My camera sensor's being gathering dust as a result of it falling out of my pocket occasionally (I know, makes no sense, right?), so forgive the black spots.
Thursday August 9.
Thursday August 9.
We were focusing on one MRT line today - the red Tamsui Line (淡水線), which passes through many of Taipei's most famous landmarks.
Our first stop was to the southern end of the line - the Taipei system is weird in that past this station, the line diverges into a green and an orange line headed south and southwest respectively.
After the Japanese had surrendered in 1945, they returned their colony of Taiwan to "China". Very soon afterward, the Civil War broke out in its entirety. As everyone knows, Mao's Red Army took complete control of mainland China in 1949, and Chiang and his (few) remaining KMT followers fled to Taiwan, expecting a triumphant return within a few years, and therefore still claiming governance over "China", and by extension, Taiwan. It is this ambiguity -intentionally continued by both sides of the Strait in the want of peace - that gives Taiwan its current curious position in world politics.
For the better part of the latter half of the twentieth century, both sides of the Taiwan Strait experienced brutal, militaristic forms of government, Mao's misguided but all-powerful social policies such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution directly or indirectly killing well over a hundred million people in the mainland, and Taiwan existing under continuous martial law until 1989. Chiang died in 1975 under this military rule, which immediately began building a monument in his honour, which would serve as the centrepiece of the provisional capital Taipei (which was looking more and more like a permanent home!)
Next, we headed out to the National Palace Museum ( 國立故宮博物院), which houses one of the best collections of Chinese art and writings in the world.
The collection spans the whole of recorded Chinese history, from the bronze age Shang Dynasty (商朝) in the second millennium BC to 1900's Qing heirlooms.
The most famous work in the museum is the jade bok choi - a piece of jade that possessed a range of colour from white to dark green that the anonymous artist carved a stick of bok choi out of. It stands out as a work of supreme craftsmanship as the colouring, which looks completely correct as a piece of bok choi (the leaves are vibrant green, the stalk is pure white) is completely natural, and was there before the artist began his work.
We then headed up to Tamsui (hanyu pinyin Danshui), the northern end of the line.
If you're wondering why a lot of these places have two English names, it's because the former Taipei government, under now KMT president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), used the PRC's romanization standard "hanyu pinyin" to romanize their place names, while the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) government created its own, tongying pinyin. After Ma came to power over the entire island in 2008, he rendered tongying obsolete.
Approaching the station:
Apparently, the place is very good for watching the sunset, but it was raining when we went.
|Stinky tofu! This stuff is actually left to ferment for a while before serving. Horrible stench.|
|Massive, massive cones of soft serve.|
and we're off to our dinner tonight, another night market. But this one's indoors!
The Shilin Market is the largest night market in the city, centred around the covered complex here.
|Yeah... the Taiwanese can't do Cantonese. Sorry.|
Finally, we got off the Tamsui Line and went to Taipei 101 for a bird's-eye view of our final night here.
|The Living Mall, a ploppable landmark in SimCity 4.|
(I know, I'm such a nerd.)
The centrepiece of the observatory, quite literally, is this thing.
We get back down to earth, a deserted mall:
Friday, August 10.
We went to the Discovery Center, finally, today.
Back on the High Speed Rail to Taoyuan International:
|\Oh, they're finally building a train from the Airport to the HSR station. About time!|
And wait for the plane.
|not this one.|
|Definitely not this one.|
|Is it this one?|
And on the ground in Hong Kong, we head back to Castle Peak Bay for even more seafood.