December 17, 2010
The Taipei International Flora Exposition

And it's another live blog on another gorgeous day in Taipei, a perfect time to visit the Flora Expo.

I can't remember another event in Taipei that was advertised as heavily before it opened, and I must say I have been looking forward to going now (I assume) the crowds have died down a bit.

So it's back on the MRT, destination Yuanshan (the red line). There are other entrances, but for ease this one looked the easiest. There are a surprising number of people on the MRT for 10am on a Thursday morning though. They can't all be going to the Expo, can they?

Well, yes. It appears that many of them are?K

When you arrive take Exit 1 then buy a ticket (NT$300 per person, NT$180 if you have a group of 10 or more) at one of the two ticket stations.

This used to be the soccer stadium in Taiwan. I guess football has been sacrificed in the name of flora, and to be honest having watched the Taiwanese team a few times, I can't really same I blame though (although that game against Macau in the World Cup pre-qualifying qualifiers was a cracker).

Okay, strike what I wrote previously; buying tickets is fast enough today (no queue at all), but there are loads of people! Over 30000 today in fact according to the info board (and over 40000 by the time we leave).

The second thing to strike me is the size of the Expo. This could take all day and even longer if you are willing to queue for the indoors events. Actually it might take most of a day to get into one, so subsequently we didn't try. There is more than enough to see outside and it's a glorious day still. I'm quickly realizing that the three-day pass tickets make sense. No wonder it cost so much to complete.

Once inside, pick up a "Expo Folder" or pamphlet which are available for free, or you can download it from the official site in PDF format. There are basically four main areas, and you could walk round the whole complex in a day. However as I mentioned, if you want to get into any of the inside exhibits or shows such as the Expo Hall (shown below), you are going to have to queue, and from what we saw today, that could take a while.

My favourite bit of the things we saw was the Global Garden Area. There are representative gardens from far and wide, but for me the most interesting was the one from Bhutan.

The Expo is very well organized, and almost everything is in English. There are plenty of staff wearing Expo T-shirts who will be able to guide you, although it would be better to have the map with you so you can point and ask.

Oddly, the impression we were left with wasn't necessarily a botanical one. Although there were plenty of plants and we didn't visit all areas, I was expecting more of an explosion of colour. Perhaps though this is my misinterpretation as flora is defined (I checked after the event) as "the plants of a particular region, habitat, or geological period". Given that, then I guess it achieves its goal. I should mention that we did see walls of flowers and the aroma was reminiscent of a garden back at home.

There are several places of interest not constructed especially for the Expo including Taipei Story House and the Fine Arts Museum. There is an open air cafe by the Taipei Story House that serves a nice lunch, although more expensive than the other food options. One option would be to bring your own food as there are seated areas.

The one thing to be prepared for is the number of people. It had been open for almost two months when we went and it was still very busy on a weekday, so it's hard to imagine the numbers will drop off. If you intend to visit one of the major inside venues, then I recommend you get there as early as possible (tickets go on sale at 8:30am and the Expo opens at 9am) and focus on one venue per visit.

The Expo is open until April 25th 2011, so if you are in Taiwan during this time I do recommend a visit. It is well done, easy to get to, and it's good to be outside in a floral setting in Taipei. I was impressed enough that I will go back and visit the other areas and post another article as I have really only scratched the surface in this one.


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