Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dawn to Dusk in Tainan

Tainan is probably the most photogenic of the cities on the west coast plain. Here are 90 or so photos I took the other day while strolling around the area near the train station.

As we near election season, candidate pictures are starting to fill up public spaces everywhere. Here a bus hosts election advertisements for the DPP candidate, with their mortally stupid slogan "Taiwan, Go! Go! Go!"

A morning market sets up.

A fruit vendor waits for the day's first customer.

Looking down a main road toward the train station in the early morning.

I'm still trying to get that perfect empty sidewalk shot.

Tainan hosts innumerable temples great and small.

Sex sells.

In addition to the temples, small shrines like this one may be found all over the downtown. I spotted three on my walk that day.

A side street.

Going out for breakfast.

Tainan's train station.

It's the year of cultural tourism, thus permitting the central government to hand out plenty of cash to local governments for spending on cultural activities.

The tallest building in Tainan, empty. That fate was also suffered by the tallest building in Taichung, until a couple of years ago.

A girl on an advert watches a taxi driver watching his cellphone.

The underpass connecting the front and back of the train station.

An apartment complex where military veterans' families live.

The real measure of civilization is the extent to which breakfast is available 24-7.

A vendor hard at work.

A vendor eyes a street, waiting for business.

Still trying for that perfect alley shot.

Still trying for that perfect alley shot.

A back street near NCKU filled with students seeking food and recreation.

Tainan is filled with alleys.

A strawberry vendor helps a customer.

A flower shop sets up a lovely corner for itself.

The ability of vendors in Taiwan to use public space helps keep costs down by giving them free display space that, even better, is right in the area of the traffic flow.

"Just do it", practically a local mantra now.

Dusk envelops a Tainan street.

A conclave of mannikins.

Taking a break from the brutal pressure of school life in Taiwan.

One of the things I love about Tainan is the red faux brick paving used in many of the alleys and side streets. Such a small thing, but it gives the town a great feel.

Girls at a high school line up to leave after school.

An elementary school wisely located right across from two large high schools, for maximum traffic smoothness.

The old east gate of Tainan city.

Global Village, a prominent local English teaching chain.

A family owned appliance store, an ubiquitous sight in Taiwan's cities.

Cookery God? They've obviously never tasted my homemade spaghetti sauce.

Two video stores compete on a local street. In many cases businesses selling identical products located next door to each other are actually owned by two members of the same family.

Taking the wedding photos, a tradition on the island....

.... in front of a local Christian Church.

A betel nut stand. Not every stand is run by slinky babes in minimal gear.

Still trying for that perfect alley shot.

Older storefronts.

He showed me who was cock of the walk.

A clean, well-kept work environment.

A blacksmith, forge in the background, uses a machine to shape a piece of iron.

Just down the street from the church is a lovely temple.

Dog and man study each other.

Still trying for that perfect alley shot.

Hong Kong democrats?

One of Taiwan's little-known traditions is the veneration of big trees in Taiwan folk culture. If you look around, you'll see many small shrines right next to large old trees.

The inside of an old temple.

A Christian hospital in Tainan.

The Tigerish Rag Doll restaurant.

Soon I shall have my name on absolutely everything......

It's hard to get people to pose, so I was gratified by cooperation from these two lovely young girls.

Buying electronic stuff.

As you approach the train station from the south, the density of vendors climbs alarmingly.

Chops on the market.

It is a well known fact of economics that there is no place so small it can't use another shoe store.

Still trying for that perfect alley shot.

North of the train station is a collection of Thai and Indonesian restaurants and services, aimed at the foreign worker population.

Dogs frolic behind the National Tax Administration buildings.

There's an old temple at the end of every alley.

Taking my order at 85C.

Just looking at these makes you fat.

Stores that sell to foreign laborers make a good living from phone cards.

An empty doctor's office.

Night in front of the train station.

Lining up for tea.



Anonymous said...

As usual, wonderful pictures Michael... when I went to Tainan, I think I had more fun in the six short hours I was there than any other city I've been to in Taiwan...

Jason said...

Awesome pictures, Michael. They really take me back.

And IMHO the betel nut sold by old ladies tends to be of a much higher quality than the ones sold by slinky babes. An unfortunate truth, but there it is.

Can't wait to see TVBS beathlessly report about the hairy camera-toting barbarian who hanging around school girls in Tainan. WHAT'S THE COUNTRY COMING TO?!?!?!?!!?!? :)

Anonymous said...

Still searching for that perfect alley shot...

Anonymous said...

cool pics Michael, I'm flying to Taiwan next month. Gotta pay Tainan a visit.

Anonymous said...

"Soon I shall have my name on absolutely everything......"

I'm really hoping that your Chinese name is 'little hot pot'.

Roderick Taylor said...

Great photos. Why did I leave Tainan?

Your second "still searching for that perfect alley shot" is almost there. Back in 2002, at almost that exact spot a friend took my camera and photographed that same alley. You just haven't put the "tall empty building" in the background.

Anonymous said...

Tainan is extremely beautiful, and actually Tainan county is even more so.

Thanks for those pictures Michael. Do those shots of buses mean that public transportation is back in Tainan City?

MJ said...

wow..everything looks so familiar to me, because that's my hometown:)

Anonymous said...

Great pictures...I lived there for one year, so many memories came up my mind.
Tainan is just the greatest city in Taiwan, I miss it a lot...

Anonymous said...

Amazing pictures... Michael, your blog has become my daily connection with Taiwan. Haven't gone back there in 15 years since i was three, and i barely remember the place. But your pictures help bring me that much closer.

Luckily my parents are taking me there in a month, so i'll be able to see it all with my own eyes. Thank you for your pictures. Hope i can take good pictures like that to add to my site =D

Michael Turton said...

I don't know if the buses are back. I am usually down by the train station, so it seems like there are a lot of them, but of course they would all congregate there.

Thanks for all the wonderful comments.


Anonymous said...

I was just in Tainan yesterday. There are a few points I'd like to add to your amazing photos:

1. The people of Tainan are so much more easy going and friendlier than people in Taipei. It's really the first thing you notice and is striking how in a small country, there is such a huge difference in respect for other people.

2. Although you point out the tallest building is empty, there many other new buildings going up. Most are not the bathroom tile monstrosities like Taipei, they are stylish, modern and quite beautiful. Tainan designers seem to have a much better sense of style than their Taipei counterparts. Many of the new buildings are modern Japanese minimalistic style that really looks fantastic. Tainan is really a hidden treasure. In addition, there are many streets with art markets or streets/places with small artistic details that give the place character.

3. The manufacturing base is hollowing out some what. In one industrial zone 80% packed up and moved to China. Other businesses are developing though because Tainan has a lot of old/hard earned wealth. Most of the people that I know there look like regular, unassuming people, but are really multi-millionaires - still they are just the friendliest group of normal, decent Taiwanese you could meet. These are the type of people that make you care about the future of Taiwan and not give up supporting them, even though the government institutions here do everything they can to screw foreigners.

I noticed many of the same things that you photographed I was driving around. The huge trees with shrines, all the watermelons held in boxes with tape (so funny to see this on your blog again)

I also went down at the Tsingtao brewery and will post some pics on my blog later today. A good story will follow.

225712012 said...

wow you really got around tainan eh? let me know when you next come down and i will suggest some 'perfect alley shots'. tainan has the best alleys (and the oldest) on the island, no doubt.
i see you didnt make it to my 'manor'. next time, make sure you check fujhong lu (just opposite confucous temple), it is very photogenic.