Monday, March 31, 2014

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan


The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a famous monument landmark in memory of Chiang Kai-Shek, the former President of the Republic of China (Taiwan). It is the most visited attraction by foreign tourists as Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is situated in Zhongzheng District, in the heart of Taipei city of Taiwan.

The architecture of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is inspired by Tiantan in Beijing. The roofs are decorated with deep-blue glass representing the sky and sun. It is a great place to enjoy the stroll and beautiful scenery at the memorial which is surrounded by a beautiful Chinese-style garden (planted with flowers, pond, various plants etc.), National Theater and National Concert Hall. As such, the overall colour concept of blue, white and red represents the National Flag and the spirit of freedom, equality and brotherhood. 

A tour at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall will not be completed without watching the ceremony of changing guards at the memorial hall, which takes place every hour from 9am to 6pm every day.

How to get there?
By MRT subway train:
Take the Red line (Tamsui Line) or Green line (Xindian Line) to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall station, sometimes labeled as C.K.S. Memorial Hall station.


The main entrance gate to Ching Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan
The main entrance gate to Ching Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

The Concert Hall (top) and The Theatre Hall (bottom) at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan
The Concert Hall (top) and The Theatre Hall (bottom) at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

Clockwise from top left, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Kuomintang (KMT) symbol on the ceiling and the bronze statue of Chiang Kai Shek at CSK Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan
Clockwise from top left, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Kuomintang (KMT) symbol on the ceiling and the bronze statue of Chiang Kai Shek at CSK Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

From the top view of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan
From the top view of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan


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  • Taipei National Palace Museum in Taiwan (one of the largest Chinese Historical collections in the World)
  • Ximending in Taipei (a busy night street for shopping and food) in Taiwan
  • An Introduction to Taiwan


  • Thursday, March 27, 2014

    Taipei National Palace Museum in Taiwan (one of the largest Chinese Historical collections in the World)


    The National Palace Museum (in Chinese 國立故宮博物院) is one of the largest museum in the world which houses a large number of Chinese cultural artifacts and artworks from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing imperial courts. The National Palace Museum (NPM) was founded in 1925 in the Forbidden City in Beijing. 

    Due to the impending Japanese invasion and the civil war between the Nationalist government and the Communists, the Republic of China shipped about 600,000 of the most precious objects in the collection to Taiwan. Most of the collections are high quality pieces collected by Chinese's emperors with over 8,000 years of Chinese history. The most popular exhibit item that attracts many visitors to admire at, is the Jadeite Cabbage.

    The National Palace Museum is always crowded with individual visitors as well as tour groups. Hence, you should make a trip early in the morning to get there. As soon as you walk into the museum, you should head to the top floor and start your tour from there before heading down to the ground floor. Most of the famous exhibit items are located on the top floor where you must queue first, before getting into the exhibition room. Film and photography is prohibited in the museum as it is the policy to protect the antique collections such as paintings, books etc. It takes at least half of your day to visit all the exhibition so, plan accordingly to allow yourself to have ample time to enjoy viewing the antique collection and watching the multimedia presentation. 

    The museum also exhibits special theme once a while. I was lucky to have the opportunity to view Qianlong's collections, paintings, poems, writing etc. at "The All Complete Qianlong" exhibition. The Qianlong emperor was endowed with great intelligence who loved to learn more due to his thirst of knowledge and curiosity. Qianlong emperor also admired and appreciated the arts and literacy to the extend, he carried along his favourite collections when he traveled outside of the palace. 

    The National Palace Museum also offers free English Guided Tour is available twice a day at 10am and 3pm. The English Guided Tour is organized by the museum who provides brief Chinese history and explains some unique Chinese artifact collection. For those who are interested to participate in this guided tour, you need to register for the particular date and time in advance, as every tour is restricted to 15 participants only. For more information, please visit the official website here: http://www.npm.gov.tw/en/Article.aspx?sNo=03000063

    The National Palace Museum opens every day from 8:30am until 6pm. The ticket entrance fees at NTD160 per person, can be purchased at the ticket booth, located at the entrance of the main building of the museum. Large bags and luggage are not allowed in the museum. You can keep your large bags and luggage at the bag storage booth, located next to the entrance where the authorities collect and check your ticket before entering the museum.

    How to get there?
    Take MRT Danshui (red) Line to Shilin Station (Exit 1). Then, board minibus 18, minibus 19, red 30 bus, No. 255 bus or No. 304 bus to National Palace Museum.
    Otherwise, for more convenient, you can take a local taxi (cab) from Shilin Station. The taxi fare costs about TWD150 for one way and arrives within 5 minutes to the museum.


