One of my former Taiwanese students (thanks David!) alerted me to the fact that yesterday was the 100th birthday of Taiwan (aka the Republic of China). I don't want to get all controversial about whether or not Taiwan is a country in its own right, but surely nobody will argue with me that it is certainly separate from China in many ways, not least of all physically. Anyway, I wanted to jump on the bandwagon and wish Taiwan a happy 100th birthday, and have a quick look at some of my favourite Taiwanese experiences while I'm at it. I spent most of my time in Taipei, so here are a few great Taipei spots ...
One of the first places I went on arriving in Taipei was the Lungshan Temple. I was living in Japan at the time that I visited Taiwan so I'd had a lot of recent experience with Japanese temples, but this one was quite different - a strong smell of incense, plenty of colour and action. Plus part of it was being renovated and it was the first time I'd seen renovations being covered up by a billboard depicting the finished product - you can see part of it in the left of this picture. So clever!
Gardens of Chiang Kai Shek estate
I also keenly visited the Chiang Kai Shek estate - curiously back in my high school days my History curriculum covered copious amounts of Chinese history (and hardly any Australian!) so I was eager to get around to the (many) Chiang Kai Shek related spots in Taipei. Most of my pictures from the estate visit are of beautiful flowers, including an amazing orchid display! Not exactly what my history books would have led me to expect.
Chiang Kai Shek
And so of course I also visited the Chiang Kai Shek memorial building in central Taipei - in fact, my Twitter profile picture shows me on the steps of the building - and I got to see the man himself up close. This was an amazing place and getting there early in the morning and seeing numerous crowds of locals practising tai chi together was pretty special.