A Short Trip to Taipei


(My hotel in Taipei was Solaria Hotel in Ximending. I woke up early in the morning and drew Ximending Street. Unlike the fever of the night, the street felt bleak and calm.)


From March 23 to 26, I traveled to Taipei, Taiwan for four days. It was my first time visiting Taiwan, so I was excited. Among our group of four, I was the only urban sketcher, which meant I had to find moments to draw while we traveled together.

We flew from Gimpo Airport, Korea to Songshan Airport where the first thing you do when you arrive these days is to apply for a “Lucky Draw,” a travel subsidy provided by the Taiwan Tourism Organization. It amounts to about 150 US dollars, not a small sum. What a surprise! Incredibly, two of us were lucky to win.

We stayed in Ximending, a globally famous tourist spot and shopping district. It is also packed with restaurants serving delicious and affordable Taiwanese food, bustling with waiting customers. As the night deepens, more people, including young tourists and family travelers from all over the world flock to the streets. I meant to sketch, but it was too crowded to even take out my sketchbook.


(Night and morning of Ximending Street)

The next morning, I returned to the streets of Ximending, which had calmed down after the previous night’s fever. The streets were clean, perhaps after an early morning cleaning. I found a spot across from the famous restaurant where we had lunch the day before and sketched there.

I believe a good urban sketch should have detail, style, and story. When drawing Taiwanese street scenes, it’s good to include Chinese characters on signs to capture the Taiwanese feel. Of course, I detailed other elements as well such as a man smoking on the street and a lady heading to work at the restaurant, and colored simply.


(Many travelers sat on the floor waiting for their train in the Taipei Central Station, and I also sat on the floor and drew them from all over the world.)


(Taipei Central Station Square)

On March 24, we decided to take a train journey outside Taipei. It took about 30 minutes to walk from Ximending to Taipei Central Station, a major hub for travel throughout Taiwan with a bus terminal nearby as well.

Inside the station, there’s a vast and high-ceilinged indoor plaza where many travelers sit on the floor waiting for their trains. With an hour to spare after buying our tickets, I joined them and sketched in the plaza.

The digital boards were displaying train schedules busily and the ticket counters were lined with passengers. Some people hurried to catch their trains, while others waited leisurely.  All of them seemed to be enjoying the thrill of their adventure.



(Jintong Station was small and people were walking leisurely. The panoramic view from the Cafe.)


(The Coal Mining Cafe and the view)

We took the train to the terminal station on the Pingxi Line, Jingtong station, which was once a coal mining village and has now transformed into a tourist destination. A cafe on the hill, housed in a building formerly used for mining, offers a panoramic view of the village.

I stretched out my sketchbook and looked over the town from the cafe. Taiwan’s mountains and streets are similar to Korea’s, but the flora is quite different, reminding me of the plants I had seen at the National Arboretum’s Subtropical Botanical Garden.

A trip to Taiwan with friends. I think it was too short a time to see the depth and breadth of Taiwanese culture. I would love to go back someday, but hopefully, before June next year when I can get the “lucky draw”.

Andy Oh

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