Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tomorrow, when the war began

The metropolitan train stations here in Taipei are sleek, modern looking things. Like most of the big Asian cities, the metro only came online relatively late in the city's development. And that fact made a huge difference - for the better. In MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit) there is not a single metre of track at ground level. Instead, the tracks are mostly buried deep beneath the ground, or high above your head as you walk down the main streets of this gridded city. This was one of the upsides of building a metro system in an already-crowded metropolis. With land too expensive and already developed, the only options were up or down, and both have been used in abundance.

The underground stations are vast, cavernous constructions with Escher-like stairs and escalaters taking passangers to meet their precisely-timed trains. The train stations are great hidden worlds, deep beneath the ground. The conspiracy-theorist in me wonders if they might also make perfect bomb shelters, should the need arise.

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