There’s a well-known expression in the Chinese language reminding us that whenever we drink water, we should remember to think about where its source is. It means that we should be grateful for what we have. This phrase gets used in many situations that have nothing to do with actual water, but there is at least one place in Taiwan where you may hear it used literally. Taipei’s Museum of Drinking Water occupies a large 110-year-old pump house that gave Taipei its earliest public water supply.
Mr. Cheng often leads visitors around the museum, taking them through the complicated history of how Taipei’s water system came to be. The words “municipal water” may not conjure up excitement at first, but that’s really just because most of us take it for granted. What Mr. Cheng does is to open up a world of constant work stretching back more than a century just to keep the water flowing. When you turn on your tap, he says, the water doesn’t just flow out from nowhere. Mr. Cheng is with us today for a journey through a museum that gives this side of Taiwan’s history its due.