Category Archives: Taiwan

Unwind at Taipei’s Parks

“Stressed city produces stressed residents”

This mantra seems embedded into Taipei city’s government mind when they manage and govern the city. A cosmopolitan city, Taipei provides spaces scattered across the entire city for its residents to unwind, get connected with others or appreciate nature. With good access from public transportation and adequate, if not excellent, facilities in the parks, there is no reason not to come and love the parks.

Look at some of the parks I visited while I was there. I am envious!

228 Memorial Park. A park to commemorate 228 incidents. Located close to Presidential Building and walking distance from Taipei Main Station. MRT NTU Hospital is right at the park.

228 Memorial Park
228 Memorial Park
228 memorial park
228 memorial park

Daan Forest Park. An oasis in the city. This vast park is located next to Taipei Grand Mosque.

Daan Forest Park
Daan Forest Park
Daan Forest Park
Daan Forest Park

Shilin Residence Gardens. This is the former residence of late Republic of China President Chiang Kai-shek located on Zhongshan North Road in Shilin District. Chinese and Western style gardens are open for public.

Shilin Residence
Shilin Residence
One of the parks at Shilin Residence
One of the parks at Shilin Residence
At Shilin Residence
At Shilin Residence
At Shilin Residence
At Shilin Residence
Shilin Residence
Shilin Residence
Shilin Residence
Shilin Residence

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)-designed linear park near Zhongshan MRT Station

A park near Zhongshan MRT Station
A park near Zhongshan MRT Station

When pedestrian is a park in itself

People enjoy walking on the shade
People enjoy walking on the shade

Treasure Hill Artivist. According to Wikipedia:

Treasure Hill is originally an illegal settlement, was founded by the Kuomintang military veterans at the end of 1940’s and served originally as an anti-aircraft position.

After cooperating with non-governmental organization Global Artivists Participation Project, the Taipei City Government developed the area into an example of environmentally sustainable urban community.With the policy of preservation and revitalization, the old settlement unfolded a new vision of an artivist compound which would respect the existing fabric of the community while fulfilling the regeneration concept of “symbiosis” to incorporate production and ecology in communal living and ushering in the program of an international youth hostel and creative ideas of art to further cultural exchanges with broader international communities.

Commissioned by the municipal government to propose an ecological masterplan for the area, Finnish architect Marco Casagrande found that that this settlement, perhaps because of its illegal and marginal status, has evolved organically to operate according to an ecological model: recycling and filtering grey water, using minimal amounts of electricity (“stolen” from the city grid), composting organic waste, and repurposing Taipei’s waste. Casagrande relates his experiences of working on the site: For the ecological urban laboratory I had to do nothing, it was already there. What I did was to construct wooden stairways and connections between the destroyed houses and some shelters for the old residents to play mah-jong and ping-pong. 

The community has been featured in The New York Times as one of Taiwan’s must-see destinations.

Treasure Hill is the attic of Taipei carrying the memories, stories and traditions of the past generations. In some way it is a reflection of the Taipei mind that the industrial city is not able to reflect. For the stories to surface the industrial city must be turned over: the city must be a compost. —Marco Casagrande

Police closed the area in 2007 in order to guarantee safety for restoration work.The restored Treasure Hill reopened as an artist village in 2010 with only 22 original families managing to move back to the settlement.The restoration process has been criticized to have caused the neighbourhood to be stripped of its prior residents and turned into a space which celebrates individual expression and artistic creativity at the expense of housing lower income families

Treasure Hill Artivist
Treasure Hill Artivist
Treasure Hill Artivist
Treasure Hill Artivist
Artistic house at Treasure Hill Artivisit
Artistic house at Treasure Hill Artivisit
Treasure Hill Artivist
Treasure Hill Artivist

Cycling or Taichi? We have a space for you

People seen biking on dedicated bicycle lane at Gongguan riverside
People seen biking on dedicated bicycle lane at Gongguan riverside
Elderly practicing a slow-motion Taichi exercise at CKS Memorial Hall Park
Elderly practicing a slow-motion Taichi exercise at CKS Memorial Hall Park
Love it! Biking in the middle of greeneries. Biking lane at Guting Riverside Park
Love it! Biking in the middle of greeneries. Biking lane at Guting Riverside Park

Taipei Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden covers an area of about 15 hectares and includes over 1,500 plant species, in 17 districts. In any given day you may find Tai-chi practitioners, photographers club, elderly with their nanny, plant enthusiast, or families enjoying a walk. Best visited with combination visit to National Museum of History nearby. The garden is 5-min walk from Xiaonanmen MRT station.

