Liberty Square (自由廣場) is a public plaza covering over 240,000 square meters in the Zhongzheng District of Taipei, Taiwan. Liberty Square serves as a major site for public gatherings in Taipei and is home to three major landmarks as well as civic parks. At the east end of Liberty Square stands the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The square is flanked by the National Concert Hall on the north and the National Theater on the south. A park surrounds the plaza and a wall surrounds the site. The square sits within sight of the Presidential Office Building. The name of the square recalls the important historical role it played in Taiwan's transition from one-party rule to modern democracy in the 1990s. [Edited and condensed from Wikipedia.]
This aerial view taken from Taiwan Explorer greatly aids in visualizing the whole area. The link provided also includes easy-to-read information and photos of the whole area.
We were first greeted by the sight of the National Theater (國家戲劇院).
Walking past the National Theater, we reached the open area and saw the National Concert Hall (國家音樂廳) right across.
The Gate of Integrity which supposed to bear the words "大中至正" from what I researched also bore the words "自由廣場" which means Liberty Square.
I was a little confused by how I did not get to see the words "大中至正". Still am. The words "大中至正" could probably on the other side of the gate.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which faced The Gate of Integrity, stood up prominently with its white marble building.
And as if the above orientation isn't enough, let's rotate around the middle spot of the open area as we view the surroundings! You have no idea how excited I was to find this spot empty and then having people doing the exact same thing I did after that.
North: National Concert Hall
South: National Theater
East: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
West: The Gate of Integrity
Video version of the rotating here. Pardon my hubby trying to act silly in the background and trying to worm his way into my video at the end.
(I've been trying to remove the slightly grey cast and borders around this pic when uploaded onto blogger. The original photo has got no problem at all. Grr...)
~*Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall*~
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (traditional Chinese: 中正紀念堂; simplified Chinese: 中正纪念堂) is a famous monument, landmark and tourist attraction erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China.
The Memorial Hall is white with four sides. The roof is blue and octagonal, a shape that picks up the symbolism of the number 8. The number 8 is traditionally associated in Asia with abundance and good fortune. Two sets of white stairs, each with 89 steps to represent Chiang's age at the time of his death, lead to the main entrance. The ground level of the memorial houses a library and museum documenting Chiang Kai-shek's life and exhibits related to Republic of China-era Chinese history, and Taiwan's history and development. The main hall sits on the upper level where a large statue of Chiang Kai-shek is located, and where a guard mounting ceremony takes place in regular intervals. [Edited and condensed from Wikipedia.]
I would love to have P.E lessons out of school compound like these students too! It definitely puts the fun into running.
The huge door leads to the main hall.
While facing the door, behind us was this beautiful scene of Liberty Square.
An emblem of the Taiwan flag was on the ceiling.
Reading from right to left, the characters behind Chiang Kai-shek's statue read "Ethics", "Democracy", and "Science".
The inscriptions on the side read "The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity" and "The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe".
Chiang Kai-shek is known by multiple names. His official name is pronounced Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek in Cantonese), as well as the name Zhongzheng (中正), most commonly used to refer to Chiang Kai-shek. The Chinese name of the hall is in reference to this name, as is the countless Zhongzheng Roads found all over the island.
Having walked for the whole damn day, we simply spent the rest of the evening sitting on the white steps and engaged in people-watching from afar.
As usual, we hadn't done enough research to know what time the flag lowering was. We thought we had missed the hourly changing of guards and were simply resting on the steps when lo and behold, we saw the guards marching towards the flag pole! We hurriedly ran down the stairs to catch the flag lowering ceremony.
In strict military fashion, the guards' move was synchronized and syncopated by foot stomps and rifles. This video shows them marching towards the flag pole.
The guards were really tall and were almost of the same height. Their towering height made them look really suave and smart.
This video shows them lowering the flag.
This video shows them marching back.
I think those security guys in suits are so cool!
I love the little Chinese girl in red. She is just too cute. I was just hoping that she would face me long enough to capture a shot of her.
We decided to call it a day at Liberty Square and exited from the area via the Gate of Piety (大孝門).
Could we have such crossings in Singapore too?
In just 10 minutes, darkness crept over the city. Yup, 10 minutes passed from the previous picture to this.
~*Shida Night Market*~
We decided to end the day at a night market coz what else is Taiwan famous for but their night markets full of delectable Taiwanese snacks? Shida Night Market (師大夜市) was the nearest to where we were.
Shida is located in one of the most trendy neighborhoods in Taipei between two biggest universities in Taiwan, namely Shida 師大 (short for National Taiwan Normal University) and Taida 台大 (short for National Taiwan University).
Thus, it is geared more to the young adult crowd. As what some of my friends and websites say, the highlight of the experience is the plethora of trendy, inexpensive shopping choices, rock bars, cafés, and restaurants around the area. It certainly didn't look like those normal night markets I often see on variety shows.
I was so surprised to see pets being sold at the night market. Fortunately, we were in Taiwan. Should we be in another (AHEM) country, I would have feared that those kittens and puppies are meant to be slaughtered for food. I hope these little babies would go to responsible owners.
Since there was a long queue at this stall, the food had to be good.
This was our very first night market food in Taipei -- savoury crepe of mushrooms and ham. Totally western!
How could we miss out on salted crispy chicken (鹽酥雞) in Taiwan?
We saw many locals queuing up at this stall which is a sure indication that the food might be good.
The food reminded me of Yong Tau Foo back in Singapore and so we gave this a miss.
We ended buying predominantly Taiwanese food for dinner which consisted of some stuffed dishes with rice cakes and soup.
When in Taiwan, drink bubble tea! I was told by my friends that bubble tea in Taiwan whether famous or not would taste better than anywhere else in the world. I was craving for matcha and settled this craving at Cha Fan (茶番). "Fan" in Mandarin is pronounced as the "ah" sound like the English word "fun" and not the "air" sound like the English word "fan". Nevertheless, I wondered if the word "番" (fan) after the word "茶" which means tea, is really a pun on the English word "fan". As in you know, tea fan... a fan of tea.
If so, call me a Tea Fan!
This post concludes Day 1 of Taipei. Click the hyperlinks for Day 1 Part 1 and Part 2. I would be taking a break from posting about Taipei for the next few days as you might just be tired of seeing Taipei, Taipei and more Taipei. In actual fact, I've to catch up on other stuff so I would update my blog with filler posts next.