The wind is blowing softly if it were spring, although the season is winter. The uncomfortable seat in economy is forgotten as soon as we reach Taipei. There is no time to spare, for the flight arrives at the airport later than expected. Landscapes, signboards, houses, and many other landscapes differ from those in Korea. Even though Korea’s language is Korean, Korean people use English in many areas.
However, every word and sign in Taipei is written in Chinese characters. People are unable to communicate with each other because of the language barrier. The country is operating an air conditioner due to much moisture in spite of winter. It seems to be similar with Korea, but on the other hand this country is very different from Korea. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) is visiting Taipei.
The First Day in Taipei
Longshan temple is located in the city of Taipei and in front of a night fair. It is surprising to locate the temple in a city and not on a mountain. Although I enter the temple just before closing, there are many people. Many people are burning incense and praying intently. To pray in the temple is similar to Christians in Korea going to church.
The night market is so brilliant and noisy. People of all ages and both sexes gather for this fair.
The street is lined with boundless stalls. The fair reminds us of Korean markets in the 1970’s. Ximen Street is a live wire and differs from the night fairs. There are younger people here than in the night market. This street is similar to Myungdong in Korea. There are many stores such as Starbucks, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Sony. There are still many young people, however the street may be lighter than during the day. What is the scene like during the daytime? I’m anxious about this street's day view.
The Second Day in Taipei
It is easy to see many cars in Korea, bicycles in China, and motorbikes in Taipei. There are numerous motorbikes on every street in Taipei. There seems to be more motorbikes on the streets on this morning. Taiwanese people generally use motorbikes, not only go to special destinations, but also to go to their offices or universities. A motorbike is a familiar vehicle.
The bus is off to Yehliu Sea World. Yehliu is famous for strange rocks that have been eroded by the sea. After passing the ticket office and then walking about 5 minutes, there is surprise and wonder as we stand in the heart of mushroom rocks just like being in the center of a movie set. The small world creates a strange feeling as if standing in a desert. I spend time enjoying the site with a short spell of rain and sunshine.
Along with the Smithsonian Institute in U.S.A., British Museum in England and The Louvre Museum in France, The National Palace Museum is one of the greatest museums in the world. The exhibits are so colossal. The museum is the greatest and it is impossible to view all exhibitions because of high fame and unlimited visitors. After that, I go to the Zhonglieci Shrine. There I can see the ceremony for the changing of the guard, it just looks like robots not humen.
At night, somebody is looking down the night watch from the observatory of Taipei 101. Taipei 101 is the tallest building in the world. “The earthquake is a matter of frequent occurrence in Taipei. Why did the Taiwanese build the tallest building in the world?” My guide offers the question. A few minutes later, she answers this question. “Taiwanese want to show that they can do it, that they can make the tallest building.” Yeah, they make the tallest establishment just for showing their ability. Really, Taiwanese must be very proud.
The Third Day in Hualien
The sky is overcast and it looks like rain. Some people take a train for Hualien to see the city for its famous marble. About 2~3 hours later, the train arrives at its final destination, Hualien. As soon as we leave the station, it begins to rain. People hurry to take the bus and continue on their way. After a tour through a marble factory and seeing the show of an Ami tribe, the bus leaves for Taroko Canyon. The home of all marbles, Taroko Canyon is a scene unparalleled in the world.
People cannot see much of Taroko Canyon on the bus most of time because of rain. Probably, some people think that Taroko Canyon is not as beautiful as they thought. However, softly rugged marble and a majestic view of nature has strong powers over me.
The Last day in Taipei
As early summer, today is so bright and warm. While being bathed in the sunlight, one group is going to Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) Memorial Hall. He was the former head of Taipei. The unbelievable massive building is made of marble in Hualien. The building is so tremendous it is difficult to repress my astonishment. The photos and souvenirs of his whole life are exhibited on the first floor. There is a huge statue in a great room on the second floor.
How could the Taiwanese build this beautiful and great edifice for just one person? It is impossible to compare this to the memorial hall in Korea. The CKS Memorial Hall is not only a memorial hall; there is a large plaza in front of the hall. There is also the national theater and the concert hall on either side of the plaza. In other words, this place provides Taiwanese with a rest place. Absolutely, a lot of Taiwanese are proud of this structure. But I don’t have much time to feel and view this beautiful and great place. Feeling at a loss, I must return to Korea.
Taipei is a nation of all seasons and splendid and beautiful structures. It is the nation of simple living people. There is no concept of nightlife. Vanity and luxury is not their culture. Three nights and four days is a very short time for enjoying and seeing. After learning the Chinese language and saving some money, I look forward to returning and wandering about Taiwan once again. Although staying in Taipei was very short, it is sure for me that the 3 nights 4 days was a valuable time in our life. The tour started with a mild breeze like spring, and ended with heated sunshine like summer.