LOCAL OR TOURIST?
I can never quite figure out if I should consider myself a local or a tourist in Taiwan. I’ve been here for over two years now, which is a lot longer than most tourists, but there is so much of Taiwan that I still haven’t explored and don’t understand yet, so can hardly consider myself a local. Last weekend, I decided to put on my tourist hat, and went to visit one of Taipei’s major tourist spot, the Chiang Kei-shek Memorial Hall. Think Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC if you’re wondering what it is.
在台灣住了兩年都未有機會到中正紀念堂參觀。 上週到台北幾天， 順便去逛逛。中正紀念堂前面的廣場有25萬平方公尺， 大約有35個足球場之大。左右兩旁有國家戲劇院和國家音樂廳。在英國多年我從來都沒有到倫敦白金漢宮外參觀換兵儀式， 因為總覺得這種事情只有遊客才會做。 既然來到中正紀念堂， 剛又只差十分鐘就舉辦換哨儀式， 就留下來看看吧。中正紀念堂樓高四層，低層有展覽介紹蔣介石生平， 看完換曬儀式後我有去參觀。 有機會下次跟大家分享。
WHO IS CKS?
For those who don’t know who CKS was, he was the first President of modern day Taiwan who took office in 1948 till his death in 1975. I’m not going to talk about him today unless you have half a day to spare , and whatever I say about him is going to annoy someone, so I will save that for another time. Today I’m just going to do a travel post and keep politics out of it.
I’m starting my tour at the Liberty Gate opposite the Memorial Hall. In between these two structures is a massive 250,000 square meter large public square. If you’re wondering how big that is… have you been watching the World Cup recently? Well, that’s roughly equivalent to 35 football fields. This photo was taken on the other side of the square so you can’t see the actual square.
And here’s the other side of the Liberty Gate looking into the square.
TOURING THE SQUARE
Today the square is used for many mass gatherings, outdoor festivals and formal events. There were no police or patrol in this square when I was there, and in fact not that many people either, other than a handful of tourists. On the other two sides of the square are the National Concert Hall and National Theatre. This is the National Theatre, which if you’re facing the Memorial Hall standing inside the square, with the Liberty Gate behind you, it’s on your right.
To be honest, there’s nothing to do in the actual square particularly if you go at noon like I did. Most off the action is inside the Memorial Hall where you have to climb 89 steps to get to the top, one step for every year that the old man lived. And here’s his statue, all 6.3m of him, even taller than Lincoln in his own memorial in Washington.
You know, in all the years I’ve been in the UK, I’ve never once seen the Change of Guards outside Buckingham Palace. Why? Because I’m a local from UK, that seems like a pretty valid reason 😉. With my tourist hat on, I figured I’d hang around to see it in Taiwan, especially since it was in 10 minutes time, and it was nice and cool inside the memorial.
The change of guards happens every hour on the dot and last for about 8 minutes. I don’t know anything about military marches though I would say if these were made into dance moves, it would be pretty cool. Check out the short clip that I took.
You remember I said I had to walk up 89 steps to get to the top of the Memorial Hall? That’s the fourth floor of the hall and below it is an exhibition of CKS which tells the story about his life, ascend to power and presidency of Taiwan. Talking about CKS and Taiwan is always a tricky subject, and no doubt someone will end up annoyed with what they read. So let’s see if I can get my facts together before I write about my tour in the rest of the Memorial Hall. Till then, see you next time.