Lotus Pond at Taipei Botanical Garden
Lotus Pond at Taipei Botanical Garden
Floating lotus leaves
Floating lotus leaves
Lotus flower
Lotus flower
Lotus Pond and National Museum of History on the background
Lotus Pond and National Museum of History on the background
At Taipei Botanical Garden
At Taipei Botanical Garden
Elderly enjoys Taipei Botanical Garden
Elderly enjoys Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden
Plant enthusiasts have an educational tour to Taipei Botanical Garden
Plant enthusiasts have an educational tour to Taipei Botanical Garden
Whereas photographers patiently wait for a perfect moment in birdwatching
Whereas photographers patiently wait for a perfect moment in birdwatching
Green house at Taipei Botanical Garden
Green house at Taipei Botanical Garden
Strolling this vast garden is enjoyable
Strolling this vast garden is enjoyable

Taipei Expo Park. The park was the venue for the Taipei International Flora Exposition in 2010-2011. Currently this large park consists of many park elements such as Taipei’s Children recreation Center, Taiwan Excellence Exhibition, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei Story House, Expo Dome, Pavilion of Flowers, Rose Garden, etc. The park is accessible within walking distance East from Yuanshan Station of the Taipei Metro

Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park & Taipei Fine Arts Museum on the background
Taipei Expo Park & Taipei Fine Arts Museum on the background
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park and majestic Grand Hotel on the background
Taipei Expo Park and majestic Grand Hotel on the background
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park
Taipei Expo Park

Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park is a multifunctional park in Xinyi District (MRT SYS Memorial Hall).

The park was initially constructed in 1937 as a tobacco factory under the name Songshan Tobacco Plant of the Monopoly Bureau of the Taiwan Governor’s Office under the Japanese government. After the handover of Taiwan to China in 1945, the Taiwan Provincial Monopoly Bureau took over the factory and renamed it as the Songshan Tobacco Plant of the Taiwan Provincial Monopoly Bureau. In 1947, the plant was renamed again as Songshan Tobacco Plant of the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Bureau.

The factory ceased to produce cigarettes in 1998 for concern over urban planning, tobacco and liquor marketing regulatory changes and the decline in tobacco demand.

In 2001, the Taipei City Government designed the defunct tobacco factory as Taipei’s 99th historic site and converted it into a park comprising city-designated historic sites, historical structures and architectural highlights. Together with Taipei Dome, the site is known as Taipei Cultural and Sporting Complex.

For more efficient reuse of space, in 2011 the former factory was turned into a creative park by its current name to provide venues for diverse cultural and creative exhibitions and performances.

Points of interest in the park include: Red Dot Design Museum, Taiwan Design Museum, Eslite Spectrum (design-themed mall), array of design stores. A nice fountain with backdrop of Taipei 101 is also worth a visit.

Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park

Huashan 1914 Creative Park. If Shongshan was a site for Tobacco Factory, Huashan was a winery that produced sake and ginseng wines, and bred moth orchids. This multi-purpose park showcases creative talents from theater groups, painters, wood sculptors, writers, movie producers and directors from Taiwan and abroad. The park is also a good place to browse design stores or nice restaurants. The park is accessible within walking distance West from Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station of the Taipei Metro

Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Shongshan Cultural and Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park

Taipei Hakka Cultural Park. The 4 hectare Hakka Culture Park,  in the Gongguan area of Taipei City (MRT Taipower Building), features a central plaza, delonix plaza, tung flower trail, bike station, farming experience area and eco-pond. Hakka are Han Chinese who speak Hakka Chinese and have links to the provincial areas of Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan and Fujian in China. In Taiwan, Hakka people comprise about 15 to 20% of the population and are descended largely from Guangdong immigrants: they form the second-largest ethnic group on the island. Best visited with a combined trip to Shida Night Market (MRT Taipower Building, Exit 3) on Shida Road.

Taipei Hakka Culture Park
Taipei Hakka Culture Park
Taipei Hakka Culture Park
Taipei Hakka Culture Park
Taipei Hakka Culture Park
Taipei Hakka Culture Park
Taipei Hakka Culture Park
Taipei Hakka Culture Park

Dahu Park. I visited this park intrigued by a picture of the park’s moon bridge on Dailymail. Though I can’t reproduce the same picture 🙂 I found this was an interesting visit in itself. The park has its own Dahu Park MRT station.

Dahu Park and its moon bridge
Dahu Park and its moon bridge
Dahu Park
Dahu Park
Dahu Park
Dahu Park
Dahu Park
Dahu Park
Dahu Park
Dahu Park
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Museums Hopping in Taipei

National Taiwan Museum
National Taiwan Museum

There are at least 47 museums in Taipei and 14 in New Taipei. Most charge free admission or if they do only minimal fee (NTD30 or NTD50), making museums hopping is very affordable. Also, most museums have provided dual language exhibitions, understanding is not an issue. I can’t visit a place without understanding a context of the place and therefore visiting a museum is at the top of the list. National Palace Museum, National Museum of History and National Taiwan Museum provides adequate contexts for Taiwan whereas “Discovery Center” for Taipei. Besides these, there are several unique museums with unique positioning such as Miniature Museum of Taiwan, Gold Museum, Hot Spring Museum or Museum of Drinking Water. See?

Looking at museums below I realized how far I have travelled.

National Palace Museum

It is probably the most recommended museum to visit to understand the context of Taiwan and China. The only thing consequentially is that it can be crowded (with tour-herded Mainland China tourist) you may not be able to enjoy it. Among more than 690,000 collections (90% of which rare books/archival documents), the crowd pulles are Jadeite Cabbage and Meat Shaped Stone.

Check Wikipedia and its official website to understand it better.

Red 30 Bus from Shilin MRT Station or Brown 20 from Jiannan MRT Station will take you to outside of the Museum’s B1. Admission NTD160. Free daily tours in English at 10:00 and 15:00. No photography allowed.

