After three days in Taipei, we were beginning to get used to the persistent heat. When I said “get used to”, I basically meant that we simply accepted the facts that; One, there was no use to keep our shirts dry because it was not going to happen; Two, there was no point wiping our sweat because they would keep dripping down like going through a car wash. Three showers a day would not be enough for us. We were simply perspiring profusively, literally like pigs throughout the day.


After the day trip to Taipei 101 and Dr. Sun Y.S.’s Memorial Hall, we decided to visit the Guang Hua Shopping Centre to get a few memory cards for the cameras. In my old memories, I still had this impression of a dark old shopping area with many used book stores in the dingy basement under the bridge. On the contrary, I was surprised to find this new building of this electronics shopping centre quite nice, bright and airy.


We got to the shopping centre too early, one hour before the opening time. It was not fun to hang around an empty place. We were like two hungry kids outside a closed candy shop; we could only look in but couldn’t touch. No fun at all! Finally we found a shop that opened early and they did sell memory cards for the camera. Da Pong went for a card with 16 Mg., but little did we know that our camera would not read a card that big; anyway, that would be another story for another time.


Since only a handful of stores were open early, we hung around for a short while and left for the museum. While we were at the Centre, I made a quick phone call to Carlito to wish him a Happy Birthday. The phone call was short and I guessed I just caught him off guard. Anyway, it was good to talk to a real blog friend on the phone and we set a time to meet in person. Man, his Chinese is good!


We like to walk a lot, but it is a completely different story when walking in the sun, in the heat and looking for street names and bus stops. Two overweight people strolled on the street in Taipei with hats, shorts, running shoes, backpacks, hand towels and bottles of liquid in our hands. We somehow just didn’t fit into the 9 to 5 office crowds on the street. Yeah, we sure looked like two odd tourists with the word “tourist” stenciled all over our foreheads. Wherever we went, we had to ask people for directions to get to the subway or bus stops. I thought I was pretty good with reading maps, but I guessed we were direction-challenged in Taipei. Anyway, we walked all the way to the closest subway station from Guang Hua Shopping Centre and then on our way to the National Palace Museum.


Did I mention that I love the subway in Taipei? The subway system is very efficient and the stations are very clean. I wish all transportation means could be as convenient as the subway in Taipei. The only problem we had with the public transportation in Taipei would be a “cultural difference” problem-- the issue of “personal space”. You see, people in the city are used to crowded buses and trains, especially during the rush-hours. Da Pong, however, grew up in an environment that personal space has always been respected. His rule of thumb for the personal space is to keep the arm-length distance between him and the persons around him.


When Da Pong was on the bus or the subway, he would move away respectfully from others to keep that personal space. However, when other people see “more space” on the jam-packed bus, they automatically move towards that direction. Da Pong was surprised to discover that people would move into his “personal space” whenever he tried to move away from a crowded area. In the end, he would often be cornered into a tiny spot on the crowded bus which, of course, drove him nuts. He later declared to me that he would never get on a crowded subway cart or an over-crowded bus.


After the visit to Guan Hua Shopping Centre and a few bus rides later, we finally got to the National Palace Museum. The first thing that I saw when I got off the bus was the big residential condos across from the museum. There seems to be more and more developments every time when I visit the museum. The museum used to be so far out of town that only trees and hills adorned the museum, but now all those condos, which I assume are very expensive ones, are towering over the museum. Honestly, I was kind of sad. I think I just like my old memory about this place better.


Da Pong remembered the museum well, especially, the trees in the museum park. He always said that the evergreen trees there look so “Chinese”; i.e., the branches pointing up in clumps, which is very different from the evergreen trees we have in Canada. He thinks everything in Taiwan looks Chinese; the stray dogs’ faces look Chinese and even the fire hydrant looks Chinese. Duh!


In the heat of the sun, the steps leading to the museum seemed to be so long and high. We were really overheated and dehydrated when we got inside the building. You wouldn’t believe the “cool” feelings we got when we sat down on the bench inside the museum. Ah! What a relief! We love the National Palace Museum!


We would never get tired of the museum. In fact, we always enjoy the visit immensely. However, Da Pong had a mission this time. He wanted to study more on Chinese weapons. Unfortunately, the weapons on display, especially the swords, were quite limited this time. I guess the display is on rotation and changes every three months. His obsession with Chinese weapons would later dominate our trip in Taiwan.


After our visit to the museum, we originally planned to see a bu dai si, a hand puppet show by the Long San Temple in Wan Hua. We were quite excited about the Bu Dai Si Festival in Wan Hua. However, we were just too exhausted and ended up changing the plan and going home instead. We had to take it easy because we certainly did not want to get sick after just a few days in Taiwan.







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My Corner for Education

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