This past Sunday was a gorgeous day that made us want to be out of the house, which is not normal for us. Sundays are usually our lazy days, but with our time dwindling in Taipei and the wonderful warm weather, we had to take the opportunity to see more of the city. Chad had the idea to go to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall here in Taipei and walk around.
Just to start with a little background information… Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) was the President in China until the communist party started a gruesome civil war with him. He retreated to Taiwan when China was no longer safe for him and ruled for over 30 years under martial law. That is just my badly summarized version of his life, if you want the full story, check it out here.
When CKS died in 1975 The Taiwanese government began planning a memorial hall for him. They started building the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial on what would have been his 90th birthday in 1976. It was completed in 1980 on the anniversary of his death.
Chad, Zoë, and I arrived at the CKS Memorial Plaza, now called “Liberty Square” that houses the memorial early in the afternoon. It was an easy metro ride straight into the park (CKS Memorial hall stop on the green line). We walked through the beautiful gardens lackadaisical, taking in all the scenery while letting Z run around and tell us about all the new things she saw along the way.
We came up to the actual entrance to the Liberty Square, an enormous white gateway topped with a purple roof that looks like an open wall of a pagoda. There were many people milling about, most were taking pictures, but there were also a bunch of teenagers practicing their hip hop dancing. I really wish I had a video of the teens, they were decidedly serious about their dance moves. I would have watched them longer, but there was no stopping Zoë for even a moment. She wanted to go, go, go!
We continued walking towards the CKS memorial hall, which took us between the National Concert Hall and the National Theater. These matched buildings were impressive to say the least. I will let the picture of them do the talking as I would hate to bore you with flowery adjectives that I found on thesaurus.com.
As we were walking past the palatial and stately (okay, so I used the thesaurus a little) twins, we noticed a walkway beneath them. We decided to explore and found that there are restaurants, shops, and a coffee shop. We grabbed a coffee to give ourselves the much-needed energy to keep up with our excited, and extremely active toddler.
We resumed our trek down the plaza toward the massive white and purple octagonal building that houses the statue of Chiang Kai-Shek. We walked up the sets of stairs quickly, well Z hopped “liked Tigger” up them, and looked upon the likeness of the controversial and loved former President . The gigantic statue of Chiang Kai-Shek reminded me of the Lincoln Memorial, I think it was the fact that they are both sitting and have similar positioning. We happily realized that we had arrived just in time to watch the changing of the guards. We took some pictures of what turned out to be an exceedingly long performance and ducked out before the show was over. It was interesting, but not enough to hold our attention that long.
We walked down the stairs on the left of the memorial hall and realized that this building also had a secret entrance below it. Okay, so it wasn’t really a secret, but in all the times I had been to the site in the past (quite a few actually when we lived here before) I had never noticed it. Inside were some souvenir shops, a post office, a museum, and a few food and snack places. We walked though and exited out the other side, deciding to make our way back to the metro station to head home.
Along the way we came to a pond that was full of Koi fish. Lucky for us there were statures that looked like Koi as tall as me selling fish food for just 10 NT. Z fed the fish a few times while I sat and took in the surroundings. There was a quaint white bridge over the pond and the foliage surrounding it made it feel like you were in some sort of Chinese impressionist painting.
The plaza was one of the most magnificent and enjoyable memorials I have been to in Taipei or anywhere. The natural and man-made aspects of the area fit together perfectly and make it so that no matter where you look it is pleasing to the eye. So take a day, or an hour, pack a picnic, or grab a meal in one of the restaurants located in the grandiose buildings, no matter what you do here, it will be a lovely experience.