In the footsteps of Chiang Kai Shek, Taiwan

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

I could see why the Portuguese in 1554 named Taiwan the ilha formossa ‘beautiful island’ when they  first spotted what is today known as Taiwan. Green mountainous terrain flourished as we drove towards Taipei the capital city surrounding the highrise buildings in a blanket of forests.

Taiwan having once been ruled by the Japanese from 1894 -1945 upon its surrender in World War 2 .Shortly after the Chinese civil war resumed,  forcing the Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek and approximately 2 million other people to flee to Taiwan. The Taiwan that we know of today was formed with Chiang Kai Shek, ruling the country from 1950 where he remained president until his death in  1975, aged 87.

The public perception of Chiang Kai Shek remains divided, the Kuomintang supporters view him as a national hero while others such as the  Democratic Progressive Party supporters would class Kai Shek as nothing but a dictator.

One thing though is Chiang Kai Shek left his footprints on Taiwan and during our time there we were to follow them.

It all starts with……………………

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Or should I say it actually ends here.  On the death of Chiang Kai Shek, the citizens and  overseas Chinese proposed to have a memorial of their leader. The memorial was completed in 1980 on the 5th anniversary of the former presidents death.. The hall is on the grounds of a huge square with the  National Theater and National Concert Hall built in traditional Chinese palace like architecture.

89 steps leads up the white marbled hall, representing the age of Chiang Kai Shek at the time of his death. On top of the marble, a glassed blue octagonal roof represents the number 8 which is associated with abundance and good fortune. The small garden often has flowering red flowers, together the white, blue and red represents Taiwan’s flag.

The bronze statue of Shek himself sitting in the open hall is what people come to see but the real highlight is the changing of the guard that happens on the hour every hour. Guards in pristine blue or white  uniforms march in unison, twirling guns, stamping feet till they come to their post and stand stiff in an upright position.

The memorial also houses a small museum that covers the life of Chiang Kai Shek. Photos adorn the wall, medals are on display, there’s a room set up as the president’s office but by far the coolest things on display are the two black mint condition cars that the president used.

Opening times

open 9:00am-6:00pm

Transportation

MRT CKS Memorial Hall station

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

Chiang Kai Shek memorial 1

Changing of the guards

Chiang Kai Shek memorial 2

Posing in front of the guard

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial 3

Gardens at the memorial

National Palace Museum

As the Japanese invaded mainland China, Chiang Kai Shek came up with a plan to move the most important Chinese art from Beijing it was moved to Shanghai, then to Nanjing before being moved once again to three different areas of China. Once World War 2 ended the art was then transported to a warehouse in Nanjing. The art didn’t stay there for long as the Chinese civil war soon resumed as the war worsened Chiang Kai Shek decided to send them for safe keeping in Taiwan.

The museum first opened in Taiwan in 1965 and exhibits 3000 pieces at one time rotating every three months. The museum displays a variety of art forms but the most impressive is the jade section. The prize pieces being the chinese cabbage and meat shaped stone. These pieces may be small in stature but they look very authentic like you were looking at the real thing. These two pieces are exhibited side by side. The museum is worthy of a 2 hour visit.

We can thank kai Shek that the best Chinese art collection can be seen in Taiwan.

Opening Times

opens 8:30-18:30 every day

Admission

250 NTD

Transportation

MRT Shilin station then take bus R30

chinese cabbage

The star attraction the cabbage and the meat

The Lalu Hotel

The Lalu hotel located on the Sun Moon Lake is one of the most tranquil places in Taiwan. Approximately 2 hours away from the hustle of Taipei lies this beautiful turquoise lake that President Chiang Kai Shek used to vacation at or use to entertain foreign heads of state.

The Lalu is one of those places that’s an unforgettable hotel experience with amazing architecture, suite rooms overlooking the lake, infinity swimming pool and authentic tea house as well as private access to the lake. What more could you be looking forward to than  to get away from it all for a couple of days by staying at the Lalu.

http://www.thelalu.com.tw/en/

Lalu

Lalu Hotel’s Swimming Pool

Lalu 1

Lalu Hotels Bedroom

image

Sun Moon Lake

Chiang Kai Shek always vowed to take back China but really he had it all in this beautiful country that we call Taiwan.

 

 

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