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Taipei City Goverment

Tours

Down Shady Lanes--A Leisurely Tour of the Minsheng Community and Fujin Street Area

Minsheng CommunityTaipei is a city that, at first sight, seems like a forest of tall buildings. Dip into areas behind, however, and you'll find many a small, thriving community. One of these is especially interesting; located in Songshan District (松山區), the Minsheng Community/Fujin Street area (民生、富錦街區) boasts 20 parks, leaf-shaded arteries, stylish restaurants, creative boutiques, and a noticeably slower, quality-oriented cosmopolitan approach to living. And it's all available at the most reasonable prices, making this a cultured urban oasis that calls out for exploration by the budget traveler in the warming days of early spring.

A Leafy Street Ramble – A Gentle Start to a New Day

A ride on the MRT Wenhu Line starts our day. Get off at Songshan Airport Station and walk along Dunhua Nor th Road (敦化北路) , then turn onto quiet, tree - lined Fujin Street You'll immediately notice that your new surroundings have the calm and cozy ambiance of a small town in Europe, and that this is a place where creative souls have free rein to let their visions blossom. Designe r s and adve r tisi ng studios have flocked here, setting up shop, and a steady stream of film and TV-drama crews come for location shoots. The Minsheng Community (民生社區) originally took shape as a planned residential quarter built by the U.S. militar y, and there's parkland and other green spaces aplenty. Life slows down and spirits calm in this enclave, as you'll quickly find while meandering along the tree-shaded streets. The f rag rance of the th ick fol iage and hea lth - boosting phytoncids awaken and invigorate the senses. Drop in at Fujin Sreet No. 108 (富錦街No.108) for a hearty alfresco American, French or Chinese-style breakfast, in
the secluded, leafy courtyard.

After breakfast, a pleasant round of art appreciation is in the offing at two quality local galleries. Caves Art Center (敦煌藝術中心) stages oil paintings and DJ Art Gallery (典匠藝廊) focuses on Chinese ink paintings by Taiwan artists, sculptures and ceramics by artists from mainland China and Taiwan; the artwork on display is changed at irregular intervals.

The leafy courtyard at Fujin Street No.108 offers fulfilling breakfasts./Works from the artists from both sides of the Taiwan Strait featured at Caves Art Gallery.Browse Xinzhong Street’s Specialty Shops – Warm Hospitality, Contemporary Living

Many of the shops on Fujin Street open toward the afternoon, so if it's still early, a good idea is a stroll toward Xinzhong Street (新中街) , home to another fine collection of shops of unique style.

Sonnentor Café has many modern artworks on display, and the menu can also be said to be a work of art.Fen Casa sells daily-use articles, tea, and organic food sourced from around the world, and also occasionally offers cooking classes. The name "Fen Casa" is a combination of the name of the proprietess and the Italian word for "home/household." Step into Bonjour (朋廚烘焙坊) next door, and you enter an aromatic "bread heaven," the sight of the glossy golden-brown creations emerging fresh from the oven instantly causes happy pangs of hunger. Among this bakery's numerous other "hot" sellers are Cannele de Bordeaux, Kouign-Amann, and Sea Salt French Balls. Debut (初試啼聲花坊), close to Xinzhong Street, sells special floriculture items and unusual plants, and both the merchandise and the boutique itself are showcases of the owner's design ingenuity and the rich creative energy that defines the Fujin Street neighborhood.

More Fujin Street Originality – Rich in Inspiration

Noon is now fast approaching, and the healthy meals at laid-back Sonnentor Café (日光大道) beckon. The " Sonnentor" name has its origins as an Austrian organic food and beverage brand, but in Taiwan has morphed into an innovative space blending chic and eco-friendly concepts with a focus on fine foods and modern art. The interior is set up much like an art gallery, with works by contemporary artists on display, and the kitchen provides a wide-ranging and innovative continental European menu that changes with the seasons. Topping things off are colorful sales stands of the freshest local Taiwan fruits and vegetables.

After lunch head across the street to Xinzhong Park (新中公園) for a postprandial constitutional, soaking in the spring warmth amidst landscaped flower beds and shade-offering trees, watching other folk taking their own constitutionals or going about their leisurely daily business on a bicycle. Another fine choice at lunchtime (or anytime) is nearby Otaru Syphon Coffee (小樽手作咖啡). This café has attractive timber tables and seats, soft lamplight, and a tasty menu that includes a lip-smacking chocolate marshmallow latte, hand-made cookies and biscuits made daily, and a cheesecake that is delectably special. Happiness, you'll find, is found on the way to the bottom of a steaming, aromatic, mellow cup of premium Java.

Otaru Syphon Coffee provides a great atmosphere for relaxing and drinking coffee./Lane & Trip is a mini-paradise for lovers of bicyclingThe creative shops along Fujin Street begin to open after lunch. Lane & Trip (輪粹生活), a premier choice among local cycling enthusiasts, stocks premium-brand bicycles and accessories from England, Germany, the USA, and elsewhere. Located on the first floor of a former apartment building is Daughter's Café (朵 兒咖啡館), the setting for a popular local feature film; movie fans come here in number, as do lovers of coffee. The unusually named 3,co (3,co當代瓷器傢飾) is a place for Taiwan's ceramics artists to show off their creative talent; the wares on show are both works of art and functional items. funfuntown sells smart-looking retro household furnishings, lighting, and objects d'art. funfuntown is a marvelous emporium filled with goodies from many countries; perhaps its most interesting attraction is how it finds new, innovative, and sometimes quite surprising decorative uses for vintage items laden with history.

A Neighborhood that Stays Up Late – Minsheng Community’s Fine Foods, Fine Streetscapes

As the sun starts to set, walk by Fujin No. 3 Park (富錦三號公園), enjoying the site of playing kids and this community's happy vitality. It's time now to sit down for a good dinner, and Chieh Yun Hsuan (介云軒), a well-known home-style Shanghainese restaurant, is a great choice. The menu features old-style Jiangzhe (江浙) culinary classics, and the quaint, rustic display cabinets are filled with nostalgia-inducing appetizers. The combination of elegant wooden antiques, warm hospitality, the elegant appetizers, and the friendly atmosphere makes you feel as though you've stepped back into Shanghai in Among the ceramic wares at 3,co are superb expressions of minimalist chic./funfuntown sells smart-looking retro household furnishings, lighting, and small design objects.its golden years. The end of the day is nigh, but before heading home there are still a couple of things to do. First, head over to SunnyHills, down Lane 36 of Minsheng East Road, Section 5 (see page 30), to pick up some of their yummy pineapple cakes; these great snack treats are also favorite gifts with the "true taste of Taiwan" packed inside. Then walk over to the 180-degree view deck at Taipei Songshan Airport (臺北松山機場), inaugurated last year, where the attractive seating looks more like sculpture and actually glows at night. From here there are thrilling up-close views of planes landing and taking off and of the coruscating lights of the city beyond. Time to head home now, wherever home might be at the moment, and savor the day's adventures, your newly stored-away memories – and probably the pineapple cakes you've just bought as "gifts" for others.