 

Jade Cabbage, one of the 'must see' collections in National Palace Museum
Jade Cabbage, one of the ‘must see’ collections in National Palace Museum
National Palace Museum complex
National Palace Museum complex

 

National Taiwan Museum

Established in 1908, this is the oldest museum in Taiwan. The museum is located at 228 Peace Park (accessed through NTU (National Taiwan University) Hospital MRT Station, Exit 4). It provides a good context for native Taiwanese and geological history and mineral as well as biodiversity of Taiwan. Best visited along with Land Bank Exhibition Hall of NTM, just across diagonally the street.

http://formosa.ntm.gov.tw/web/en/exhibition.aspx

National Taiwan Museum
National Taiwan Museum
Aboriginal boat in National Taiwan Museum
Aboriginal boat in National Taiwan Museum
Land Bank Exhibition Hall across National Taiwan Museum (building on left)
Land Bank Exhibition Hall across National Taiwan Museum
Dinosaurs at Land Bank Exhibition Hall
Dinosaurs at Land Bank Exhibition Hall
Oviraptor Egg Nest at Land Bank Exhibition Hall
Oviraptor Egg Nest at Land Bank Exhibition Hall

Miniatures Museum of Taiwan (MMOT)

Can you believe true whiskey in a tiny 1cm bottle? A TV smaller than a postage stamp actually works? A chandelier with 40 bulbs the size of grain of rice ina one twelfth scale in Buckingham Palace?

MMOT is the first and only one of the kind in East Asia. I was amazed by its huge collections and fine details of miniatures, the patience when creating them. I wish I could shrink and go inside them.

Practicalities:

B1, No. 96 Jianguo North Road Sec 1, Taipei. http://www.mmot.com.tw . MRT Station: SongJiang NanJian, Exit 4.

Open: Tue – Sun, 10:00 – 18:00. Closed on Mon.

Admissions: Adult NTD180 Children NTD100

Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan
Miniature Museum of Taiwan

 

Museums of Contemporary Arts (MOCA)

MOCA is the first art institution in Taiwan dedicated exclusively to contemporary art. The museum building was originally the Jan Cheng Elementary School, established during the Japanese colonial period. Spanning across two floors, the exhibitions and performance spaces, MOCA connects cultural history with contemporary arts. Whereas public art on an area between the museum plaza and Zhongshan MRT Station transforms the linear park into an art trail and improve the visual aesthetics of the local environment.

Practicalities:

No. 39 ChangAn West Road, Taipei, Taiwan 103. http://www.mocataipei.org.tw MRT Tamsui Line, Zhongshan Station Exit R4. Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm. Monday Closed. Themed Exhibitions: NTD50, general admissions: NTD45. No flash while photographing.

Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA)
Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA)
Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA)
Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA)
MOCA Outdoor Installation near Zhongshan MRT Station
MOCA Outdoor Installation near Zhongshan MRT Station

Taiwan Design Museum and Red Dot Museum

Both museum are located at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, 700m from CKS Memorial Hall MRT Station. Also visit Eslite Spectrum, a multi purpose building with floors dedicated for design-themed stores.

Taiwan Design Museum: http://www.tdm.org.tw/

Taipei Red Dot Museum: http://en.red-dot.org/5127.html

Taiwan Design Museum
Taiwan Design Museum

Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM)

A minimalist bone-whote facade juxtaposed by transversal beams define the singular and dignified edifice that is the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. TFAM focuses on the procurement of outstanding works by Taiwanese artists from the 20th century to the present, producing a chronology of fine art as it developed in Taiwan.

When visiting TFAM don’t forget to visit Taiwan Excellence (connected to TFAM by a bridge) that displays “made in Taiwan” quality products. Also opposite the museum is Taipei Story House and nearby Taipei Expo Park.

TFAM

181 Zhongshan North Road Section 3, Taipei 10461. http://www.TFAM.com . Tue – Sun, 9:30am – 5:30pm. Mon Closed. Entrance fee NTD30 (excluding special exhibition). MRT: Tamsui Line, Yuanshan Station, Exit 1 in the direction of Zhongshan North Road. 10-min walk. No photography allowed.

Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taipei Story House
Taipei Story House
Taipei Story House
Taipei Story House

National Museum of History (NMH)

NMH exhibits Chinese historical items. The museum is established in a Japanese style building near Taipei Botanical Garden (there is a shortcut from the garden near Lotus Pond). Don’t miss a great view from the 3rd floor of the museum: Lotus Pond.

NMH

No. 49 Nánhǎi Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100. Taipei Botanical Garden can be accessed within 5-min walk from Xiaonanmen MRT Station. The museum can also be accessed from CKS Memorial Hall MRT Station (10-12min walk). Admission: NTD30

National Museum of History
National Museum of History
National Museum of History
National Museum of History
National Museum of History
National Museum of History
National Museum of History
National Museum of History
National Museum of History
National Museum of History

Museum of Drinking Water

What museum?

