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October 27, 2006

Taiwan Storyland

Taiwan Storyland 台灣故事館 (táiwān gùshìguǎn/Taiwan Storyland) is a nostalgic recreation of 1960s Taiwan located in the basement of KMall (an electronics and computers mall across from Taipei Main Station). You would think it would just be cheesy as hell but it is surprisingly well-done, featuring a great selection of vintage furniture, cars, bikes, posters, you name it. It's just like the old days, except it is immaculately clean and climate controlled—which is to say, it is nothing like being in the old days at all, but rather a sanitized, Disneyland version of being in the old days. Actually, to be fair, it's not like Main Street Disneyland since it is not at all cartoon-like or unrealistically colorful. It's in fact quite a faithful recreation, something akin to what you would find in a museum.

I didn't realize how big this fictional neighborhood would be until I walked in. Because it is located in the basement of a building, I had always thought it would be just a big restaurant with some nostalgic decorations, like a Hard Rock or some similarly idiotic theme restaurant. But it is a whole lot more than that—it's essentially a small theme park. They have faithfully recreated a tiny neighborhood, all in the basement. In it, you'll find: a police station, a doctor's office, a dental office, a classroom, a salon, a bar, a tiny cinema showing period films, shops, restaurants, etc, etc. There are alleys and streets and cars and bikes and old signs and posters. Aside from the no-dirt aspect of it, everything looked straight out of the 60s. There are lots of great photo opportunities throughout (there are over 1,400 photos tagged with "台灣故事館" on Flickr).

While I may not have been born in the 60s, a lot of the things in the theme park are stuff I remember fondly from my childhood in the 70s. Things like games and snacks and drinks that you don't see anymore in modern-day Taipei. My favorites were the fun old posters and signs from the past.

The entrance ticket is NT$250/US$7.51, but you are given the entire value of the ticket (NT$250) in vouchers to spend inside.

Everything is slightly overpriced, as can be expected from a theme park, but not exorbitantly so. The traditional Taiwanese food I tried was mediocre, but it's certainly edible. There is also a Japanese restaurant and a Chinese restaurant, serving fancier meals, but I didn't try those. Going for an elaborate meal at a place like this makes no sense (plus, I didn't want to spend any more than what I had in vouchers).

Anyway, it's worth spending an hour or two there, especially on a weeknight. On a Monday night when I went, there weren't many people, so you really get the feeling that you are transported back to some quiet (and slightly surreal) old town in Taiwan and you get to take pictures to your heart's content without having people in your frame all the time.

台灣故事館 (Taiwan Storyland) @ KMall B2, 台北市忠孝西路1段50號B2 (B2, No.50, Sec.1, Zhongxiao W. Rd., Taipei), 0800-887-701

Filed Under: Taipei