Saturday, August 16, 2014

Taiwan Treat: Officers and Gentlemen

If you have thought that Richard Gere looked smart in the 1982 American drama whom he starred with Debra Winger, An Officer and a Gentleman (inset), you should be at Taipei's  NTCH especially when there is a big function on. NTCH refers to The National Theater (國家戲劇院) National Concert Hall (國家音樂廳) and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall which are just a stone throw away from each other. When the president is visiting, you'd probably get to oggle at Taiwanese officers and gentlemen. In their smart uniforms, they could hold a candle to Richard Gere who played a U.S. Navy aviation officer candidate in the hit movie. And these are real officers, mind you...

Officers and Gentlemen...... 

Traveling Tip: See how smart the local people are!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Taiwan Treat: Where the Masses Go

If there is going to be a mass gathering in Taipei,  it ought to be at the Memorial Hall Square. Here is where you'll find the National Concert Hall, the National Theatre and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂). Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall of course, has been erected in memory of Taiwan's former President, Chiang Kai-shek, the  Chinese political and military leader whose army retreated from Mainland China to Taiwan, where he later became notorious with a period in Taiwan called the White Terror. The place which is located in Zhongzheng District is both a landmark and a tourist attraction and easily accessible using public transport. While there, you'd be lucky like us to bump into a visiting president, Ma Ying-jeou (inset) during which time there would be much pomp and fanfare......

At the Memorial Hall Square....

Traveling Tip: Go where the masses go....

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Taiwan Treat: A Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-shek, no doubt, was and probably still is, a big name in Taiwan. A 20th-century Chinese political and military leader, Chiang Kai-shek otherwise  known as Chiang Chie-shih or Chiang Chung-cheng(inset), was an influential member of the Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese Nationalist Party in mainland China. When the party's leader, Sun Yat-sen passed away, he took over the mantle and from then on, there was a nation-wide civil war with the Chinese communists. He lost the war and retreated to Taiwan, where he ruled Taiwan for 30 years. Chiang had been said to be popular among many people and dressed in plain, simple clothes. In Taiwan, he imposed martial law and persecuted people critical of his rule during the White Terror period. Even then, there is still a magnificent memorial in memory of him called Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.....

A memorial hall fit for a king....

Traveling Tip: Indulge in memories!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Taiwan Treat: Stand and Eat!

Streets of Taiwan are interesting. You'd not just get to see vendors peddling their wares, street musicians but also  people standing and eating away. That was especially at Ximending. Ximending is a hot spot for shopping especially for young people. Some of the things being peddled there are really interesting but you probably would not get to take a photo of them as the vendors probably would forbid that. Never mind, I remember there was a popular eating shop there selling steaming vermicelli.  If you are not planning on shopping, maybe you would like to join the local in taking a bite. Stand and eat at the streets of Ximending like the locals!

Catch some of the people eating in the streets!

Traveling Tip: Eat like the locals!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Taiwan Treat: A night Market in Taipei.

While in Taipei or anywhere in Taiwan, visit the night markets.  Night markets are street markets and have been in operation in towns inhabited by Chinese since the Tang Dynasty.  There are night markets elsewhere in Chinatowns in Southeast Asia. In Taiwan, there are over one hundred night markets and you'd like to get your hands on some Taiwanese xiaochi ( 小吃)  perhaps.  You wouldn't find authentic Taiwanese snacks like oyster omelettes , chicken shawarma ( 沙威瑪), and stinky tofu (臭豆腐) in night markets in South East Asia most probably. In the night market near the National Taiwan Normal University, the Shida Night Market (師大路夜市), you'd  get to jostle with university students for cheap food. I heard, here, there is even a popular stall selling sweet desserts run by an enterprising girl who was an ex-university student...

Get your pick in the bustling night markets in Taipei...

