A Travellerspoint blog

Taipei Zoo and Maekong Gondola

A panda, a gorilla, a gondola, and a mountain.

overcast 92 °F

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Dan, Julia, and I visited the Taipei Zoo to see their panda and to take the gondola up to Maekong for the views. We wandered around in the heat and humidity checking out the animals first. They were surprisingly active for how hot it was.
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The gorilla was just as interested in the tourists as they were in him. The panda ate and ate and ate. The gibbons jumped back and forth from tree to tree. It was a pleasant morning and the zoos outside enclosures looked pretty comfortable for the animals.

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After we wandered around the zoo for a couple of hours we made our way to the Maekong Gondola. Maekong is a huge mountain freckled with tea plantations. The gondola is a fast and easy way to travel up and over a couple of smaller mountains. The other option for travelling to the top of the mountain is a one lane twisty road. The gondola had sweeping views of a huge part of Taipei and we could very clearly see the top of Taipei 101. It looked like rain, so we headed back down the mountain. We made it to the first of four stations and we had to disembark because of the impending rain. The operators made it as pleasant as they could by providing chairs and bottled water. We were offered refunds and bus tickets. The bus took about a half an hour to reach us and the ride down the twisty mountain road was another half an hour. I guess we didn’t bypass that twisty road after all!

Posted by SusanConradWang 00:44 Archived in Taiwan Tagged panda maekong Comments (0)

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial

The Changing of the Guard

rain 85 °F

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We caught the tail end of a typhoon while we were in Taiwan so we weren’t able to do much sight seeing. We did manage to visit the Chiang Kai-shek memorial and watch the changing of the guard in front of his statue. The soldiers guard the statue for 1-hour shifts before they switch with another member of the honor guard. All of the soldiers are between 22 and 24 and have to be at least 180cm tall. They also have to be able to stand perfectly still for the entire hour WITHOUT blinking. No joke. I have no idea how they do it, but they do not blink. The actual changing of the guard is a 10-minute drill with some pretty impressive rifle tossing, goose-stepping, and fist pumping.
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Inside the memorial building we saw a replica of Chiang Kai-shek’s office and 2 of his favorite Cadillac cars. It was a crowded place even in the midst of a typhoon.

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Posted by SusanConradWang 09:44 Archived in Taiwan Tagged taiwan chiang_kai-shek Comments (0)

National Palace Museum

No picture taking allowed!

rain 85 °F

When the Nationalists fled China and resettled on Taiwan, they brought quite a few of the treasures from the Forbidden City with them. We toured the Forbidden City in Beijing and some of the original artifacts were there, but not many. Most of the prized items are housed in the National Palace in Taipei. Paintings, jade, calligraphy, bronze, and furniture were in some of the galleries. There are over 600,000 items and only 1% are on display. They rotate the items every few months while the rest of the items are stored in climate controlled areas.
The most popular item in the entire museum is a jade cabbage that was owned by one of the empresses. The piece of jade from which it was carved is white and green. The artist used the natural coloring of the jade to its full potential to make the piece look life like. The artist even carved two real looking bugs on the cabbage.
My favorite items in the museum were the paintings by one of the emperors and the gifts that foreign officials brought to the emperors over the years. What do you give the person that has everything? How about a white jade scepter, a silver jewelry box inlaid with precious jewels, or maybe a porcelain tea set. All of the gifts were labeled and categorized by their value and then stored. When the Nationalists packed up the items from the Forbidden City, it was easy to identify the really valuable items due to the strict labeling system employed by the emperors’ ministers. The collection in Taiwan definitely outshines the collection that we saw in Shanghai.

Posted by SusanConradWang 08:41 Archived in Taiwan Tagged national_palace_museum Comments (0)

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