Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Taipei…like every place you’ve never been


 I'm one of the staunchest critics of buai pekpek (betelnut thrash) and littering in Port Moresby (often disparaged as the filthiest city in the world)  and Papua New Guinea, so going to Taiwan,  was like going to heaven.
On Thursday, November 21, 2012,  I took an evening stroll through the well-kept park next to the Monarch Plaza Hotel in Taoyuang City, one of the satellites of capital, Taipei, wondering when we in PNG will look after our parks and playgrounds like this!
Taoyuang sidewalk

Clean, pretty flowers and plants, mums pushing babies on prams, couples walking their dogs, children and parents playing happily in the playground.
Taoyuang park

We only dream about this in PNG, and yet, it doesn't cost anything…only common sense and a sense of self-respect!
I thought about the filthy and pathetic excuse of a playground at Hohola where my kids play.
When will we in PNG ever stop spitting buai pekpek, littering everywhere without a care in the world, and to take tender loving care of our recreational facilities?
Taipei maintains an extensive system of parks, green spaces, and nature preserves, despite being a hi-tech, highly-populated city. 
Efficient garbage system

Parks and forestry areas of note in and around the city include Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei Zoo and Da-an Forest Park.
Yangmingshan National Park (located 10 km north of the central city) is famous for its cherry blossoms, hot springs, and sulfur deposits.
 It is the home of famous writer Lin Yutang, the summer residence of Chiang Kai-shek, residences of foreign diplomats, the Chinese Culture University, the meeting place of the now defunct National Assembly of the Republic of China, and the Kuomintang Party Archives.
 The Taipei Zoo was founded in 1914 and covers an area of 165 hectares for animal sanctuary.
Of course, you ain't seen Taipei until you've been on the Taipei 101!
And that's exactly what I did on the evening of Saturday, November 10, 2012.
On the 89th floor of Taipei 101

This, in fact, was my third time on the Taipei 101, haven got up twice during my previous two visits to Taiwan in 2007, however, this visit was more comprehensive.
Taipei 101, formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, is a landmark skyscraper located in Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan.
At the entrance to Taipei 101

 The building ranked officially as the world's tallest from 2004 until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010.
In July 2011, the building was awarded LEED Platinum certification, the highest award in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and became the tallest and largest green building in the world.
Taipei 101 reaches for the sky

Taipei 101 was designed by CY Lee & partners and constructed primarily by KTRT Joint Venture.
The tower has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening, and received the 2004 Emporis Skyscraper Award.
Port Moresby's name can be found on the Taipei 101

Fireworks launched from Taipei 101 feature prominently in international New Year's Eve broadcasts and the structure appears frequently in travel literature and international media.
Taipei 101 comprises 101 floors above ground and 5 floors underground.
The building was architecturally created as a symbol of the evolution of technology and Asian tradition.
Roast duck on the streets of Taipei

 Its postmodernist approach to style incorporates traditional design elements and gives them modern treatments.
The tower is designed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes.
Falung Gong practisioners at the National Palace Museum
A multi-level shopping mall adjoining the tower houses hundreds of fashionable stores, restaurants and clubs.
Taipei 101 is owned by the Taipei Financial Center Corporation (TFCC) and managed by the International division of Urban Retail Properties Corporation based in Chicago.
A Taipei sidestreet
The name originally planned for the building, Taipei World Financial Center, until 2003, was derived from the name of the owner.
Taipei City is the capital of Republic of China, a state commonly known as Taiwan.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

During my visit, apart from the culinary delights of the gourmet’s paradise of Taipei, I was introduced to Taiwanese culture and history, tried the high speed train, and visited many places including the National Palace Museum, soared the lofty heights of the Taipei 101, the Discovery Centre of Taipei, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei’s most-famous night market of Shilin, Taipei Confucius Tempe, Taiwan’s hi-tech “Silicon Valley” at Hsinchu City, and many others.
At Tshilin Night Market

 Situated at the northern tip of the island of Taiwan, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River; it is about 25km southwest of Keelung, a port city on the Pacific Ocean.
Pounding tea leaves and other ingredients for a traditional Chinese tea ceremony at Hsinchu City

 It lies in the two relatively narrow valleys of the Keelung and Xindian rivers, which join to form the Tamsui River along the city's western border.
 The city proper (Taipei City) is home to an estimated 2,618,772 people.
Fried frog legs for lunch...not bad!

 Taipei, New Taipei, and Keelung together form the Taipei metropolitan area with a population of 6,900,273.
 However, they are administered under different local governing bodies.
Good food everywhere in Taipei

 "Taipei" sometimes refers to the whole metropolitan area, while "Taipei City" refers to the city proper.
Taipei City proper is surrounded on all sides by New Taipei.
Gross fruit galore in Taipei

Taipei is the political, economic, and cultural centre of Taiwan.
The National Palace Museum which has one of the largest collections of Chinese artifacts and artworks in the world is located in Taipei. 
Visitrs to the National Palace Museum

Considered to be a global city, Taipei is part of a major industrial area.
Railways, high speed rail, highways, airports, and bus lines connect Taipei with all parts of the island. 
Catching the hi-speed train to Hsinchu City

The city is served by two airports – Taipei Songshan and Taiwan Taoyuan.
Taipei was founded in the early 18th century and became an important center for overseas trade in the 19th century.
 The Qing Dynasty in China made Taipei the provincial capital of Taiwan in 1886.
Hi-tech infrastructure of Taipei

 When the Japanese acquired Taiwan in 1895 after the First Sino-Japanese War, they retained Taipei as the capital of the island, and also advanced extensive urban planning in Taipei.
 The Republic of China took over the island in 1945 following Japanese surrender. 
Beautiful river scene in Taipei

One of the first Taiwanese settlements at Hsinchu

After losing Mainland China to the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) resettled the ROC government to Taiwan and declared Taipei the provisional capital of the Republic of China in December 1949.
Checking out fresh fruit at a Taipei street stall

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