Taipei Street View

February 15, 2011

I really like balconies, in fact I would just love to have an apartment that has one.

On a balcony  (of course depending on its size) with preferably Southern aspect, I would have a deckchair. When the sun comes out, I would sit in this deckchair and I would either read or doze. And, I would have a table and some chairs so that me and some friends could have breakfast/brunch or dinner and of course BBQ under the open sky on my balcony. For sure my balcony would have plants, flowers and home grown herbs and vegetables. And because it would be a magic balcony (with Southern aspect) these plants, flowers and home grown herbs and vegetables would potentially survive.

Meanwhile I am rather sure Taiwanese people don’t have that same romantic association with balconies. First of all, which Taiwanese who is not completely out of his mind, would deliberately expose himself to open sunlight. Second, what a waste of precious space! There is more than enough tables and chairs i.e. stools in the living room already, how silly to put even more redundant furniture on the so-called Yang Tai (lit. ‘Sun’ and ‘Terrace’. Taiwanese balconies are usually neither the one nor the other being super narrow and mostly roofed).

No. The balcony has many functions but certainly none of them involves hosting people or looking pretty. Storage of things you can’t stuff in any of the already filled-to-the-brim cupboards, wardrobes and drawers is one of these functions. Hanging up laundry is another.

And because in many (or most as it seems) buildings each and every apartment has a different balcony design, the overall impression is rather äh savage. But, as with many things in Taiwan, this distinct feature of the country I also learned to appreciate. Which is especially remarkable since I am not only from Germany but from Munich, a city where it is prescribed by municipal law how windows, doors and balconies have to look like to match all the other windows, doors and balconies. At least that applies for heritage-protected buildings. In fact I find Taipei refreshingly liberating.

And no matter how much the sight of Taiwan’s buildings might insult your eyes, you have to give Taiwanese people credit for their dedication to plants and flowers. I have barely ever seen a city so green as Taipei!


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