The first time I had come up the escalators of the MRT station in Ximen, I was overwhelmed by all of the lights. I had never seen anything like it before and it was quite exciting. The Ximending area is often seen as the Shinjuku district of Taipei, and although I have never visited Japan to say otherwise, it did feel like I was in Japan. From the lights to the fashion, there is a lot of Japanese and Korean influence in the style, and clothing that many of the kids are wearing in the neighborhood. On your first visit, you may feel quite lost as all the stores sell the same clothing, Sanrio knick knacks, bags, and jewelry… You can also become overwhelmed within the mazes of lit up alley ways and side streets full of pedestrian chaos, especially on weekends. (^_^)
The odd days and nights, buskers will roam the streets, singing, doing acrobats, or dancing. Kids will be standing in groups looking for donations to go on field trips or playing guitars to entertain bystanders. The action is not only available at eye level, but neon eye candy such as, ads, hair salons, and restaurants with customers looking down, flash brightly and fill the spaces above you. As you walk passed each store, Lady Gaga may be blaring out of the speakers of one, while LMFAO is playing at the next merchant over. Meanwhile, Madonna’s, “Girls Gone Wild” music video will be on display on the main screen as you enter the pedestrian area.
As for food, there is an array of food available to choose from. So many options that makes it quite difficult for one to decide. From curry and traditional Taiwanese, to Hong Kong cuisine, and Italian, the list goes on… Street vendors scurry around in different sections of the district… They busily sell food as fast as they can, before they have to hurry to another spot. The moment the police are roaming the area, a little, “caw caw”, can be heard and you best be out of these vendors way, or you are sure to be run over.
For those who love fashion, from no name clothing at a cheap price to name brand items, you can find what you want around every corner. Although some stores can be pricey, the smaller stores and kiosks provide cute clothes at a reasonable price in comparison to home. True, the quality may not be top of the line, but it is still cute, trendy, up to date and most importantly, affordable.
It is definitely a great place to visit and you’ll find it is a very different experience for the senses. The pedestrian area begins to buzz around 12 – 1pm, and dies down around 10:30 – 11pm (sometimes even midnight). And if you are leery of crowds or have claustrophobic issues, perhaps it is best to visit during the weekday rather than the weekends.