A Travellerspoint blog

Taiwan - Taipei 2024 Part 1

Route: London - Taipei - Hong Kong - Taipei - Hualien

semi-overcast 22 °C

26 February - 07 March 2024

First visit to Taipei

Twenty hours after leaving our home in Portslade, England, we found ourselves in the arrival hall of Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan. Here to meet us is Stanley, our taxi driver, for the 45 minute ride to our hotel. The hotel looked fairly ordinary but the room was spacious and comfortable, just what we needed. It also had the biggest bath (at that time), or should I say small swimming pool, we have ever had in a hotel room.

It was gone midnight before we got to bed so there was no surprise when we didn’t wake up until 11:00 the following morning (8 hour of jet lag). First order of the day was to have a late breakfast, then we were ready for a bit of exploration. Being able to use one of our phones in Taiwan was going to make things easier, so we went in search of a local sim card. With the card purchased we were free to explore the local area.
The Huashan 1914 Creative Park was top of the list. Located in the grounds of the old Taipei Winery it is now a park with the old buildings converted into shops, exhibition halls and restaurants. Today being a public holiday (Peace Memorial Day), the whole complex was buzzing with life, which made our experience that much nicer. Next stop was the tourist office, housed in Taipei’s main train station. This gave us a chance to see some of the streets going to and from the station. At one point we must have looked a bit lost, causing a very helpful young lady to offer assistance with directions. Greatly appreciated even if not really needed. We ended the day with a nice restaurant meal back at the park.

The Huashan park

The Huashan park

Taipei railway station

Taipei railway station

The following day we managed to leave the hotel at a more reasonable time. Had breakfast where we eat the previous evening, then made our way to the Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) Memorial Hall. The weather was warmer than the previous day and was quite hot in the sun. Our route was a mixture of main roads and side streets, giving us a varied feel to life in Taipei.

Street near the park and our first accommodation

Street near the park and our first accommodation

Street life

Street life

Taipei

Taipei

Set in manicured grounds the Memorial Hall is an impressive building. You enter the complex through one of the equally impressive arched gateways. In front of you are the 89 steps (age of CKS when he died) leading up to a marble dome and a broad walkway. Inside, a massive statue of the man dominates. Whilst open, the statue is guarded by two soldiers. The soldiers do one hour stints and we were lucky enough to be there for the changing of the guard. The changing of the guard is a quite lengthy ceremony and is so choreographed it was like watching a dance routine in slow motion.

Memorial building, with octagonal blue tile roof, number 8 is associated with good fortune

Memorial building, with octagonal blue tile roof, number 8 is associated with good fortune

Chiang Kai-sheck memorial, 2 sets of white stairs, each with 89 steps to represent Chiang's age at the time of his death

Chiang Kai-sheck memorial, 2 sets of white stairs, each with 89 steps to represent Chiang's age at the time of his death

Statue of CKS

Statue of CKS

Guard leaving his post

Guard leaving his post

Change of the guard at Chang Kai-sheck (CKS) memorial hall

Change of the guard at Chang Kai-sheck (CKS) memorial hall

Within the complex, and adjacent to the central square, are two more impressive buildings. These are the concert hall and theatre, both built in a more traditional style.

Looking at the concert hall and theatre in the ground of CKS memorial

Looking at the concert hall and theatre in the ground of CKS memorial

Having spent the afternoon in our hotel room and out of the heat, we were ready for some evening entertainment. As the light began to fade we took the metro to the old town, to see the Lantern Festival for the Chinese New Year. Immediately we emerged from the metro station a dragon lantern, belching smoke, was there to greet us. All around us neon lights and all forms of lantern lit the now dark night sky. We followed the indicated route and for the next hour or so were treated to the most amazing display of lanterns.

Year of the Dragon, everywhere celebrating Chinese New Year, the Dragon is very prominent

Year of the Dragon, everywhere celebrating Chinese New Year, the Dragon is very prominent

Lantern corridor

Lantern corridor

Light show on street building, inside the building its like being in a kaleidoscope

Light show on street building, inside the building its like being in a kaleidoscope

lantern festival

lantern festival

Dinner followed our excursion then it was time to explore the back streets and all of the merchandise on offer. Our wandering was finally curtailed by the onset of rain, meaning it was back to the metro and home to the hotel. A very enjoyable evening excursion.

Taipei night life

Taipei night life

At night, Taipei lights up

At night, Taipei lights up

Night in life in Taipei

Night in life in Taipei

We temporarily left Taiwan the following day for five days in Hong Kong.

