We woke up pretty early this morning. Our hotel booking didn’t come with breakfast so we decided to buy food from eateries nearby. I went over to a McDonalds just two streets away from Park Taipei Hotel. We wanted to taste their McDonalds breakfast set here in Taipei. It seemed like they have more breakfast meals options here. After purchasing the breakfast, I walked back to Park Taipei Hotel.
It was just a few minutes walk. It was also rather quiet here early morning. Road traffic was quite low this part of the city. Back in our room, we settled down to enjoy this McDonalds breakfast. The breakfast sets were rather good. Not McDonalds everywhere serve good breakfast. Even the McDonalds breakfast we had in Edinburgh, Scotland few years back was nothing to write about.
So after breakfast, we planned where we would like to visit in Taipei City. This day we would just focus on Taipei City attractions. Finally, we decided to head out to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall for our first itinerary for the day. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is nearby just three MRT Stations away.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
Staying at Park Taipei Hotel was so convenient. The entrance of Daan MRT Station is just 15 steps away from the hotel front door. Getting to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall was a breeze. Very quickly we arrived at the venue. It was 10.30 am and visitors were streaming towards the memorial hall complex. The sky was cloudy and not too hot.
Our first venue was the National Theatre. It is a grand building, typically Chinese design where we often see in ancient Chinese movies or drama. There were many young people at the entrance. They belong to different groups and they were practicing dance moves with portable music devices left on the floor near them. It was a concoction of sounds and movement from different groups of people. The corridor outside the main entrance was wide and long enough to accommodate these people. It was an interesting sight. These young people were so full of energy.
The view of the memorial ground from the top of the theatre was quite nice. Visitors were walking all over taking pictures and enjoying the day out. The gate on the left is pretty nice too. Right ahead across the massive ground is the National Concert Hall. On the right is the CKS Memorial Hall guarded by soldiers.
After some time, we walked down to the square to join the crowd to survey the park there. The views of the gate and the buildings were nice. The square in this park is known as Liberty Square. Visitors were everywhere admiring the complex and taking pictures. It would be nicer if we had clear blue sky for the day.
Change of Guards at CKS Memorial
We then followed the crowd to walk towards the memorial hall. It was quite an imposing building with many steps to walk up before reaching the main entrance of the hall. We found out that a change of guards was about to commence so we went into the hall to join those visitors who were already waiting patiently for the show.
The middle portion of the hall was cordoned off reserved for the soldiers to perform their march. The ceiling was very beautifully designed with their national flag emblem in the middle. In front of the hall is the statue of Chiang Kai-Shek. On the walls are Chinese inscriptions on Ethics, Democracy and Science, typically Chinese style reading from right to left. Of course the Taiwanese flags are there and two soldiers stood guard on each side at the far end.
Not long after, the change of guard began. We were a little startle when the guards stormed so loudly on the ground with their boots and echoes were reverberating within the hall. A group of three soldiers marched in to the middle while the other two guards marched forward to the middle to join them. With slick moves and interesting display of riffle skills, the change of guards took place in a very solemn atmosphere. Their slow march was tastefully executed and the entire change of guards display was pretty cool.
Unfortunately this show was marred by an inconsiderate old couple who pushed their way into the front of the audience. They were so rude and rough. Some in the audience were scolding them as they pushed their way through. These audience waited patiently for quite some time before the show began. They were of course unhappy with this couple who didn’t come early to stand in front for a better view. They didn’t mutter a word and they didn’t seem to be locals here. What a disgrace!
After the show, we walked out to the front entrance to admire the complex from this new high ground. The park here was very beautiful. The garden trimmed in symmetry to the two other buildings in the complex was pretty as well. The unmistakable grand main gate with the title Liberty Square written on top was really nice. When it started to drizzle, we walked back to CKS MRT Station nearby.
Head to Taipei 101 for Lunch
Our next destination was Taipei 101. We were heading there to shop and to have lunch. Taipei 101 is just five stations away, two stations after passing Daan Station where Park Taipei Hotel is located. We used our Easy cards again to tap in and out of the stations. It was really convenient. Soon we arrived at Taipei 101.
Once we got out of the station, we saw the imposing tower of Taipei 101. It was so tall from the ground up and our camera phone could hardly capture the entire tower. In addition, it was drizzling as well. It wasn’t the right time to capture the stately view of Taipei 101.
There were some stalls set up outside Taipei 101. Sales staff were taking cover under shelter at the corridor of the entrance. The famous Din Tai Fung Restaurant was just inside after the main entrance. After entering the building, we saw long queues of people at the restaurant so we decided to give Din Tai Fung Restaurant a miss this time. Entry to the observatory was crowded as well. Moreover, it was raining and we didn’t see the point to spend money to view the city from above.
So we went to the huge food court for lunch. It was quite crowded during lunch time. It seemed like all the stalls were doing very good business with long queues of customers. We found empty seats and then went to buy our food. We bought Taiwanese food and had a simple but tasty lunch. The lunch was good.
Shop at Taipei 101
We then went to explore the mall after lunch. The shops here were mainly branded retailers. So those floors of shops were not very crowded. After a quick round, we returned to the basement. This place was such a stark contrast with crowds every where. A supermarket is there as well. This was a busy place indeed.
