I was on a sidewalk with people that crowded delis, sold unidentified things in plastic bags, or slept on cardboard boxes, and across the street was a picturesque, uncrowded pavement lit by the afternoon sun. The red bricks screamed HISTORIC and TOURISM but I couldn’t believe it because, from where I was standing, it looked like something from a parallel universe.
If you find yourself in the same place, then you’ve found Bopiliao Historic Block or Bopiliao Old Street.
According to a leaflet I got from the area, “Bopiliao has become very popular since the main scene of the movie Monga was shot here”. Although this may have been true in 2010, it didn’t seem that way to me when I got there. Considering its proximity to Lungshan Temple, I was surprised that I saw only 12 other people (yes, I counted). It was so empty that I remember how many people I saw and, luckily for me, I could take as many pictures as I wanted.
The old brick buildings with red, wooden doors might not be as well known as other tourist attractions, but Bopiliao was one of the pretty sights I’ve seen in Taipei and it was a complete contrast from everything beyond the block. Although there wasn’t anything to do except take pictures, I felt a sense of wonder as I stood between structures that date back to the Japanese colonial period.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the history of the area (Bangka), go out through the north end of the block and you’ll find the Heritage and Culture Education Center of Taipei.
It’s as empty as Bopiliao Old Street but there is more to see and learn here. You get information about the history of the district (especially if you can read Mandarin) and see a lot of relics and a replication of a classroom from the past.
ACCESS TO BOPILIAO OLD STREET VIA MRT:
Take the metro to Lungshan Temple Station, Bannan Line 5 (Blue Line).
Take Exit 1 and go left until you see Lungshan Temple across the street.
Go across, then north.
HERITAGE AND CULTURE EDUCATION CENTER
Time: Tuesday-Sunday, 9:00-17:00