Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂) - Shilin Official Residence (士林官邸站) - Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) - Banqiao (板橋) - 2016 Christmasland in New Taipei City (新北市歡樂耶誕城) [Travel in Taiwan 161202: Houseguests #1 and #2 Part I]


On the first night of December 2016, two women on board a Cebu Pacific plane flew from Manila to visit Taipei. They were so excited to see Taiwan and experience the wonderful things on this island. But unlike other tourists who doesn’t have a place called home to sleep, these Filipinos stayed in my house for three days and two nights. They had become my Travel Buddies as I toured them around the city. With their visit my house was transformed into a homestay. I became their host and they were my houseguests.

Their plane landed at the Taoyuan International Airport at around 1:00 am. Having been to Korea, my friends benefited from the online visa application given to Filipinos. The old policy states that only valid travel documents from first world countries like Japan and USA can be used to visit Taiwan without a visa. With the expanded rules for Filipinos, they were able to enter Taiwan using their expired South Korean visa. Yehey!

To reach my home, they boarded Bus 1819 at airport and the two alighted at the East Gate of the Taipei Main Station. Since it was already past midnight and there were no MRT nor any TRA trains to take them to Nangang District, I told them to ride a taxi and wait for me at Exit 5 of the MRT Nangang Exhibition Hall Center. It was 2:00 am when they arrived at the meeting place. After waiting for five minutes, they saw a man holding an umbrella and the rest was history.

groupie with the Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall paifang

Travel Buddy Gueen and the National Concert Hall

Travel Buddy Avi and the National Theater

Avi and Gueen didn’t have much time to see all the attractions that Taipei and New Taipei has to offer so I took them first to Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall for a crash course in Taiwanese Tourism. Since my house was just walking distance of the MRT station, it became convenient for my friends to explore Taiwan. We boarded the MRT to CKS Memorial Hall Station and the gigantic buildings of the National Theater and National Concert Hall welcomed my Travel Buddies.

Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall.  It looked so small!
But it became larger as we got nearer to it! It was a huge building.

We climbed the stairs and we got a impressive view of the whole park.




An honor guard with the statue of Chiang-kai Shek

The two ladies were in awe of the giant “paifang” which serves as a gate to the whole park. The weather was cloudy and the blow of the cold wind reminded us that it was already winter. Inside the CKS Memorial Hall, two mighty honor guards stood on the sides of the giant statue of Chiang-kai Shek. They were standing there for an hour without moving like there was no tomorrow.

 After getting out of the MRT Shilin Station. Haha!

Human figures depicting various sports grace the entrance of the Shilin Official Residence. In 2017, Taipei will host the 29th Summer Universiade and it is great honor and pride for the city to host such event.




A Christmas tree decorated with tiny sunflowers

Travel Buddy Avi with the classic yellow sunflowers and the unusual dark yellow to black petals of the same flower.



Madame Chiang's rose garden was turned into a sunflower garden!
"Walking alone" in Shilin Official Residence

Flowers were still blooming in Taiwan during winter so I took them to Shilin where chrysanthemum and other blossoms bring life to the mansion complex of the CKS and his wife Madame Chiang. It was fun to watch my houseguests as they took pictures of themselves. They made cute faces as they pose with the flowers. Unfortunately, it was getting dark so our sightseeing in the Shilin Official Residence was cut short. 

The Shilin Official Residence was 300 meters away from the MRT Shilin Station.  We walked back to the MRT station and from there we walked again to reach the Shilin Night Market.  It was leisurely tour with the bright lights of the city adding sparkle to the cold winter night.

checking the okonomiyaki

the menu
Seafood noodles, oyster oyster omelet and pork rice 
A close up view of the oyster omelet



seafood noodles

the pork rice

We also ordered dumplings!
We searched for magnet souvenirs after eating our dinner.

A cute dog in one of the stores in Shilin Night Market.  It actually looked like a real stuff toy.
Travel Buddy Avi wanted to take it home.
After passing through that very long street lined with stores, we finally saw the MRT Jiantan Station.

We got hungry and thanks to the various food stalls and restaurants at the Shilin Night Market I was able to solve our problem at Taipei’s food capital. At the underground night market, we sat on one table of a restaurant and ordered two plates of oyster omelet, one order of dumplings, a big bowl of seafood noodles, a cup of pork rice and one coke in can for a total price of NTD 380. Avi and I were the ones who ate the oyster omelet while the other dishes were shared together with Gueen. Our orders seemed to be a light dinner but eating first the oyster omelet made my stomach full. Haha!

at Exit 3A of the MRT Banqiao City Hall Station
at the Station Front Plaza of New Taipei City Hall
We were waiting for the 3D lights show which happened every 30 minutes.
Let the show begin.




The 3D show was projected on the tall building of the New Taipei City Hall







Gueen had been dreaming to see the New Taipei City Christmasland in Banqiao and she was surprised to see the dazzling lights that adorned the Station Front Plaza of the New Taipei City Hall. There was even a model who was having her pictorial. Stepping outside of the Exit 3A of the MRT Banqiao Station was Taiwan’s giant Christmas tree at a height of 36 meters. It was so colorful and just like last year there was a 3D projection on it. But wait there’s more! The 30-storey city hall building of New Taipei City became part of the Christmas City as a five-minute 3D show was projected on its walls. It was a lovely sight and had the Christmas feel minus the “belen” , “puto-bumbong” and “simbang gabi”.

We were back home before midnight. After taking a rest, the two went to my bedroom to sleep. They locked the door and I felt that I was ousted on my own house. lol (To be continued…)


Travel in Taiwan 161202: Houseguests #1 and #2 Part I
Travel in Taiwan 161204: Houseguests #1 and #2 Part II
2017 Sakura Series - Taiwan
2017 Sakura Series - Japan
2016 Sakura Series - Taiwan
Taipei Attractions
New Taipei Attractions
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