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Downtown

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ilbonito blog 2007

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I was quite unprepared for Taichung’s downtown area, a district not like any other I had encountered in a big Asian city before. It was perhaps a little bit like the similarly-declining Japanese resort town of Atami, or the grimy 1930s Chinatown of Manila, or even a little touch of Sao Paulo? Once the beating heart of this proud industrial centre, the old downtown had hollowed out after a series of disastrous fires and a demographic and economic shift towards the newly-developed “centre” around the National Theatre, further to the West. What was left were scarred derelict towers which loomed over still-busy but distinctly downmarket streets. The crowds on the pavement were, I was surprised to find, largely Southeast Asian in parts. Signs were in Thai and Vietnamese and Filipino. Indonesian pop music blared. There were also surprising numbers (for East Asia) of vagrants and obvious drug addicts, hanging around…

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