Here what you will see: old pumps, old MCC (motor control center), pipe fittings, tanks, a Baroque style building and a bit of history, Access via MRT Gongguan Station Exit 4. Best visited along with Taipei Water Park or Gongguan Riverside (bike lane)

 

Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water
Museum of Drinking Water

Discovery Center of Taipei

This place is a good educational center to get your bearings on the city and its history. The center is housed within Taipei City Hall (within walking distance from Taipei City Hall MRT Station, Free Admission). Quoting its website, Taipei City Government designated it as a modern stage for “citizens,” “cities,” “interactive dialogue with visitors,” and “presenting achievements of city construction. “It is responsible for social education, the promulgation of civil politics, and the promotion of the city. This center exhibits the city’s technology, history, humanity, art, and ecology. Through various perceptive and interactive displays, visitors are introduced to the development of Taipei City”.

Discovery Center of Taipei
Discovery Center of Taipei
Discovery Center of Taipei
Discovery Center of Taipei
The remains of Taipei City walls  - Discovery Center of Taipei
The remains of Taipei City walls – Discovery Center of Taipei

Gold Museum

The museum looks generic with its nice display of gold mining industry in Jinguashi, miniature of underground tunnels, until I came to the end of visit, when I saw a 220-kg gold brick. Yes, it’s real!

Surrounding environment, as it is located at Gold Ecological Park, also makes this museum worth a visit. Don’t miss an opportunity to go inside the Tunnel (NTD50), or panning gold (NTD100). Gold Museum and areas are free anyway. Other attractions include abandoned rail tracks, Four Joined Japanese Houses, Environment Building, Shinto Shrines, The Crown Prince Chalet. All set high above the village in green, quiet hillsides.

Bus 1062 from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station Exit 1 will take you to the site for a little over an hour through twisty mountain roads.

Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Map of gold distribution across the world. Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Map of gold distribution across the world. Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Prisoner of War. Gold mining workers. Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Prisoner of War. Gold mining workers. Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold ore. Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold ore. Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold underground mining . Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold underground mining . Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Gold Museum, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park

 

Beitou Hot Spring Museum

The museum was originally the Beitou Public Bathhouse, the largest bathhouse in the East Asia at the time (Japanese colonial period). House in a building resembles English house, the museum recounts Beitou hot spring industry. On display are historical relics and documents which tells stories of the sulfur mining, the hot spring and Taiwanese films. I particularly like the building itself, Japanese interiors and radioactive measurement from sulfur blocks. The museum is located at Beitou, one of the Taiwan hot spring centers, easily accesible by MRT Tamsui Line, Beitou Station, continued with another train to Xinbeitou. Visit to the museum may be combined with visit to Thermal Valley, Ketagalan Cultural Center, hiking or private hot spring bath available at many hotels in the area. A very nice Beitou Public Library building is nearby.

 

Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Used to be ticket counter for public bath. Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Used to be ticket counter for public bath. Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Ketagalan Cultural Center
Ketagalan Cultural Center

Memorial Halls

The halls are to commemorate two persons that have a place in Taiwan history: Chiang Kai Shek and Sun Yat-Sen (first president and founding father of the Republic of China).

 

Ching Kai Sek Memorial Hall
Ching Kai Sek Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall

228 Museums

There are two museums associated with 2/28 or 228, referring to a Febaruary 28. 228 incident was an anti-government uprising in Taiwan that began on February 27, 1947 which was violently suppressed by the Kuomintang (KMT)-led Republic of China government and which resulted in the massacre of numerous civilians, beginning on February 28, or 2/28.

228 Memorial Museum is located at 228 Peace Memorial Park whereas National 228 Memorial Park is located at Nanhai Road (5-7 minutes walk from CKS Memorial Hall MRT Station).

National 228 Memorial Museum
National 228 Memorial Museum

Taipei’s Night Markets

I once read that about 75% of visitors to Taipei must have visited a night market. In this city known as ‘food stall city’, for their love to eating outside at street hawker or food stall instead of home cooking , a night market is a heaven for residents. For visitor it provides a perfect place to understand the diversity of cuisines Taipei has to offer. Oyster omellete, stinky tofu, ice shaved mango, beef noodle, Taiwan crepes, grilled squid, milk pearl tea, fried bun?

It is no surprise why night market is loved. Food/snack is available at bargain prices for as low as 30 NTD to 150 NTD (roundup 4 to 18 QAR), one can have a full dinner comprises several selections and satisfy their cravings at minimal cost.

 

SAMSUNG CSC

While every night market has its own charm, food is the strongest magnet. Though, fashion accessories, clothing and gadget accessories are now and more usual merchandises.

Let’s have a look some night markets I have visited during my stay in Taipei:

  • Shilin Night Market. The biggest and most well-known though not necessarily the best. Can be overly crowded during the weekend. MRT Jiantan Exit 1
  • Shida Night Market. Targeting young people or students of National Taiwan University or National Taiwan Normal University. More and more fashion than food stalls. MRT Taipower Building Exit 3 on Shida Road
  • Guangzhou and Huaxi Street Night Markets. Close to Longshan Temple. Huaxi is known for snake-based meal (i.e. snake soup). MRT Longshan Temple
  • Raohe Night Market. Probably the smallest (only 600-m long). Next to magnificent and beautiful Ci You Temple. One halal restaurant located here (Alladin). Shongshan TRA Station.

