I found Old Heaven cafe 舊天堂書店 at exactly the time I needed it in my life. It was perfect. I was new to Shenzhen, I didn’t particularly want to live there at that stage and everyone needs ‘their’ cafe. I found mine and I haven’t found another since. Oh, I’ve been looking, changing my bicycle route on the off-chance that another Old Heaven might pop up in these back-streets of Taipei. Alas, no such luck. Could it be that Old Heaven is truly the most perfect little cafe in the world?
I’ve made it a challenge to myself to try and find one that outdoes it. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I can’t quite deal with the fact that I no longer get to go there. It’s not that I want to replace it, it’s just I need another space that has that same special quality.
What’s so special about Old Heaven I hear you wonder…?
Well, how about the fact that it’s a book store too. Or the fact that it also sells vinyls, cds, notebooks and classic posters, to name a few. It has a cat, and the best green tea I’ve ever drank in my life. The furniture is mis-matched, and the lighting is more than perfect. There are different nooks and crannies, each with their own unique atmosphere. There’s a record player, and a cd player, and you can play DJ. There’s an antique fooz-ball table on the little patio under the trees, sprinkled with white blossoms that smell divine. There is a little upstairs table. It’s my favourite. I would curl up on that sofa and spend hours writing. I even wrote my proposal for the Taiwan Youth Trekker’s competition which won, sat on that exact sofa, sipping on the best green tea.
You can watch concerts there, listen to lectures on every topic from art to the future of China. You can browse and buy books. You can get drunk on their wide selection of beers and cocktails. Their Long Island Iced Tea is lethal (in a good way, of course). They play music that seems to blend with your mood, allowing you to emanate possibility.
(Old Heaven is below this crazy-cool building)
It was like a second home. I could go there with the knowledge that even if it was packed, there’d always be a seat for me somewhere, even if it was a dusty step, or a rather uncomfortable wooden number tucked in the corner.
I spent an evening with my family there. I spent days upon days with my best girl and guy friends there, chatting and drinking bottomless green tea and freshly-squeezed apple juice. I probably cried there, got drunk there, danced there. I even fell in love there.
Old Heaven is my best.
Taiwan had a few possible contenders, but none can equal the beauty of Old Heaven. Nor can Scotland, South Africa, England, Hong Kong, Thailand and anywhere else I’ve searched since discovering my cafe.
Perhaps you’ve been to one that might be a suitable competitor? What makes your favourite so awesome?
If I never find one as cool again, will I be left feeling cafe-unsatisfied forever?
Maybe I should open one that’s even more amazing, if that’s even possible…
Yeah, I really like this cafe.
p.s. Due to a major lack of photos, I guess I’ll just have to go back…