    The main entrance of National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan
    The main entrance of National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan

    The main building of all collections are exhibited in National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan
    The main building of all collections are exhibited in National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan

    Other buildings can be seen nearby the main building of National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan
    Other buildings can be seen nearby the main building of National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan

    A long walking entrance towards the main building of National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan
    A long walking entrance towards the main building of National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan


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  • Ximending in Taipei (a busy night street for shopping and food) in Taiwan
  • An Introduction to Taiwan


  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Ximending in Taipei (a busy night street for shopping and food) in Taiwan


    It is not an easy task to find a suitable location to stay in Taipei, Taiwan when you have to consider a few factors like your financial budget, searching for an accommodation which is nearer to the city and public transportation such as subway train or bus stations and how convenient to shop and look for food at the late night. I prefer staying in a budget hotel which is nearer to train or subway station which is easy to commute to attraction places. 

    If this is the first trip to Taipei like myself, I would strongly suggest you to stay within the busy streets of Ximending. Ximending is the most popular and busiest street searching for food and shopping activities until wee hours in the morning. Ximending becomes busy streets and crowded at night only. Ximending is also well-known as "Shibuya of Taipei" according to wikipedia.


    A big welcome signboard to Ximending at the entrance in Taipei, Taiwan
    A big welcome signboard to Ximending at the entrance in Taipei, Taiwan


    A panorama view of the crowded Ximending at night in Taipei, Taiwan
    A panorama view of the crowded Ximending at night in Taipei, Taiwan


    Crowded Ximending at night in Taipei, Taiwan
    Crowded Ximending at night in Taipei, Taiwan

    Busy Ximending streets at night in Taipei, Taiwan
    Busy Ximending streets at night in Taipei, Taiwan

    Heading to busy Ximending streets from Ximen subway station in Taipei, Taiwan
    Heading to busy Ximending streets from Ximen subway station in Taipei, Taiwan

    More shopping, small eateries and restaurants can be seen at Ximending streets in Taipei, Taiwan
    More shopping, small eateries and restaurants can be seen at Ximending streets in Taipei, Taiwan

    Modern Toilet Restaurant can be found in Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan
    Modern Toilet Restaurant can be found in Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan

    A display of food to be served on toilet bowl as a challenge to deal with their psychological minds while eating at Modern Toilet Restaurant in Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan
    A display of food to be served on toilet bowl as a challenge to deal with their psychological minds while eating at Modern Toilet Restaurant in Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan


    This is my seven days travel itinerary in Taiwan. You can refer this schedule as for your planning purpose. I will share more travel tips and photographs in my upcoming posts.


    DAY 1

    DAY 2

    DAY 3
    DAY 4

    DAY 5
    DAY 6
    DAY 7
    Arriving at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei. Check-in at hotel and walk around Ximending in Taipei
      



    While I was staying in Taipei for four nights, I strictly prefer to stay in the busy streets of Ximending which is nearby to the shopping areas and searching small eateries or restaurants even in the late night or wee hours in the morning without concerning about the public transportation. Most of the public transportation (subway trains or buses) DO NOT operate 24 hours in many countries thus, it will be inconvenient for you to travel around the city looking for food or shopping at night streets, thinking of catching the last subway train or last bus. Hence, it is highly recommended to stay in the busy streets which is convenient for you searching food or shopping at night market until late at night before returning to hotel.

    I was staying at Via Hotel, located in the heart of shopping area of Ximending. The room is small, clean and comfortable but the best part will be free flow of snacks and coffee on the lobby floor which takes care your hunger at anytime. The lobby of Via Hotel is located on the second floor and on the same shop with a clothing store. You can't miss the Via Hotel signboard after a few meters of walking when you turn into the small hidden valley next to Starbucks Coffee and 7-Eleven.
    (NOTE: Via Hotel is always fully booked. Do plan between 3-4 months in advance for hotel room reservation. Website: http://www.via-hotel.com.tw/en/

    The main landmark to search Via Hotel is by searching for Starbucks Coffee and 7 Eleven as they are located opposite of Uniqlo in Ximending busy streets of Taipei, Taiwan
    The main landmark to search Via Hotel is by searching for Starbucks Coffee and 7 Eleven as they are located opposite of Uniqlo in Ximending busy streets of Taipei, Taiwan

    There is a small alley next to 7 Eleven where you walk a few meters and you will see the signboard of Via Hotel
    There is a small alley next to 7 Eleven where you walk a few meters and you will see the signboard of Via Hotel

    Via Hotel is sharing the same shop lot with clothing store and the lobby is located on 2nd floor in Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan
    Via Hotel is sharing the same shop lot with clothing store and the lobby is located on 2nd floor in Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan

    A small comfortable and clean double bed room including  free snacks and coffee at Via Hotel is what you need to shower and sleep after your day walk around Taipei, Taiwan
    A small comfortable and clean double bed room including  free snacks and coffee at Via Hotel is what you need to shower and sleep after your day walk around Taipei, Taiwan

    My Older Post:
  • An Introduction to Taiwan


  • Tuesday, March 4, 2014

    An Introduction to Taiwan


    I learn more about Taiwan when I was staying in Singapore in 2009. Mandarin is the only Chinese's official language besides, Malay, English and Tamil to be published and aired on media in Singapore. It is impossible to find Cantonese dramas and movies on television and cinemas in Singapore thus, it was a new approach for me to watch Mandarin dramas from Taiwan. I grew up watching Cantonese dramas and movies as well as listening to Cantonese songs from Hong Kong. Is there any difference between Taiwanese dramas and Cantonese dramas? Well, to my surprise, I noticed there were many good looking actors and pretty girls in Taiwanese dramas. Taiwanese girls always portray themselves with sweet voices and cute personalities in their short and sexy clothing in order to reveal their long legs. 

