Continuing from where I last left off, we’d landed in Taipei the previous night, and on the second day, we spent some time exploring the city. As I mentioned in the last article, we set off from the hotel in the wrong direction.
We were heading south from the Ambassador Hotel (rather than north) and continued to stick to the main road Zhongshan North road. Below is a map of our portion of the morning on foot:
We meandered past countless buildings which featured hundreds of electric bikes sprawled across the side of the road. The road was framed by a surprising mix of colours, with Mandarin sprawled across many of the buildings. Our first attraction was some sort of silver statue outside what we presumed to be a bank or something – it turns out to be called ‘Designer House’.
We didn’t realise we were going the wrong direction until we found our way to the Shimin Blvd flyover, at which point we realised we’d been going the wrong way. Once we figured out where we were, we decided to instead head to the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall.
Just across the street from the elevated road, we found a neat little park, which it turns out is called ‘Yixian Park’. We stopped here for a short while to explore, before continuing south. The map we had was rather crude, but did feature several major roundabouts.
The memorial hall was located somewhere close to a large roundabout (according to the map), so we were excited when we located the following major roundabout:
It turned out we weren’t far from our new destination. We arrived (close enough) and found our way outside the National Concert hall. Traversing around it, we found ourselves between the hall, what turns out to have been the National Theatre and a huge square leading up to the massive memorial.
Before we reached the memorial, we went into the concert hall and saw some of the halls. There was a gift shop there, and we purchased a few gifts for the family, before returning to the massive square outside with the massive memorial looming in the distance.
We approached the memorial taking in the grand size of the place, wondering how it would compare to Beijing’s Tiananmen square (which we would go on to visit in January 2011). Once you climb to the top of the stairs, there’s a massive statue of the former leader of Taiwan and China, looking down from a seated position.
There are guards stationed there, and you aren’t allowed to take photographs. Off to the side is a doorway which allows access to a huge museum dedicated to the former Kuomintang (KMT) leader including, amongst many things, heaps of paintings, ceramics and most notably, his collection of official cards.
Once we finished exploring the museum, we returned to the outside world, and found that the area was wrapped by a nice green park or gardens – featuring coy ponds with huge coy fish swimming around.
There was a fish food dispenser nearby and we inserted some coins and fed the fish – and turtles! Having crossed this attraction off the list, we reviewed our next options. We wanted to avoid returning to the hotel right away, so we examined the MRT map, and decided to head to the Taipei Zoo as our next stop.
If memory serves, we bought something from what was likely a newsagency, on our way to the nearest MRT station which, luckily, was not far from the memorial.
A map of our MRT journeys
We’ll wrap up Taipei in the next article (part 3).