Saturday, July 24, 2010

Top 5 things we wanted to blog about but never found the time...

#1 101

We visited what was, until a few months ago, the tallest building in the world. Now surpassed, by the Burj Dubai, Taipei 101 still holds claim to the highest observation deck and the fastest elevators. Lilly and went to the top at around 8pm and got a wonderful view of night time Taipei all lit up. It was so beautiful we didn't mind it was only the second tallest building...

#2 7-Eleven.

One would not be blogging about Taiwan if one did not blog about 7 Eleven. This convenience store is seemingly on every block. There seems to be one shop for every man woman and child on the island. When ever Lilly and I would get tired or thirsty we could seek refuge in the air conditioning or get ourselves a cold drink. Luckily they are open 24 hours and even have a mascot named "Open". You can see him below. We spent as much time in these stores as we did museums of temples.

#3 Temples

As we visited more temples we became more interested in the particularities of Taiwans religious culture. It is a fascinating mixture of Taoism, Buddhism, and local belief. Consider these imaes from shrines to Mazu a figure from Taoist belief who has become a kind of patron saint of fisherman and ships. In these temples is was common to also see Buddhist altars. Or occassionally there would be altars to real historical figures such as Koxinga a Ming general who defeated the Dutch in the 15th century. Fascinating stuff wish we had more time.
#4 Roads
As we have taken buses across the island we have been suprised with how massive the highway system is (especially on the western side of the island). You can see how an immense network of elevated highways criss cross the rice fields or cut through the mountain valleys. There is an untold story in the creation of Taiwan's infrastructure.
#5 Tribes

Taiwan is home to dozens of tribal groups (both recognized by the government and unrecognized). To really understand Taiwan and its history one has to know about the indigenous peoples. They kept the island more or less out of imperial hands for centuries (Chinese, Japanese, or European). The Japanese only took the Island in 1895. Lilly and I have been particularly fascinated by the traditions and stories of the various tribes. Above is a parade in Taitung of local tribes (mostly Ami and Yami) perfoming dances. Below I'm sitting with a group of school children learning about the Paiwan tribe at an Ethnography museum in Taipei. There is so much interesting material and not enough time.

You also note on the side of the blog I made a sporkle quiz to help memorize the recognized tribes of Taiwan. It still need work but you can try it while I work out the kinks.

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