Taichung: The birthplace of pearl milk tea

Azlan Othman

Taichung is a laidback and artsy city full of universities, colleges, museums and art-filled public spaces. It is Taiwan’s second largest city, an hour south of Taipei by high-speed train.

The city is also home to some of the world’s most ambitious architectural projects which are mostly green and sustainable.

One needs to explore the city with a visit to the new Taichung National Theatre – a show-stopper and an iconic building with its stunning architecture both outside and inside.

The theatre took 11 years to construct and here, the drama is the architecture itself.

Flanked by large gardens and dancing fountains, the building’s façade has huge cut-out concrete sections that reminded me of gargantuan hourglasses, with its sinuous and flowing curves. Designed by Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond, this avant-garde building with no beams draws inspiration from rocks and caves. It has three theatres that host dance, music and opera performances from across the world.

An exquisite design at National Taichung Theatre. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN
The Arthas Statue. The statue depicts Lich King Arthas Menetell, an iconic character from Blizzard Entertaining Warcraft game universe

The building’s rooftop garden is also well worth a visit. You can easily spend half an hour just walking through the halls and roof terrace. Interesting bookshops, and a number of arts markets are found on two of the floors, and also the option for kids – or adults – to make their own music box.

The interesting part is that there is no right angle in the whole building. The unique architecture makes it a musical and cultural venue visitors should pay a visit to.

Entrance to the National Theatre is free and it offers a great deal of history and information. From the outside you can view the curved, concrete walls and glass screens which majestically adorn the building.

Surrounded by new condos, you will find yourself with some unique angles to capture this piece of artistic architecture.

The shops inside are also free to visit without tickets.

National Taichung Theatre is indeed one of the most awesome and amazing places, thanks to its very breathtaking picturesque location right in the heart of Taichung City.

There are lots to see, great artistic items to buy, great opera and shops with variety of gift items as well as an amazing rooftop garden fit for movies.

There is also a sculpture park located nearby with public art courtesy of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. If you love art (and history!) this is a great place to spend the day.

The park is a large art space, with many interesting art works. I spent about an hour there and it is definitely a good trip if you are in the area.

One highlight is the Arthas Statue. The statue depicts Lich King Arthas Menetell, an iconic character from Blizzard Entertaining Warcraft game universe.

Designed by Taiwan artist Steven Wang, the bronze statue with its base stands 4.5 metres tall and weighs in at 1,814 kilogrammes. It took the artist over a year to complete the statue.

At the end of walkway lies Caowu Square where singers performed local melodies and artists behavioural art. People were seen relaxing and indulging in harmony with nature.

Caowu Square is a great place for people to unwind and this long stretch is fascinating. It is a square spanning between the city’s two major museums and beyond. Along the path is a wide variety of shops and restaurants.

Taichung is also known as the birthplace of pearl milk tea — black or green tea with milk, sugar and chewy black tapioca pearls. Sometimes there are fruit variations of the bubble tea or with additions like red beans. So it is perfect for walks and jogs around Caowu Square or to try one of many bubble tea outlets located nearby at the Square.