The former official residence of Chiang Kai-shek and Madam Chiang maintains a quiet and attractive garden. The garden is full of plums, chrysanthemums and roses favored by the Chiang couple. Flowers bloom according to season and make for a stunning view throughout much of the year.
The National Taiwan Science Education Center is a great place to learn about science, regardless of your age. The center in loaded with high-tech facilities, including a computer classroom and robot education center on the basement level. Life science and natural science displays are located on the third and fourth floor; material science, math, and earth sciences displays are on the fifth and sixth floors along with the `skyCycle,` where visitors can ride a bike 20 meters up in the air. And special exhibits from__ around the world are hosted on the seventh and eight floors. The displays include plenty of hands-on and interactive exhibits that make learning about science fun.
One of Mr. Lin Yutang’s most famous lines is “Like a woman’s skirt, the shorter the speech, the better.” He made this jest decades ago. Mr. Lin did not only translate the word “humor” into Chinese, but also promoted literature of humor. Famous for being a modern Chinese scholar writing in English, Mr. Lin was a linguist, philosopher, man of letters, traveler and creator. In 1966, Mr. Lin returned and resided in Taiwan. Designed by Mr. Lin, this house integrates the style of Chinese four-chamber architecture and Western aesthetics.
With blue tiles and white walls, arches and winding corridors, this house manifests the beauty of classical architecture. As to its site on Yangmingshan, it resembles his hometown in Fujian. When he was still alive, he could hear the dialect he was familiar with – Southern Fujianese, from__ time to time, giving him the feel of home. Once he described this house saying, “there is a yard in the mansion; house in the yard; garden in the house. There are trees in the garden, sky upon the trees and moon upon the sky. How marvelous it is.” Mr. Lin always came to the balcony. After dinner, he loved to sit on a rattan armchair smoking his pipe. Watching the sunset at Guanyin Mountain, you can also feel Mr. Lin’s serenity.
Shezi Park is located at the tip of a sandbar-islet at the confluence of the Keelung River and Tamsui River in Taipei. Just a hectare in size, the Lilliputian park offers an outsized view of the scenic riverside area. This green oasis was created by the Taipei City Government with sand and earth dredged from__ the Keelung River. The park facilities include stone and wood-plank walkways leading to a viewing platform that has also become a favorite spot for local fishermen. The park offers an excellent 270-degree view of the river confluence and surrounding area, including Guandu Temple to the right, the dazzling red Guandu Bridge spanning the Tamsui River, and Guanyinshan to the left. The park is also a popular foraging spot for little egrets, adding further to the scenic portrait here. To the left of the viewing platform you can also see a lush mangrove wetland area, echoing the ecology at Guandu Nature Park on the opposite bank. If you arrive during the low tide, you can also see the fiddler crabs busily scuttling through the mangroves.
Hailing from__ China’s Zhangzhou area, the ancestor of Kuo Yuan Ye immigrated to Taiwan in 1708 and started a bakery that ushered in a new era for Taiwanese pastry. Nestled by the Shilin Bridge, Kuo’s century-old family business was successfully revamped as a “historic pastry brand” by the 4 generations of owners. To preserve the prestigious brand’s historic assets accumulated over 100 years, Mr. Kuo founded Taiwan’s first pastry museum, offering further insight into how the Taiwanese pastry and ceremonial customs have evolved over the span of time. One year after the Yangmei museum was launched in 2001, Kuo Yuan Ye converted the 4th and 5th floors of its Shilin headquarters into “Kuo Yuan Ye Museum of Cake & Pastry”. Not only are the history of Taiwanese pastry and ceremonial traditions shown in an exhibit area, but the museum also offers hands-on baking experiences at the Joy Bakery and family-friendly events both in-and out-doors, in the hope that people of all ages will love and appreciate the art of Taiwanese pastry.
