A Travellerspoint blog

June 2012

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)

Taiwan

Where the food is the main attraction.

rain 85 °F

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Several people told us that Taiwan is “all about food”. How on earth can a city’s main attraction be food? I quickly realized that our friends were right. First, it is so hot and muggy in Taipei that people seek out air-conditioned spaces – restaurants and shopping malls. Second and most important, the food is amazing in Taiwan. After a week of lackluster food in China, Taiwan’s cuisine was very welcome. The four lbs. I lost in China very quickly returned in Taiwan. And I enjoyed every bite of it!

Some favorites:
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Steamed Pork Dumpling- These little tasty treats have pork and soup twisted inside of a little dumpling. They are served with a soy, vinegar, and ginger sauce. We had these 4 days out of the six and I dream about them at night.

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Black Sesame Steamed Bun- Hands down my favorite food ever. Black sesame is rich, creamy, and kind of nutty. The texture and flavor are divine. I could eat these all day.

Dragon Fruit- There are two colors of dragon fruit but they taste exactly the same. One is white with black seeds and the other is beet colored with black seeds. The red colored one stains so we had to be very careful when eating it.

Mango- The mango in Taiwan is so incredibly fresh and sweet. We ate this whenever it was available.

Lychee- Fresh lychee is only available for about a month and we arrived in the midst of lychee season. Lychee is incredibly sweet and refreshing.

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Noodles with sesame and peanut- Noodles are very popular and very tasty in Taiwan. You can get any number of things to put on them, but my favorite was peanut and sesame. I think I ‘m a bit obsessed with sesame.

Spicy wontons- The spicy wontons were soft, not crispy, and came drenched in a red hot sauce and topped with crushed peanuts.

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Beef soup with brown broth- Taiwan comfort food. It tastes a lot like ramen noodles. People were lined up outside of the noodle shop. It was good, but not my favorite.

My favorite restaurant by far was Din Tai Fung. They are expanding to the US and have a restaurant in Flushing and one in LA. Everything they serve is delicious. We went to the restaurant in Tapei 101 three times. I could have eaten there every day.

Posted by SusanConradWang 08:36 Archived in Taiwan Tagged food taiwan Comments (0)

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