Travel Asia: Visiting Taipei
I was visiting Taiwan for about a week on the middle of April for conducting coverage on the AMPA and Autotronics 2013 exhibition in Taipei City. During my stay there, I have taken the opportunity to visit some of the city’s interesting attractions.
National Palace Museum
Using MRT to reach Shilin Station, I then took a cab to reach the museum. The trip cost me NT$100 or about US$3.5. Seeing the museum up close, we can see that it is indeed one of the most beautiful buildings in Taipei. Set on top of a hill, the scenery around the museum also adds up to the grandeur feel to the place.
After enjoying the surrounding, I then enter the museum. The admission fee is NT$160 (US$5.40). There is also additional NT$100 fee if you want to use audio guide provided by the museum, but I don’t really recommend it because there is already a lot of explanation sign throughout the museum giving clear information on the museum’s collection.
Before entering the museum, you must deposit your bag and camera to the staff. Photography is prohibited in the exhibition halls.
The collections of the National Palace Museum are mainly historical relics from Ancient China formerly belonging to the National Palace Museum in Beijing. This is understandable, because before the Republic of China moved to Taiwan Island in 1949, it rules the mainland of China.
You can find old scrolls, ancient artifacts such as weaponry, cooking tools, porcelain and so on, and art pieces exhibited in the museum. What interests me is the bronze casting process by the ancient Chinese people that is explained on one of the hall. It is quite complicated, and somewhat beyond belief that people in that era can muster idea to create it.
Also, there is a multimedia gallery which equipped with touch screen panels. Here you can ‘actually’ scroll through ancient scrolls by touching the screen of the panel. No need to understand Chinese calligraphy, because there are explanations of the content in English on the screen. You can also browse through some contents on the computers placed in the gallery, explaining some of the museum collection in English.
It will take about two to three hours to see the collections of the museum, so I recommend eating first before visiting the museum, considering there is no food stall inside the exhibition halls. There is only one restaurant near the entrance.
Shilin Night Market
Just like in some other Asian cities, Taipei also well-known for its night markets. One that I visited is the Shilin Night Market. If using MRT to reach the market, it’s actually closer to stop at the Zhishan Station.
In Shilin Night Market, what you will most likely to come across is food stalls/restaurants and goods seller. There are abundant choices of Chinese cuisine to taste here. Buying food is kinda tricky for non Chinese speaking visitor, because most of the seller doesn’t understand English.
But they usually have price list of their cuisine, so you can check the price and point on what you want. The same thing also applies in buying goods. I recommend buying the famous pineapple cake in one of the shop here, because it tastes so good. The cake can also be a nice souvenir for family back home.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
It wouldn’t be complete visiting Taiwan without visiting Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, which commemorate the founding father of the country. It would take only a short walk from the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station to reach the museum. No admission fee has to be paid to enter the museum.
On the great hall of the museum, you can see a giant size statue of Mr Sun sitting on a chair. The statue size and pose have very close resemblance to the Abraham Lincoln statue in Washington DC.
The statue is guarded by two Taiwanese soldiers, posing still as a statue. They only move when it is time to be replaced by other guards. There is a special military march in the procession of changing guards.
The museums collections are mostly memorabilia of Mr Sun during his struggle in establishing Republic of China. You can get clear picture on how the Taiwan nation was created by getting information spread throughout the museum.
There are a lot of parks in Taipei, providing its citizen with beautiful scenery to enjoy for free. Dahu Park is one of it. Visiting the park, you can see tended gardens and a beautiful lake. There is also a bridge that goes upward in the middle, where you can see the park from above and the surrounding area clearly.
Mengjia Longshan Temple
Taiwanese are mostly Buddhist, so there are many temples in Taipei. One of the biggest is the Mengjia Longshan Temple. It's a very beautiful temple dominated with red and yellow color, the lucky color of the Chinese. There is a beautiful waterfall not far from the gate of the temple, where visitor usually go to before entering. I visited the temple during prayer times, when a lot of people perform Buddhist religious ritual.
Taipei 101 is the tallest building in Taipei. Well, it was the tallest building in the world for sometime before the Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai. By visiting the top floor of the building, you can see the whole Taipei City.
I decided not to go to the top floor because it was raining when I reach the building. Probably not going to see anything at the time because of the weather, and it would be a waste for the NT$400 (US$13.50) admission fee.
There are so much more places that I want to visit in Taipei, but due to the busy schedule, my visitation is limited. Hopefully I can go to other interesting venues in the city, next time I visitTaiwan.