A list and review of all night markets in Taipei can be read here:

http://mykafkeasquelife.blogspot.tw/2010/01/list-of-night-markets-in-taipei.html

 

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market

 

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market

 

Ice shaved mango
Ice shaved mango

 

Shilin 'Tourist' Night Market
Shilin ‘Tourist’ Night Market

 

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market

 

Long queue means good food?
Long queue means good food?

 

I love iced tea
I love iced tea

 

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market

 

Bargain price snack at night market
Bargain price snack at night market

 

Grill is almost available in any night market
Grill is almost available in any night market

 

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market

 

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market
Looks yummy?
Looks yummy?

 

Night market can be overly crowded. Best time is half an hour before sunset
Night market can be overly crowded. Best time is half an hour before sunset

 

Shida Night Market
Shida Night Market

 

Shida Night Market
Shida Night Market

 

Shida Night Market
Shida Night Market

 

Shida Night Market
Shida Night Market

 

Shida Night Market
Shida Night Market

 

Shida Night Market
Shida Night Market

 

Huaxi Street Night Market
Huaxi Street Night Market

 

Huaxi is known for snake soup
Huaxi is known for snake soup
Huaxi street night market
Huaxi street night market

 

Huaxi Street Night Market
Huaxi Street Night Market

 

 

Guangzhou Street Night Market
Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

Massage service at Guangzhou Street Night Market
Massage service at Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

Ghuangzhou Street Night Market
Ghuangzhou Street Night Market

 

Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

Guangzhou Street Night Market
Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

Guangzhou Street Night Market
Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

Guangzhou Street Night Market
Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

Guangzhou Street Night Market
Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

Guangzhou Street Night Market
Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

Guangzhou Street Night Market
Guangzhou Street Night Market

 

 

 

Ci You Temple near the entrance of Raohe Night Market
Ci You Temple near the entrance of Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Mushroom grill Raohe Night Market
Mushroom grill Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climbing the highest peak of Taipei

Taipei lies in the Taipei basin. It is bordered by the Xindian River on the south and the Tamsui River on the west. The generally low-lying terrain of the central areas on the western side of the municipality slopes upward to the south and east and especially to the north, where it reaches 1,120 metres (3,675 ft) at Cising Mountain (七星山), the highest (inactive) volcano in Taiwan in Yangmingshan National Park.

I went to this park and climbed up the peak on a cloudy day that unable to hide the beauty of the park. I walked on a stone-paved path to the peak, steep in places, passed through tall clumping silvergrass fields amid smell of sulfur. It’s less than an hour climb from Xiaoyukeng (where you can see fumaroles), yet I felt old enough. Once reached Mt. Cising main peak, I hiked down and up again to Mt. Cising East Peak before continuing my hiking to Lengshuikeng – famous for public hot bath, Milk Pond and a way to the best grassland, Qingtiangang.

A pavilion near Qixing Park , Lengshuikeng
A pavilion near Qixing Park , Lengshuikeng

Other attractions in the park include:

  • Azaleas, cherry blossoms every spring, in Yangming Park (Houshan Park).
  • The panorama of Taipei (especially attractive at night)
  • The fumaroles at Xiaoyoukeng.
  • The best grassland in Taipei, Qingtiangang. This area is popular with picnicking students and families.
  • Yangming Shuwu. 12 Zhongxin Road, also often called Yangming Villa, is an historical building built by former President Chiang Kai-shek for receiving foreign dignitaries.

Check english.ymsnp.gov.tw for practicalities including how to get there, and a map of the area. If you like hiking I suggest that you grab a map (NTD50) in one of the shops in any visitor center. I took a 260 bus from a stand near Exit M2/Y6 of Taipei Main station, a ride lasting 45 minutes to the park. From the park bus station, I took a shuttle bus 108 (easycard is accepted) that drops passengers to multiple stops in the park. Beware that bus frequency is not that often 20-30 minutes.

Let the pictures speak.

A visitor enjoys a scenery of the park near Xiaoyukeng
A visitor enjoys a scenery of the park near Xiaoyukeng
Fumaroles in Xiaoyukeng
Fumaroles in Xiaoyukeng
The start of hiking trail to Mt Cising
The start of hiking trail to Mt Cising
Hiking Trail through tall clumping silvergrass
Hiking Trail through tall clumping silvergrass
Hiking trails can be steep in places
Hiking trails can be steep in places
wind-sheared vegetation areas in Yangmingshan
wind-sheared vegetation areas in Yangmingshan
Hold your breath, the view is magnificent from Mt Cising Main Peak
Hold your breath, the view is magnificent from Mt Cising Main Peak
Hikers enjoys the day on a flat stone. Mt Cising East Peak on the background
Hikers enjoys the day on a flat stone. Mt Cising East Peak on the background
Nothing compares to a reward after an hour hiking
Nothing compares to a reward after an hour hiking
Many peoples enjoy hiking in Mt Cising
Many peoples enjoy hiking in Mt Cising
View to Taipei Basin
View to Taipei Basin
On Mt Cising East Peak
On Mt Cising East Peak
View toward Lengshuikeng
View toward Lengshuikeng
Another view on the way to Lengshuikeng from Mt Cising East Peak
Another view on the way to Lengshuikeng from Mt Cising East Peak
Milk Pond in Lengshuikeng
Milk Pond in Lengshuikeng
Foot-soaking pool in Lengshuikeng
Foot-soaking pool in Lengshuikeng
Juansi waterfall
Juansi waterfall

Taiwan’s Taroko National Park: When adjectives fail me

It was light raining on Saturday when we reached Les Champs Hotel in Hualien, a small town 26km south of Taroko National Park. We are here for a weekend escape from Taipei. Despite cloudy forecast and 10% chance of rain, it’s raining. Don’t blame forecast! We convinced ourselves that show must go on; we should go today despite raining. We don’t know if tomorrow weather would improve and we won’t be in hurry catching up train back to Taipei.

