Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Taipei For A Day

Taiwan is one of the major Asian airport transfer hubs, so we took advantage of our 8 hour layover there in Taipei by jumping on a Free Half-Day Tour, compliments of the R.O.C. (Republic Of China).
We jumped on the afternoon tour bus which had 3 other passengers and a very knowledgeable sometime comedic tour guide.
First stop, Longshan Temple. One of the oldest and most famous, there was hundreds of worshipers, tourists and photographers here. The insense was almost unbareable but the fines examples of temple architecture was well worth it.
Second stop, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. This place was impressive, just the shear size of the side face of the building was just unbelievable. They say it’s over 25 hectares (how many stories is that?) with landscaped gardens, graceful pavilions and ponds. Inside we caught guards marching in unison with knees kicked high and boots click-clacking. Our guide spoke very highly of Chiang Kai-Shek and great rule.
Third stop, Presidential Office Building. Houses the President of the R.O.C. the building is baroque with tall pillars, refined ornaments, long corridors and exquisite arches.
Forth stop, Martyrs’ Shrine. A classic example of Ming dynasty architecture, dedicated to the fallen heroes of China’s wars. We just barely missed the hourly changing of the guards ceremony, but from the tread marks on the long path to the Shrine, I’m sure they marched a long way. They guard the entrance of the shrine as well, look very straight and still, not moving. But only if you enter with your hat or sit on the front steps or get too close they pick up their rifles and slam them onto their podiums! Whoo, we got an example when a tourist sat on the front steps for a picture!
Last stop, 101 Building. The tallest building (as of now) in the WHOLE world was open to the public on New Year’s eve 2004. 101 stories high, 508 meters on a 30,278 square meters. It comprises of an office tower, a shopping mall and an observatory.

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