in the back lanes of DiHua Street (迪化街)

Last time I went to DiHua Jie, it was the City God’s birthday! There was an effervescence you rarely see in the old streets of Datong district, and it remained a vivid memory in my mind. But life can’t be busy like that every day… This weekend I went back there, but this time I took more time to visit all the back lanes, pay a tribute to old forgotten beautiful houses that for sure will be destroyed soon, and could admire how the whole place has started to change already.

 

For those who don’t know yet, DiHua Jie is a great street in Taipei, close to the river and the Dadao Cheng pier in Datong district, where a great concentration of Chinese Medicine shops can be found, as well as other traditional delicacies. I invite you to read my previous article if you’re interested in the history of the street.

But in an old traditional district like this, I thought that there would probably be a lot of small lanes remaining, and that was really the case indeed. Although I couldn’t spend a lot of time inside, it was a pleasure for a few minutes to wander in the narrow pathways, looking after hypothetical scenes of everyday life and chatting with the habitants here and there.

What I liked and found particular is that everything was so clean -especially compared to what I find usually in China, with an air that the district is still alive, but not yet fully on the verge of becoming an overly fashion place with rising real estate prices, coffees everywhere, and a lot of arty stuff that has nothing to do with the original spirit of the place. Well, that may come soon enough, but in the meanwhile a good balance has been found.

It is something I often wonder about, why does a place have to be almost dead to see a surge in interest? Why do charming places like DiHua Street have to be places tourists are going to visit, while it would be so much better that the entire world would be built with standards of beauty comparable as those of ancient times? Why is the only thing I see today in construction ust plain, boring, weirdly designed high rises made specifically to earn more money rather than the comfort of its inhabitants?

DiHua Street at night, in the back lanes, is a good place to meditate over these highly metaphysical questions, that I didn’t dare to ask to those people I was taking pictures of, by feat of boring them too much, and knowing that I could ask the same questions to you, dear readers of this blog!

So what do you think? Do you like modern buildings? Why do you find it good or bad?

What do you think?