Tourism packed day visiting Mengjia Longshan Temple, Bopiliao Historic District, Liberty Square, National Palace Museum, and nightlife at Barcode and Myst!
I started my day around 10 am and headed into the city. My first stop was Hong ShihFu Beef Noodles(洪师父), a delicious and quick Taiwanese noodle house. With a belly full of melt-in-your-mouth beef noodles, I had the energy I needed to tackle the tourist circuit!
Mengjia LongShan Temple
A zen start to the day at the Buddhist temple of Long Shan was smaller than I expected with a central structure in the courtyard with other prayer rooms around it. The polished shiny incense burners were eye catching. Apparently the US bombed this temple during WWII because the Japanese were “hiding arms”. TEAM AMERICA GO! After a prayer and quick tour, I was on my way.
Bopiliao Historic District
A short walk from the temple was this preserved street with architecture from the Qing period and Japanese occupation era. Besides the partly restored buildings and street art there wasn’t much except some air conditioned art galleries. I took my time in them to escape the unbearable heat and humidity.
Liberty Square 自由广场
My next stop was the Liberty Square… Was this Taiwan’s equivalent to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square? The square had a National Concert Hall and National Theater on two sides with the National Chiang Kai-shek’s Memorial Hall centered at the far end. It was very symmetrical and had a nice stone paved center. There were several groups of students dancing hip-hop together around the square. I was tempted to moonwalk up Chang Kai-shek Memorial steps but unfortunately the stairs were closed due to restorations.
A short car ride away is the National Palace Museum also known as Gugong 臺北故宮. This was quite confusing as Gugong 故宫in Beijing refers to the Forbidden City. The naming made more sense as I learned about the history of the museum. Most of the artifacts were located to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war from the original Palace Museum (Forbidden City). So this was a collection originally stored in Beijing!
They had quite an impressive collection of Chinese artifacts with the oldest dating back 8,000 years (some jade tools etc). With three floors of exhibits and a cafe on the top floor, it took a few hours to navigate and see all that the museum had to offer. Some of the highlights included: A delicious looking stone “dongporou”, a jade cabbage with a cricket on it, and an impressive carved ball with moveable layers from Qing dynasty. The garden outside was a nice respite from the extreme COLD that the AC inside was blasting out, not to mention they had a traditional gu zheng that I got to practice on. 🙂
All this sightseeing built up a nice appetite, so with a recommendation we headed to 吃饭食堂 “Eat Food Cafeteria”. I guess they didn’t want to invest in creative branding, nevertheless, the food was great and not expensive. You order at the door then you’re seated when a place is available and your food is brought out right away. Good setup for fast turnover of the limited spacing.
Nightlife – Party World Cash Box, Barcode, and Myst
The night started at Cash Box where I met up with some friends from the US. They had a KTV room celebrating someone’s birthday and after some singing, drinking, and dice we were off to party.
Barcode was a lounge with decent mixed drinks and even an outdoor terrace area. It was a good bar to start off the night with some conversation among good friends.
Myst seemed like a typical a popular club with rude doormen and crowds waiting to get in. We skipped the line thanks to my VIP friends and headed up by elevator. A cauldron of sweaty drunk Asians packed on the dance floor surrounded by scantily clad pole dancers… Purgatory? Nope, just Myst. Though there was energy in the air, there wasn’t any left in me. I headed out around 2 am, stopping for a street food sausage before bed.
Day 3 coming right up!