For this week we went up north to Taipei again, after having stayed in Kaohsiung for a few days. We visited our aunt in Taipei, our uncle in Chongli, and finally our family reunion in Changhua.
I've been waiting for this trip partly because of the Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR). It's one of the top priorities on my to-do list. It didn't disappoint. We got to the Kaohsiung station and started taking pictures/video clips of the shiny train and admired its top speed of 300 km as it zoomed by many places. The HSR uses the infrastructure from Europe but the trains from Japan because of government's change of mind to use the Japanese system midway through the HSR construction. My brother and I loved the Shinkansen (bullet train) system in Japan and were glad to see that we're getting it here in Taiwan. The HSR isn't only important for Taiwan (it shrank the travel time from Taipei to Kaohsiung from 5 hours to an hour and a half), but it's important for Japan as well (it's the first time they've exported their high speed railway system). The ride was smooth, and I can't believe how short a time it took the train to take us to Taipei! What an achievement!
We got to our aunt's house and immediately started planning the places to visit. There was no time to waste. We decided to go to the National Museum (故宮博物院), Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館), Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂), the biggest Eslite bookstore in Taiwan, the tech district, the old shopping district, visited 2 friends, and ate at numerous places. My cousins loved fried pork chop so we had lots of those. We did this all in 3 and a half days!
I've been to some of those places before when I was still in elementary school, but of course going now has a different meaning. I got to know how the revolutionaries fought against Imperialism and how Taiwan entered the modern era. While we were at the Sun Yat Sen memorial, a person came up to me asking for the name of one of the revolutionaries on the wall painting. After I told him the name for the person in the painting (戴德賢 I think it was) he told me that's his great grandfather. He was born in the States I think and this time he came with a group Taiwanese like him to visit. I asked him to take a picture with me and wanted to ask him more questions but he left already. Too bad. It would've been fun asking him about the stories of his great grandfather and what an impact it has on his life.
As for the National Museum, we didnt' get to see all of the things in it. There was not enough time. But for what we've seen, it was already well worth the ticket. It made me proud to be Chinese, with all the heritage from thousands of years ago. Seeing how our ancestors used their wisdom to advance themselves was quite fascinating. To this day, there are still many mysteries as to how certain things could have been constructed at such precision so long ago. I hope we find out, so all of us can appreciate and learn from ancient wisdom not only in technology/manufacturing, but in their thinking/philosophy as well! History repeats itself, just in different forms. We can definitely take advantage of ancient knowledge.
Our last stop in Taipei was Taipei 101 - the tallest building in the world, and the only super high rise in an earthquake prone region. It's got the fastest elevator (takes only 37 seconds to go to the 101 floor) and the biggest damper (to dampen the wind and earthquake effect on the building). It was designed and built by Taiwanese engineers. It was a monumental task but they did it!
I was so moved by the HSR and Taipei 101 that I bought a model HSR train and a discovery documentary on Taipei 101!