Saturday, November 30, 2013

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Nanmen Park, Taipei

11/30/2013 Taiwan Explorer

Taipei just got a new museum, a new park, and a new historic building! And all of them were opened to public in one single day. Isn't that great? I was following the renovations for a while, and I was excited that they were finally done, so I had to head there to see how it turned out. The complex is called Nanmen Park 南門園區, and is part of the National Taiwan Museum. Nanmen Park is located in Zhongzheng right opposite the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation, and as the name says, it's also about 5 minutes away from Nanmen, Taipei's old South Gate. It was built in 1899 during the Japanese occupation, and it used to be a factory that produced and tested opium and camphor (originally named "台灣總督府專賣局台北南門工場"). In fact it was the biggest factory in this part of Asia at that time (source).

Let me share my first impressions with you:

This nicely paved little plaza is what you'll see at first.

Little White House

The front facade.

The Little White House 小白宮 (not to be confused with the one in Tamsui), is according to the information found at the site a former warehouse. Japanese used to park bicycles and trolley carts where the main entrance is today. The original main entrance was at the building's back near the old pond.

The main entrance.

A detail on the renovated facade.

The 400 Stone Water Storage Pond

The pond is located in the park behind the Little White House.

The 400 Stone Water Storage Pond 四百石貯水槽 was built in 1929 and served as a water source for firefighters, and partly for cooling in the factory.

Another view.

These rails were used by the factory.

Yuyu Art Cafe

The entrance to the cafe, the museum is on the left.

The Yuyu Art Cafe 呦呦.荷造場 is a newly opened restaurant located opposite the Little White House, located in what seems to be a former warehouse. The spacious and nicely decorated interior invited my wife and I to go in and see what they had to offer. It was afternoon tea time, so we had coffee, tea, and cake (a cheese cake that is), and it was really very lovely. Cappuccino was 120 NTD (3 Eur) and tasted very good, cake was 80 NTD (2 Eur) and it was super delicious. The tea, which cost 150 NTD was not bad either, says my wife. The prices are pretty ok, if you ask me.

The restaurant was mostly empty, it was the first day, not many people know about it.

There's an old tree trunk in the middle for some reason. It looked interesting, but I'm not sure I want to sit at the table right next to it during an earthquake (there are tables at the back).

The cappuccino and the cheese cake: simply delicious.

Unfortunately we had no time to see the museum, so I can't say much about that. But I definitely recommend you to visit Nanmen Plaza to learn about an interesting lesser known history of the old Taipei, and if you're a coffee and cake fan, the Yuyu Art Cafe will definitely serve you well. By the way, this cafe is actually a branch shop, the original is not very far, you can find it opposite the Postal Museum. This whole area of Taipei is very interesting, it's full of museums, great food, and historic buildings. It's definitely worth an afternoon of walking, perhaps even a whole day.

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