’m getting really sentimental about all that I’ll be leaving behind. Mostly the people…so generous with their time and smiles. I hope some of them has rubbed off on me.

      • Emily Clark July 25, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

        How ready are you for Carrie to be home? same scale.

  2. Jeanne July 30, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    I am a “10” for ready to have you home!!! Especially since you have survived the crazy traffic so far. I promise I will be generous with my time and smiles and hugs, too!

    BTW, everyone was so happy to get your little presents in the mail. Fun! So nice of you to do that.

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