I have made four visits to Taiwan and Taipei and it is not enough.
Taiwan is a country dear to me through the so many good friends I made from there.
Taipei has been described by Taiwanese fiends to me as being too busy or dirty.
Although it is a busy city I don’t find the latter to be true. it compares favourable with London. For a capital city Taipei is a very friendly place and is also a very easy place to navigate. The structure of streets in blocks, lanes and direction (East, West etc) is very easy to use after a little practice.
There are many colourful temples and some old lanes. The food is wonderful with many nice restaurants and cafes. Taipei is also the location of the wonderful National Palace museum.
The museum is the best place for Chinese art in the world, When Chiang Kai Shek fled China due to his defeat by the communist he took crates of priceless art with him. The museum has over 5,000 years of Chinese history in display although due to the sheer amount of exhibits not all are on display at any one time according to Wikipedia there over 677,687 artefacts and artworks.
The building design is a masterpiece too. I recommend taking an English speaking guide (unless of course you speak mandarin or one of the other languages provided for). I saw the museum in in my first visit with Rebecca and Pinnhueih, two good friends from University.
I am very indebted to one of my best friends Grace, the only friend I met in all 4 of visits to Taiwan. From my first trip she met me at the airport and in my 3rd and 4th I stayed by her and her very kind mother.
My second trip to Taiwan was to volunteer in Kinmen. I had not expected to get time off of work to go due to being very busy at a crucial part of the project.
However Igot time off and it was very short trip. Most of my time was to be spent in Kinmen, however I was in Taipei for a few days before and after my flight to Kinmen and stayed by Ai-Ting’s sister Belinda and her family who were very kind to me.
I had no time to contact any friends in Taiwan before I arrived and so on the only full day I had in Taipei before going to Kinmen I called Grace. I didn’t give away I was in Taiwan. I remember that she mentioned she wasn’t doing anything and it was a boring day. She then asked me where I was and I mentioned I was in Taiwan which surprised her. We then meet up that afternoon and we went to the Taipei 101 building, then the world’s tallest building. Unfortunately I had no camera battery and so had to use my mobile on that day.
We had a really great time. The Taipei 101 is a masterpiece in my opinion. The building is very beautifully designed although there is one drawback. it is so much higher than any neighbouring building so you are looking down on other buildings from a really high view point that they (the other buildings are like ants!).
My first trip to Taipei was in 2002 when I stayed by my ex-Uni friend Pinnhueih and her family. All where also very kind. Since then I made three more visits to Taiwan All connected with teaching at an English camp run by a Taiwanese church and missionary Organisation (OMF) (obviously in my protestant days, although I was never a member of OMF).
Other places worth seeing in Taipei include the Chiang Kai Shek memorial hall. Another beautiful building although it was made in the 80’s it was made in the traditional Chinese style. Taiwan Storyland at K-mall on Zhongxia Rd which I saw with Grace and Julia. It is modelled on Taipei in 1965 and there are also many exhibits from popular children TV at that time etc. It is a fun place to stay. Also there was a shopping mall with something like a bookshelf except with many sections where every day entrepreneurs could sell their own products such as hand made jewellery.
I also visited the Grand hotel, Movie studio, Tamshui and Lungshan Temple but in my first visit.
Also the British Consulate was interesting (I also visited another interesting one in Kaohsiung).
A friend and one of my students from the first Kinmen camp, Karen took me there. It is a very interesting red brick building and the area will very nice to see. We also visited some other museums.
On another trip grace showed me Maokong. Which is a suburb with lovely tea houses It is a very beautiful and romantic kind of place and the gondola lifts (cable cars not the Venetian boats) offer a great aerial view of Taipei.
You can see comments with some of pictures of Taiwan (part of my old website here).
In 2002 Pinhueih, Rebecca and myself also went to the Movie Studio Which was huge disappointment. In fact it is in a decrepit state. Once Taiwanese films were filmed here but with Taiwan’s domestic film industry in decline, and it seemed as if the place was being left to decay. unfortunately the admission price is still high. We did enjoy trying on some traditional costumes though