During my time in Taipei, I saw Taiwan’s honor guard at both the Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial and the Sun-Yat Sen Memorial, guarding the two statues of CKS and SYS respectively. Kind of like the guards at London’s Birmingham Palace, but without those silly hats.
There are three branches of the Taiwan’s army – the army, navy, and air force. And each branch has its own honor guard – white for the air force, dark blue for the air force, and camouflage greens for the army.
For the most part, the honor guard does not do much – stand to attention, look handsome, and pose for the cameras. But every hour on the dot, there’s a changing of the guard, as two guards come to replace the two previous guards. And when that happens, there’s a nice 5-10 minutes ceremony, as the current guards stand down and the replacement guards stand to attention. It reminded me of the nutcracker.
Supposedly the army has the best changing of the guard ceremony, and the air force has the worst. So of course, every time I show up at either of the memorials (5+ times), it’s always the air force on duty…
Quite a crowd gathers to watch the changing of the guard – especially tourists from mainland China. There are like, a billion mainland Chinese tourists that flock to Chiang-Kai Shek’s and Sun-Yat Sen’s memorials to watch the changing of the guard.
Jiufen (九份) is another old mountain town in Taiwan turned into a tourist destination, similar to Pingxi (平溪) and Shifen (十分).
Continue reading Travelogue: Jiufen
While in Taipei, I visited Maokong (貓空, literally ‘cat empty’), a mountain area known for its tea, and accessible by gondola. I had to visit.
The gondola to Maokong starts from right near the Taipei Zoo (which I did not visit), and oddly enough has a fountain show. I sat here for a bit, read, and waited for the show to start. It was pretty good. The fountains are set to spurt, sway, and spin in time with classical music.
Continue reading Travelogue: Maokong
Before leaving Taiwan, I saved the best for last – Pingxi, a scenic area about an hour and a half away from Taipei by train. This area is actually a collection of towns – Pingxi (平溪), Shifen (十分), and Jingtong (菁桐). All used to be known primarily for coal mining, but have since become a major tourist attraction, especially with tourists from the mainland. This area has decent scenery, but is primarily famous for its sky lanterns.
Continue reading Travelogue: Pingxi
While staying in Taichung (台中), I made a day trip to the historical town of Lukang (鹿港, literally ‘deer harbor’), an hour or so away by bus. The most interesting part of Lukang is its historic street, well-preserved and filled with old shops selling old products.
Continue reading Travelogue: Lukang
Presenting, the giant rubber duck (小鴨 – small duck) of Taiwan, as viewed in Keelung harbor.
Continue reading Interlude: Giant Rubber Duck
Together with Taroko Gorge and Kenting National park, Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Taiwan, but it was among the last places I visited during my stay in Taiwan. Why? Because every time I wanted to go, it would rain. When I was staying in Taishan with relatives, it once rained nonstop for 15 days. I’m not sure if I’ve gone two weeks without seeing the sun before (this was a record for Taipei, too, 15 days of constant rain). But once that nasty weather finally cleared up, the weatherman predicted sunny weather, I finally set off for the Sun Moon Lake, hoping to see some great sights!
Continue reading Travelogue: Sun Moon Lake
I’m sure Taichung / Taizhong, Taiwan’s third largest city, is famous for something, but I found it notable mostly as the City of Bears. Seriously, it’s got bear statues everywhere! 100+ bear statues, scattered around the city. I suspect that it’s rubber duck envy – as probably the only major Taiwanese city not on the coast, it can’t have a giant inflatable rubber duck in its harbor, so it went for bear statues instead. I guess it worked?
Continue reading Travelogue: Taichung
I’ve been to a baseball game before, and I know (roughly) how baseball works, but I’ve never actually played baseball. And so, I didn’t think that batting would be particularly hard. You see a ball coming towards you, hit the ball, and then run in a circle. Simple enough. I might even have a hidden talent, like that Japanese guy who can repeatedly slice baseballs in half. So with one of my cousins, I visited a batting cage. And thoroughly dashed my hopes of having a hidden talent for baseball.
It’s kind of like Schrödinger’s cat. Before going to a batting cage, I exist in a quantum state where I am both good at baseball and bad at baseball. But then, when I open the box and actually try batting, my quantum state collapses and I’m either good or bad, but not both. And I’m bad. Really, really bad at batting.
Continue reading Interlude: Baseball Batting Cages
There’s this thing in Taiwan, called Shen Zhu (神豬). Literally, Divine Pig:
Continue reading Interlude: Divine Pig