- The big finale to my Taiwan adventures brings me to where else but the capital - Taipei. I was calmly excited for my Taipei trip because I could finally go through some of the popular places that most tourists have gone to, although my heart still stays with the indigenous spirit of Sun Moon Lake.
- Taking off from my previous post (click here,) I left Sun Moon Lake riding the first bus to Taichung HSR, and had an hour and a half train ride to Taipei. I went to my hostel (Homey Hostel,) conveniently located a 5-minute walk from the Taipei Main Station, where the HSR, TRA, MRT, and the main bus station(s) meet in a rather confusing manner (I shall expound on this gradually.) Taipei was a lot colder (but not frigid) and cloudier than Sun Moon Lake, although I was more than thankful that it wasn't raining anymore when I arrived in Taipei; several weeks prior, it rained heavily almost everyday in Taipei. Also, the rain and almost-winter cold weather would be a bad combination; I didn't want to get sick!! As a bonus by the heavens, the sun peaks once in a while too, giving me hope that I will enjoy my short stay in Taipei.
- After leaving my things in the hostel, I got lost looking for the MRT entrance, and found another entrance to the large underground mall that connects to the train stations. It took me a good 5 to 10 minutes before finding for the MRT station. Oh, and Taipei uses the Easy Card (aka Yoyo Card,) so I had to remember to keep away my Kaohsiung I-Pass to prevent mixing them up. As explained in my first post (click here,) the Easy Card can be used in MRTs, public buses, purchases in some convenience stores, bike rentals, and other services. While talking about travelling, I'd like to mention as early as now that most tourists would usually only need the blue and red MRT lines, both of which are currently the only ones that intersect at the Taipei Main Station. The red line goes north to south, and the blue line goes east to west.
- My plan for the day was to visit places from south to north, since my supposed last stop for the day was the Shilin market at the north of the city. However, I realized that most museums and shrines that had opening and closing times were mostly located in the northern areas, so I decided to shift my route from north to south, visiting the museums and shrines first while the day was young, and then go back up north.
- The northernmost place I visited was the Ketagalan Culture Center in Xinbeitou, accessible by walking from the Xinbeitou MRT Station. The culture center was made in remembrance of the Ketagalan people that used to live in that part of Taiwan. This group has now been scattered and their language is now, sadly, extinct. The small three-story museum is home to some exhibits that showcase the different Taiwanese indigenous groups. There is no entrance fee by the way. As for Beitou, although I decided not to explore much of Beitou, the place is famous for its hot springs.
|Ketagalan Culture Center.|
|Different indigenous groups.|
|Found a friend to the cow statue in the Hindu Temple in Manila.|
- I later went to visit the Grand Hotel just to take a photo of its facade. This building, completed in the 1970s, is a rare tall building using Chinese classical architectural styles. It is located a good 15 to 20 minute walk from the Jiantian MRT Station.
- The next on my itinerary was the Martys' Shrine of Taipei, located beside the hotel in all maps I have, but in actuality is another 20- to 30-minute walk from the Grand Hotel. While still "traumatized" from the Martys' Shrine "martyr hike" in Kaohsiung (click here,) I wanted to shout "hallelujah" when I found out that the Martys' Shrine in Taipei was located on flat ground!!
|Gate of the Martys' Shrine.|
|The shrine itself.|
|March march march march.|
|The lines on the floor show the marching route of the guards; the lines appeared through decades of friction from the guards' shoes.|
|Enter the guards.|
|Guards have been posted.|
- My real plan for being in the vicinity of Yuanshan MRT was to visit the Taipei Confucius Temple, originally built in the 1600s, and the Baoan Temple, a folk temple built in the 1800s.
|Taipei Confucian Temple. It's the third Confucian Temple I've visited in Taiwan.|
|Inside the temple.|
|I am amazed at the little people carved on the roofs and walls of the temple.|
|They even have tiny trees!!|
|Where the walls meet.|
|Architecture in Dihua Street.|
|Japanese colonial architecture.|
|No one deserves to have a car like this. Ever.|
|Judicial Hall I think.|
|Another memorial hall, I suspect for Sun Yat Sen.|
|Saw this gem while being lost.|
|Zhongximen, also known as Xiaonanmen (Little South Gate.)|
|Also found this on the way to the temple.|
- The Mengjia Longshan Temple was originally built by Fujianese settlers in the 1700s. Through time, it was bombed and affected by natural calamities, but it has since been rebuilt and preserved. The temple shows both Taiwanese and Southern-Chinese architecture, and as with many Chinese temples, the temple has a mix of Taoist and Buddhist influences.
