25 – 26 December 2013
To start the day, I walked past the Presidential Office Building and had breakfast with some squirrels at 228 Peace Park.
Designed by a Japanese during the period when Japan ruled Taiwan from 1895- 1945, it used to be the office of the Governor-General. This building became the Presidential Office in 1950 after the ROC lost control of the Mainland and relocated its capital to Taipei.
I made my way to the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. In front of the Hall is “Freedom Square”. As the name implies, it is a place where locals can voice their disapproval of the government and respective policies. Celebrations, protests, shows and concerts are all at the heart of this area. After all, this is THE symbol of Taipei and R.O.C.
The pigeons add a much more homey feel to a place that would otherwise be empty without it. The spacious Hall consists of a large statue of Chiang Kai-Shek and rifle-holding/motionless guards.
Sun Yat-Sen#, the founding father of Modern China, is remembered at Taipei’s Memorial Hall. Seeing his bronze statue zapped me all the way back to my birthplace- Nanjing. As the capital of the then Nationalist government, there are countless landmarks that reflects the struggles between the KMT (nationalists) and the CCP (communists). One major attraction in Nanjing that (in my view) remains politically neutral is the Sun-Yat Sen Mausoleum. Sun is an unique individual since he is respected in both the PRC and ROC. In the PRC, he is seen as a Chinese nationalist and is regarded as the Forerunner of the Revolution. In the ROC, he is known as “Guofu” or the Father of the Nation.
I respect Sun and agree with his political philosophy. His Three People’s Principles focuses on nationalism (independence from imperialist domination), democracy (to Western standards), and the people’s livelihood (free trade). Sun developed this philosophy since he wanted China to be a free and powerful nation. It makes perfect sense but putting it into practice is difficult especially when the KMT and CCP* have their own interpretations of the words “democracy” and ‘people’s livelihood.”
The trip ended at Taipei 101 where some elderly men were making their point loud and clear: One China. It is refreshing to see the Chinese flag in Taiwan. I’m ok with the idea of the R.O.C running the whole show but what I’m not fine with is the bickering, disrespect and fights that goes on- How pointless! China is a country with her own unique landscape and culture. It is an separate entity from the ridiculous emperors, dynasties, rules, parties and governments that feel the need to hold onto her for their own gains. Being a nothingist, I do not feel attached to any party but out of self-respect, I cannot and will not forget my old country- China.
Taipei is a great base for some explorations up North. Time wasn’t on my side and the weather was awful but I had to see Tamsui due to its rich history. I filled up the long metro ride with some quiet reading time. Today’s headline – Xi and Ma’s potential meeting at the APEC Beijing Summit, complaints about Ma’s government and how it takes on average 14.7 years for a new graduate to buy a house in Taipei City. APEC (which I’ve reported on) is boring. At the expense of the taxpayers, it’s like any big meetings where guys in fancy suits gather to have a serious talk that will “change” the world- NOT! What I was most interested in was the report about how tough life is for the new graduates in Taiwan and how one need to spend 14.7 years to finally secure a house. How about the situation in Mainland China? The average would be around 50-60 years. Basically, life is getting tougher these days.
Tamsui, name after Tamsui River has a population of over 130,000 and was first inhabited by Aborigines. Spanish, Dutch and Japan all occupied Tamsui. It was the busiest harbour in Taiwan. A majority of historical landmarks can be found around the Aletheia University area. There are ports, churches, various residences, cemeteries, schools and temples. Apart from the rain, it does make a good half-day trip.
# Sun- Yat Sen’s protege is Chiang kai-shek who later married the sister of Sun’s wife. So….Chiang is also Sun’s brother-in-law.
- R.O.C- Republic of China/ Taiwan with the capital being Taipei.
- P.R.C- People’s Republic of China with the capital being Beijing.
- C.C.P- The Chinese Communist Party (Mainland China) – more like full-on capitalists!
- K.M.T- Sun laid out the foundations of the K.M.T/ Nationalist government. Note, K.M.T is not the only party in Taiwan.
- Cross-strait relationship refers to the relationship between Mainland China and Taiwan. In Taiwan, anti-China sentiments are high especially amongst the students (stay away from the awful world of politics and study geez!). Any pro-Independence movement and China bashing will result in Taiwan bashing. How utterly pointless.
Taipei: museums, great night markets, delightful 24 hr bookstores that sucks bookworms right in and some boring + overly commercialised buildings.