Sunday, June 16, 2013

Halfway Through!

Hello! I cannot believe it, but I have one more week of the internship, then the BACT program starts! I can't wait to meet everyone! I have been getting a lot of emails lately from the program's director/corespondent here at NTU; about last minute details, what to bring, itinerary, etc. In one of the emails, he sent out a list of who will be going, and there are a couple people from Europe, Singapore, USA, china, and also from here in Taiwan. So stoked! But, with all the excitement about the program, it also means that I'm nearing my trip's halfway mark. Time has flown so fast; a month has past and I already have a special place in my heart for this island.

So since I have been living here, I really haven't gone to all of the "touristy" spots. Only because I have been busy with work, and just everyday life. The places I have gone were kind of off the beaten path. So this weekend, one of my good friends from church took me all over Taiwan to find some of the toursity spots! We were on a mission to visit these three spots before we had to turn in for the night. We took the mrt, starting at the Gongguan station (near the university) and made our way to Taipei City Hall stop, which is near our destination, the famous Taipei 101 building. But, we first wanted to go to National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, which is a huge area that is in the surrounded by the city. It houses two temples, and one gigantic monument. The whole area was surrounded by these white walls that were decorated on the top with blue Chinese awnings.  Inside, there was absolutely beautiful. A long pathway cut the area in half, with the two identical temples on either side, and at the end was the prevalent monument building. There was some "Discovery channel army" display going on in the entrance, so there was a lot of people crowding around to see the tanks, and weapons. But that was okay, because then there weren't as many people near the actual monument. I was in awe. The amount of detail on some of the statues, and roofs of these buildings were amazing. This was only our first stop, but I think it was my favorite.

We then jumped in a taxi (they are everywhere! maybe not as much as new york, but pretty close!) and headed to the Taipei 101 tower, which was only a couple minutes away, but because it was the weekend, it was crazy driving there. I still can't get over how crazy the roads are here. I would be so scared going out and actually driving, the motorcycles zoom in every crevasse (no wonder why the driving age is a little higher than in the USA; 18 yrs old). Tallest building I have ever seen, when we got to the base of the tower, the whole building wouldn't fit in my camera frame, haha! But pretty much the tower is a huge high-end shopping center. The stores included Prada, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana,  and other places I would never be able to buy anything from lol. But we had to buy a ticket to go up on the elevator. The elevator, is actually the fastest elevator in the whole world! We went from the base floor to the 91st in 46 seconds if i remember right. It was actually the smoothest elevator I've been on... in fact, I didn't even think we were moving until my ears were popping! Just like going up in the air on an airplane, but it was so weird!!! At the top, it was so neat. There were many shops where you could buy souveniers and such, they even had an ice-cream shoppe, so i tried a little taste :). But the view was so cool. Taiwan does have trouble with smog sometimes, so it was alittle hazy. But it seemed like we were directly looking down at all of the building's rooftops. So this is what a bird sees! We walked around the whole floor, there was even a little area where you could go outside, so we took a peek. At one side, there was a sign that showed a picture of who i thought looked a lot like the actor Will Smith. And sure enough, it was haha. It turns out him and his son came to this tower a month ago! I guess a lot of people here know who they are, because the Smith's got a cool little poster to commemorate their stay here lol. On the way down we had to walk down a couple flights of stairs and floors to be able to use the elevator. But what I thought was pretty cool is that the floors where people had to go through to get down, there were many high end jewelry shops and high end food shops as well. Who wouldn't want to work here! that would be the coolest job to say you work on one of the top floors at this tower, selling food or necklaces! But anyways, we headed back to the mrt to try and make it to one more place, Dansui!

Dansui is an area right next to the river, it has many seafood specialty shops and stalls, as well as a lot of stores with little nicknaks and such. We were really hungry so we first found a small place to eat, I had some seafood fried rice, something simple.  Then we walked around, to look at the shops and food stalls. There was one thing that looked pretty awesome. There was soft serve icecream, but the height of this icecream was proabably 2 feet tall!!! It was amazing to see so many people walking around with this cone, and not dropping any of the icecream! Next time i'll get one for sure! But the lights on the water were beautiful. There were still ferries out and about, even though it was already dark. There was even a concert going on near the end of the shops. Dont know who it was, but there were a lot of screaming fans in the audience. So I got a pic from the side of the stage, just look below. We were about to leave but we noticed that every one was just standing still, almost as if they were waiting for something to happen. So we stopped and what do you know, there were fireworks out on the water! I guess because I'm going to miss 4th of July fireworks in America, this was my replacement. But they were so close! Only a couple meters away was the floating 'islan' that housed all of the fireworks. I've never been so close to fireworks before, I guess usa is a little more stricter with regulation the use of these things. But they were a perfect ending to am awesome day!
the entrance to the memorial!

Taipei 101!

the view from the 91st floor!

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