|One of Taiwan's more unique temples.|
|More little people!!|
|Such effort was given to these temples.|
|They even have color!!|
- I rode the train to Ximen MRT Station, and visited the Red House Theater, a market-turned theater originally built in the early 1900s, but was used as a theater by mid-1900s. The main building has a distinct octagonal shape, but is joined by a cross-shaped building (when seen from above) at the back. The theater has a small museum inside at the ground floor, and the second floor with the theater is still being used as well for special performances. It also has some shops that sell some functional artworks by local artists (i.e. t-shirts, school supplies, bags, accessories, etc.)
|One of the headdresses used for a performance in the past.|
- I left my hostel after an hour's rest and went up north to visit the Shilin market, accessible via walking from the Jiantian MRT Station. At the exit, there is an underground walkway that leads to a street corner with some stalls. People can walk along this sidewalk for a minute or two, and the big night market can be seen.
|A big crowd.|
- I was warned that the food can be a bit expensive, so I decided to order some shaved ice dessert instead of a meal, planning to have dessert first before my actual dinner. I just wanted to order something so I had a reason to visit the toilet-themed restaurant. I got myself some kiwi shaved ice treat with a poo-shaped chocolate ice cream, served in a urinal. This particular Modern Toilet branch in Shilin Night Market is currently located above a papaya-milk store (again, I hate papaya milk, and papayas in general.)
|Hmm, my hair seems nice here.|
|The temple in Shilin Night Market.|
- I took some photos a block or two away from Taipei 101. I made it a point to go in the evening so the building will have pretty lights. I took some photos until my camera died. Taipei 101 used to be the world's tallest skyscraper until the Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai. In Taiwan, Taipei 101 remains the tallest, bumping Kaohsiung's 85 Sky Tower (aka Tuntex Sky Tower, click here) after Taipei 101 was completed. Taipei 101 has a mall, some office spaces, an observatory, and some restaurants, to name a few.
|Wearing my vest from Sun Moon Lake.|
|My things exploded. Whoops.|
- The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is currently located near the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial MRT Station. Although the shrine itself opens at around 9am, the open areas are forever open, and many people use this open space to do their morning exercise. As for me, I went there early and use the open space for my pictorial. The CKS Memorial Hall was built in the 1970s to honor former president Chiang Kai Shek. Former president/Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek pushed for the nationalist movement, and pushed for traditional Chinese culture.
|CKS Memorial Hall.|
|Can't believe that....I still look the same as I did in high school.|
|Up the stairs; still wearing my uniform.|
|View of the National Theater Hall, the gate, and the National Concert Hall from the Memorial Hall.|
|There he is, Chiang Kai Shek.|
|With a guard.|
|With chibi Chiang Kai Shek.|
|This has to be the cutest version of Chiang Kai Shek I've seen. Blush on for the win.|
|Inside the exhibition hall.|
|Wanna have his clothes.|
|I like his style.|
- I went east and visited the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, a good complement to visiting the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall; Sun Yat Sen was a good friend and ally of Chiang Kai Shek. The Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall is located beside the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall a few stations away from Taipei Main Station. Obviously, it was built, also in the 1970s, to honor Sun Yat Sen, the first president of Taiwan, and one of the key figures in the democratic movement. Come to think of it, Sun Yat Sen and Chiang Kai Shek's partnership and mindsets are comparable (though not exactly equivalents) to India's Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mahatma Gandhi, with Sun Yat Sen, who was more open to foreign influences and thoughts, being Nehru's counterpart, and Chiang Kai Shek, who was more traditional, being Gandhi's counterpart.
