Ten things to love about Taiwan — Part Two

 

 

TAIWAN LANTERN

 

More things I loved about Taiwan…

06  The National Museum of Marine Science and Technology

Taiwan has an museum complex set in an entire town focusing on marine sciences and technology. The museum building itself is situated in the old fire power plant built by the Japanese in 1937 at the town of Badouzi in Keelung City. Badouzi was discovered to have rich mineral deposits in the early 1800s– the reason why the Japanese chose the site. By 1975 Badouzi had become a busy harbour with fishery manufacture and storage facilities. By 1990 the coal mining business and fire power plant had to close down because of the awareness of air pollution. The town also started to suffer an economic downturn because of the decline in fishing profits.

Enter this idea of building a museum complex in the old power plant. In addition to the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology, the site includes an IMAX theatre, a proposed national aquarium, a park and a harbour village. What once was a city in decline is now on its way to becoming a more dynamic place where people can work at or visit the museum, do research or enjoy a relaxing weekend by the harbour.

 

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The facade of the National Museum for Marine Science and Technology resembles a ship’s hull.

 

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The NMMST is built from two old abandoned power plants — one from the Japanese period in the 1930’s and the other built by the Taiwanese in the 1950’s.

 

Taiwan Science Museum
The beams from the industrial era are highlighted against white walls.

 

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In the new part of the structure, exposed beams are perforated with circles giving a bubble-like effect like what could be seen under water.

 

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The “bubbles” continue on to the ceiling and light fixtures…

 

Taiwan Science Dots
… as well as on the floor.

 

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I love this spot. Here you see layers of the new museum building and the two old power plants. (OOTD – my dress is from Religioso).

 

Taiwan Science Museum2
The museum building has 9 galleries and various exhibits. The 9 galleries are Marine Environment, Marine Science, Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, Fishery Science, People and the Sea, Wonders of the Deep Sea, Deep Sea Theater, Kid’s Exploration, and Regional Exploration. Steve Zissou would be very happy.

 

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I was particularly touched by this temporary exhibit of works by school children.

 

Taiwan kids art
I love that the museum brings awareness to environmental causes and the importance of a sustainable marine science culture.

 

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Environmental message

 

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Antique scuba gear

 

07  Taipei 101 and Public Art

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Taipei 101 was officially the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010. It is now the 6th tallest in the world.

 

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I love that Taipei 101 invested more than 0.5% of its total construction budget for public art. (In the city of Toronto, back when I still lived and worked there, developers were mandated to spend 1% of construction budget and area on public art).

 

Taiwan Love sculpture
“Partners Monument” by Florence Ng. And “Love” by Robert Indiana 1928

 

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Detail of the Partner’s Monument. Made of glass by Florence Ng. This is a tribute to all the people involved in the building and creation of Taipei 101. Their names are inscribed in these colourful glass bricks that illuminate at night. Beautiful.

 

Taiwan Rope sculpture
Detail of retired elevator cables from Taipei 101 turned into a sculpture called “Infinite Life” by local artist Kang Mu-hsiang.

 

Taiwan Skyscraper 89th
Going up to the 91st floor view deck and detail of the Ruyi scrolls.

 

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Aerial view of Taipei

 

Taiwan Taipei101
From view deck on the 91st floor

 

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Safety fence

 

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The tip of the tower

 

08  The art of lantern making

We drove almost an hour out of Taipei to visit a remote hillside town called Pingxi. The setting was picturesque with zigzag roads, forested hills and quaint little houses. Here, the art of lantern-making is still well-preserved. Generations ago, sky lanterns were used as a means of communication. Over time, the practice has evolved to symbolize a prayer for peace or good fortune. We met the president of the lantern-making association — Mr Wang Chaw-Jing, a gentle man, passionate about his craft. If you have an extra day to explore the northern part of New Taipei City, I recommend you visit and explore Pingxi. It’s accessible by bus or rail.

 

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It was a rainy day, but that didn’t stop us from trying to raise a sky lantern.

 

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Our bus stopped by the side of the main road in Pingxi where we found Ming Tong Lantern Shop.

 

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They had these beautiful silk lanterns. But we came here to make beautiful paper lanterns.

 

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Mr Wang Chaw-Jing is the president of the lantern-making association of Pingxi. Every year on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, Pingxi holds the Lantern Festival. Celebration of the lantern festival actually takes place all over Taiwan. Thousands of sky lanterns are released to the sky. It’s become a popular favourite among international tourists.

 

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The shop of Mr Wang also has stationery, cards, rubber stamps and other lantern paraphernalia.

