Today I went to Ying-ge with Linda, Jen, and Linda's classmate, Jean. Jean looked awfully familiar, and we finally placed each other when she mentioned she was working as a paralegal at Squire, Sanders, and Dempsey...I met her at an AmCham event with Mike! But I digress.
Ying-ge is a town in southern Taipei county known for its pottery. We covered the usual tourist sites, including the new ceramics museum and a pedestrian street lined with pottery shops. The museum reminds me of Tadao Ando's style -- lots of unfinished reinforced concrete and glass. Tadao Ando designed the Kyoto Train Station as well as the new buildings at RCAST, a research center at the University of Tokyo where I spent one summer doing research. Although concrete and glass sounds rather cold, I felt the way Ando combined the two materials made the RCAST buildings light and uplifting. The Ying-ge ceramics museum was also quite nice (different architect) and had quality displays and descriptions.
The pedestrian street was the prettiest street I have ever seen in Taiwan. The four of us finally identified the causes: the road was lined with palm trees (gasp! greenery to break the built monotony!), and there were no scooters and cars parked on the sidewalks blocking access to the shops, the street was nicely cobbled, and there were no cars careening through, spewing exhaust and honking madly.
Of course, we felt like we really had a cultural experience while walking back, when a convoy of trucks passed us by bearing parts of a huge, very bright yellow Buddha.