Taipei Has Public Bike Transport

I noticed Taipei has a public bike system up and running around Taipei 101. We swipe our Go-cards and can then take a bike (see above pic). I'm not sure about the time limit. We can return them to one of several posts in the vicinity (there's a map). The area seems better spaced than a lot of Taiwan's older districts, so it should be pretty easy / safe for non-experienced riders to give it a go.

I've often wondered about Taiwan's bike laws - is it legal to ride on the sidewalks? The bikes do not come with helmets, so be careful. The city is now enforcing helmet laws. I think it's NT$600 a pop.


Ga La King, Monga (艋舺) Taiwan

I took these pictures near Youth Park (青年公園) Sunday in Ga La, Taiwan. For those who are not familiar with Ga La, it's the neighborhood near the Hsin Tien River and Huazhong Bridge (華中橋) in Monga (艋舺). Every weekend the park fills families from all over Taipei. It probably has the best, and most, playgrounds in town. There's also a terrific circular sandpit. A market activity has sprung up around the kids, with vendors selling plastic shovels and buckets, balls, Frisbees, plastic baseball bats and all kinds of snacks. Every now and then, a cop will slowly wind through the park on a scooter to scatter the sellers, but they're back in an instant.

The shots above are of a traditional sausage stand on the sidewalk right outside the park. The pinball machines were antique, with nail grooves and steel ball bearings. For NT$5, diners can try to win something. We played three times, accumulating points that went toward a discount on NT$10 sausages. The boy next to my wife was so engrossed that he didn't notice the vendor had given him a broken sausage. Half the meat had fallen off. She rammed it back on the stick when nobody was looking.

BTW, I found out from a taxi driver that I live in Ga La King (Taiwanese language), not Manka. Manka is over by Lungshan Temple while Ga La King accounts for the neighborhood around Youth Park. According to the taxi driver, it was named for a benevolent gangster, who had many wives and who liked to eat clams, or ga la. When the gangster died, people in Ga La King put on black T-shirts and took part in a funeral procession through the neighborhood. When I told my wife, however, she wasn't going for it. She said it's simply Ga La. That's what they call now, and way back when her grandma was a girl.
I wrote about how teenagers had taken over the playgrounds of my previous neighborhood, Wenshan, Taiwan. We've moved, but there seems to be a trend. This guy must weigh 75 kilos, but he still wants to ride a plastic seahorse on a metal coil in Youth Park (青年公園). The instructions clearly read "maximum weight 30 kilograms". So I asked him what the appeal was - if people could see him now, they'd definitely think he was a wanker. He told me "no, it's a lot of fun". My two-year-old daughter seemed to agree. She immediately ran over to the adjacent seahorse and had a bit of a competition, to see who could get theirs going "back-forth" faster.