Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Longshan Temple

Trip Start Jul 30, 2011
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Trip End Aug 17, 2011


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Where I stayed
Key Mall Traveler Hostel Taipei
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Taipei
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Lin Family Garden Taipei
Read my review - 3/5 stars
The Botanical Garden Taipei
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Longshan Temple
National Museum of History

Flag of Taiwan  ,
Sunday, July 31, 2011

    I awoke energized and ready for my first full day of exploration in Taipei.  My first order of business was to purchase a day pass for the Taiwan MRT that grants unlimited rides until midnight.  I found the Taipei subway system to be clean, efficient, and very easy to navigate.  It saved my life today.  Yesterday, I decided to walk everywhere and it almost killed my legs.  My first stop of the day was to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

    The Memorial Hall is enormous and flanked by the National Theater and National Concert Hall.  Apparently, I arrived at the perfect time because just as I got to the top of the stairs leading up the Hall, the gigantic bronze doors opened up.  I then had the opportunity to see a "Posting of the Guard" Ceremony which showed a lead guard and four auxiliary soldiers marching and performing gun handling skills in front of the giant statue of a sitting Chiang Kai-shek.

    Once the ceremony was over and the guards were posted, I headed down into the exhibition hall which is made up of several rooms.  They deal with Chiang Kai-shek's life from childhood to adulthood as the leader of Taiwan.  The exhibits hold a lot of personal items such as his wedding tuxedo, medals of honor from various countries, and his correspondences.  The Hall also held his private sedan, painted portraits, and even a recreation of his office.

    After my business at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was complete, I walked a little bit to the nearby National Museum of History.  The bulk of the collection is made up of Buddhist art such as sculpture, paintings, along with ritual pots, snuff bottles, and items from a scholar's study.

    The next stop was literally right next door to the Taipei Botanical Garden.  The Park is quite large and made up native plants including a section dedicated to "plants of classical Chinese literature."  Unfortunately, I didn't stay for too long.  By this time, my feet were starting to hurt so I decided to head back and rest for a bit.

    After a rest at the hostel, I headed next to the Lin Family Mansion and Garden.  This site is located off the tourist map I had but I made an effort to find it.  I ended up getting somewhat lost but eventually found it.  The residence is free and used to home to a wealthy family during the Qing Dynasty.  The whole complex is quite large yet compact and despite being in heavily built up section of Taipei, the area still has an air of seclusion and privacy.  The grounds have many Koi ponds, "natural" walkways and tunnels, and a variety of structures such as a library, study, and dining room among others.  Even though it took me almost an hour to find the place, I'm glad I stopped by.

    After a brief lunch made up rice and pork in a bag, I made my way back to Longshan Temple.  I had stopped by there yesterday but didn't have a chance to properly explore.  On the way to the temple, I passed by groups of old men playing cards and Chinese checkers.  The Temple was packed once again.  All around me, people were burning incense, bowing, making offerings of food, throwing "oracle stones" that look like orange slices, and chanting.  I was one of the few foreigners wandering around.

Since I was in the area, I decided to grab another bite to eat at the Huahsi Night Market.  This time I had a bowl of fried rice and soup with pork.  In addition, I bought myself what I thought was homemade soda.  It's not.  It tastes like ginseng and it comes with a large straw.  When I took my first sip, I felt something get sucked up into my mouth.  It was long and slimy.  I briefly thought it was a worm but when I looked inside the cup, it is like a translucent noodle but which feels like worms.  Despite the unsettling feeling of something slimy in my mouth, the drink was quite refreshing.

    The last place I stopped at was the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.  Unfortunately, it was closed by the time I arrived.  I made a note to stop there tomorrow morning.  Even though it was still relatively early, I decided to call it a day since my feet felt like they were about to fall off.

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