Thursday, December 28, 2006

Taiwan for tourists

Yesterday at dinner, I asked my siblings where they would take their non-Taiwanese friends, if any ever came to visit Taiwan.

We actually came up with a decent list of non-food destinations for Taipei:
- Taipei 101: Currently the tallest building in the world, and in a newer area of town.
- The National Palace Museum: Home of all the priceless Chinese artifacts which were stolen/rescued by Chiang Kai-Shek in the late 1940's, before the Cultural Revolution.
- Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial: There's a lot of debate over whether he should be memorialized or best forgotten, but the memorial itself is worth a look.
- Shih Lin Night Market: The most famous night market; lots of Taiwan street food like stinky tofu, oyster omelets, and bubble tea.
- Lungshan Temple: I feel like I've been there but I don't really remember. Nevertheless, it's supposed to be a good example of a traditional Buddhist-Daoist Asian temple.
- Snake Alley: Pretty gross, but where else can you watch a snake get cut open as its blood is spilled into a soup bowl?
- KTV: Private karaoke rooms are all over the city, but there are lots on Lin Sen North Road: V-Mix, Cashbox, Partyworld, and Holiday.
- Shi Men Ding: Where all the trendy local teenagers hang out and shop.
- Yang Ming Shan: A national park north of Taipei, which has some good hiking and decent views.
- Beitou: Beitou is a resort town a bit north of Taipei, that has natural sulfur springs.

We had a harder time coming up with places to visit outside Taipei:
- Kending National Park: One of the best national parks in Taiwan, located at the southern tip of the island. Includes E Luan Bi Park. I remember it being quite pretty (over fifteen years ago!).
- Queen's Head Rock (Ye Liou): Ye Liou, in northern Taiwan, is full of strange rock formations, the most famous of which strongly resembles a woman's head in profile.
- Fo Guang Shan Monastery: A Buddhist monastery which features a gigantic golden Buddha statue surrounded by hundreds of smaller Buddha statues.
- Tainan: Previously the capital of Taiwan, Tainan is rich in colonial history (Dutch, Spanish) and yummy snack foods.
- Kaohsiung: The second largest city in Taiwan, and the largest harbor. I seem to remember it being only about an hour away from Tainan by car. Starting next year, it will take 90 minutes to get from Taipei to Kaohsiung by high-speed rail.
- Sun Moon Lake, Ali Shan, Yu Shan, Taroko Gorge: I haven't been to any of these places, but they're all famous and/or national parks.

That's enough to see and do for at least a week or two, isn't it?


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