Dr. Chun
Taipei, Japan

June, 2014

 

In Taiwan, the high-speed train runs from Kaohsiung in the south, and goes all the way up north to Taipei.  It was a super-fast and ultra-comfortable ride.  I found that the capital city of Taiwan is fast shaping up to be one of Asia's most vibrant and colorful cities.



     
     
013I arrived at Taipei railway station in the rain in the late afternoon. I saw many immigrant workers having get-together parties inside the station. 023After I checked into a hotel near the railway station, I headed for Longshan Temple. You can find intricate stonework, colorful dragons, and gleaming roof ornaments, all surrounded by clouds of incense and the scent of floral offerings.

 
033The next stop was a couple of blocks away from the temple. The Huaxi Street Tourist Night Market (or "Snake Alley") provides local snacks and small seafood restaurants that serve delicious Taiwanese dishes. 043Next morning, I walked to 2-28 Memorial Peace Park.  The park maintains a somewhat somber feel, being a memorial to a massacre still raw in the memories of the nation two generations later.
 
053Presidential Office Building became the home of the Taiwanese presidential office after the Nationalist government relocated to the island from mainland China.
063The Taiwanese people's reverence for the first President of the Republic of China and the icon of Chinese Nationalism is very much in evidence in the monumental Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
 
073Chiang died in 1975, the hall opened five years later and since then the huge white structure, with its octagonal blue pagoda-style roof, has become a symbol of Taiwan..
083The National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is a memorial to the Republic of China's National Father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen.  The changing of the guards ceremony was very impressive.

 
113One of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, Taipei 101 features 101 floors above ground and five floors underground. Its observatory offers unparalleled views of Taipei and beyond. 123I walked past the world's largest tuned mass damper, a 660-ton sphere which keeps the building upright during wind and earthquakes, on the floor below the observatory on the way out.
 
133Without a doubt, the National Palace Museum ranks among the finest institutions of its kind anywhere in the world. Many of the exhibits were once displayed in Beijing’s Forbidden City, and were moved to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War. 143Items on display represent millennia of Chinese artistry and ingenuity, with highlights including an important calligraphy collection, landscape paintings and a huge range of jade, bronze and ceramic artifacts.
 
153In the evening, I watched a show of classical Chinese opera, "Mulan", at Taipei Eye. Prior to the performance, a young lady dressed elegantly in a pink-satin dress sat down in a corner of the foyer and began strumming a pipa (a Chinese lute). 163Next morning, I headed for Yehliu in northern Taiwan.  Yehliu Geopark is home to a number of unique geological formations, including the iconic "Queen's Head."
 
173Yehliu Geopark is truly a park of natural wonders: rocks carved by wave-cutting and weathering  were formed into shapes resembling figures that are real. 183From Yehliu, I took a local bus to the quaint little village of Jiufen, once the gold mining center of Taiwan.
 
193The gold is gone, but Jiufen built of closely-packed houses clinging to steep mountainsides, continue to offer enchanting scenery, unique teahouses and fascinating glimpses into the lifestyles of the past./td> 203I spent the last evening in Taipei at Elephant Mountain (Xiang Shan).  It is Taipei' most popular hike, but I decided to take a cable car because of the rain.  I enjoyed a perfect cityscape view with Taipei 101 in it.
 
     
 
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