Taipei Days and Nights

Trip Start Feb 24, 2006
Trip End Dec 31, 2007

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Arrived and had bad weather and a worse headache that lasted for two days...but I was able to get out and tour the city a bit and when the weather cleared, it kind of jump-started my sightseeing and traveling.

The first few days I spent just running errands like gettting some new camera equipment and dropping off my passport at the Korean embassy for a new visa - I walked and walked and walked all over!  Monday I did my passport thing and visited the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial, a monstrous building in the downtown area complete with a giant statue of the great leader, a cultural center and an interesting changing of the guard ceremony.  On Tuesday, it was a beautiful day, my headache was gone and I was ready to be on the move.  I started by heading to the Chiang Khai Shek Memorial Hall (*current news note - they just announced they will change it to the Taiwan Democracy Hall) which is a geourgeous pavilion of scultured gardens and gold fish-filled ponds with two massive traditional Chinese-style buildings, one a concert hall and the other an exhibition hall, that reside behind a beautiful five-arched Ming dynasty gate, all of which stand in the shadows of the 70 meter tall, white-marbled and blue-tiled roof of the CKS Memorial.  The CKS Hall has two sets of marbled stairs with a total of 89 steps, representing CKS's age of death and at the top are two 16 meter high and 75 ton entrance doors that lead to a huge statue of the man, guarded at all times by two soldiers, reminiscent of England's guards - they even train to not blink for their entire watch/shift!  Overall, I thought it was a quite impressive display.

After CKS, I subwayed to Longshan Temple, originally built in 1738, in honor of the Buddhist goddess of Guanyin - whcih was reconstructed in a likeness of Dragon Mountain in mainland China.  There are now also some Taoist gods, like the goddess of the sea, Mazu, and the whole temple is of the typical Chinese roof with curling eaves and sculptures of writhing dragons.  Apparently, the temple is particularly known for its intricate and detailed sculptures, woodcarvings and bronzework (see photos).  After touring the local Longshan area, I met up with Enon, a Taiwanese friend, and we walked the city to closed sights, toured Shihlin night market, famous in Taiwan, but nothing special if you've been to any other night market in Asia.  We were able to find a hot pot restaurant (my favorite Chinese food) and being that it was an all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant, we went to town and spent the next two hours grubbing and having dozens of great conversations!
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