Monday, May 19, 2008

24 Hours in Taipei (CNN Traveller Asia-Pacific)

7:00 - Drop by what used to be known as the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (MRT Memorial Hall), to find out why so many Taiwanese are healthy and easygoing, despite leading hectic lives on a crowded and polluted island - and also to see a place at the heart of recent political squabbles. Every morning the plaza is filled with practitioners of qigong, tai chi chuan and Falun Gong. The government, which has already removed references to the late Chinese Nationalist leader from Taiwan's main airport, has been trying to rename this imposing complex of faux-classical Chinese buildings and gardens. However, many locals dislike the landmark's new label, National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, and wrangling continues.

8:00 - Western breakfasts are easy to find in Taipei, but when in Rome... find a local eatery and order a youtiao (a kind of savoury doughnut stick) and a bowl of steaming hot soya milk.

9:00 - Getting from the ground floor of Taipei 101, the world's tallest completed skyscraper, to the observation deck doesn't take long - 39 seconds to be precise. The weather is usually clearest in the mornings. However, if conditions aren't conducive to gazing out over the metropolis from 382 metres above street level, hit the shops on floors one to five.

10:30 - The National Palace Museum's collection of Chinese artifacts is globally renowned, and the free English-language tours that start at 10:30 a.m. each day provide a superb introduction. If you feel you're overdosing on sinology and want to see what makes Taiwan distinct, just down the road you'll find Shung Ye, an excellent museum dedicated to the island's aborigines and their culture...

I haven't posted the whole thing, and the article hasn't been posted on the magazine's website.

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