Qingtiangang Grassland (a.k.a. “Sun Valley”) is situated in the heart of the Datun Mountain Range. It is a flat, saddle-shaped area encircled by Mt. Zhuzi, Mt. Qigu, Mt. Ding and Mt. Huangzui that used to be a terrace formed by lava from__ Mt. Zhugao. Qingtiangang was designated by Japanese colonial rulers as the site of the Dalingzhi Ranch for tea-growing and cattle-herding purposes. After taking over Taiwan, the Chinese nationalist government established the Yangmingshan Ranch in the Qingtiangang /Lengshuikeng area, following the original Japanese tradition.
Once Taipei City was placed under the administration of the Executive Yuan, the Taipei City Farmers’ Association became responsible for the ranch operations, with the cattle herds on Qingtiangang being owned by farmers in Beitou, Shilin and Jinshan. With gently rolling meadows and dazzling verdancy, the evenly surfaced Qingtiangang is a wonderful outdoor classroom for grassland observation, and the most popular hiking destination in Yangmingshan National Park, with a foot path impressively lined with undulating grass and stumpy shrubs.
Yuanshan Water Shrine is located directly opposite MRT Jiantan Station and next to the Yangming District Business Office of Taipei Water Department. Following the cement steps, the Yuanshan Water Shrine can be seen next to a reservoir. The original stone lanterns, the stele marking the name of the shrine, the hand cleaning basin and a pair of Guardian Lion-Dogs guarding the shrine are preserved. The shrine was built during the Japanese Colonial Period; its layout is largely intact. It is conveniently located near MRT Jiantan Station. However, because this place is a well-kept secret, the Shrine has few visitors. There is also the Yuanshan Reservoir sitting on higher ground, which is an important water conservancy stage of the Grass Mountain Waterway System. Even though Yuanshan Water Shrine is only a street block away from__ the Shilin commercial district, it is a very quiet place filled with a primitive, simple, mysterious and yet comfortable ambience.
The Taipei Zoo is one of the ten largest municipal zoos in the world and the largest in Southeast Asia. Getting there is easy: just take the MRT Muzha Line southbound all the way to the terminal station. As the zoo is home to more than 400 animal species, rest assured there’s plenty to see! The zoo includes 7 indoor exhibits, each with different themes.At the Insectarium you’ll meet several butterfly species unique to Taiwan. Next, you won’t want to miss the hugely popular Koala House and Penguin House.
There are also two giant pandas from___ China! These animals are the Zoo’s resident celebrities, so be sure to check them out! The star of the zoo used to be the Asian Elephant “Grandpa Lin Wang,” who lived to the ripe old age of 86. Lin’s longevity—20 years older than most Asian Elephants—was hailed by zoologists as a miracle. After his death, Lin was stuffed and put on display, and now enjoys the distinction of being the world’s largest stuffed Asian Elephant! You can see him on display in the Education Center.
Apart from___ the indoor exhibits, the Taipei Zoo also features 8 outdoor exhibit areas. The latter are divided according to geographical environment, and possess educational value both as exhibits and ecological environments. The “Children’s Zoo,” “Formosan Animal Area,” and “African Animal Area” are the most popular, according to Internet voting. The Formosan Animal Area includes endemic species like Formosan sika deer, Taiwan macaque, and Swinhoe’s pheasant. These animals can only be found in Taiwan—definitely worth a look!
Zhinan Temple is located at the foot of Zhishan Mountain in Taipei`s Wenshan District. Built in 1890, the temple is dedicated to the Daoist immortal Lu Tung-pin, better known as Xiangong or Luzu. A scholar of the Tang period, Lu loved poetry and books. He successfully passed the provincial level imperial examination and became a county magistrate.
Because of his pious devotion to the Dao, Lu`s path crossed with that of the Daoist immortal Zhong Liquan, who showed him the way to enlightenment. Many mysterious and noble deeds were attributed to Lu, making him one of the best known and most-loved of the Daoist immortals in Taiwan.
Xiangshan derives its name from_ its external shape (“xiang” means elephant in Chinese) and is located at the south-eastern section of Xinyi District. Its composition is mainly sandstone, akin to that of Hushan. The tawny cliffs and giant rocks along the path, coupled with numerous natural life forms and birds, make the entire mountain resemble a natural ecological paradise.
