Guang Hua Computer Market
The otaku(to borrow a word from Japanese) mecca of Taipei is, without a doubt, Guang Hua Market. Just don't go expecting Akihabara, OK? This is Taiwan, man, so expect a little grit with your geek paradise. Expect a bajillion scooters and even more people to perpetually throw themselves in your path, forever screwing with your meticulously planned approach vectors. Expect food stands selling corn dogs. And heaven help you if your idea of geeking out is having a milkshake at some posh maid cafe somewhere.
What you should expect to see are motherboards, lots and lots of motherboards. You will also see a lot of mp3 players, graphics cards, power supplys, computer cases and case accessories of every description, many PC games in Chinese, a few in English, Japanese console games, manga, dvds, AV(wink, wink, nudge), books on computers, recordable media, and everything you could possibly need to connect X to Y. To illustrate this last point a bit better, let me relay a personal anecdote or two. Exhibiting the foresight I am know for, I brought my Saturn PS2 pad(this is a PS2 controller in the form of an old Sega Saturn controller, perfect for arcade style games) with me to Taiwan. I did not bring my PS2 and had no method to connect this to my computer, but I had a hunch Taipei wouldn't let me down. Guang Hua delivered in about 10 minutes with a PS/PS2 to USB converter. It works like a charm and has led to much emulation goodness on my PC. For a more serious challenge, I also decided to look for a way to run homebrew code on my Nintendo DS -- I hate paying shipping on stuff like this and the hunt itself is kind of fun. Once again, Guang Hua delivered with a Passkey2 for less than $30(I already had a gba flashcart).
Getting to Guang Hua is pretty easy, but there is some confusion due to the fact that they tore down the building that the market was previously housed in. They are building a nicer building, set to open in 2007 I believe, but for now you can find the market in a temporary structure on Civic Blvd. near Xinsheng Rd. If you hop off the MRT at Zhongxiao Xinsheng station, just walk north till you get to Civic and hang a left. Guang Hua will be a little ways down on the left. There will be about a thousand scooters out in front of it and you may even see the ad in the image on the left there(by the way, if you are wondering what the Taipei Game Show -- last held in February -- is like, just take that picture and multiply it by about 100,000. That'll give you an inkling).
Oh, and I also bought a new copy of ESPGaluda for PS2 at Guang Hua for about $24. Holy hell it was sweet when I bought that! That game is like $60-65 on the import sites, if you can even find it. It has this nice sticker on it that says, "OFFICIAL PRODUCT. Pricing and 'For Japan Only' mark printed inside the case are not applicable. MADE IN JAPAN." It has another sticker which says, "DVD video inside the package are exclusively for Japan Market." Yeah, it seems like this is the official Japanese version, which comes with a dvd, only repriced for Taiwan.
Tags: Taiwan, Taipei, GuangHua, videogames, otaku