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Friday, June 6, 2014

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall 中正纪念堂 @ Taiwan

Chiang Kai Shek (CKS) Memorial Hall is one of Taipei's most popular and distinctive hallmark. Following CKS's death in 1975, the 70-metre tall memorial hall is built and opened five years later as a tribute to commemorate his great contributions to the Republic of China. The landmark has two flights of stairs with 88 steps (the age when CKS passed on) and is framed with lush gardens, and two other buildings of grandiose - National Theater and National Concert Hall.

Directions to CKS Memorial Hall

1. Take the MRT to CKS Memorial Hall, exit from Exit 5.

Such a big building is hard to be missed. Admission is free.

The stairs look short until you climbed it.

To be honest, I don't have much knowledge about Chinese history, but apparently CKS moved his office to Taiwan after China fall into the hands of the communists in 1950. His total reign was from 1928 until his passing in 1975, qualifying him as the longest serving ruler of all-time.

The view from CKS Memorial Hall was nothing less than magnificent. Gardening works were in placed, otherwise there would be red flowers lining the green gardens. The exterior of the hall, blue and white, together with the red flowerbeds, signifies the colours of Taiwan.

Inside the memorial hall, a grand bronze-statue of the man himself greets all visitors, with the words "Ethics, Democracy, and Science" inscribed on the walls behind, and on the side wall, "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."

Every hour, there will be a changing-of-guards ceremony with many tourists awaiting this moment. The Taiwanese infantry, navy and air forces take their turns every four months or so, so do expect different uniforms when you drop-by at different times of the year.

Just look at the number of cameras being whipped out when the soldier marches. I'm not gay, but I gotta admit that most of them are handsome and hold themselves with chivalry and pride.

Being a guard of this caliber is not an easy job, they have to stand still for almost an hour and then follow-up with a 10-minute parade where they do formations, drills with lots of banging and stomping of their boots and the guns.

Besides the main hall, there are several display rooms where they feature paintings, monuments, manuscripts, and other artifacts based on CKS's life. A gift shop is available if you want to get some souvenirs back. Also, guided tours are available, but you do have to check their timings.

In 2007, President Chen Shui Bian renamed the plaza "Liberty Square" (自由廣場) and the memorial hall as a dedication to Taiwan's democracy. However, kuomintang officials kaobei kaobu (were unhappy) about the renaming of CKS memorial hall, so they subsequently restored it to the original name upon both parties affirmation.

And, obviously, pictures of yourself with the famed hall are mandatory.

And also, either the concert or theater halls (both actually looks the same).