Set off today for Taipeh 101. Travel for about 10km and take a wrong turn, so easy to do. End up back on a highway going in the wrong direction. Nothing we can do except enjoy the view. Pass within almost a stone’s throw of our hotel again. What was possibly a 20km trip turned out to be may be 50km! We gotta avoid highways. We have no GPS and if we had one it would be in Chinese, perhaps that would be better than Anna’s iPhone GPS, perhaps not. Lilly and I are still on speaking terms notwithstanding the navigator blaming the driver and vice versa. A real adventure making it eventually to a car park, Hall 3, adjacent to the Taipeh 101 mall. The mall an up market shopping centre on about 5 floors, every shop an international brand. Who can afford to shop in this place? We don’t even bother to poke our nose in, we are far too tight for this kinda shopping.
Taipeh 101 was the tallest building in the world from when it was completed in 2004 until 2010 when it was exceeded by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Now it ranks only about 9th – there is apparently a tower almost twice its height going up in Saudi Arabia, due completion next year. The Chinese have four or five of the top 10. It’s all about prestige and face in my down to earth opinion. In 100 years they will reach the moon. Still it’s a bit of an icon especially in Taiwan and we had to visit it, despite the admission fee of $30 each. The tower’s elevators reach speeds of 60km, are extremely smooth and transport us from earth to heaven (in secular terms from the 5th to 89th floor) in 37 seconds. Set speed records in those days, probably now snail’s pace.
Yea good view up there and Lilly takes plenty of photos from all four directions. We can even see our hotel in the distance. Wish we could have reached there as the crow flies. There is an outside observation place three floors above and a damper incorporated to enable the structure to withstand earthquakes and the region’s tropical storms.
According to Wikipedia this damper is suspended from the 92nd to the 87th floor. It is a pendulum that sways to offset movements in the building caused by strong gusts. Its sphere, the largest damper sphere in the world, consists of 41 circular steel plates of varying diameters, each 125 mm thick, welded together to form a 5.5 m diameter sphere. Two additional tuned mass dampers, each weighing 6 tonnes are installed at the tip of the spire which help prevent damage to the structure due to strong wind loads. On 8 August 2015, strong winds from Typhoon Soudelor swayed the main damper by 100 centimetres – the largest movement ever recorded by the damper.
We then argue about how to reach the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. We eventually find on the second floor of the mall a short cut to the Grand Hyatt hotel, diagonally through an interim park and thence to the hall. I first heard about Sun Yat-sen in High School and then renewed my acquaintance with him in China, can’t remember now exactly where. He never seemed to me to be typically Chinese because he promoted his three great principles: democracy, livelihood and nationalism.
Sun Yat-sen was first president of the Republic of China from 1919 to 1925 (when he died at the age of 58) and the first leader of the Kuomintang the Nationalist Party of China. He was referred to as the Father of the Nation and is revered apparently more so now in Taiwan than in China. Given the nationalistic, even jingoistic nature of modern China, it is difficult to see how anybody espousing democracy and livelihood, could still be revered in communist China. Capitalism, hard work and a natural entrepreneurial bent – and certainly not communism – has been responsible for improving China’s infrastructure and the livelihood of hundreds of millions of its citizens. Socialism and the Chinese Communist Party’s doctrine, demonstrated unequivocally, as if the message was ever needed’, via the great leaps forward and its cultural revolution, exactly how to wreck a once proud nation. As for democracy (Mínquán), Sun Yat-Sen believed in a western style of government by the people, anathema to the current regime in China.
We make our way back towards our home territory stopping at the National Palace Museum. This museum has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks. It’s one of the largest of its type in the world.
Most of the collection are high quality pieces collected by China’s emperors and moved within China by Chiang Kai Shek to escape the clutches of the Japanese and later to Taiwan to escape the clutches of the communists. China naturally proclaims that the collection was stolen and that it legitimately belongs in China, but Taiwan has defended its collection as a necessary act to protect the pieces from destruction, especially during the Cultural Revolution. That’s fair justification given that during the cultural revolution in China, temples where looted, relics, scrolls, and books containing vast amounts of cultural heritage were burned and destroyed. Libraries were ransacked, monuments destroyed or severely damaged, and religious sites and tombs of historical figures were looted and desecrated. The red guards also destroyed many priceless artifacts, like those from the tomb of the Ming Dynasty emperor, Wan Li. In Beijing, the remains of the emperor and empress were publicly denounced and burned. China can count itself very lucky that the red guards and their ilk did not get their hands on the priceless, magnificent and ancient artifacts and exhibits that we viewed today. There were three floors and we could have spent a day on each floor instead of two hours on the lot.
We head towards our hotel and not far away stop at the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, a structure that houses the spirit tablets of about 390,000 persons. These were persons killed, among other engagements, during the Xinhai Revolution, Northern Expedition, Second Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War, and the First and Second Taiwan Strait Crises. A changing of the honour guard from the various branches of the Republic of China Military take place at the shrine. The shrine closed about half an hour ago and we take photos of it from the gate in front. It is unlikely we will be back but it causes thought about the engagements that lead to the deaths of all these Taiwanese people. Knew that Japan had invaded Taiwan but did not realise that it controlled Taiwan for 50 years from 1895 to 1945. Plenty of history gaps yet to fill.
We eat in the same restaurant as last night but are wiser about the menu and quantities and eat much better.
Note via Youtube highlights that the All Blacks in a world cup warm up easily account for Tonga 92-7. Two weeks to go before the RWC and ABs v Boks, hopefully as a delicious entrée.