Bopiliao is one of the most visited ancient communities in Taiwan and has been renovated recently to continue to attract tourists and locals alike.
I didn’t quite know what to expect when visiting Bopiliao. I had always wanted to visit around these tight little streets, but as my time in Taipei drew to a close, I realised that I need to prioritise other attractions. Yet after checking out of my hostel, I was able to leave my backpack there and come and spend a small amount of time in Bopiliao before heading back to the airport for a flight to Hong Kong.
The district in which Bopiliao sits, Wanhua, is one of the poorest areas of Taipei, and many of the nearby buildings were in a state of distress, and I also saw a lot of beggars and homeless people, the likes of which you very rarely see in the Far East. Not all of the area around here has been renovated, and the preservation of the old buildings was led by some of the residents. This kind of dynamic that played out at Bopiliao really reminded me of the situation today facing residents of The Rocks in Sydney.
There are little exhibitions and fetes held in Bopiliao occasionally, with Chinese lanterns adorning the streets during these times. I also was impressed with the street art here. Maybe not quite as impressive as the art I saw over in Penang, but still an interesting addition to the view as I walked along. The narrow streets of Bopiliao have great history dating back to the Chinese Qing Dynasty (Taiwan was then part of Fujian Province), and towards the end of 19th century the Japanese had invaded Taiwan, and actually decaying remnants of Japanese colonial architecture can still be seen in the Bopiliao vicinity to this day – though the residents are not fond of it, apparently!
I wish I could have spent a little longer in Bopiliao Ancient Street to take a little look in the quaint shops and eateries around here. Maybe when I come back to Taipei I would make a trip here nearer to the top of my list, as it is one of the most important sites for its history, community and conservation!