|Taipei 101 from the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.|
|Hard to capture the whole building.|
|Sun Yat Sen.|
|Large painting of Sun Yat Sen.|
|Changing of guards.|
|I went outside for a whilel; there were a lot of people inside.|
|Another attempt to capture the whole building.|
|Sun Yat Sen.|
|With the guard.|
|From the second floor.|
- The palace-like museum was built in the mid-1960s as an offshoot of Beijing's Palace Museum after Taiwan separated from China. Taiwan's National Palace Museum houses a vast collection of artifacts from prehistoric China onwards. The exhibit halls in each of the three floors are themed based on period (ex. Tang Dynasty, Ming Dynasty,) or other miscellaneous themes like religion (ex. Confucian or Buddhist,) or type of artifact (ex. exhibit on pottery, calligraphy, or bronze works.)
|At the courtyard. of the National Palace Museum.|
|It was nice inside. Too bad no photos were allowed.|
- I rode the train back to Taipei Main Station, and had a late lunch (or heavy snack?) at the nearby KFC on the way to my hostel, because I was weirdly craving for fried chicken. (Come to think of it, any time can be fried chicken time. Haha.) By the way, Taiwan's KFC had egg tarts instead of chocolate brownies. After eating, I went to my hostel and spent the next five and a half hours repacking my bag, and giving myself the long rest that I needed at the hostel's lobby.
|Homey Hostel had streamers with different flags. India and Philippines were placed beside each other, coincidentally.|
- I cooled off in the bus that took us to Taoyuan International Airport. It was a good 40- to 45-minute bus drive because there was less traffic that night. With traffic, the trip from Taipei to Taoyuan International Airport could reach to an hour or a few minutes past an hour. Since I somehow predicted that I would get lost and left the hostel early, I arrived at the airport on time (well, actually, 10 minutes earlier than expected.)
- I was deadbeat tired in the airport while waiting for my flight. That trip to the airport was an adventure in itself. Despite this, the past 11 days had been great, with plenty of new experiences and realizations. I outdid myself by organizing a cross-country itinerary, which was something I have never done before, and speaking Mandarin from day-break to day-end day by day, which was something I never did my whole life (yes we learned Mandarin in school, but we only used Mandarin in our afternoon Chinese classes, and spoke Hokkien at home or with most of our Chinese teachers outside the classroom.) I also realized that because it was my first time in Taiwan, and I got lost almost half the time I was there, my favorite phrase there was "請問/请问...." (may I ask....) There was also a soothing and satisfactory pleasure in seeing traditional written Chinese, which is still being widely-used in Taiwan, unlike mainland China and many overseas Chinese communities where the simplified style has been adapted; I grew up learning the traditional style, and only learned the simplified style when I was in junior year high school when my high school alma mater's Chinese curriculum made a transition to learning both traditional and simplified characters in all levels, and not just the traditional style. (Needless to say I have some difficulty reading a few "common" simplified characters whenever I visit China or read mainland-Chinese written works, since I do not have a deep background in reading/writing simplified Chinese characters.) Apart from linguistic concerns, I was also relieved that I was able to finish my itinerary - even with a few additional destinations - because my friends who have seen my itinerary prior to the trip have warned me that I might not have enough time to finish everything, especially my Taipei itinerary. Of course, the highlight was still to check some items off my life's bucket list, like eating snake (and enjoying it!!) dancing with indigenous people in Sun Moon Lake, and wearing my high school uniform in front of the CKS Memorial Hall. Overall, despite my sore legs, I could say that I definitely had fulfilling trip to Taiwan.
|Cooled off with Japanese Ramune at the airport.|
- I am back in Manila, and the first two things I did were sleep, and have a haircut. My hairstylist could not make my bangs really short like before, because he wanted to cover the uneven color of my face; I got sunburnt in Taiwan (I am blaming Kaohsiung and Tainan for this haha,) and most of my face and arms are darker than usual, with the not too exposed spots remaining fairer.
- I also told my mom that I ate snake, and while she reminded me in her sharp Hokkien tone that she told me not to eat snake, she was VERY curious to know what snake tasted like. Again, it tasted like chicken with the texture of squid.
- Some friends have asked where my next destination would be, and to be honest I still have no idea, and I am not scheduling any trips abroad since I need to deal with my thesis, and so I can get over with it and graduate.
**** For more information on Taiwan, please also visit Go! Taiwan. Just click on the photo below!!