Taipei, Taiwan — Wednesday, March 3

I hit the streets with a tourist map and a plan to cram in as many of Taipei’s sites as I could on my first full day in the city. One of the first things you’ll notice as you walk around are the street crossing signs. The green man is animated to look like he’s walking. But, as the time starts to tick down, he quickens his pace and starts to run.

I walked to a nearby metro station and bought a day pass for $200 TWD (a little over $6 USD). It’s a plastic card, and when you get done at the end of the day, you can turn it back in for a $50 TWD deposit return. I highly recommend Taipei’s subway system. It was clean and easy.

The following few pics are from Longshan Temple. It was bustling with activity, and the organized singing/chanting coming from within the temple was very soothing.

The picture above is from the outside of Longshan Temple. The next several pictures were made in the Bo-Pi-Lio neighborhood, which is an historic area that has undergone renovation to highlight the area’s history.

I found the brick below to be pretty interesting. Brick? Here’s why. Buildings were covered in green, yellow, and brown colors which now have the collective name of “National Defense Color.” During the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, the government ordered residents to use these colors for “war preparedness.” It was popular from the late 1920s through the early 1940s.

A courtyard in the Bo-Pi-Lio neighborhood.

A wall map of the neighborhood.

The next several photos were made at the Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Center. This is the gate at the entrance.

The cultural center houses the National Theater (the pic below), the National Concert Hall (with me in front), and the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial (the third pic).

The view inside of the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.

This is the view of the entire cultural center from the top steps of the memorial building. The National Theater is on the left, and the National Concert Hall is on the right.

It was really hot, so I decided to get a drink from a vending machine. At first glance, for an American, this looks like an outrageous price. Of course, in converted currency, this Pepsi costs about 63 cents. (It was sold out, by the way. I opted for Pocari Sweat.)

I’m sparing you some shots of a few places I visited, but I wanted to include a few from 228 Memorial Peace Park. It’s the oldest park in Taipei. On 2/27/1947, several people protesting government practices were shot by soldiers. The next day, people gathered in the park to continue the protests. The government conducted a harsh and violent crackdown, so the park was renamed in 1996 to memorialize the event.

This is the Presidential Office Building, and it’s just a very short walk from 228 Memorial Peace Park.

As I was walking up to this impressive-looking building, there was a stream of traffic flowing to and from the front door. I thought that this must be a very popular hotel. Actually, though, it’s National Taiwan University Hospital.

I hit a few museums during the day, but I wanted to include a photo of the National Palace Museum here. It’s huge, and the building and grounds are very impressive. The second picture is a view from the museum.

I was pretty much tired from a day of walking the city. But I still had another stop I wanted to make — the Shilin Night Market. It’s a short walk from the Shilin subway station, and I was looking for a certain type of food that I knew I had to try.

The picture above doesn’t really do the market justice. This area was packed with tourists and locals. A friend of mine who recommended that I visit Taipei (thanks Jiyoung!) told me about a certain type of chicken I just had to have. How to find it? Look for a long line. And that’s what I did.

And here it is — Hot Star Large Fried Chicken. This booth had a huge line, and I took the photo when I finally got around to being directly in front of it. Its specialty is a huge piece of fried chicken (as its name suggests).

Two people were operating the booth. The person in front took your money ($50 TWD), gave you a plastic bag, and waited for the second person to hand over a huge chunk of fried chicken. The first person then put it into a paper bag, shoved it into your plastic bag, and you were done.

It’s a little hard to tell from this angle, but the chicken practically took up my entire bag — it’s that big. I got mine sprinkled with some spices, and it was one of the best pieces of chicken I’ve ever eaten. If somebody decided to start doing this at festivals back home, they’d make a killing.

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