Today was our first full day in Taiwan. The prior night was New Year’s Eve and had been pretty noisy. Lots of people talking and we could also hear the fireworks from Taipei 101 (I believe Jaeger briefly contemplated going to see them but decided it’d be too much work and bed would be nicer). The king bed is technically more than big enough for the three of us but Calvin squirms a lot. Eventually, I figured out that he was too warm under the covers and put a little blanket we had brought with us on top of him instead and that seemed to reduce, though not eliminate, his thrashing. In any case, we all woke up fairly late.
The hotel provides breakfast but I thought when we checked in they said it ended at 8:30. That seemed kind of early to me for New Years Day but I was fairly certain that’s what I had heard. Since Jaeger didn’t stir until it was past 8:30, I started looking for alternative breakfast alternatives without much success. Once everyone was ready Jaeger also looked but we eventually concluded that we’d have to ask the hotel for recommendations.
We got down to the reception desk and learned that breakfast was still ongoing. However, all the tables were full so they requested we go back to our room and they’d call us when ready. Right about the time we were worried they had forgotten us, they called. We went down and had a really good breakfast. The pickings were a little slim compared to what had obviously already been there but I think it’s the best free hotel breakfast I’ve had. I was expecting something like a continental breakfast but this was a full buffet brunch.
After breakfast we set off to explore Taiwan. It was immediately obvious there was a lot less English compared to Hong Kong, not too surprising. Also, I am amused by their crosswalk signals. The crosswalks have animated green men that “walk” when it’s time to cross the street. However, when it gets close to turning red, the little animated man stops strolling and bursts into a run.
We found the subway system here (which is the MRT compared with Hong Kong’s MTR) and got tokens for our destination. Hong Kong’s system seems to have more bells and whistles but this one still works well. Our first stop was a visit to the 2-28 Peace Park which I’m sure Jaeger will discuss more. The park looked nice but there was a steady drizzle so it wasn’t very comfortable. We went into the 2-28 museum which Jaeger was interested in. Calvin and I wandered around in it a bit but I kept having trouble figuring out how to explain the concept of war to him at an age appropriate level.
Eventually, I gave up and shepherded Calvin out to the nearby playground and huddled under some scanty covering (the drizzle had turned into real rain) while Calvin amused himself. Eventually, Jaeger came out and we contemplated lunch.
Unlike Hong Kong, we didn’t get a SIM for Ted’s phone so we were cutoff from cheating with a live Google maps. However, Ted found, and successfully navigated us to a vegan chain restaurant called “Loving Hut.” The food was good and we set out again. This time our objective was the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
I was really surprised when we arrived. I was expecting another museum-looking building but the architecture of the complex is amazingly grand. I was quite disappointed that the weather made taking good pictures extremely unlikely.
Inside, we wandered around for a bit and had a chance to see the changing of the guard. The ceremony is fairly elaborate and Calvin got a good view on Jaeger’s shoulders. However, the highlight for me was when the new guards had positioned themselves like statues at either end of the very large commemorative statue. A security guard came out and, while the guards stood as motionless as mannequin, moved their hands just a tad, tugged the uniform into precisely the right folds and basically ensured that the guards in their stationary position were picture perfect. It was kind of odd to watch.
We wandered around a bit more and got some hot drinks for snack. While Calvin was still nursing his large-to-him hot chocolate, Jaeger wandered off to another gallery. I stayed and read while Calvin finished and then, deciding Calvin wasn’t up to more museum, decided to let him watch a tv episode on the iPad while we waited. Eventually, I decided we had spent too long hogging the bench so I started to gather our things together. As I was placing things into the backpack, a man sheepishly approached me and said his sister, who did not appear to speak English, would like to take a picture with Calvin. I sad they could try but warned Calvin was very shy. Calvin, predictably, squirmed and I’m not sure of they got a good picture of not but by then Jaeger appeared and we wandered off.
Our last tourist stop was a Buddhist temple a couple of subway stops away. Unlike the ones we had seen in Hong Kong, this one was actually packed with worshipers. It was a very elaborate temple and very interesting but it was crowded and much of the walkways weren’t covered so it was pretty wet. Because I mostly carry Calvin on my back I feel very large and have trouble navigating many of the smaller spaces we end up in while sightseeing. Unlike a backpack, Calvin’s legs and arms can randomly shoot out and cause unintended havoc.
After that, we found supper at another vegetarian restaurant. I wasn’t very hungry but didn’t want to discourage Jaeger from eating. We made a wrong turn but did eventually find the right place. The food was good but when we finished I was relieved to be heading back to the hotel. Once back, we gave Calvin a bath and put him to bed but he seems to have fully adjusted to the time change (which is the same as Hong Kong) and resisted falling asleep for quite a long time.
Our Hong Kong/Taiwan Trip: