Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taipei for Real

On my way to C&J's wedding in Taipei, I managed to squeeze few extra days to visit the place. Taipei is the capital of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan. With close to 7 million inhabitants Taipei is the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan and its 23 million people. Founded in the early 18th century, Taipei was a place of constant battle against invaders (Japanese & Chinese), and has therefore developed over the years a sense of pride of being independent.

National Palace Museum

Walking along the streets of Taipei reflects this long lasting battle of independence. Notable above all historical monuments is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The controversial military leader outside the island is considered on island as a true hero who liberated the country from both oppressive Chinese and Japanese invaders. Until recently, it was a widespread practice for Taiwanese people to hang portraits of Chiang in their homes.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

For some, Chiang was the national hero who led China to the ultimate victory against Japan in 1945. Some see him as a champion of anti-Communism, and the leader who led Free China against a possible Communist invasion. However, Chiang presided over purges, political authoritarianism, and ruled throughout a period of imposed martial law. His governments were routinely accused of being corrupt.

Longshan Temple

In Western countries, Chiang was often perceived negatively as the military leader who lost China to the Communists. His steady demands for support and funding earned him the nickname of "General Cash-My-Check". The truth certainly lies in between.

Taipei 101 at night

Nowadays modern Taipei (the Financial district and the famous Taipei 101 Tower) and traditional Taipei (National Palace Museum, Longshan Temple and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall) cohabit together in a charming and peaceful manner for the betterment of Taiwan.