Tag Archives: ximending

Scooter moment: Ximending & TiT

2 Aug

Corner of "Movie Street" in Ximending

Okay, so I live in Ximending, and find myself at this intersection just about every day, but I still like the bright lights and variety of people, as long as those people aren’t getting in my way. The darkness you see on the left is the looming structure of  TiT (yeah, try Googling that!), which has been under construction for a couple of years now, and will consist of expensive apartments that run about 60-110 ping, last I heard. TiT, which is short for “Town in Town,” is being built by Aman Corporation, which seemingly should have at least one English-speaker on staff who might have advised against making the TiT acronym so prominent on all of the advertising. At one point two summers ago, they even had large metal lettering on the sidewalk in front of the site, proclaiming “AMAN TiT” to all who passed by. Yup, “a man tit” has come to my crowded little space in Taipei.

I have to wonder what this tower is going to do to the neighborhood when it finally opens, and if the developers have succeeded in filling it yet. Check out this advertisement, which shows the tower design for about 2 seconds in the midst of making Ximending look quiet and romantic:

If they succeed with this development, it will signal a huge victory in changing people’s opinions of the neighborhood. Pretty much every single Taiwanese friend I have thinks I’m crazy for wanting to live in Ximending, with the exception of a handful of bohemians who live and work nearby. The thing is, the people who actually like Ximending enough to perhaps want to live here (teenagers, artists, tourists) are not the people who will be able to afford to live in TiT. I would imagine that the people who do have enough money to live there are not the sort of people who want to deal with the crowds, traffic, and general mayhem of Ximending on a typical weekend. So if people are actually buying up these apartments, does that mean a new kind of 西門町人 is on its way? There are a few other large buildings going up in the neighborhood, so perhaps that’s exactly what developers are hoping for.

Incidentally, though it’s not visible in the photo, the tower has had a crane perched atop it for months now, which terrifies me every time I pass by. After last year’s crane accident near Taipei 101 in which a crane fell from a building and crushed a bus carrying Chinese tourists, I’m paranoid about cranes in general, and don’t like the fact that I have to pass this one regularly.

Anyway, if you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check out this monster of a construction project. Perhaps you can get your photo with a TiT sign!


Not on the list: Drinks in Ximending

24 May

A margarita

I’ve decided I’ll also be posting some things that, while they aren’t on the list, are still Taipei experiences worth having. Anything can happen in the course of the day!

This particular experience came about because my good friend 阿水 called me shortly after midnight to let me know he was in the neighborhood, on a weekend break from his military service down south, and was hoping to see me. Although I’d been hoping to get to bed early in preparation for a long Sunday crossing tasks off my list, it was nice to catch up with my friend and to relax at one of the many outdoor bars behind the Red House Theater (紅樓) on a warm evening.

For those who’ve never spent much time in Ximending (西門町), or have only been to the better-known area at Exit 6, the area behind the theater may be a bit surprising. Away from the bright lights and crowds of teenagers in search of the latest trends, there is a completely different world made up of bars and underwear stores catering to gay men.

It’s probably nothing like what you’re imagining in terms of gay bars, and many people don’t even realize what they’ve stumbled upon until they’ve been seated at one of the hundreds of outdoor tables and had a good look at the clientele. That’s because, although the bars (and a few restaurants) are most definitely gay-oriented, you won’t find what is typically visualized as a gay bar scene: lots of men in tight pants dancing furiously to the latest Lady Gaga remix, with couples making out in corners. Instead, you’ll mostly see friends hanging out on a Saturday night in a hip place with good drinks, plenty of breathing room, and – ok – the latest Lady Gaga remix playing the background. There’s no escaping Lady Gaga.

In short, if you’re looking for a place to spend a chill evening with friends, but aren’t interested in clubs or smoky bars, Ximending probably has something for you. Just leave your bigotry at home and you’ll be just fine.