**** Taipei-Taiwan Travelogue 2009 ****

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pictures here are shot by me with digital compact Pentax Optio E40 -8 mega pixels- powered by world-standard AA-size batteries, or by Naoko with digital SLR Nikon D90)

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August 29 2009

Our family visits Taiwan in August 29 to September 1 2009. This time too, the team consists of my wife Mineko, second daughter Naoko (ENT doctor), and I (other kids already married). We depart Narita on JAL641 at 10AM JST on August 29 (Sat), looking down Mout Fuji, and touch down at Taoyuan International Airport ۋ` at circa 12:30PM local time (-1 hour than JST, flight hours about 3.5), change money to NT$ (NT$ 1 = circa Japanese Yen 3), and are transported on courtesy TOYOTA Crown to the front desk of Grand Formosa Reagent Taipei.

After bringing our packages to the hotel room, we hastily visit National Palace Museum on taxi. Don't worry, taxi fare is very cheap. There are many visitors even in the lafe afternoon, including pupils. Display is usual but maybe rather excessive in amount for a few hour visit, and foreyard is wide (Photo-1, Photo-2). We then head for Taipei 101 (official site, observatory admission fee: 400 NT$/person). It takes less than 40 seconds from 5th floor to 89th floor in high-pressurized elevators, with speeds up to 1,010 meters per minutes.

We take supper in the famous chinese restaurant Tien Chu restaurant iVC؊, Address: 3-4F, 1 Nanjing West Road, TEL: 02-2563-2380`3j, which is full packed. Customers appear largely local, with a few Japanese and other foreigners. Taiwanees do not drink alcohol, having a hum of conversation with family members especially aged, during dinner. We consume Peking duck (Photo-1, Photo-2), with local beer, which cost much less than that in Tokyo. We walk to the hotel, observing the night scene of Taipei street (Photo-1, Photo-2).

August 30 2009

We get up early morning and board a bus destined to Jiofen famous as a tourist attraction, viewing the landscape of old town of Taipei and other cities along the way ( Photo-1, Photo-2, Photo-2, Photo-4). The narrow street of Jioufen is packed with Taiwanese from the entrance (red arrow) and along the souvenir stores. The sound and scent is quite Asian, indeed. After visiting Jioufen Gold Mine Museum, which is in fact desolate but quite rare (Photo-1, Photo-2, with a museum director/owner/ticket taker/air conditioning engineer, i.e., swiss army-knife uncle). We take Taiwanese tea (and its culture) at this externally antique but interiorly sophisticated cafe and lunch (noodle) at this restaurant. Sanitary condition is no problem, here.

After returning to Taipei, we separate and I alone head for cyberstreet (electronics quarter), Kwanghwa Bazaar (2-3 floors above ground, ؏) and International Electronics Plaza (underground mall, ۓdqA) at Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT (Metro Rapid Transit) station by subway. Don't worry, tickets for automated gates are extremely cheap for these trains (Photo-1, Photo-2). This famous electronics quarter lies next to National Taipei University of Technology (official site). The streetscape is almost idnetical with that of Akihabara district in Tokyo (Photo-1, list of prices-1, list of prices-2, underground mall). I purchased two spindle bundles of 50 compact-disc recordable CD-Rs (For music only, SONY and Philips brand), which are unavailable at prices as here in Japan, whereas prices of CPU (MPU) and hard disks are not so different from those in Akihabara.

After joining together again with Mineko and Naoko, we take dinner at Jin Din Rou restaurant C (Photo-1, Photo-2), costing us very lightly.

August 31 2009

In the morning we go to see the city sight of Taipei. Firstly, We visite a classic outpatient building of National Taipei University Hospital, which appeared just like those of our antique National University Hospitals before lately reconstructions advancing after 1990s (Photo-1 Entrance, Photo-2 Entrance Hall, Photo-3 Diagram of individually paid medical expense, suggestive of modern universal health insurance!, Photo-4 Direction board of laboratory building, Photo-5 Waiting at the pharmacy in peace).

Going through 228 Memorial, we reach Presidential Office Building (Wikipedia), which is a massive and traditional European Renaissance-baroque architecture, originally designed by Uheiji Nagano in 1910 during colonial period. When we visit, the presidential office is busy receiving heads of some state cordially (diplomacy). We participate the exhibition gallery in the building after body check and signature, at the head of official conductor, actually decent aged gentleman who can speak Japanese very fluently. The descripition of panels of Taiwan history is balanced with no skew, occasionally acknowledging contributions by the Japanese Empire during colonial period, e.g., flood prevention works. We are very impressed with its even-handed assessment and description regarding the transition of presidency through general election from Lee Teng-hui oP (1988-1996-2000), Chen Shui-bian G (2000-2008), to Ma Ying-jeou np (2008- ). In Asian political climate, it is fairly common that the successor curses out the predecessor on all official actions, e.g., Korea. In all respect, Taiwan is a modern and decent country with multi-party system, universal suffrage, modern administration (partly or largely based on the implantation by the former Japanese Empire), and rule of law. Temperament is quite gentle and rational.

After taking lunch, we visit Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (Wikipedia), which is just so large and on continental scale (lot area and size of architecture) ! Images show Memorial Hall on the wide lot, Statue in the Hall (alive sentry in the left), Exhibit with doll on the 1st floor.

In the afternoon, we visit on MRT in 40 minutes to Danshuei W, which appears to me "without setting sun, only a roadside stands and game centers". Maybe, I am too old for romance,,, We enter the cheap so-called Curiosa Museum (rare items and animals), laugh, Photo-1, Photo-2, Photo-3. Long time ago, this kind of carny was visiting the local town as ours in Japan too. The stations of MRT are modern as Danshuei station.

Returning the hotel, I enjoy swimming in the pool on the roof exclusively. Photo-1, Photo-2, Photo-3 Setting sun from the pool, while Mineko and Naoko go to relaxing (esthetic) treatment lounge.

We take dinner at Sichuan restaurant at the Ambassafor Hotel luxuriously (Cost: NT$ 3,256)

September 1 2009

In the morning after checking out the hotel and leaving baggage in trust, we take a stroll to Taipei Main Station k Photo-1, Photo-2, Photo-3, which is very modern and clean. Looking into a book store, we find there are many journals and books some translated from and many remaining in Japanese, Photo-1, Photo-2. On the street, we can see many billboards for cram schools, Photo-1, Photo-2 for Japanease language and even mathematics!

At Taoyuan International Airport, I purchase local newspapers to discern articles on the late Lower House election results in Japan, Photo-1 Hatchet women foxes, Photo-2.

They are extremely well-informed about Japan, even better than the Japanese.

We return to Narita at 10:00PM JST, and head for my's house with my souvenir purchased at DFS at the hotel, a music CD entitled Bailamos! performed by Taiwanese jazz group named The Metamorphosis Jazztet, some awarded a scholarship from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and majored in Jazz Performance (their official website). Actually, I am listening to their music during daily diagnostic pathology routine.

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DISCLAIMER: This post/trip is not financially supported by the industry related to my current assignment to non-profit hospital. The views expressed here are those of the author Akio Hasegawa and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of any institutions in Japan. Citations of trade names do not constitute an endorsement of the products. Feedback is, as always, encouraged. Use the address DrHASEGAWA@aol.com for all correspondence regarding this column.
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version 1.00 2009/12/19
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