April 29, 2018

Six Days of Taipei, Taiwan

Last Saturday I traveled to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, for a conference. Luckily, there was some free time to visit the city and take photos.

Honestly, Taipei is not the usual photo beauty like Venice, Edinburgh, Strasbourg, etc. So you don't walk around the town and think at each random street corner or place “Oh boy, this is so pretty!". But there are still amazing and interesting things to see. My personal highlights include the numerous night markets, temples, the National Palace Museum, the Liberty Square and the area around the Taipei 101. I also thought that the city gets prettier when it is dark. So science at day, photos at night was a pretty great combination =)

The different night markets are part street food area and part party mile. I personally preferred the Raohe Street Food Market which is pretty big and nice. I only wished that there would be more signs written in English, so you would know what the food on display actually is. Sometimes I had no idea what things are (intestines or mushroom, see food or alien life form?) However, I dared to order some food I was able to identity and it was nice and inexpensive. From what I have learned, going to a night market is better than going to restaurants. An interesting fact about restaurants in Taipei is that they do not have 15, 20 meals on the menu as our restaurants have. Restaurants in Taipei only have one type of food (e.g. hot pots or dumplings) and maybe three variants of this food (hot pot with x, y z; dumplings filled with x, y z).

Other night markets, like the Shilin Night Market, are more like a carnival. You, for instance can shoot balloons or catch shrimp with tiny fishing rods which are then - when you were lucky to get one - cooked on grills.

Some of the temples are also pretty amazing. The one close to the Raohe Street Night Market, called Songshan Ciyou temple, was the nicest I saw. I really liked the - for us Europeans - odd mixture of a place of worship and a place where people simply meet. People sing, light incense sticks, eat (there are sometimes stoves and microwaves), chat, … Something entirely different than our churches which sometimes leave a depressing feeling. Another nice temple is the Mengjia Longshan temple. Here people were offering piles of fruit to their god/s.

The National Palace Museum hosts some really amazing peaces of ancient Chinese art. From what I understand, the artifacts originate from the Forbidden City in Beijing but were evacuated during world war two to Shanghai. During the Chinese civil war that followed world war two, things were again relocated, this time to Taiwan. After the separation of Taiwan from China, the artifacts stayed in Taiwan. So you can see in today's Palace Museum all those artifacts that “survived” this odyssey. You see numerous sometimes hundreds of years old bronze objects, things carefully carved from gemstones, porcelain in remarkable state of preservation, paintings, calligraphy, etc.

Other things you should visit include the Liberty Square and the Taipei 101. The Liberty Square is a huge area in the city center where you find a memorial hall for Chiang Kai-shek, the founder of Taiwan. There are also a huge gate (a bit like a triumphal arch) and two large buildings used as concert hall and theater. Impressive. Another impressive part of Taipei is the area around the Taipei 101 sky scraper, which is a quite modern and vivid shopping area.

Songshan Ciyou Temple

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Taipei 101

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Shilin Night Market

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🌍 Picture location – Catching shrimp

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🌍 Picture location – Maybe the most Asian thing I have seen…

Liberty Square

🌍 Picture location – National Theater

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🌍 Picture location – Chiang Kai-shek Memorial

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🌍 Picture location – Chiang Kai-shek Memorial

🌍 Picture location – Liberty Square main gate

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National Palace Museum

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🌍 Picture location – The Jadeite Cabbage, one of the most famous artifacts

🌍 Picture location – Meat Stone, one of the most famous artifacts

🌍 Picture location – Cauldron, one of the most famous artifacts

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Songshan Ciyou Temple, Raohe Street Night Market, Rainbow Bridge

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Excursion to Maokong Mountain

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