Through our hotel receptionist – who has limited English yet so eager to help – we hired a local taxi driver for a 6-hour tour to Taroko. It’s only 5 minutes after the receptionist hung up the call that he showed up; shocked us for our un-readiness. Later on we found out the guy is very nice and very accommodating. With no basic English whatsoever, he can only say Okay Okay that we give him nickname: Mr. Okay Okay. LOL. We can only submit to this situation. Let’s Tarzan language rule.

Although light is not helping us in capturing the beauty of this magnificent park, adjectives fail me. Allah is the greatest creator and most beautiful.

From Wikipedia:

Taroko National Park  is one of the eight national parks in Taiwan and was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park. The park spans Taichung City, Nantou County, and Hualien County. The park was originally established as the Tsugitaka-Taroko National Park  by the Governor-General of Taiwan on December 12, 1937 when Taiwan was part of the Empire of Japan. After the Empire of Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Republic of China assumed control of Taiwan. The ROC government subsequently abolished the park on August 15, 1945. It was not until November 28, 1986 that the park was reestablished.

The name, Taroko, means “magnificent and beautiful” in the Truku language of the Truku indigenous tribe. Long ago a Truku tribesman saw the beauty of the azure Pacific when he walked out of the gorge. On seeing the magnificent scene, he cried “Taroko!”. And so it became the name of the place.

Taroko Gorge and its surrounding area are well known for their abundant supply of marble, leading to its nickname, “The Marble Gorge”. The rock now seen in Taroko began over 200 million years ago as sediment on the bottom of the ocean. As the sediment collected, it was subject to increasingly large amounts of pressure which eventually hardened it into limestone. Over the past 100 million years, tectonic compression between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate supplied additional pressure that metamorphosed the limestone into marble. Uplifting forces from the plate collision pushed this rock above the surface of the ocean to where we see it today. The region is still being uplifted by approximately 0.5 cm per year.

The gorge itself was carved into the marble by the erosive power of the Liwu River.

In addition, there are known to be jade in this gorge. This jade is only found in Taiwan and the jade from this area supplies the jade market in Hualien.

 

Eternal spring at Changchun Shrine, Taroko
Eternal spring at Changchun Shrine, Taroko

 

  

A paifang (gate) at the entrance to Taroko National Park
A paifang (gate) at the entrance to Taroko National Park

Shakadang Trail

Shakadang Trail is also known as “Mysterious Valley Trail” and was renamed to “Shakadang Trail” in 2001. This trail is built along the river cliff so travelers can easily observe both the rock folds and plant ecosystem beside in the Shakadang river valley.

The trail can be accessed from Bridge of 100 lions (all lions here have different poses!)  and descending a set of stairs to the river’s edge.

Shakadang Trail viewed from Bridge of 100 Lions
Shakadang Trail viewed from Bridge of 100 Lions
Underneath Bridge of 100 Lions - Shakadang Trail
Underneath Bridge of 100 Lions – Shakadang Trail

 

At start of Shakadang Trail
At start of Shakadang Trail

 

Shakadang Trail
Shakadang Trail

 

Bridge of 100 Lions
Bridge of 100 Lions

 

Bridge of 100 Lions
Bridge of 100 Lions

 

Eternal Spring Shrine

The Changchun (Eternal Spring) Shrine  commemorates the 226 personnel (military veterans) who died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway (1956~1960). Spring water adjacent by the Eternal Spring Shine flows all year round, and the Highway Bureau named it after “Changchun Falls.” It is now scenic spot with special significance on the Central Cross-Island Highway.

Eternal Spring Shrine
Eternal Spring Shrine
Changchun Bridge
Changchun Bridge

 

Figures of deities at the base of Changchun Bridge
Figures of deities at the base of Changchun Bridge

 

A small opening leading to trail to Eternal Spring Shrine
A small opening leading to trail to Eternal Spring Shrine
Murky river stream mixed with flow from the spring
Murky river stream mixed with flow from the spring
Eternal Spring Shrine
Eternal Spring Shrine

 

View to Changchun Bridge from the shrine
View to Changchun Bridge from the shrine

 

Changchun Bridge and its leading road
Changchun Bridge and its leading road

 

Details at Eternal Spring Shrine
Details at Eternal Spring Shrine

Swallow Grotto

Following the Central Cross-Island Highway, at Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto) the rock cliffs of the Liwu River gorge seem to reach to heaven while the river runs its swiftest and the distance between the gorge walls so narrow that they almost seem to touch each other.

Along the Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto) trail which runs about a half kilometer starting from the entrance to Swallow Grotto to the Jinheng Bridge, you can enjoy the sights of the Liwu River from nearly straight above the water, the potholes on the cliff faces, the springs sprinkled along the lower parts of the walls, as well as the famous rock formation “Chieftain’s profile rock”.

