About 9am we backed into the dock at Keelung, the port city for Taipei, Taiwan, today’s port of call. And, I do mean backed. From just outside the breakwater the ship backed the entire way into the harbor and to the dock. While a tug was watching, there was no contact; the ship just used thrusters to make its way into port — backward. Amazing to watch.
Because of the late arrival, morning was more relaxed than at other ports. My excursion today was about six hours with no meals so I ate breakfast planning for no lunch which has become rather common on the ship. That excursion was popular as we had six bus-loads of people going on it; I was on bus blue 14, the second of the six. The bus here had a back door which I like because with some luck (like today) I can get the seat right behind the back door and have a full window for photos in front of me and, if I’m lucky, even take photos across the aisle through those windows. Only partly lucky today; I got the seat by the window but had to give up holding the aisle seat and across the aisle the window had a big “emergency exit” painted on it. Still good though as it turned out the person who sat next to me worked on the space shuttle about the same time as I did so we shared stories. Small world.
The drive from Keelung to Taipei was about an hour. Our first stop was a photo stop for pictures of the Taipei 101 Building; once, not long ago, the tallest building in the world. It is now the second tallest and points out an error in my Shanghai post. Their financial center is actually the third tallest and not the second tallest. Interesting year in that I’ve now see the three tallest buildings in the world at widely diverging spots in the world in the same year.
Our next stop was to spend some time at the Lungshan Temple which was built during the Ching dynasty and is devoted to the Goddess of Mercy. There are many more gods and goddesses at the temple but I have to try to figure out who’s who when I get back; it was impossible to follow the guide and even if I could have understanding and recording him for later analysis would have taken all my attention. For now I’ll be content keeping the pictures aside; even the many photos of the dragons that were all over the temple. 🙂
From there we stopped for an hour or so at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and site of the National Theater and National Concert Hall. All impressive and beautiful in their own ways as you can see from the two photos here.
Chiang Kai-Shek was a figure revered much like Lincoln is in the United States. The statue of him on the fourth floor of the memorial building is very large and is guarded by two military men trained to ignore any attempt to steal their attention; yet they keep watch at all times. Very impressive.
The grounds the memorial sits on also house the National Theater and National Concert Hall. Both of these buildings are built with the classic overhanging roof design of an oriental building.
We finally visited the Taipei Handicraft Center, a high-end location for artists to sell their wares. While I saw a few things that might have fit with my decorations I did not buy anything as I could not find the one thing that I might have bought: a pair of good chopsticks decorated with dragons. All the chopsticks seem to have flowers on them if they are decorated at all. A plain pair with a dragon to lean them against so they don’t touch the table would also be acceptable. Maybe at the Stanley Market in Hong Kong, our next stop after a sea day.
The temperature is going up as we head further south. Today it was a warm 78F or so and promises to be warmer in places like Viet Nam and as we cross the Pacific coming home. To that end, I’ve already vacuum packed my cold-weather clothes. It’s shorts and T-shirts for most things from now on.