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Green Taipei

Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei

I am a big fan of walking the city simply because it is a good way to unveil the different sides of a metropolis as you discover the place step by step. There are scary, strange, crazy and charming places that may not make it to the top 10, but will always have a special place in your mind. Simply because the unexpected is often the most memorable.
So I was walking from the Memorial Hall towards Daan Park, when I bumped into Jianguo Holiday Flower Market. Located underneath a highway it is a pretty cool place to visit. Bonsai, orchids and tropical plants of all sorts, along with fruits, pottery and toys are sold under a road. Many of the little stalls have "no photo" signs, so I tried my best to be respectful or at least to shoot when they are not watching. Anyhow, I was searching for the green side of Taipei and trust me I found it.

Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
The location underneath the road is interesting, to say the least.
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
They were not sold as food, but still... It was quite a sad picture.
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei

Lucky Bamboo seemed to be the most popular plant in the flower market. Apparently, it is a major symbol on traditional Chinese Feng Shui. It embodies the elements of water, wood and earth, but when placed in the right pot in can even induce fire and metal. The luck associated with the bamboo depends very much on the number of stalks in the pot - and we thought it was just a trick from IKEA:

1: Prosperity (typical present in business environment) is embodied by a bamboo log placed in water, with no roots.
2: Love
3: Luck for the home, as it brings Fu (happiness), Soh (long life) and Lu (promotions)
4: Death wish. The number four is extremely bad in Chinese, as it sounds like death so this number is kind of taboo in many ways.
5: Wealth on all areas of life
6: Luck
7: Good health
8: Fertility
9: Great luck as 9 is the symbol of luck (actually 9 is my lucky number!)
10: Feel complete
21: Blessing for your whole family

Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei
Jianguo holiday flower market in Taipei

Some tea and to the next stop.

Daan Park a 26-hectare lung very popular among the locals for outdoor life. Bit like the Central park or Taipei. In the same way I love walking, I am really into visiting a park or two in a new city. Why? simply because parks in the city center, like Yoyogi, provide quite a good portray of the average city family - as well as some kistch inhabitants - and somehow confirms that we are all humans, there is not such a huge difference on the things we like to do with our spare time. Some sports, enjoying the sunny weather & spending time outdoors - as opposed to sitting locked in buildings as we all do during our weekdays. School, office, home. At the end of the day, it's not that different and as humans we all crave the same kind of change, during our spare time.

Daan Park in Taipei
Daan Park in Taipei
Daan Park in Taipei
Daan Park in Taipei
Daan Park in Taipei

The south area of the Daan Park is packed with Banyan trees. 

Banyan are a very special kind of figs that start life as an epiphyte (a plant growing on another plant) when its seeds germinate in the cracks of a host tree (or structures). When they grow older, they develop aerial roots (the little trunks that you see coming from the branch and into the ground) that often become impossible to differentiate from the main trunk. Sometimes they may end up strangling the host tree, competing for light. The Banyan is evered by Hindi, it is the National Tree of India and considered sacred - "Vat Vriksha" (वट वृक्ष) in Sanskrit. The god Shiva is always depicted sitting in silence under the banyan with rishis at his feet, as Banyan is the perfect symbol of eternal life due to its apparently never ending expansion.

Taipei Garden Hotel is very close to Taipei Botanical Garden, the last leg of our green walk.

Taipei Botanical Garden

Taipei Botanical Garden history started as a nursery in 1896 during the Japanese colonial period. Expansion came in 1921, when it officially became the first botanical garden in Taiwan. Taipei Botanical Garden is quite large, about 8.2 hectares of lush garden plus a lake covered by beautiful lotus flowers. The lake is indeed a relic of the old Taipei Lake, that dried about 4500 years ago, leaving room to inhabitants and human activities. The cultural remnants left behind makes the botanical garden an important archeological site in Taiwan.

Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden

The lotus pond is particularly beautiful, maybe for us coming from Europe, as it isn't a common garden element on this side of the world. Lotus holds a lot of symbolic meanings in Chinese and Buddhist cultures. Buddha is sometimes depicted sitting on a Lotus flower, symbolizing the one who overcame the pain that prevails in the material world and became enlightened, just like the Lotus flower.

Taipei Botanical Garden

It does not matter whether it started from the dirty mud. The key is that it made it through, managed to surpass the water surface to turn into a perfect flower. The water in this story, represents the material world, or the physical realm.

Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden

More flowers and greenery surround the lake, along with cute figures made out of trunks.

Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden

...the whole walk took me about 5h (from 101, through Sun Yat-sen, Jinguo, Daan & Botanical Garden) but it was a nice way to spend a hot Saturday on my own.

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