Saturday, August 6, 2011

ZHONGSHENG: 01 - Chiang Kai Shek Memorial



“Lazy” would be the adjective I’d use if asked how my trip to Taipei was. Of all my trips, this is where I really tried to reflect on whether I should continue traveling or not. Although the impending loss of my wanderlust was already evident in Kuala Lumpur, at least there I was still able to go places. Here, I just stayed at Taipei, and I didn’t even visit most of the common tourist spots, considering that there aren’t too many and the metro is efficient. Hooray me. All my travels here began past noon, which meant late lunch, and ended before 10 PM. It’s as if I flew all the way to Taipei to just laze around. Again, hooray me.



Chiang Kai Shek was waiting for my late arrival. It’s not as if he was going anywhere anyway. Standing up and storming out of his elaborately designed gazebo would be quite hard with tons of metal for an ass. Like Sun Yat Sen on the other side of Taipei, Chiang Kai Shek also decided to sit down for a pose, which is, again, very Abraham Lincoln. However, his place seems more like a shrine than that of Sun Yat Sen’s, more touristy. Yes, that's what I've noticed, as opposed to Sun Yat Sen's  shrine which looks like it's more popular to the locals and seems like a trendy place for community based activities.


The memorial hall dedicated to him is situated in a vast park with two more national landmarks that seem almost identical: the National Concert Hall and the National Theater. Those two are facing each other with a big square separating them. Chiang Kai Shek’s pad occupies the other side of the square opposite the gate, which is also a good subject for a photo, although usually eclipsed by the other three. You have to go up some steps to reach Chiang Kai Shek, who has two bodyguards that seem like statues themselves. If you want to visit them, take the MRT and get off at CKS Memorial Hall station.



I went east after the Chiang Kai Shek visit. I was starving and my nose was bombarded by the aroma of what seemed to be delicious noodles. True enough there was a noodle house across the street. I ordered a big bowl of beef noodles which surprisingly tasted bland despite the savory aroma. I should have ordered the spicy variant. I ate it anyway. I was very hungry. What followed was more walking along Ketagalan Avenue where many government buildings are located.


I visited the Taipei Guesthouse, which is not a cheap backpacker’s hostel as the name suggests. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It served as the residence of Japanese governor generals when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. There was no entrance fee that day, or perhaps there really is no fee. The place is one big mansion converted into some sort of museum. Inside it looks like a maze but the red cordons, serving as markers for areas of the house that are off-limits, also serve as very good guides leading you to the exit without missing anything interesting in particular.



The boulevard ends in front of the presidential palace, which is right next to the Judicial Yuan. I continued walking after taking a photo of the presidential residence and ended up seeing more tourist spots that might be of interest to you. Some of them are the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp building, an Art School next to the National Museum of History, which shares the same street with the Taipei Botanical Garden. I think the best MRT stop to visit all these would be Xiaonanmen, since Ketagalan Boulevard is just within walking distance, leisurely walk, that is.

ZHONGSHENG: 01 - Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

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