There's a wealth of things to see and do in Taipei, from ancient temples to (for the moment, anyway) the world's tallest skyscraper.
Lung Shan Temple, otherwise known as Dragon Mountain Temple, is nestled in the bustling old Wanhua District and only a short stroll from Huashi Night Market. The temple contains two main pagodas; the entrance leads to a small hall with an altar intricately decorated with wood and stone carvings while the roof is adorned with fiery dragons.
Worshippers present offerings to the hundreds of gods that reside here, the main one being the Goddess of Mercy, whose statue amazingly survived the fires caused by Allied bombing in 1945. The “Sing Buoy” is another eye-catching act of veneration. Two wooden bricks are held together and thrown on the ground. Depending on the way the bricks land reveals the gods' response to questions concerning love, life and career.
The main deities are found inside the larger pagoda beyond a small courtyard. Along the way, the walls and pillars are decorated with skillfully crafted stone tablets depicting the various other gods that inhabit the temple. Offerings are left here, ranging from fruit and flowers to money. This can be done by burning paper money or placing real currency in the offertory box in front of the Goddess of Mercy's statue. This temple is one of the most impressive in Taipei – as much for its architecture as its religious practices.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall is a few minutes walk from the International Convention Centre and Taipei 101. The Memorial Hall stands in quiet gardens and is designed in typical Chinese palatial style. The entrance to the hall is dominated by a 30ft seated statue of Dr Sun Yat Sen. The Changing of the Guard here is a great spectacle – with plenty foot stomping and rifles whirling -- and is a very serious affair due to Sun Yat Sen’s pivotal role in Taiwanese history.
Apart from the memorial statue, at the back of the hall there's an expo on the history of the revolution and the good doctor himself. A theatre for performances and recitals occupies the upper floors, and the expansive surrounding gardens provide the largest green space in eastern Taipei.
One is in for an awe-inspiring museum visit at the National Palace Museum, a must-see for anyone who wants a complete overview of Chinese culture and arts in just one stop. With its extensive collection, it has earned a rightful place in the league of the best museums of the world.
Taipei 101 opened to the public in November 2003; at 509 meters, it's currently the tallest building in the world and likely to stay that way for some time. Its exterior is designed like a traditional Chinese pagoda with eight floors separating each level of the pagoda roof, while feng shui has been incorporated into every detail of the design. Well placed in the financial and exhibition district, 101 is close to the Taipei Exhibition and Convention Centre, Grand Hyatt Hotel, International Convention Centre, and the Japanese department stores of Sogo and Mitsukoshi.
See more information on the next page... (next)