When I first came to Taiwan back in 1999 I stayed at the Happy Family Hostel, just a stone’s throw away from Taipei Station. The station was very much the centre of my Taipei world at that time. I would catch the train from there to my job in Banqiao and I would often wander through the station over to the NOVA arcade to use the free internet.
Later when I moved out to Tucheng I would still frequently pass through the station on the way to my Chinese lessons. The blue line of the MRT wasn’t open back then and the train was the most convenient way to travel from Banqiao to Taipei. There was a big pedestrian overpass across Zhongxiao West Road that connected to a big Eslite book store (in what is now the K-Mall). Both of these are now long gone.
Taipei’s centre of gravity seems to have shifted inexorably to the east and the area around Taipei Station is no longer as bustling as it once was. The other major trend has been the underground-isation (地下化) of the station. The area now has several underground malls and there has recently been more underground redevelopment with the opening of the high speed rail.
There used to be some restaurants and shops on the second floor of the station, but the area has been unused for a few years now. However, a new development has recently opened. Breeze Taipei Station (微風台北車站) is a new food court on the second floor of Taipei Station. I went there for lunch today and it was pretty impressive.
There are about fifty different restaurants and food outlets in the new food court. It is still not completely finished with a few more restaurants to open soon. There will be a branch of the Sababa Pita Restaurant, which recently opened another new restaurant in Yongkang Street (永康街). The white decor in the photo above is used in the section that sells cakes and desserts. The other dining areas are an easier-on-the-eyes brown.
A number of large chains such as Mister Donut, Starbucks and MOS Burger (opening soon) have a presence. But there is a wide range of food on sale and something sure to suit everyone’s tastes. I had lunch at the Minder Vegetarian restaurant (明德素食園). They sell vegetarian pizzas, but I just ate from the selection at the buffet.
The changes in and around Taipei Station are sure to continue in the future too. Two large buildings are being constructed on the station’s north side and construction of the airport link and Beimen MRT stations on the west side will lead to even more remodelling of the area.
* more photos at flickr.