Categotry Archives: Trip 2004

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Taiwan – July, 2004 (Part 3)

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Categories: Asia, Flashback, Taiwan, Trip 2004, Tags: , ,

Following on from Part 2, we had just left the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial and were on our way to the Taipei Zoo.


Our route via the MRT

We returned and boarded the convenient MRT above ground light rail and made our way to the line which led to the Taipei Zoo.

This took us across a cross section of Taipei’s sub-tropical landscape and (if memory serves) through a tunnel with the tall silhouette of Taipei 101 visible off in the distance (from time to time).

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Zoo Admission Ticket

The Zoo was not far from the MRT station, and as time was ticking on quickly, we paid for admission and then hastily made our way around the zoo.  The zoo was wide and well maintained, the animals were in some cases quite hard to see – perhaps we were there at the wrong time – but the animals we did see were quite exotic.

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Scenes from the Taipei Zoo

There was a Formosan bear with an amputated leg, who was rather strenuously looking for some food, trotting (as best he could) around the perimeter of his enclosure, well separated from the tourist concourse by a not insignificant moat.

We tried to get as far as the penguin enclosure (“Penguin House”) but we ultimately ran out of time.  Our main concern was that we had to return to the Hotel where we had left our bags at the reception desk.

Bidding the Zoo farewell after a whirlwind tour (I have select digital video footage, but few photos as a consequence) we returned to the MRT and made our way back to the hotel.

We collected our bags and then decided it was time for lunch.  As per part of our standard policy on layovers, we located a nearby McDonalds and rested for a while nursing our many bags.

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McDonalds Lunch Stop & Luggage

Our next stop was north from the hotel, the direction we’d originally intended to go first thing in the morning.  Our destination was the Bao’an Temple, a Taoist temple dating from 1760 AD.

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Photos of the exterior of the Boa’an Temple

Across the road there was a very large centre for religious studies known as the Taipei Confucius Temple which also boasted  some amazing wooden buildings with bright blue highlights on the older style tiled rooftops.  This temple was rebuilt in the early 20th century, and remains in excellent condition.

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A couple of shots from inside the Confucius Temple

Across from the Confucius Temple was some sort of neighbourhood park (?) which unfortunately the maps don’t lend a name to.  Here we found a large and colourful statue of a Chinese Dragon and some curious scenes of monkeys carved out of stone.

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Strange Park

After a bit of a break (remember, we’re hauling around a fair amount of luggage) we found our way back to the MRT to head to our late afternoon destination: the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall.

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Taipei 101 from the MRT / Shadowing the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

By the time we reached the hall, the sun was setting rapidly. When we arrived the hall had predictably shut, but we could still observe the large statue sitting and watching us from behind closed doors.

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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen / Returning to the Airport

At this stage we made a semi-concerted effort to navigate our way to the tallest tower in the city – Taipei 101 – but with so much luggage and with too little energy, we resigned ourselves to returning and finding our way back to the bus for the return trip to the Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport.

Our next stop was Vancouver, Canada and the beginning of our time as residents in that great northern country.

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Taiwan – July, 2004 (Part 2)

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Categories: Asia, Flashback, Taiwan, Trip 2004, Tags: ,

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:

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Map of our journey 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’.

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Outside 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.

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Yixian Park

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:

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Jingfu Gate / National Concert Hall

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.

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Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

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.

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The Memorial via Google Maps

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.

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Inside the museum

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.

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An elevated MRT Station

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

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We’ll wrap up Taipei in the next article (part 3).

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Taiwan – July, 2004 (Part 1)

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Categories: Archive, Asia, Flashback, Taiwan, Trip 2004

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Introduction

It was in April 2004 that I first travelled to Canada to attend a technical conference in the beautiful city of Vancouver, on the Pacific coast in the province of British Columbia.

At the time, I had no idea that eventually we would find ourselves living in Vancouver, for that would come a few weeks after my fateful visit.  After I’d returned from Canada I was contacted by a company (Laplink Software) in the US and Canada who wanted to recruit me to work in Vancouver.

Eventually this led to a firm offer, and Toni and I decided to relocate.  We packed up our house in Sydney and moved our belongings into storage.  I sold my car and we threw all our effort into relocating.  Our trip to Canada would take us via a 36 hour stopover in Taipei, Taiwan – and introduce us to our first non-English speaking destination.

This is an account of that visit.

24 July, 2004 – Departure

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Farewell at the airport

Once we had readied our belongings, and settled our accounts we were taken to the Sydney International Airport by my parents.  My friend and former K*Grind colleague, Con, also came out to see us off and we said our goodbyes before eventually boarding the flight to Taipei.

We were flying Eva Air (Taiwan’s national airline) and I made the unfortunate decision to fly in my business suit – a bad idea for long flights – and by the end of the journey it was crushed.

I had purposely planned our flights to have a longer layover as Toni had not previously flown more than about four hours consecutively and I was concerned what impact a longer flight may have on her.

Taipei City

We landed in Taipei without incident, and caught a bus into Taipei city.  As this was our first trip into a non-English speaking country, the sights and sounds were immediately foreign and exotic.

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We’re not in Kansas anymore

By the time we made it into the city, it was already early evening.  We settled into our room at the Ambassador Hotel on Zhongshan North Road and rested for a little while.  Later, we ventured out into the city to find local night markets which run for several hours into the early morning.

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Taipei at night / Night markets

Using the local above ground rail system (called the MRT), we found a night market near the Jiantan station, north of where we were staying.  We spent an hour or so traversing through what seemed to be miles of alley ways all connected together and housing pretty much anything you could think of.

The next day we ventured out into the city in daylight hours.  The were given a tourist map at reception, although all the street names were in (Traditional) Mandarin.  To keep it simple, I located the hotel, and just decided to head right once outside the hotel (which was south according to the map).  Simple? 

No.  The map put the hotel on the wrong side of the street – so we headed south – unbeknownst to us.

Check back soon to find out what happened next!

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