Saturday, December 3, 2011

Taipei, Taiwan

If I keep up this pace, it might be 2012 before I'm finished posting about our October holiday. Enjoy the next installment!

Coming into the harbor.
After sailing through the night from Okinawa, we docked in Taipei, Taiwan.  We decided against going on a formal tour so we could move along at our own pace.  However it was a quick pace as we only had a 1/2 day in Taiwan.  I’m glad that we traveled alone because when we got off the boat there was a taxi/tour company and we hired our own taxi driver for the afternoon.  Before we got in the taxi we circled the stops we wanted to make and confirmed what time we wanted to be back at the boat.  Then, we climbed in and off we went.

Large container ship in the harbor

Temple on the hill

We raced around the city trying to soak in as much as we could.  I really, really need to brush up on my Asian studies.  I know that Taiwan’s history is complex and there is a lot to learn.  The different historical sights that we visited will mean so much more after I’ve done some reading.
As you can see, the girls were thrilled to be there!
The first stop we made was at the Martyrs Shrine.  The shrine is dedicated to the 330,000 Chinese Nationalist soldiers who died during the Sino - Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War. It was built in the classic Chinese style, but I noticed that the colors were different than what I was used to seeing in mainland China, it had more green and blue hues.  It really was beautiful.  We got there just in time to see the changing of the guards, which is stirring no matter where you are.  We had an interesting conversation with the girls about whether or not the guns were real and why the soldiers had them.

Changing of the guards ceremony

Grandma Callie

LBean is still absolutely thrilled to be there.

Jamie and his girls

Standing in front of the Grand Hotel
We drove by and took a quick picture in front of the Grand Hotel.  It is the one the world’s tallest Chinese classical buildings.  It was really impressive and from what I’ve read, many foreign dignitaries have stayed there.  LBean decided she could do without the photo opportunity and stayed in the taxi with Grandma Callie.

Next was the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, also known as the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The building is dedicated to the memory of the former leader of the Republic of China, General Chiang Kai-shek. The National Concert Hall and the National Theatre are on either side of the open square in front of the memorial hall.   Again, I noticed the colors used in the buildings, lots of blue & white, which I think reflects the colors in the Taiwanese flag.  The memorial hall was very impressive and beautiful.




We drove by the Presidential Building on our way to a market with Taiwanese goods from all over the island.  I’m glad that we did drive by because once we got home I saw a commercial for a special documentary on the Presidential Building.  It was so great to point it out to the girls and say “remember when we drove by that?”
We did a bit of shopping (of course), I picked up some lacquered chopsticks, and EBean picked out this crazy black and red warrior mask pin before making a quick stop at the Taipei 101 building.  The 101 building was one of the tallest buildings in the world until recently.  The girls were pretty tired by that point, so we passed on the opportunity to go up to the top.  In fact, LBean said she would never go to the top, but EBean was excited about it.  
On our way back to the dock, the taxi driver drove us past one of the night markets.  I had an idea in mind of what they might be like, but I wasn’t prepared for all of the neon lights.  It really looked like a lot of fun with neon sign after neon sign and little stalls selling all kinds of things, jeans, scarves, knick-nacks, household goods, etc.  I guess we need to go back!

Our cruise ship at night

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