Monday, September 10, 2012

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Bopiliao Old Street, Wanhua, Taipei

9/10/2012 Taiwan Explorer

Bopiliao Old Street 剝皮寮老街, originally Fupiliao Street 福皮寮街, usually just referred as Bopiliao 剝皮寮, is a historic street in Taipei's old Wanhua District (also known as Monga and Bangka), that was beautifully renovated in recent years. It's today one of the most visited historic sites in Wanhua, as well as all of Taipei, attracting foreign and local tourists alike, especially after the highly acclaimed movie Monga.

Beautiful calligraphy found in Bopiliao.

A brief history of Bopiliao

Bopiliao Old Street and the accompanying buildings are just a very small part of what used to be known as Bangka, one of the oldest and most developed parts of Taipei a few centuries ago. The area has gone through various historic eras: The early Qing Dynasty rule (1683-1862), when Taiwan was part of Fujian province, Bangka and Bopiliao were not that important outside its local confines. In the late Qing period, from 1862 to 1895, the Port of Tamsui was opened to foreign trade and Bangka became one of the economic and cultural centers of all of Taiwan, which subsequently became its own province (1885). A decade later Japan invaded and occupied Taiwan and ruled over the island with an iron fist for 50 years (source). The 50 years of Kuomintang's stringent one party rule had the consequence, that Wanhua almost completely lost its former glory, because most of the trade and commerce was shifted to the East District, today known as Xinyi. With the exception of few historic sites (including Bopiliao) and Ximending, Wanhua is today one of the poorest areas of Taipei proper, struggling with an aging population and homeless people (see photos).

Desert Zhang's concert at Bopiliao.
Nevertheless, things are slowly improving. It took almost a decade to renovate Bopiliao and the local residents were the ones, that fought for the preservation of the old buildings (source). This is a good indicator, that there is hope for Wanhua's future. If you decide to visit the famous old street today, be prepared to see a lot of those ugly Japanese neocolonial buildings with no soul between among a few less obvious Fujianese gems - the rich and long history left its mark on Bopiliao. The name "剝皮寮" literally means "remove skin hut" - Bopiliao was therefore the part of Bangka, where "tree bark was peeled off".

Bopiliao is today a venue for exhibitions, concerts and various activities. It looked a little abandoned on the Saturday morning, when I paid it a visit, but that was great, because I could take some very clean shots of the area without disturbing any passers-by.

Check my photos from August 2012:

A nice shot of the old street.

A view on the half stone half brick wall and a simple steel construction.

A tree finding its way up between the narrow buildings.

The red brick facade is a predominant throughout the street.

Nicely paved and roofed part of the street.

Rusty steel girders help to support many buildings in Bopiliao.

An old movie poster makes this spot look very retro.

A look back to where I entered.

First floor.

Another view back.

Interesting chalk murals. 仙 means immortal.

A dragon mural.

The paving's material is here a mix between bricks and stone.

A good look back again.

This is the end of the short old street.

The western part with stronger Chinese influence.

These arcades lead out of Bopiliao.

This nice little signboard is found on the ground.

This leads in another direction - back to Longshan Temple.

Japanese colonial uniformity.

Another angle.

How to go to Bopiliao

Finding Bopiliao is very easy: Take the Taipei Metro and go out at Longshan MRT Station Exit 1. Walk through the small Monga Park with the fountain towards the Longshan Temple (hard to miss) and then turn right - walk about 2 min straight and you should see the Bopiliao Historic Block at a bigger crossroad. Cross over and you are there.

View Taiwan Map by Kafkaesque in a larger map

Map and useful information


Pinyin: Buōpíliáo lǎojiē / Fúpíliáo jiē
Related website: Homepage
My useful tips: Transportation in Taipei


Longshan Temple
Huaxi Street
Guangzhou Street

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