After a good breakfast at the hotel, day two started out with us on our way to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. However, on our way to the station, we came across a small outdoor market and decided to check it out.
The best way to describe the market would be a farmer’s market, but there were some shops selling regular everyday products as well. I was most impressed with the displays of meat and fruits. Some of which I hadn’t seen before.
I also liked the prices, which were about half to one-third what they are here in Japan. Everything seemed like a bargain. So much stuff to eat and only so much room in my stomach. We finally decided that it wouldn’t make sense to buy anything, since we had a full day of sightseeing ahead of us, and went to the station.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall was about a 10-15 minute train ride from our station. I have lived in Japan for quite a few years now and have seen a lot of temples and shrines. The size of these buildings were quite massive, but it was how people were using them that really intrigued me. There were various groups (kung fu, dance, taichi, yoga, aerobics, etc), using the outsides of the buildings and everyone was completely respectful of one another. Also, notice how clean everything is?
Being in the center of this square surrounded by these buildings was really amazing. It’s felt like it was straight out of a Jet Li movie. The Memorial Hall in the front, the National Concert Hall and Theatre Hall on the sides, and a large white gate (The Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness) at the back. I really wish I could have spent more time there, but we had a bunch of other places to go, so on we went.
The next stop was into one of the popular shopping areas where we got tapioca drinks (milk tea with jelly-like balls at the bottom). I absolutely love these drinks and Â had two to three each day I was in Taiwan. It’s usually cheaper to get a drink form a shop than to get one out of a vending machine.
After walking around town for a while my wife and I decided to get a foot massage. This was one of the less fun things that I did on the trip. It was very painful and not very relaxing at all. It wasn’t too expensive, but I think I would rather spend my money doing something else. As soon as we left the massage parlor it started pouring.
We thought that the rain wouldn’t last too long, but it actually got worse after about 15-20 minutes. The lightning was so close that the thunder was setting off car alarms, and at one point, the street we were on lost power for a couple of seconds.
We eventually gave up waiting for the rain to end and purchased some cheap rain jackets at 7-11. It had been a long time since I had worn a rain jacket and I felt like I was in the movie “Dude Where’s My Car” (if you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about).
As we headed back to the station we came across a beautiful little temple. I don’t know it’s name, but it was well lit up made for some beautiful pictures. There wasn’t much light because of the cloud cover, which made all the lights stand out even more.
After visiting the temple we took a taxi to the Din Tai Fung dumpling shop. We had to wait about 10- 15 minutes as this is a very popular restaurant, but the dumplings were very good. However, I don’t believe they were particularly special. I think that most restaurants in Taiwan will probably have pretty good dumplings. Since so many tourists go there, most of the staff can speak either Japanese or English.
If you are in the area, I would say check this place out. If not, just find the closest dumpling shop and enjoy!
We left the restaurant satisfied and full, and walked around the surrounding neighborhood to see what else we could find. After a short walk, we came across a juice stand that was selling watermelon juice. To be perfectly honest, this didn’t really seem that appealing to me, but my Chinese teacher said it was the thing she missed most about China. I paid about a dollar and got my juice. It wasn’t anything super special, but it was actually pretty good.
After walking a little further we came across a sweets shop and ordered some mango ice cream. I was completely full at this point, but come on, it’s ice cream. It was good, but by the time we left the shop I felt completely bloated. More food was the last thing on my mind.
Up to this point we had a very busy day. Had we decided to head back to the hotel for some rest and dinner it would have been a full day. Instead, we decided to go to Taipei 101. Taipei 101 is the name of the largest building in Taiwan (the largest in the world when it was built). It was the first building to cross the 500 meter mark and the observatory sits at nearly 400 meters. We arrived by taxi and and then paid the roughly $15 it costs for a ticket to the top.
Looking out the window of Taipei 101 is a bit weird. Rather than looking out of a tall building, it has more of a feeling of looking out of a plane. It was so high that I didn’t feel a fear of heights. It was more like looking at a miniture Taipei.
It’s beautiful during the day (even though the weather could have been better), but it is gorgeous at night.
After you leave the observatory, you are forced to go through a museum/gift shop where they take one last shot at getting you to buy something. It’s hard to complain though because everything was just so beautiful. An amazing mix of jade, coral, gold, and other types of rare jewels and rocks.
After popping our ears about a thousand times on the elevator ride down, we finally exited Taipei 101 and captured this shot. That day it was purple, but it actually lights up a different color each day.
We were much too tired at this point to go out for dinner, so we stopped at one of the street vendors near our hotel. The top is a type of tofu and the second picture is kind of a Taiwanese burrito. I was pretty full so I just had another tapioca milk tea.
Tomorrow we meet up with a friend and head to the mountains to see the building that Miyazaki used in his animated film “Spirited Away”