Taiwan and China
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Longshan Temple

Established in 1738, Longshan is one of Taipei's most famous and busiest temples. It has been reconstructed and renovated several times and was even bombed by the Americans in 1945.


Close-by there is a two-block-long lane called Snake Alley, named so because of the type of ‘products’ on sale on the street (only a few remain). These snakes were sold for their blood and bile that is said to contain potent spirits and herbs. Those who are daring enough may ask to add a bit of poison venom to the mixture. This snake concoction is said to help strengthen men’s eyes, lower spine, get rid of fatigue, and encourages the male sexual vitality. When the snakes are drained of their venom, their meat is cooked in soups which are apparently a scrumptious and nutritious dish.


Snake Alley also offers other more interesting stalls, including fortune-tellers, vendors of herbal potions, tattoo parlours, fresh fruit stalls and hawkers of gifts and gems. It is also known for prostitution. Brothels once lined the surrounding streets, and though no longer legal, you can still see a few around.


Taipei 101

Currently the world’s tallest building. Opened in 2004, Taipei 101 is Taipei City’s landmark designed in eight sections according to the Chinese lucky number, 8. Taipei 101 is comprised of 101 floors with the fastest elevators in the world at the time when it was established that can travel 91 floors in only 37 seconds (approximately, 64.4 kilometers per hour). On the observation deck there are explanations of how the building was built and made typhoon and earthquake proof and on a lower floor you can see the stabilising lead ball. There was a large display of carved pink coral and ivory on the observation deck. Before the decent in the lift you wander through a huge store selling pink coral jewellery and carved ornaments - although the pieces looked beautiful I consider this to be a violation of the environment and rather distasteful.


Tamsui (Danshui) Fisherman's Wharf

From the MTR it is an enjoyable 30 minute walk through the old town and along the river to get to the Wharf (or you can hire a bike or catch a bus). There is a monument and chapel and former residence of Doctor George Mackay, from Ontario Canada, whose influence in the medical, educational and religious history of Tamsui is celebrated annually on June 2nd.


Tamsui Wharf is a popular scenic spot since it has opened in 2001. It was established to have a multipurpose use of fishing and sightseeing. The Sunset view at the Fisherman’s Wharf is considered to be one of the eight famous ‘worth seeing sceneries’ in Taiwan. The Lover’s Bridge with its changes of light projecting on the bridge is a popular spot.  Art performances and concerts are held frequently on the Wharf and we were looking forward to enjoying some fresh seafood but, unfortunately, all the restaurants around the wharf were closed (it was a Sunday).


Taipei Sea World and Aquarium – very sadly this has been closed.


Shilin Night Market

There are many night markets in Taipei of which Shilin Night Market is the largest. The market is centered around Yangming Theater and Cicheng Temple. Shilin Market was built as early as in 1899 and the market is famous for various snacks and eatery, such as a large pancake enfolding a small pancake, hot pot on stone or Shilin sausage.


National Palace Museum

First established in 1925 and re-established in 1965, the National Palace Museum is the home to the world’s largest and precious collection of Chinese art: paintings, crafts, relics, historical documentations and lots more reflecting the rich cultural heritage and civilization of the ancient Chinese. The museum houses about 655,000 pieces of collection, with much of it liberated from mainland China during the last retreat of the KMT. It’s extraordinary that so many of the pieces have survived given the number of times it was crated and moved around China before the advances of the Japanese and then the communist armies. The 2972 creates that were shipped to safety represent only 22% of the objects removed from the threatened Forbidden City.


However, the vast collection is far too many to exhibit at any given time. Paintings, calligraphy, statues, ceramic and jade, as well as a fascinating collection of Buddhist artifacts inherited from the Forbidden City are the major part of treasures on rotation. The most famous and notable pieces of the museum are the Jadeite cabbage, Meat-Shaped Stone, Agate Finger Citrons, White Jade Branch of Elegant Lychee, T’ien-huang Stone Miniature Mountain, and Jadeite Screen Insert. The sheer volume of the priceless collection makes the National Palace Museum a must-visit place. Allow several hours to explore the museum.

Take the MRT to Shilin Station and then taking bus R30, 255, 304, Minibus 18, Minibus 19 or Culture Bus 101.

Suho Paper Museum

The paper museum was created after the tragic plane crash in China in which Mr Suho Chen and his wife died in 1990. To honour their father, his children brought life to one of his unfulfilled dreams with the establishment of the Suho Memorial Paper Museum, opening after five years of planning, in Oct. 1995. There are static and temporary exhibitions, a paper lab and workshop where visitors can make their own paper. 


Minatures Museum of Taiwan

It is the first museum in Asia that has a collection of modern miniature artworks covering an area over six hundred and sixty square metres. The museum was established after the curators visit to Amsterdam where they saw many miniatures. There are miniatures created by people from 7 different countries. The main themes of the museum can be classified as European medieval streets, baroque architectures, architectures of British Victorian-Era, and mansions in the U.S. colonial period.


Among the most (of many) astounding articles on display is a 40-bulb chandelier no bigger than a single grain of rice in a twelfth scale of Buckingham Palace, real whisky in a tine 1cm bottle and a working TV smaller than a postage stamp. It’s a most impressive little museum.