    Taiwan was ruled under Japanese colony so it is not surprising that majority of the elderly Taiwanese are able to speak Japanese besides, Mandarin and Taiwanese (Hokkien) dialect. However, the young Taiwanese aren't enforced to learn Japanese and Taiwanese dialect thus, these languages are slowly dying culture in Taiwan. When I was traveling in Taiwan, I noticed that the Taiwanese mindset and culture are totally different than typical Chinese's mindset in China and other parts of Asia countries. This is because Japanese culture has deeply taken root in Taiwanese society. Taiwanese are not only well-known for being friendly and helpful but they also obey to rules and regulations. They dared to speak out their minds and pinpoint when someone did wrongly or disobey the rules. They even dared to show their dissatisfaction to the Government too. So, please OBEY and FOLLOW the rules on the streets, in the train (subway) stations or anywhere in Taiwan. You don't want to end up to be embarrassed when someone pointed out at you :)

    Taiwan was known for its dirty streets and dirty water where garbage and trashes was piled up with rats, flies and cockroaches everywhere in 1980s. Until then, the Government stepped in and implemented strict regulations to clean up the country since several years ago. The residents were educated to clean up the streets and keep their garbage bins inside their premises instead of leaving on the streets. They were responsible to segregate the garbage (trash) as well as the kitchen waste and other recyclable materials before disposing into the garbage truck and recycling van which tagged along behind the garbage truck every evening. When you hear the similar melody played by the Ice Cream Truck in the U.S.A, it can be heard in Taiwan as well but the music are played by the garbage trucks. This is an effective method to alert the residents to bring all their garbage (trash) bags and recyclable materials to the designated streets before throwing them into the garbage truck and recycling van. For the full story of Taiwan's musical garbage trucks by BBC News, please click the link here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12242914

    In order to reduce the usage of garbage (trash) bags, the Government also imposed the residents to use the garbage (trash) bags which they purchase from the convenience stalls. I feel this is a fair implementation as to encourage the residents to use less plastic bags. The residents are charged for the trash fees by purchasing the plastic bags instead of charging them the flat garbage fees. This is another method to control and reduce the plastic bag usage on the streets. It's even more surprising to see the streets are clean although you hardly find garbage (trash) bins on the streets in Taiwan. If you need to throw trash but you don't find the trash (garbage) bins around, you need to hold on the trash or keep in your bag until you find the trash (garbage) bin. 

    Traveling within Taipei city and outside Taipei is becoming more accessible by depending on public transportation which connects each other like, buses, trains and subways (metro) and taxis too. There is a bullet train traveling from Taipei to Kaohsiung which takes about one hour and a half only. You can learn more about the routes through online or brochures from hotels and Taiwan Tourism Information Center.

    Taiwanese have similar interest as Japanese. They love pets. You can find many adorable and happy dogs roaming on the streets. They are not stray dogs. They have owners. They are friendly and love meeting people. At times, you notice some Taiwanese bring their dogs to parks nearby shopping malls in Taipei, to restaurants and even put them on crates to board ferries or trains to other cities in Taiwan. I even had seen a Taiwanese took her dog to temple as well. How I wish more Asian countries cultivate the culture of love and respect to the animals like how Taiwanese treat their pets as part of their family members.

    And lastly, Taiwan is mostly visited by Japanese tourists thus, it is not surprising that most of tour guides in Taiwan are able to speak in three languages fluently mainly, English, Mandarin and Japanese. It is quite impressive for the tour guides to be able to master in English and Japanese when their English language is only taught in the third year of elementary school in Taiwan thus, majority of them are able to grasp and understand simple (basic) English only. When you approach any Taiwanese, they are willing to help out although there is some barrier in language communication. I really enjoyed and had good experience traveling in Taiwan. I wish I could travel to Taiwan again, one day.


    Walking towards the Immigration Department of Taoyuan International Airport during my arrival in Taipei, Taiwan
    Walking towards the Immigration Department of Taoyuan International Airport during my arrival in Taipei, Taiwan

    Dog friendly signs reminding the visitors to declare before walking out from Taoyuan International Airport Arrival in Taipei, Taiwan
    Dog friendly signs reminding the visitors to declare before walking out from Taoyuan International Airport Arrival in Taipei, Taiwan