On our last full day in Taiwan we started out by going to the National Palace Museum. On the way there we met a student named Elias who started a conversation with us in order to practice his English. He decided to wander around with us at the museum and it was interesting to get to talk to someone from Taiwan. I thought if we started up at the third floor of the museum the crowds would be smaller but I didn’t realize the most popular exhibits at the museum were on the 3rd level. So, we ended up herded into a queue of people and we dutifully waited in a line so we could see the Jadeite Cabbage with Insects which is a jade carving in the shape of bok choy. Obviously, bok choy is more popular with the Chinese than it is with Calvin. We got to talk with Elias while queuing which made the wait more interesting.
We wandered around to a couple more exhibits before Calvin started complaining of being hungry. We went up to the top of the museum and found some vegetarian dim sum to order as well as some drinks. Calvin insisted he wanted Plum juice even though Elias warned it was a little sour. I tried to convince Calvin he didn’t want it but eventually gave up and ordered plum juice for him and carrot juice for me. As I expected, once the drinks actually arrived Calvin was happy to switch with me. I thought the plum juice was pretty good but definitely not as sweet as the juice I’m use to.
After snack Calvin regained all his energy and started acting up in his carrier. I decided it was time for a retreat outside the museum. Elias and I went outside to let Calvin run around while Jaeger stayed to see a couple more exhibits. Outside, there was a light drizzle and it was probably in the 60s (Fahrenheit). A little later Elias had to run off for a class. Jaeger came out fairly soon after that and we continued to our next destination.
In Hong Kong it was difficult to shop for touristy things because Hong Kong doesn’t make many things. Taiwan, on the other hand, makes many things.. We headed off to the Taiwan Handicraft Promotion Center which was four levels of various Taiwan products. We wandered around and Calvin actually stayed pretty quiescent in the carrier. I was extremely grateful to have him in the carrier where he couldn’t accidentally break something expensive. We bought a couple of things and then Jaeger took a taxi to take them back to our hotel while Calvin and I wandered over to a nearby park. We found a covered area and I let Calvin watch some stuff on the iPad while I read. There was a playground at the park but the rain was coming down steadily and there wasn’t a nearby place I could stay out of the rain and watch Calvin play at the same time. Once Jaeger got back to the park we headed off to see Taipei 101.
When Jaeger first started talking about the trip to Calvin, he mentioned Taipei 101 enough that Calvin seemed to get the impression that the city itself was called Taipei 101. The actual building is quite impressive. It’s currently the 2nd tallest building in the world, it was the tallest back in 2003 when it was completed. It also has the fastest elevator in the world. The lower section is a mall. We went up and got tickets for the indoor observatory and went to a cafe to get snacks. The snacks ended up being a bit smaller than we expected, barely bite-sized, but very tasty. We queued and then took the elevator up to the 89th floor. There’s also an outdoor gallery on the 91st floor but it was closed to take down the fireworks display from the new year. Once we got to the top we were giving free audio-guides that provided a commentary about the city from the various windows. It was interesting but I felt like I should be more excited. The building is so high up I felt the view was pretty similar to what one would see from an airplane. Calvin didn’t seem particularly excited and didn’t look out the windows much. I think it would have been more interesting in the day. It was very pretty at nighttime, with all the city lights below, but it was hard to see all of the landscape.
What was particularly interesting was the tuned mass damper which stabilizes the building and is open to the public to view. We finally figured out what the weird cartoon figures we had been seeing everywhere were, they were the mascots for the damper and were called damper babies. Now that we knew what they were, they seemed much cuter. After traveling back down to the fifth floor we stopped by the gift shop and picked up a little stuffed “damper baby” which Calvin proclaimed was something that he had always wanted.
For supper, we investigated the food court which was large but mainly bereft of vegetarian options. Eventually we found a fast food Indian place which provided a larger meal than I was expecting. After supper we took a taxi home which I personally found disturbing, to Jaeger’s great amusement. Our driver had a little TV screen mounted on his dashboard that he watched as he drove us back to the hotel. However, as Jaeger pointed out, the driver obeyed all the traffic rules and did seem a competent driver. Jaeger kept telling me that I should never go to India, which I already knew.
Once we got back to the hotel we packed our bags in preparation for an early departure in the morning.
Our Hong Kong/Taiwan Trip: