TAIWAN: Taipei & The Northeast Coastline

At the end of February we took a trip to Taiwan to visit my sister who happened to be there for a work trip. $250/1.5 hour flights later and we met her in Taipei, the northern capital city of Taiwan. Taiwan is a bit of a sensitive subject for China as they are outside the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) umbrella, but still part of the ROC (Republic of China). There are some who would like to see Taiwan join the PRC, while others are happy with their semi0autonomous state, thank you very much. We even saw some pro-PRC demonstrations while taking a driving tour through Taipei. When we were moving to China we were told we could likely not bring our push pin travel map as it had Taipei listed as a capital of Taiwan even though I believe it was also designated as part of the ROC. Apparently that was enough to likely get it confiscated by the Chinese government, but I digress. Let’s just leave this as a sensitive subject for now.

We really enjoyed our whirl wind 3.5 day weekend trip to Taiwan despite a day or two of rain, and had a fabulous time catching up with family. Poor Marla had to haul an extra ~60 lb suitcase for us from the US filled with things we had been ordering on amazon and shipping to her house. This is how expats do in China. Most families will chose to go home multiple times a year, but we prefer to use our time to travel around Asia…so when an opportunity to have a duty free shipment sent to you comes up, you inconvenience your family/friends to bring you a few extra necessities that you just cannot find anywhere else.

Now, back to Taiwan…

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Preparing for the changing of the guard in the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.
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The changing of the guard had a lot of very fancy footwork and was more or less a show that lasted 15 minutes.

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We got to enjoy a trip to the national palace museum, but they would not allow us to bring cameras inside. It was an interesting place with lots of fascinating cultural artifacts. My two big take-aways were the level of detail in Chinese carvings can be mind-blowingly exceptional (particularly the one elephant tusk carving with 35 concentric spheres of various carving motifs), and I wish I could have seen the famed jade lettuce sculpture for myself (it was on loan to another museum so we only got to see a picture). Out last stop was up into the mountains with Marla and some co-workers of hers to enjoy a fabulous meal before calling it a night.

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Delicious chocolate dessert (including green tea).

The next day we decided to go off and check out a park that Marla had picked out. Despite the rain we had a good wander and worked up our appetite for lunch.

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Follow the yellow striped road?
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Beware: swamp monster…
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Subway building entrance next to the park.
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There were lots of fun little frog sculptures all over the subway entrance to the park too.
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After a nightmare of being lost in the subway terminal! Using the subway was not the difficult part, but finding an exit that would get us out on the correct side of the correct busy street was tricky…Luckily we found our way to a restaurant that wasn’t ridiculously busy and got some of my favorite dishes (aka anything with tomato and egg in it!).
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Next Stop: “Dragon Mountain Temple” or 龙山寺。
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Dave’s cryptic comment about a horse month in a monkey year finally makes some sense?

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Still celebrating the beginning of the year of the Monkey!
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I just loved this carving and writing. Side note, Taiwan uses traditional characters, not simplified ones. That made it even more difficult for me to try to read signs in Chinese. The spoken Mandarin is the same as mainland China though as far as we could tell.
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Lanterns still up from the previous week’s lantern festival!

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I did not realize there would be so many different types of lanterns for the lantern festival.
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After wandering around all day the best meal is one full of din tai fung dumplings…It was like an assembly line, fascinating to watch.
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Taking in a crowd friendly Chinese opera show. I say that because it was by no means a traditional show from what I’ve heard, but it was entertaining!

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Enjoying a run on the one non-rainy day where air pollution is pretty minimal (compared to home/China…)
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There were so many different kinds of exercise groups going on in the park it was amazing! Everything from fan dancing to ballroom dancing, tai chi, and other things I am not familiar with.
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Next it was time for a visit to the top of Taipei 101 on a nice clear day!

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This wind damper helps protect the building from an earthquake by counteracting any movement in the building. It is suspended from the top of the building and hangs down several stories. One day I will have to look into this technology in more detail, that’s all I’ve got for now!
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The obligatory “Matt’s Shirt” photo.

After Taipei 101 we took a jaunt around the north east side of the island to take in some scenery and an old gold mining town. The factories themselves were shut down around 20-30 years ago, but people still remain in the area looking for gold. One of the creeks on the way up the mountain was so sparkly it had to have been either covered in fine gold powder or have been spray painted very heavily. The jury is still out on that one.

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The bay of two colors: blue and, you guessed it, gold.
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Fabulous sandstone formations dotted the coastline in one long stretch.
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View from the top.
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Entering the mad house that was the old walking street of Jiu Fen village (pronounced Jo-fun). Unfortunately it was a local holiday so the streets were just jam-packed with people making it a little less than quaint to walk through…
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At one point we just got behind the large Spanish man in our group and let him bowl his way through the mass of people so we could escape to the end where we were supposed to meet our tour guide…we almost didn’t make it in time.
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Lots of interesting eats to be found along the street though. I have no idea what this is, just thought it looked interesting…
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WE SURVIVED!!!
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Now let’s get out of here…
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I just love these, they were all over the mountains in Taiwan. They are small little houses where peoples relatives are buried. The family will maintain the little house and keep it nice for their deceased ancestors.
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Out and about with one of Marla’s co-workers at a night market in Taipei on our last night.
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The most unique and delicious thing I had in Taiwan: Almond Tea. Amazingly delicious.
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The next day we got to enjoy some lounge chairs while waiting for our flight back.
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Home sweet home.

 

 

 

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