Second visit to Taipei

On our return to Taiwan, we had a further two nights and one full day in Taipei before starting a more extensive exploration of the island.
We arrived back into an overcast and damp Taipei. Entering the country was straight forward and as swift as before. With a little bit of directional guidance our taxi driver got us to our hotel just around 17:00. This arrival time allowed us to get a new Sim card for the phone and dine with cocktails at Alleycats.

SIM card contract for my mobile, no idea what I signed but it worked very well.

SIM card contract for my mobile, no idea what I signed but it worked very well.

The following day, two Metro rides and a short walk got us to the impressive Baoan Temple. A path through tranquil gardens led us to the temple gates. The vibrant colours on the intricate carving above the gate together with the smell of incense drew us beyond and into a courtyard. The courtyard was a hive of activity with worshipers lighting incense stick and placing offering to one of the many deities enshrined here. The colours and carvings of the central shrine were even more impressive than the entrance gate, it may even surpass some of Hindu temples we have seen.

Dalongdong Baoan temple entrance

Dalongdong Baoan temple entrance

One the building in Baoan Temple complex

One the building in Baoan Temple complex

Baoan Temple shrine (one of)

Baoan Temple shrine (one of)

Worshiping at this site dates back to 1742 but the temple’s construction didn’t start until 1805. We were able to enter the central shrine to marvel at more carvings and statues. The principal statue being of Baosheng Dadi, the god of medicine and healing. Multiple rooms make up the boundary of the complex, each providing information about the temple and its deities.

Some of ornate artwork of Baoan temple building

Some of ornate artwork of Baoan temple building

Close up of Baoan temple roof detail

Close up of Baoan temple roof detail

Baoan temple guardians

Baoan temple guardians

Some of artwork on the wall

Some of artwork on the wall

The Baoan temple door

The Baoan temple door

Offering package you can buy at the Baoan temple

Offering package you can buy at the Baoan temple

Ceiling Baoan Temple

Ceiling Baoan Temple

Across the road from the Baoan Temple is the Confucius Temple, and our next port of call. Another impressive building, but maybe not so mind-blowing as next door. We toured the complex soaking up the wisdom of the great man and admiring the building’s artistry. Then headed back to the Metro to explore another part of Taipei.

Wanren Gongqiang, wall of supreme knowledge , a Chinese Unicorn is painted in the centre of the wall

Wanren Gongqiang, wall of supreme knowledge , a Chinese Unicorn is painted in the centre of the wall

Confucius temple

Confucius temple

Confucius temple

Confucius temple

Outside Confucius Temple, the usual See no Evil, hear no evil, say no evil, but adding a fourth one: DO no evil

Outside Confucius Temple, the usual See no Evil, hear no evil, say no evil, but adding a fourth one: DO no evil

In no time we found ourselves back in the centre and strolling through the 2-28 Peace Park. A small leafy park with water features dominated by the 2-28 Monument in the middle. The park commemorates the tragic massacre that began on February 28, 1947 and the struggles of the gay community in the 1960s. Plaques in both Chinese and English explain what the park stands for today, which in turn is complemented by the quietness of the surroundings.

The 2-28 Peace Park (for honoring and mourning the victims and families of the February 28 incident in 1947)

The 2-28 Peace Park (for honoring and mourning the victims and families of the February 28 incident in 1947)

2-28 Memorial in the Peace park

2-28 Memorial in the Peace park

National Museum Taipei

National Museum Taipei

Inside the museum

Inside the museum

A quick visit to the National Taiwan Museum to view the cultural displays. A bit of travel admin and an early dinner completed another enjoyable day.

That ended our second visit to Taipei as we would start our road trip around Taiwan the next day. Before returning to the capital for a third time at the end of the trip.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Chang Kai-Shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a Chinese politician, revolutionary, and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China and the Generalissimo of the National Revolutionary Army.
During the Chinese civil war, Chiang’s nationalists were defeated by the communists (led by Mao Zedong). Chiang's government and army retreated to the island of Taiwan, where Chiang imposed martial law and persecuted critics during a period known as the White Terror. Presiding over a period of social reforms and economic prosperity, Chiang won five elections of six-year terms as President of the Republic of China in which he faced minimal opposition or was elected unopposed. In 1975, three years into his fifth term as president, and one year before the death of Mao, he died.

Face Masks
The wearing of face masks is common in Taiwan. Whether this is the result of the Covid pandemic a few years ago or part of their culture, we don’t know. Probably a bit of both. On public transport you can expect to see around 80% mask wearing. In shops and restaurants this raises to almost 100%, except for some personal engagements with the customer.

Posted by MAd4travel 13:16 Archived in Taiwan

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

There are certainly some amazing temples in Taipei. We also visited at Chinese New Year one time. There was lots going on.

by irenevt

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login