Taiwan: Fashion Houses 101

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We’ve done the Taipei 101 many a time on our travels here in Taiwan, but for this outing, it’s the Fashion Houses in the 509m, bamboo styled building that are doing the business of being breath-taking.

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There’s certainly no expense spared in this complex of 101 floors, and the Fashion Houses of Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, TODs and Burberry certainly take this to heart and I’m drooling over the lavish and intricate window displays of the stores on the third floor with delicate floral backdrops, lush green cactus landscapes and hot-pink, candy-stripe balloons… That is, until I see the bejewelled and sparkling exteriors of the displays on the fourth. It’s worth walking around to appreicate the stores: they’re works of art – as well as powerhouses generating billions of dollars per year purely in attire for us to prance around in a feel pretty (or so I assume it feels to own any of these brands…). But, all joking aside, it’s a delicious rendering of advertising, and if it weren’t for the hawk-like, black-suited attendants intimidating my little self in the doorways, I’d probably take a couple of shots inside with my phone… As it is, I’d probably better not…

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Third Floor Displays.

Dolce & Gabbana Taipei 101

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Louis Vuitton Taipei 101

TOD's Taipei 101

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Fourth Floor Giants.

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Louis Vuitton Taipei

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Dior Taipei 101

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Burberry Taipei 101

The Fourth Floor Taipei 101

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It’s not just me however, who’s got the iphone out to do some gorgeous building papping, the locals are definitely into it to, and as I stroll around the twisted floors of shop after shop, there are people everywhere, from all over the world – posing for their photos in front of the public image of these global brands. It’s a powerful message for the effect that this kind of advertising has, that within what was once the tallest building in the world is housed these commercial, luxury brands that inspire such reverence and desire that couples will pose in front of their gleaming doors – no half-naked models required, Abercrombie.

I mean, please, even the food court is fancy, with its clever, light-dispersing wine glass chandeliers.

A little pretty architectural and advertising planning sure goes a long way.

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China: Pingyao, A World Away

Pingyao, The Last Walled City

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As I leave Beijing, I’m travelling by sleeper train to whats known as the last functioning walled city in China.

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It’s overcast in the last functioning city of its kind in China.

Walled.

And the walls are impressive. Worth scaling, worth cycling, and worth soaking up the strange time-capsuled quiet in this local town. Most of the industry left here is touristy, but it’s of a resigned kind that seems to be more subdued about its ancient, and now-unpracticed culture.

The walls have been restored recently; they’re only a testament to their original glory. The daily performances of walled city rituals loud and cast in lurid neon costumes.

A glance from the various scenic walls, temples and watchtowers in the city confirms that the grey overcast of the sky only extends into the leeched dry land outside the walls; ain’t nothing growing around here.

 

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GREY, BUT NOT THE RIGHT KIND

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I’m missing home.

I guess the greyness of the barren, but quietly bustling Pingyao city reminds me of the overcast grey skies in Ireland autumns. I spend a day rummaging through the various tourist-trap trinket shops until I find some restaurants containing the locals, where an order of knife shorn beef noodles (刀削牛肉面) almost makes Taiwanese standard, and I phone my mum despite international charges.

Mainland China is so vast, I’m disappointed in my own surprise in its difference from Taiwan, the only Asia I know. There’s no breakfast here I recognise, and certainly no soya milk. The language is heavily accented and the bargaining rough and unfamiliar. Even my soupy bowl of Beef Noodles, the famous Asian kind, is spiced with earthy, unfamiliar flavours.

China is vast.

A little shop, from which a bleary elderly man peers out, has it’s front windows plastered with a plastic red sign in English. It cheers me up a little, and I return to my hostel for a much restoring nap.

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The Band that Won’t Stop.

 

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The traditional band at the afternoon (17:00) performance in the walled city of Pingyao get a little carried away with their own music.

The lead band-man has just given a cool look of derision to the flustered gentleman on a PA system trying, somewhat in vain, to get them to stop so the main theatre performance can go on.

Well, the band’s not having any of it.

On another note, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single instrument that they’re play that funky tune with. I’m not a traditional Chinese music specialist, but if you are let me know…

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Falling Into Spirited Away

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Pingyao City

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I’ve fallen into Spirited Away.

For those of you who haven’t seen this world-wide, award-winning piece of animation by Director Hayao Miyazaki, it’s one of my favourite films. They say the original bath house setting was inspired by a small, traditional alleyway that’s a tourist hot-spot in Taiwan: 九份 (jiǔfèn).

Nevertheless, whether you’ve seen it or not, the walled city at night is magical, dark and mysterious, echoing of a childhood long in the past running through eerily-red light cobbled streets.

One of the most beautiful moments in China.

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Pingyao:

The Last Walled City

Missing Home

The Band

By Night

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