Posted by: atarimonos | January 15, 2009

On the other roof of the world

January 11th, a Sunday. I went to Taipei to check out its national history, in other words: check out Museums. I started the day at C.K.S. Memorial hall, a testament to one man’s perceived self-worth. The KMT built the monument, to Chiang Kai Shek, out of “donations” and government funds. The history contained therein is a little  … off; but an interesting example of propaganda. I travelled from their to 2-28 Memorial Park and Museum. This park is dedicated to those who died during the 2-28 massacre. A dark time in Taiwanese history started by the sale of banned substances: cigarettes. Consider America’s prohibition years and then picture the military killing thousands of civilians. A trivial explanation to an anything but trivial event. The memorial and museum are excellent to visit and the staff is wicked helpful.

I ended the day with a trip to the other roof of the world, Taipei 101. This has been the most awkward moment of my life in Taiwan. First, you are greeted by a Taiwanese who speaks fluent English in a British accent. Calming classical music plays in the background as you are ushered into a queue (line, for you non-Britons). You are handled my police in dress uniforms and ushers in tuxedos. Most of your fellow tourists are dressed in their sunday best and I complemented them with my worn hiking boots, grubby pants, and Mountain Hardwear shirt, I was out of place. The elevator doors swish open, you pass through metal detectors and enter into another world. The doors close. The lights go out. You look up. You see the stars. Like I said another world, Charlie’s glass elevator, anyone? A 47 second ride later you come into a wide observation deck. The views are spectacular and are ruined as an usher approaches you telling you about the latest deals on food, coffee, and audio tour. I was fortunate in that I got to go out onto the outside observation deck. The wind howled past, and I felt on top of the world. If (when?) you come to Taiwan, go to the top of Taipei 101. It’s a great opportunity, and the watching the sunset/the city lights coming one was a tremendous experience. Just mind the ushers and prepare to feel every ounce the tourist. 

Back to the grind and no central heating. 50 degrees never felt so cold.

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