To foreigners, at least, Taipei’s metro is famous. Known locally as the MRT or jiéyùn, it comprises a rainbow of different lines and more than 130 stops as it snakes its way through the city. In contrast to much of the public transport in the US that I have experienced, it is extensive, clean, fast, and punctual.
Living some three miles from campus, the MRT has been an indispensable part of my life while in Taipei, allowing me not only to get to class on time but to conveniently explore various parts of the city. With the unlimited rides loaded onto my student ID/Easy Card (a sort of metro card) by CET, hopping on and off at random stations across the city has led me to discover new temples, parks, markets, and cafes.
It was during one of these exploratory jaunts that I discovered my new obsession: stamps. No doubt dreamed up in the mind of some promotional genius working at Taipei Metro, as far as I can tell, every MRT station has its own personalized stamp. The same day I discovered this, I bought a small booklet and began my journey to collect as many of these stamps as possible. In this blog post, I will detail the stamps of the five stations I typically encounter in a day.
Nanjing Sanmin Station
The stamp of Nanjing Sanmin Station
My day typically begins at the Nanjing Sanmin station of the Green Line, the closest MRT station to my apartment. In the right-hand corner of the stamp is the First MacArthur bridge, which connects Nangang and Xizhi to the center of Taipei by crossing the Keelung River. The rest of the stamp represents the collections of two museums, the Taipei Railway Workshop Museum and the Puppetry Art Center of Taipei.
From Nanjing Sanmin, it is 11 stops until I reach Gongguan, the MRT station closest to NTU. The right-hand side of Gongguan’s stamp is taken up by the façade of the Musuem of Drinking Water and cyclists on the Gongguan Bikeway. The left-hand side depicts the most famous features of NTU: the entrance gate, the Royal Palm Boulevard, and the Fu Bell. The soaring palms of NTU have become synonymous with the university itself, so much so that many cram schools around Taipei incorporate the words “palm tree” into their names.
The stamp of Gongguan Station
Technology Building Station
After classes end, I am typically on the other side of campus, so I catch the Brown Line back home at the Technology Building station. Being on one of the raised sections of the MRT, the Technology Building station is physically connected to the Technology Building, which houses the Ministry of Science and Technology. The building itself and the raised railway are depicted on this station’s stamp.
The stamp of Technology Building Station
Nanjing Fuxing Station
At Nanjing Fuxing station, I then transfer from the Brown Line back to the Green Line. This entails a trek down a few escalators from the somewhat futuristic-looking platform of the Brown Line to the underground tunnels of the Green Line. On the way, you pass by some rather tempting snack and coffee stands, but if you have the patience, an even greater array of treats awaits at the end of the Green Line. The stamp for this station depicts the Brown Line portion of the station and the numerous office buildings that surround it.
The stamp of Nanjing Fuxing Station
If it has been a long day of classes, by the time I transfer to the Green Line it is well past 6 o’clock. If I can, I sometimes travel with a few friends and ride past Nanjing Sanmin station to the next stop and the end of the Green Line: Songshan station.
The stamp of Songshan Station
The stamp for this station prominently displays the façade of the Songshan Ciyou Temple, a complex that has served the residents of this area for hundreds of years. It also depicts the reason my friends and I usually come, the gate of the Raohe Street night market. The market’s star —but far from only— attraction is also depicted: pepper buns being cooked in a tandoor-like oven. No matter how the day has gone, Raohe is a great place to end it.
View from the second floor of Songshan Ciyou Temple. This photo was taken by my great friend and indomitable roommate, Renske.
As I continue my journey of collecting as many MRT stamps as possible from around the city, I am excited about the new things that I will discover. A routine is an important thing to have, but it can also be a trap. Finding ways to get yourself out there is important, because the unexpected also tends to be the most rewarding.