Traveling Tip: Take a walk in Night markets!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Taiwan Treat: A University in Town

Take a walk in the city of Taipei and you are bound to come across a university. Taiwan may be just a little island but there seem to be many universities here. Nineteen universities have their campuses in Taipei alone and the National Taipei University of Education has been built here as early as 1895. Only the National Taiwan University reportedly makes it to the top 200 list in global ranking. The National Taiwan University has been built later, in 1928. It is not to be confused with the National Taiwan Normal University which was built even later, in 1946. The latter has three campuses in Taipei, in the Daan , Gongguan  and Linkou districts. You would want to take a photo in the campus of one of the universities in Taipei!
Walk the street of Taipei and hunt for a University!

Traveling Tip: It's nice to see a university in town!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Taiwan Treat: Some Artwork!

People in Taipei move around privately using  motor scooters, private cars, and bicycles.  Getting around using public transport however, is not much of a problem. In fact, traveling around the city using Taipei's public transport system, the Taipei Metro or the MRT which incorporates a metro and light rail system is not just fast and convenient but a joy too! The metro has several public facilities and you could actually go shopping in an underground shopping mall. As you stroll along, you may catch beautiful work of art on display for the public too!

Some beautiful piece of art for your eyes to feast on!

Traveling Tip: Travel and shop!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taiwan Treat: Ximending's Surprise

Taipei has been founded in the early 18th century. China's  Qing Dynasty  had made Taipei the provincial capital of Taiwan in 1886 and the city had remained  its capital even after Japan made Taiwan a part of its colony in 1895. Considering its long history, when I first stepped into the streets of Ximending, which was also known as Harajuku or Shibuya of Taipei, it was a surprise then to see that it lacks the modern skyscrapers characteristics of many Asian capitals like Bangkok, Manila or even Kuala Lumpur. Never mind all that, for Ximending, the source of Taiwan's fashion, subculture, and Japanese culture and the main LGBT district of Taiwan is the place to be in if  you are in Taipei. It attracts 3 million shoppers every month and you'd enjoy walking on the well-known Ximending Pedestrian Area which incidentally was the first pedestrian area built in Taipei and the largest in Taiwan. If you are lucky, you'd catch some budding stars in action for this is where small concerts and street performances are held and album launched....

No skyscrapers here....

Friday, April 12, 2013

Taiwan Treat: All too Common

Taipei, Taiwan's capital city, is located at the northern tip of the island where the Tamsui River flows. Don't expect to travel in canals using barges or boats ala Venice style though for this modern city has  railway lines, high speed rails, highways, airports and bus lines connecting it with all parts of the island. Traveling is therefore relatively easy for tourists and traveling by Taipei Metro, more commonly known as the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit or Metro Rail Transit). a rapid transit system serving metropolitan Taipei is all too common and perhaps, you'd feel like you are traveling in some other modern city elsewhere in the world except that the passengers who are traveling with your are young yellow pretty people with black hair which if blond, is probably dyed. and most probably would have almond-shaped eyes too, if these indeed are the trademark eyes typical of Chinese people of the Han stock. As it is, the over six million people in Taipei are mostly Chinese of the Han Stock. The original  Taiwanese aborigines made up just 2% of the population in the whole of Taiwan...

Traveling in Metropolitan Taipei...

Traveling Tip: Travel with the locals!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Taiwan Treat: Making a Go at Taipei

Taiwan, an island in East Asia, identifies itself as the Republic of China ( 中華民國). The real very much bigger China is to its west. Japan, of course, is nearby, to the east; and northeast, there is the Philippines. Movies from Taiwan had always been abundant in Malaysia. In the 70s and 80s, romantic movies in Mandarin starring Chen Chen, Ker Chun Hsiung and later Lin Ching Hsia, Lin Fong Chia, Chin Han, Ching Hsiang Lin etc found their ways to local cinemas and lately, there have been tons of Taiwanese series in the Taiwanese or Min Nan dialect flooding the local TV channels. Having Taiwan, especially its capital, Taipei as a staple in mass medias probably makes the place less of a novelty and an attraction. And it was a surprise then, that I found myself at  Taipei Metro Ximen Station traveling to Ximending (西門町)...a shopping district in Taipei's Wanhua District...

Traveling Tip: You don't have to like a place!

Have another serving of Travel Pangs!