Lost in Taipei Main Station, Rainy Weather of Taipei, and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall: Welcome to Taiwan

Despite that Taiwan and Philippines are close in terms of location; Taiwan has never been on top my travel bucket list. Aside from the Taiwanese dramas and movies (Meteor Garden as the famous one) I watched way back when I was still in high school/college, there was not much information I knew about this country. And back then, I thought that people from Taiwan and China are the same — kind of rude. Add to that was the visa we, the citizens of the Philippines, need to have for us to travel to Taiwan.

But then, thanks to Coldplay concert. I found the interest and reason to visit this country. So there I was, booked a ticket to Taiwan 4 months before the travel. Prior to my trip, I searched for the places to visit in Taiwan, and boy was I surprised that this country, despite being a small nation, has a lot of activities to offer. Due to this reason, I ended up not buying Coldplay concert ticket and just focused on traveling to different places in Taiwan that I found appealing. I love Coldplay but I can’t stand too much crowd. Just thinking about the number of people that will attend the said concert already suffocates me. Heck, I was afraid that I might pass out during the concert.

Armed with just two Chinese words I know — xie xie and ni hao, I embarked on a journey all alone to this Chinese speaking country.

From Taoyuan International Airport, I boarded the train that would bring me to the capital city of Taiwan — Taipei city. I arrived at Taipei Main station, confused and lost. The said station, after all, was really huge. I had a hard time looking for the coin lockers and the train I was supposed to hop on going to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. But then after some minutes of struggle, I finally succeeded.

I arrived at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and welcomed by the rain. Not a great travel vacation I was expecting. But nobody can stop this determined and adventurous soul. Without any umbrella or rain coat, I ran with all my strength to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and found a place to rest and drink my banana milk.

Built in memory of Chiang Kai Shek — former president of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai Shek memorial hall is Taiwan’s national monument and landmark. A must visit, I must say.

In Chinese character, the roof is shaped like the character for person and points up into the sky, representing the “joining of heaven and man”. There are 89 steps at the front but I didn’t climb it, thinking that I would be back on the next days to visit this place again (but I ended up not visiting it again). Also, it was raining quite hard. By the way, this number of steps represent the age of President Chiang Kai Shek when he passed away. Over all, this was built with commemorative meaning and Chinese traditional thought.

Also, the structure is framed on the north and south by the National Theater and National Concert Hall. These two structures, like the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, are sights to behold too. The architectural concept of the place as a whole must have definitely been well thought of. Of course, it should be. We’re talking of a well respected leader here.

After the tiresome tour around this hall, I decided to go to Ximending to grab some lunch. Ximending is known as the Harajuku of Taiwan, and as a Japan lover that kind of interest me. While exploring the place, the rain just won’t stop and it was actually making me a bit mad and disappointed of visiting this country. I even lose the interest of taking a picture. Heck, I was already having the thoughts whether going to Taiwan was a good choice to spend the Holy Week. I was tired, sleepless and the weather of Taiwan was not helping at all.

I left the place, boarded the train back to Taipei Main Station, claimed my backpack, went to find my hostel which by the way took me more than an hour before I found it, and slept until 6 AM on the next day.

That time, I kind of came up with the conclusion that I made a bad decision of traveling to Taiwan.

But that thought was changed on the next days. Taiwan amazingly surprised me.