Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Update: 8th May – in Taiwan

with 6 comments

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I am currently living in a hostel in Taipei, Taiwan.

Taiwan is a sweet potato-shaped island in the South China Sea that is a de-facto independent nation, but is not officially recognised as such by many countries.

It has a complicated relationship with mainland China. But unlike its large neighbour, it is a developed democracy, and the home to Foxconn, the company that makes Apple’s iPhones.

It is barely bigger than Hainan island, which is a Chinese holiday resort island, and is home to 23 million people who use traditional Chinese characters (rather than the Simplified version used on the mainland).

Before I arrived in Taiwan, I was living on a friend’s couch in Wanchai, Hong Kong. There I stayed for two weeks. I went to Sonar music festival. My friend had a house party and I went to some seedy expat bars with her Russian roommate.

Hong Kong is a marvel of engineering and 7.5 million people live in a compact area, and yet it all manages to work. But the city is an expensive one and I couldn’t afford to tarry.

So I find myself in Taiwan. It’s a place I first visited 11 years ago, in 2008, when I stayed for six weeks. Back then, I found it a nice place, but a little dull, as it lacks nightlife and bars.

It still doesn’t have the kind of nightlife that Beijing does so well.

From 2014 to 2016, Beijing’s bar, club, and cafe culture peaked. And discussing with a friend the other day, we realised that Beijing might have been the best party place in Asia.

No other place rivalled Beijing, during those years. The combination of cheapness, the expat to locals ratio, the diversity of bars, and the undeniable sense that this was an exciting time to be. The Gulou area of Beijing had a scene. And it was great.

Nowhere else had that. Seoul is more pricey and caters more to the locals. Southeast Asia can be sleazy and caters more to backpackers. Beijing was up-and-coming, and the scene was buzzing, before it got abruptly shutdown from late 2016 onward.

The local authorities started bricking up bars and denying licenses to a host of restaurants, cafes and bars that had sprung up. In the space of a few months, a scene that was beloved by the bohemian Beijing crowd was quickly squashed out of existence.

It still exists, but is a shadow of what it used to be.

Taipei, Taiwan, is a nice place, no doubt about it. It is comfortable, affordable, and orderly. But it lacks the grit, the pure excitement of what Beijing had during its brief golden years.

But that is okay, I am quite enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of Taipei, for now.

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Written by Lu-Hai Liang

May 8, 2019 at 4:58 am

6 Responses

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  1. Hi Lu Hai, I am Linda, one of your readers from Taiwan. Just want to let you know I really enjoy your writings. I noticed that you are currently staying in Taiwan and I was wondering if you’d like to meet up in Taipei.

    best regards, Linda

    Lu-Hai Liang 於 2019年5月8日 週三 下午12:58寫道:

    > Lu-Hai Liang posted: ” I am currently living in a hostel in Taipei, > Taiwan. Taiwan is a sweet potato-shaped island in the South China Sea that > is a de-facto independent nation, but is not officially recognised as such > by many countries. It has a complicated relationship wit” >

    許晨暉

    May 8, 2019 at 7:35 am

    • Sure i can see we both miss BJ.

      jazzy

      May 8, 2019 at 7:57 am

    • Sure Linda, that’d be cool. Could you send me an email? and we can connect (my email address is shown on the About page)

      Lu-Hai Liang

      May 8, 2019 at 9:28 am

  2. Hey Luhai, Im your biggest fan in Hong Kong!

    JINGYA SUN

    May 8, 2019 at 8:47 am


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