Taiwan’s northern tip: weird nature, wonderful street food

JiufenTwo ports flank Taipei and both played a role in forging what is now the Republic of China.

To the west, Tamsui stands alongside a well-sheltered and thus strategic harbour and has become something of a suburb of the capital, connected by the metro.

I find my guide, Mathias Daccord, who recently moved from Shanghai in search of a “less toxic” life, at Tamsui station, sporting a pair of aviators and designer stubble circa 1985. With an assuring wink he hands me a helmet, then races us through town, exhibiting the reverence for safety one might expect from a Parisian on a scooter in East Asia.

We pass churches and temples, new apartment blocks and heavily weathered tenements. Approaching the coast, we continue alongside the swampy estuary, lined with mangroves, banyan trees and seafront cafes, until, at Fisherman’s Wharf, we stop and settle on the concrete sea wall. Over 7-Eleven lagers, we watch the sun sink into the deep blue of the Taiwan Strait

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