It’s a great place for the general public to enjoy outdoor leisure time and bask in the beauty of nature. Along the trail there are explanatory sign boards providing information to visitors concerning the environment. The diversified cliff and slope terrains form a great nurturing ground for fern-family plants. In particular, the quantity of Taiwanese Cibotium (Cibotium taiwanianum) and Flying Spider-monkey Tree Fern (Cyathea lepifera) ranks top in Taipei City. Back in the days when medicine was not as advanced as it is today, Taiwanese Cibotium was commonly used to stop bleeding. The Flying Spider-monkey Tree Fern, on the other hand, is the most valuable ecological feature of Taipei City.
Standing on the top of Xiangshan, the entire Taipei Basin is right under your eyes. The extension of the ridge reaches into Zhongqiang Park of Xinyi District, and therefore has become the best evening stroll venue for local residents. It is also a great vacation spot for people to relax and relieve stress. The Six Giant Rocks “Laolaixia” is the name given to Xiangshan’s landscape of peculiar giant rocks. On top of these rocks, the entire view of the bustling Xinyi District is captured; it is a popular spot for photo-taking. The rising sun juxtaposed with Taipei 101 and the slumbering Xinyi District skyscrapers provide endless pictures of enjoyment throughout the day and night.
The 6.6-hectares Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei’s Xinyi District was completed in 1937 as the Songshan Tobacco Factory, which was one of the seed companies of a monopoly system mandated by the Taiwan Governor-General Office. The premises were one of Taiwan’s pioneers of modern industry, as well as the first professional tobacco plant. A gracefully simple Japanese modernist structure, the factory features meticulously crafted face cams, glasswork and bronze nails that made it arguably a “model factory” at that time. When Japan lost the war in 1945, the Taiwan Provincial Monopoly Bureau took over the factory and renamed it, Songshan Tobacco Factory of Taiwan Provincial Monopoly Bureau. The factory ceased production of cigarettes in 1998 for concerns over urban planning, regulatory changes in the tobacco and liquor marketing system, as well as shrinking demand. It became a relic of the past after being merged into the Taipei Cigarette Plant. In 2001, the Taipei City Government named the tobacco factory the city’s 99th historic site and converted it into a park comprising city-designated historic sites (namely the office building, the 1st to 5th warehouses, cigarette plant and boiler room), historic structures (the inspection room, a machinery repair shed and a nursing room) and architectural highlights (the Baroque-style garden, an ecologically landscaped pond, a public bath and a multi-purpose auditorium).
For more efficient reuse of space, the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park was built on the historic site as a production base for designers and cultural & creative businesses, as well as a venue for performances and exhibitions. The park introduced to its premises a Taiwan Design Museum and TMSK through partnerships with the Taiwan Design Center and prestigious Taiwanese glasswork label LIULI GONG FANG, respectively, besides a snack bar that was converted from____ the machinery repair shed.
At a corner in Taipei’s high-end Xinyi District, a few low-rise houses sit closely together. These somewhat crowded buildings chronicled the tears and joy of veterans who migrated to Taiwan in the early days. This is the former site of Taipei City’s Military Dependents’ Village, called the “Sisinan Village”. With the increasingly fast economic growth and the rising living standard, these old houses no longer serve the needs of the residents. The City Government initially planned to rebuild them in 1999. However, through persuasion from_ the cultural circles, the City Government designated this premise as the Cultural Hall and Cultural Park of Xinyi District, and started operation in 2003.
The Hall consists of four symmetrical buildings. The houses that sat tightly next to each other have been converted into an open space for events and exhibitions. The premise now consists of an exhibition hall, Military Dependents’ Village Exhibition Hall, performance hall and community hall. The exterior still retains the unique low-rise and the simple, rustic style of the Military Dependents’ Village. The narrow alleys and footpaths will take the visitors down memory lane. It is a fascinating contrast to the neighboring towering Taipei 101 and surrounding modern buildings, a compelling testimony of Taipei’s urban development.