Taiwan Fun Magazine,April 2003   

Taipei Museum of Drinking Water

By Kev Lax

       The Taipei Museum of Drinking Water is worth visiting for two reasons. Firstly, it is a quiet refuge close to the city; and secondly, it tells the story of an important part of the city¡¦s development.

       The building that houses the museum used to be the pump room for a waterworks that was a major feature of Taipei's early infrastructure development.

       After being superseded by a new waterworks next door, the pump room was left unattended for years, until it was decided a few years ago to turn it into a museum. If you haven't seen photos of the museum (or seen it on TV--it has appeared in several commercials, masquerading as a Parisian ballet theater or other historic European building) you may be surprised to find such a fine edifice in Taipei. My first reaction when I walked through the gates, after walking up the road outside countless times over the years, was "Why did I never notice this before?" The building is invisible from outside the compound. But this Baroque-style building, with its domes and arches and decorations, has to be one of the most attractive old buildings in Taipei.

      Inside the pump room displays tell the story of Taipei's first modern waterworks. You can walk amongst the old pipes and long-deactivated American and Japanese machinery.

       When the Japanese took over Taiwan in 1895, illnesses caused by unsanitary conditions were a major problem. Realizing the importance of an ample supply of clean water, they set about building a modern waterworks. Based on designs made by a British engineer, and completed in 1908, the waterworks supplied the main residential and business centers of Dadaocheng and Wanhua, and the Cheng Nei area--the center of government (roughly today's Boai Special Zone.) It is no exaggeration to say that the waterworks and pump room played a vital role in the early development of Taipei. Without clean water the Japanese colonial government could not have functioned, and Taipei could not have grown as it did.

      The pump room is not the only attraction. The gardens are also very pleasant, and if you go at the right time, you can find yourself alone amidst birdsong and insect calls.

       Be sure to walk up Little Guanyin Mountain to the old water storage tank. Notice that even the buildings around the storage tank were also done in Baroque style and painted crimson. This hill is only abut 50 meters high, but when you get to the top on a clear day you have a magnificent view of the Hsintien Stream below, and mountains in the distance.

       The museum is easy to reach. Take the Hsintien MRT line and get off at Kungkuan station. Leave by the Campus Books exit and go down the road that goes between the bookshop and Starbucks. Cross over DingZhou Road and walk up SiYuan Road past the new water-themed park that, together with the museum, now makes up the Taipei Water Park. After about 300 meters you'll see a sign over the road saying "Taipei Water Park." Take a left to the ticket office. It should take only about five minutes to get there from the MRT.

       Adults pay NT$80; kids under 12 get in for NT$50. From November to the end of March, the museum is open 9am to 6pm. For the rest of the year it stays open until 10pm. Tickets can be bought until an hour before closing; the museum is shut on Mondays.