Friday, September 3, 2010

Northeast Asia Trip- Taipai, Taiwan

March 9, 2010- Taipai, Taiwan (Day 5)
So after our ship the Azamara Quest left Hong Kong, we headed for the port city of Keelung in Taiwan.  It took one day (Day 4) to get there...which was good since we needed to relax and sleep at bit at this point. The seas between the two were completely fine. It had been sunny and in the 80Fs in Hong Kong, but we could definitely tell the temp was dropping the furthur north we went. When we arrive in Keelung, it was raining. Taipai was about a 45 minute drive, in thick traffic of course, from Keelung. The first stop we made once reaching the city was to the Martyr's Shrine. It's dedicated to hundreds of thousands of men who have lost their lives for their country's sake. It is drop-dead gorgeous there....even in the rain.

 This was the first of many lions that D posed with throughout the trip...heehee! 

After the shrine we headed to the Taipai National Palace Museum. I couldn't take my camera inside, of course. They did have a coat check, so we just slipped my "big mama camera" into the bag and checked it. (I was a bit worried about this, but all was fine in the end). Inside we saw several of their famous exhibits such as the Jade Cabbage. Here's a quick internet pic of the Jade Cabbage from wikipedia.
There were SOOOOO many people around this cabbage it was UNBELIEVABLE! Actually the entire museum was incredibly crowded with school groups and other various tours. Let me tell you though, the Taiwan people are EXTREMELY proud of the art in this museum. There were very interesting pieces in here, but the Jade Cabbage is their most famous. I, for one, didn't see the "WOW" factor of this tiny cabbage, but I was impressed at how proud they were of this work. It is almost sacred to them. After leaving the museum we headed to Taipai101, which is currently the 2nd tallest building in the world. The Burj Dubai is a little taller. I think it's the tallest building currently open to the public, though.

The building, which has 101 stories above ground and houses a food court, shopping mall, and offices, is made to look like bamboo. Hence the reason there are "bumps" every 8 stories. This pictures doesn't even begin to help you understand just how big it really is. We were able to buy tickets to the top. To get to the top you ride a pressurized elevator which has a speed of 55.22 ft/s. During the ride, which takes about 37 seconds to reach the top, they turn out the lights and display a night sky above you. You really don't notice any pressure difference or popping in your ears....and it's very smooth. The view from the top is gorgeous.

Because earthquakes and typhoons are quite common to this region, the building must be able to stand through these. To do this they created a "Super Big Wind Damper" (see the English translation on the wall in the pic above where D is standing by the damper), which hangs from the 92nd to the 88th floors as a pendulum that sways to offset movements in the building.

Here's a quick pic I took of Taipai101 out the back of the van we were traveling in as we drove to our next stop. It really is a beautiful building. 
Our next stop, the Chiang Kia-shek Memorial Hall, was equally as gorgeous.

 Our tour guide described this as the Taiwanese version of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial.

Our fantastic tour guide got us to the CKS Memorial Hall right on time to see the changing of the guards.
After the guard ceremony we headed for our last major stop, the Pao-An Temple. We'd never been to a Buddist temple prior to this stop, but I am SOOOO glad we got to see this. It was quite eye-opening, and not to mention beautiful. But really famous architecture in Asia, isn't?

 The lantern festival ended right before we arrived, but lanterns still decorated the temple and the area.

 After this a a few quick other stops for souvenirs and tea, we were on our way back to Keelung to catch the Quest. The Quest was to head to Nagasaki, Japan after leaving Keelung....but we never got there.

to be continued...

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