The shops here were selling traditional Taiwanese snacks like the sun biscuits and pineapple tarts. Food tasting was available so we tasted a few stalls before buying some of these snacks. We saw some hungry teenage backpackers grabbing food samples and gobbling up these snacks as though they were eating lunch. Not sure whether these foreigners understood Mandarin, it wasn’t very nice and polite to take advantage of the generosity of these friendly vendors. Some of the pineapple tarts and sun biscuits were really tasty and we were happy with our purchase.
Next we took the train back to Daan Station and returned to Park Taipei Hotel. It was so easy to get around and within minutes, we were back in our room. There was no point running around with all the shopping done so we thought it might be better to return to our room to unload and rest a while before heading out to visit other attractions.
Actually, we were quite tired. It was already 2.45 pm when we reached Park Taipei Hotel. The rest after lunch was needful. So after shower, we slacked and watched TV and chatted with friends and children back home. It was great to stretch ourselves on bed to recuperate before venturing out later.
Head to Miramar Complex
Around 4.30 pm, we decided to head to Miramar to do more shopping and find a restaurant for dinner. The beautiful thing about staying in Park Taipei Hotel is the central location. Daan MRT Station is served by two different MRT lines. So we took a train directly to Jiannan Road Station. It was so easy.
Once we got out of Jiannan Road MRT Station, Miramar Shopping Complex was just across the traffic junction. Another shopping mall is also around the corner with Carrefour Supermarket in the vicinity. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes and eateries here. There were some stalls set up nearby as well with some promotional event going on. The huge ferries wheel on top of Miramar adorns this exciting entertainment complex.
Shopping at Miramar Complex
It seemed like the cinema here was attracting quite a crowd. Movies goers were queuing patiently to purchase tickets. It was rather orderly here with no pushing and shoving. We then entered the mall and started our shopping trip. There are floors after floors of shops to spend time exploring. The main atrium was taken up by one of the retailers displaying clothes and bags for a promotional sales event.
There is a supermarket inside the mall as well. It was a crowded place too. Of course there are many restaurants and eateries within the mall. We did some shopping and bought some more Taiwanese snacks. We found a nice bakery and bought some bread and pastries as well for supper and the next day’s breakfast.
Dinner at Miramar Complex
After this we went for dinner. Having checked out some restaurants, we decided to have dinner in a Chinese Restaurant. The restaurant was busy at this time but we managed to get a table without waiting too long. This restaurant served dim sums as well. We ordered local food and soup and some dim sum items as well. The dinner was really good.
By the time we finished dinner, it was already dark. We went up to the rooftop to check out the entertainment centre. A stage was there with live music performance. There were very few audience here. Perhaps it was still too early. The imposing and mesmerizing ferries wheel was the centre of attractions here. The changing lights of the ferries wheel was fascinating too. A little merry-go-round was next to the ferries wheel to keep little children entertained.
The buildings in the vicinity were nicely lit up. The water fountain outside Miramar Complex became more conspicuous at night under bright light in contrast to the dark night sky. So with nothing much else to do here we proceeded to our next destination. Raohe Street Night Market not too far away was a good option.
Explore Raohe Street Night Market
We then went back to Jiannan MRT Station. From here we took a train to Songshan MRT Station changing train at Nanjing Fuxing Station. Soon after we arrived Songshan MRT Station. Following the signage, we reached the street level and walked towards the night market.
The main entrance was nicely lit up. The trees along the street were decked with lights where you might be mistaking this as a Christmas event. This was a nice place to hang around with visitors loitering in the vicinity. So the main entrance was a busy and lovely place with happy people mingling around waiting for friends and many with their hands full after shopping here.
Next we braved the crowd and ventured into the night market proper. This is another typical Taiwanese night market selling all and sundry not forgetting plenty of food options available. The night market here was very crowded leaving little room to maneuver should you wish to walk ahead of the crowd. The only way to do it is to walk along the corridor outside those shops because there are more visitors roaming the streets checking out the stalls than along the corridor. Over here, there were some more shops to sample Taiwanese snacks. Having tasted more, we bought more pineapple tarts and sun biscuits.
Finally we made our way back to Park Taipei Hotel to call it a night. We went back to Songshan MRT Station and took a train to Nanjing Fuxing Station first and then changed train back to Daan Station. Once we entered the hotel, the polite and friendly staff greeted us. This was a really nice 5-star hotel to park ourselves to explore Taipei City.
Back in our room after a good shower, we settled down to pack to get ready to depart the next day. We would be heading to Keelung to stay a night to explore attractions over there and to visit Jiufen. Once we were done, it was time to chill out watching TV and chatting with friends and children back home. We really like the wifi here. The speed was excellent. We could surf the internet without a hitch.
Visiting Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial was nice. A few years ago when we came with a tour group, the complex was undergoing renovation. The change of guards at the memorial hall was cool. Taipei 101 was a great place to shop for Taiwanese snacks with generous sampling offered by the vendors.
Miramar Complex was nice too. Shopping was good and we enjoyed our dinner in a Chinese restaurant. Raohe Street Night Market was a busy place, very crowded and so full of energy. The dynamism of Taiwanese night markets is second to none. No doubt a great place to spend the evening rubbing shoulders with the crowd to experience a slice of Taiwanese night life.
So finally we hit the sack. The next day would bring new and wonderful experience. Our Northern Taiwan tour was great thus far.
Continue to Day 4 …