Swallow Grotto
Swallow Grotto

 

Rock formation on Swallow Grotto
Rock formation on Swallow Grotto

 

Swallow Grotto
Swallow Grotto

 

Safety first at Swallow Grotto - helmet is mandatory for its rockfall
Safety first at Swallow Grotto – helmet is mandatory for its rockfall

 

An engineering marvell meets nature in Taroko
An engineering marvell meets nature in Taroko

 

Quality road in Taroko
Quality road in Taroko

 

Our taxi to explore Taroko
Our taxi to explore Taroko

Cimu Bridge (Motherly Devotion Bridge)

Cimu Bridge(Motherly Devotion Bridge) is an H-Shape hanging bridge with marble stone lions on each end and with marble lotus stones on two sides. The rock beneath the bridge looks like a frog. The frog-like rock is composed of black layer of schist at the top and white marble at the bottom. A pavilion was built on this frog rock, becoming the crown on the frog. This was built by late President Chiang Jing-guo, in memory of his mother, during construction of the road. Cimu pavilion area is on the east side of the bridge, built by late President Chiang Kai-shek, in memory of his mother, Mrs. Wang.

This area where Laoxi River flowing from the marble valley into Liwu River is called the “Heliu” which stands for “merging flows.” The cliff has two different rocks layers.

 

Cimu (Motherly Devotion) Bridge and Frog Rock
Cimu (Motherly Devotion) Bridge and Frog Rock

 

Tianxiang and Xiangde Temple

Tianxiang – located almost at the center of the national park – is a large river terrace recreational area in Taroko National Park. Dasha River and Taci Jili River converge at Tianxiang to become Liwu River. Here we can see a tall White Robed Guanyin Statue, the 7-story high Tian Feng Pagoda, Giant Statute of the Bodhisattva, Xiangde Temple, Daxiong Baodian temple.

 

Xiangde Temple at Tianxiang
Xiangde Temple at Tianxiang

 

Xiangde Temple and Liwu River
Xiangde Temple and Liwu River

Heliu Suspension Bridge

Our taxi driver (with its no-English, Chinese only words) tries to warn us to watch out low hanging bridge gate at Heliu Suspension Bridge
Our taxi driver (with its no-English, Chinese only words) tries to warn us to watch out low hanging bridge gate at Heliu Suspension Bridge

 

Heliu Suspensiun Bridge
Heliu Suspensiun Bridge

Tunnel of Nine Turns

This is the most magnificent part of Taroko Gorge, where the sheer cliffs face each other. During the exploration stage, it is the especially difficult and dangerous part to explore. When the wind comes from the broad river valley to the narrow valley it is forced upwards when it hits the cliff face.

The Jiuqudong tunnel was constructed 1996, so that the visitors can view the rock folds, joints and faults of the marble cliffs. The two cliffs are so close to each other, and it looks like they are joining to each other if seen from afar. This section has the reputation of “Nine Turns of the Coiled Dragon”. The distance between the cliffs is only around 10-meters wide. In the small gap in the rocks, the narrow Kelan River’s rush by, forming a “Fish leaping across the dragon gate” scenery. The trail is a must-see point and one should stop by and enjoy the spectacular scenery that has been formed by tens of thousands of years of river erosion.

Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong)
Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong)

Qingshui Cliff

Situated between Heren and Chongde on the Su-Hua Highway, Qingshui Cliff is a big formed by Chongde, Qingshui and Heping mountain coastal cliffs. Creating a magnificent scene, it stretches more than 21km and rises vertically from the Pacific Ocean, with an average height of over 800m. This section of cliff is composed of gneiss and marble. It has risen straight up on the eastern coast of Taiwan for thousands of years. The route along the Qingshui Cliff is the only coastal road in Taroko National Park. The site of the Qingshui Cliff was designated in 1953 by the Taiwan government as one of the island’s “Eight Wonders.”

Among these cliffs, the east-south cliff of Mt. Qingshui is the steepest. The cliff facing the sea is 5km long and is very spectacular. Driving a car between cliff and the boundless ocean it almost feels like you are flying. The enormous cliff above combined with the boundless ocean below, reminding us of the hardships faced by the workers who built the road

Qingshui Cliff from Chongde Shingle Beach
Qingshui Cliff from Chongde Shingle Beach

 

Note:

1. Many, if not all, of the notes above is taken from Taroko National Park official website: http://www.taroko.gov.tw/English/?mm=5&sm=1&page=1#up. Thanks!

2. A 6-hour taxi hire costs us NTD2700 (appr. QAR330).

3. Hualien can be reached by plane (a 30-min flight from Shongshan Airport, Taipei), train (2 hours to 4 hours – we took both ends 🙂 ) or by car or bus.

4. Train costs us NTD340 (4-hour CK Express Train; many stops and slow) and NTD440 (2hour 5 min Taroko Express Train – few stops and fast)

5. Hotel: Les Champs NTD3600 nett including tax, services, and breakfast for two.

6. Check weather forecast before going and check Taroko National Park website to know which trails and roads are open/closed.

 

Taipei 101

It is the Eiffel Tower is to Paris what Taipei 101 is to Taipei. A landmark of the city. An engineering marvel. A structure with full of symbolism.

