Taipei Heat

While visiting a friend who was teaching in the expatriot communitity in Taipei, I got the chance of a lifetime to see Taipei from a residents point of view.

Taipei Heat

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Mchaela on October 22, 2002

When I finally got off the plane in Taipei, the heat and humidity was so thick that I could taste the foul air. I understand that there has been a concentrated effort to clean up the polution in Taipei, so I hope the air isn't as filthy as it was in '91. I have never felt so welcome as I was by the Taiwanese. Friends of my friend brought me gifts of welcome and showed an almost overwhelming attention to me. The markets are a must see. Especially the Shihlin Night Market. It was great watching a typical Japanese horror flick with Mandarin, Tawainese and English subtitles while sitting on the steps of a temple. ${QuickSuggestions} Learn a couple words in Chinese before you go. Most people do not speak English, so the best way to communicate if you do not know the language is by pictures, charades (point to what you want!) or a few sentences written out in Chinese. I was lucky because my friend could translate most things for me. Try the Taiwanese beer! It's very good. ${BestWay} Taxis and buses are the way to travel. If you don't speak the language, have pictures or sentences written out in Chinese for the drivers for where you wish to go.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Mchaela on October 27, 2002

My friend and I walked up to a side entrance to the memorial and, seeing several people coming and going out of the gate, walked up to what we thought was an entrance. Smiling and waving at people, we walked into the grounds.

I was overwhelmed by the simple beauty of the memorial. The pristine white marble and blue tiled roof of the memorial hall is impressive. We stood in the mall in front of the memorial and between the traditional Chinese style buildings that house the National Theatre and the National Concert Hall. We were amazed at how quiet everything was and that there wasn't a soul in sight.

On the square directly in front of the Memorial Hall was a double line of police vehicles and buses. Odd. Still, there was no indication that we shouldn't be there, so we began our walk through the gardens that circle the monument. I was having a wonderful time in this beautiful, peaceful place as we enjoyed the lovely gardens.

When we had completed 3/4 of the circle, a guard came running after us frantically waving his arms to go with him and speaking loudly in Chinese. Fortunately, my friend knew just enough of the language to figure out that he needed us to leave as the memorial had been closed due to a threat of a student protest march. Of course we now understood all of the police vehicles on the plaza.

After we left the grounds, we went around to the very front of the site and saw many policemen, some in riot gear, and barbed wire blocking traffic lanes! It was a thrilling experience for so little actually happening. I will never forget it and hope to someday return to complete my tour of the Memorial Hall.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Zhong Shan South Road
Taipei, Taiwan, 100
+886 2 2349 1635

National Palace Museum

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Mchaela on October 22, 2002

I was in awe as I walked up to the museum. It is a beautiful structure. The National Palace Museum is touted as one of the best museums in the world for a reason. It is home to the largest collection of Chinese artifacts in the world but only a relative few can be on display at one time. I found myself overwhelmed by the beauty and craftmanship of the pieces from ancient times. There are works in ancient pottery, jade, bronze, lacquer and fabulous tapestries and books. Even if you aren't much a fan of Asian art, you cannot help but be impressed with the works here.

Shop in the gift shop as you are leaving. I picked up prints of some incredible art for very low prices. Even though I had to watch them carefully for the rest of my trip, it was worth it!

National Palace Museum
221 Chih-shan Rd. Sec 2
Taipei, Taiwan

The Smelliest Delicasy in the World

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Mchaela on October 27, 2002

For those in the know, I mean, of course, Cho Dofu (literally "stinky tofu"). This Taiwanese delicacy is sold from carts in many of the markets in Taipei. When I went to visit my friend, he made me promise to try everything. No problem. That's one of the joys of travel, right? Well, I loved most everything I tried, Taipei has fabulous food, but this was the one thing I couldn't swallow. Seriously. It's not called stinky tofu for nothing. Cho Dofu is deep fried fermented tofu served with cabbage and hot sauce. If you can stomach it, it is a nice, cheap meal. The smell is, well, not to mince words, vile. To me it smells like my dogs doo-doo. Of course, when I tried it, it tasted exactly like the smell. No wonder I couldn't get it down. My friend was disappointed as he loves it, so, he thought he would get me to try it again. Only this time he didn't tell me what it was. What he did was get a bunch of fried vegetables and had me try them. As we had been walking for a while after he had bought them, the smell had dissipated enough that I was able to eat it. OK. So it wasn't that bad. I still didn't like it very much. I've never been a tofu fan, but at least I had kept my promise and had an interesting experience in the bargain!

© LP 2000-2009