Friday, May 2, 2008
Asia II: Taipei, Taiwan
We only had about 36 hours in Taipei, but we made it a very packed 36 hours, hitting most of the major sights and continuing with our theme of walking our a**es off and eating.
We arrived late in the day and only had time for dinner the first night. Mandie took us to a juk bar for dinner - a real late night, post-clubbing spot where you get your bowl of juk and order (by pointing) any number of meat, veg or fish add-ins which are heated and brought to your table. Comfort food at its best.
The next day:
9am - The National Palace Museum
We were in time for an English tour of this largest collection of Chinese art and artifact in theworld. The collection was basically brought from the Forbidden City to Taiwan because of war and then the communist revoluion. My favorite item, "The Meat Shaped Stone", is a piece of agate carved to look like a hunk of fatty pork - exactly like something Phineas' family cooks!
11.30am - Baoan Temple - Built in 1805, this Taoist temple is one of the leading religious sites in Taipei. The temple's main deitiy id the emperor Baosheng, the god of medicine.
1pm - Taipei 101 - The tallest building in the world. It was supposed to look like a stalk of bamboo, but the running joke is that it looks like a stack of Chinese take-out boxes. The locals have created a hero called the Damper Baby in honor of the 4 story concrete damper that allows the building to withstand typhoons and earthquakes.
3pm - Sun Yat Sen Memorial - eh. Its a building that looks like a hat with a large statue inside.
5pm - Back at our hotel for some relaxation. That might seem odd since we had so little time in Taipe, but it would have been a shame not to enjoy the 32 inch plasma tv in the jacuzzi , which had its own lighting and sound system too. The funniest part of our ultra-modern room, was the "hands free" toilet, which had a hydraulic lid and seat, so you never had to lift it yourself.
8.30pm - Chang Kai Check Memorial and Dinner - Excellent view of another building that looked like a hat, and then excellent soup dumplings. (Sorry, none of my photos came out since it was night.)
11pm - Shilin Night Market - This is one enormous night bazaar with vendors selling all kinds of gadgets and baubles. There are also tons of food vendors selling all manner of fried nibbles. Mandie wasn't kidding when she said we would recognize the Taiwanese delicacy, "Stinky tofu", by it's potent smell. We could smell it for blocks, but never actually found anyone selling it.
The next morning we visited Longshan Temple, dedicated to Guanyin (the Buddhist representation of compassion), and then left Taipei for the south of Taiwan.