Taipei is a city of beautiful paradox. Traditional ways of life here impress upon a high tech culture. Markets of hanging flesh can be seen next to Apple stores. Temples puff out bitter smelling incense onto sidewalks crawling with posh professionals. Coffee, cigarettes, or thousand year old medicine? All three can be found at any 7-Eleven.
The most obvious contrast is not within the city, however, but between the city itself and the nature that surrounds it. Withdrawing to the hills is easy in Taipei. Follow the roads long enough and they will take you into a sweet air, nutritious with the smell of mountain springs.
Farther still, perhaps in the direction of the northeast, and those roads bring you to the coast. The verdant hills on the right extend for miles and to the left the pacific ushers in warm, moist wind that brings the taste of salt to your lips.
This is where I come when the contrast of the city loses its equilibrium; when the pull of the hills is stronger than the appeal of the weird and wonderful city.
I come here a lot.