Some interesting facts and figures:

– Located at Xinyi District, the “Manhattan of Taipei”, a prime shopping area in Taipei, if not in Taiwan. Used to be wetlands before it underwent a massive development in the 90s.

– Cost USD1.8billion. Constructed in 4 years

– The building ranked officially as the world’s tallest from 2004 until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010

– Has 101 stories above ground and five underground. Total height 509m. Observatory floor is at 391m (89th and 91th floor)

– Has the fastest elevator in the world at 1010m/min

– The tower is designed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. Withstand winds up to 60m/s or 216km/h. For that, a tuned mass damper is installed at a cost of USD4million to stabilize the tower against movements caused by high winds. The damper (660 metric tons) can reduce up to 40% of the tower’s movements. This is the largest damper sphere in the world.

– The main tower features a series of eight segments of eight floors each. In Chinese-speaking cultures the number eight is associated with abundance, prosperity and good fortune. It resembles a stalk of bamboo (an icon of learning and growth), and a stack of ancient Chinese ingots or money boxes (a symbol of abundance).

Directions:

– MRT City Hall Station (Bannan Line (Blue)). From here the tower can be reached within 10-12 minutes walk. New MRT Line (Xinyi Line) will open by the end of this year or early next year which will provides a direct access to the tower through its own MRT station. Once completed it takes 11 minutes from Taipei Main Station to Taipei 101 Station.

Observatory:

Adult NT$500, Children under 12 NT$450

Open 9am to 10pm daily. Last ticketing & entry 9.15pm

Ticket booth and entrance is located at the 5th floor of the Taipei 101 Mall

Taipei101

Taipei 101 from Elephant Hills
Taipei 101 from Elephant Hills
Taipei 101 from Maokong, south of Taipei
Taipei 101 from Maokong, south of Taipei
At the base of and entrance to Taipei 101
At the base of and entrance to Taipei 101
One of the art installation in front of the tower (LOVE by Robert Indiana)
One of the art installation in front of the tower (LOVE by Robert Indiana)
This installation display all names involved in the construction of the tower
This installation display all names involved in the construction of the tower
A reflection of Taipei 101 on the art wall
A reflection of Taipei 101 on the art wall

taipei101(6)

A view of Taipei from Observatory
A view of Taipei from Observatory
Another view at night of Taipei
Another view at night of Taipei
I am with the tuned mass damper of the tower
I am with the tuned mass damper of the tower
Panoramic view of the mall
Panoramic view of the mall
Taipei 101 Mall
Taipei 101 Mall
Coral display at Coral Shop on the observatory level
Coral display at Coral Shop on the observatory level
Taipei City Hall and Taipei 101 that is engulfed by cloud
Taipei City Hall and Taipei 101 that is engulfed by cloud

Taiwan & Typhoon

Update:

I woke up to high wind chatter outside my apartment. This weekend of 5/6 OCtober 13, Taipei sees Typhoon Fitow passing by, at least it is hit by the typhoon tails. The typhoon moves north of Taiwan, passes Japan’s southern island chains before it hits China.

 

Typhoon Fitow as at 6 October 13. 5pm. The body of typhoon has engulfed Taipei and I observed strong winds and medium rain from morning till evening.
Typhoon Fitow as at 6 October 13. 5pm. The body of typhoon has engulfed Taipei and I observed strong winds and medium rain from morning till evening.

——

If Qatar has its usual guest of dust storm, then Taiwan has its Typhoon. A week before I arrived a typhoon hit Taiwan; halted business to stand still and abandoned my teleconference with project office in Taipei. Few weeks before, a powerful typhoon, named as Soulik, also hit Taiwan and China, caused a widespread damage.

Just last week end, another typhoon, called Usagi, lashed Northern Philippines before it came to Southern Taiwan and then battered Hong Kong and mainland China. One of the strongest tropical cyclones, Usagi’s maximum sustained wind was 139mph, close to a definition of super typhoon of 150mph. This last typhoon didn’t affect Taipei much except high winds on Saturday afternoon and thunderstorms due to tails of typhoon.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau will normally issue typhoon warning; strongly advises residents to stay indoor, close the school, and office and cancel public transportation.

Taipei is prone to typhoons from May to October, though the highest concentrations are in August and September.

As I will be spending my time here at least until typhoon period is over; my inner voice wants me to see the actual typhoon although I pray to Allah that it won’t cause any harm.

Trail and predicted track of Typhoon Usagi that hit Philippines, Taiwan and China last week
Trail and predicted track of Typhoon Usagi that hit Philippines, Taiwan and China last week
Double typhoons seen on this satellite image. On the left is Typhoon Usagi that has just passed Taiwan and about to land to China. On the right is Typhoon Pabuk that fortunately made a curve path to north avoiding Taiwan
Double typhoons seen on this satellite image. On the left is Typhoon Usagi that has just passed Taiwan and about to land to China. On the right is Typhoon Pabuk that fortunately made a curve path to north avoiding Taiwan
Typhoon aftermath in Taipei last July (Source: USA Today, Wally Santana, AP - shown without permission for illustration purpose)
Typhoon aftermath in Taipei last July (Source: USA Today, Wally Santana, AP – shown without permission for illustration purpose)