 

Taiwan Pinxsi
After Mr Wang built the paper lantern, he hung it by the side of the road and asked all of us to write down our wishes. I’m sharing with you my wish – that I get to build our little cottage up in our small plot of land in the countryside. I need to get my act together on this one. But that’s the wish. A cottage.

 

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We loved Mr Wang’s organized clutter. He even gave us free postcards so we can send our good wishes home. Then he offered to put stamps on them and mail them for us. What a sweet man. Our postcard arrived a couple of weeks later.

 

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Me and Mr. Wang Chaw-Jing.

 

Taiwan Pinxsi Lantern
It was drizzling quite heavily but we all ran to the bridge by the river and released our wishes to the sky. It was quite touching. I can only imagine how beautiful it is to see thousands of lanterns flying in the sky.

 

09  Chiang Kei-shek Memorial Hall

A must-see for all first time visitors to Taiwan. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall commemorates the life and work of the late Taiwanese president. They had Chiang Kai-shek’s memorabilia, photos, and even his cars, all telling a story of his very interesting life. Great way to learn about Taiwan’s history.

 

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At the museum, China’s great revolutionary minds — the young Chiang Kai-shek and Sun Yat Sen

 

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Chiang Kai-shek’s military medals and uniforms were on display

 

Taiwan Chian Kai Shek
The monument

 

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View from the shrine — the National Theater and National Concert Hall. We entered through the back of the Memorial Hall, went through the museum on the ground floor, then took the elevator to the top to see the actual memorial hall and witness the changing of the guards.

 

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If you can, time your visit on the hour so you witness the changing of the guards. It’s quite solemn and grand.

 

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I loved the formality and precision

 

Taiwan Chian Guards
Changing of the guards

 

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Behind the monument of Chiang Kai-shek are the three pillars of nation-building – Ethics, Democracy, and Science. Love that! Science!!

 

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Our guide knew where the best spots were for photos. Here is one, right on the landing of the steps as we descended from the memorial hall.

 

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A bit of trivia, there are 89 steps leading up to the memorial hall, representing the age of Chiang Kai-shek at the time of his death.

 

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The Memorial Hall is built with so much imagery and symbolism. It is white with four sides. The octagonal roof, 8 being a symbol of abundance and good fortune, is made of blue glazed tiles. The blue and white colors of the building and the red colour of the flowerbeds echo the colours in the flag of the Republic of China.

 

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Another picture-perfect spot by the garden.

 

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We then went to the Martyr’s Shrine in Zhongshan District, Taipei, dedicated to the war dead of the Republic of China.

 

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Loved the solemnity and grandeur of the space.

 

Taiwan red door
This shrine was built in 1969, recalling the architecture of the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing’s Forbidden City. The structure houses the spirit tablets of about 390,000 persons killed during the Xinhai revolution and wars that followed.

 

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I was fascinated by the red doors.

 

10  Accessibility and services

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I loved that most establishments in Taiwan had a breastfeeding and nursing room. This was at the Gold Museum.

 

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Taipei is a bike-friendly city

 

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The government promotes biking as a mode of transportation and form of recreation.

 

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They have clearly marked bike routes and bike sharing systems.

 

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The stairs to and from the train station have tracks for bike wheels. Just follow the Taiwan bike logo.

 

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You can pull your bike up and down the steps with this rail specially designed for bicycles.

 

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I love the ease and accessibility of public transport. Our hotel, Palais de Chine, was situated across the Taipei Main Station. From there we took the train to the northern part of Taipei.

 

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We took a one-hour train ride to get to Fulong and Jiufen.

 

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Here’s what the train looked like. Very clean and comfortable.

 

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Accessibility to Taiwan is so easy with Eva Air. I especially loved our cabin. This is what Premium Economy looks like. Very roomy.

 

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One day we shall ride the Hello Kitty Eva Air jet out of Taiwan…

 

Check out the first part of this list – Ten things to love about Taiwan Part One.

My trip to Taiwan was sponsored by Jeron TravelTaiwan Tourism Bureau  and EVA Air.

 

 

Leave a comment

  • http://yellownovember.wordpress.com Marian Balcos

    Hi, Daphne! Did you experience any language barrier? Is English widely used in Taiwan?

    • Anonymous

      We had a guide with us so he did a lot of the translating. In the street market vendors, the use of English is limited. But I got by with sign language. And there usually is someone around who can translate. The bigger establishments – hotel, restaurants, shops usually has a couple of people who can speak Chinese. It wasn’t an issue to me.

  • Rain

    Loving that orange bag! Where did you purchase it? :)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks. It’s Tods.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. Hmmm I’m not quite sure what you mean. Can you send me a screen cap. Or explain slower? Haha. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

  • Anonymous

    yup that huge damper was awesome!

  • Jnine

    I am loving Taiwan now.. haay.. :)