On our last full day in Taiwan, we went to the National Palace Museum. Having seen the Smithsonian last year, we were ready to be amazed, as it we were aware NPM was known to be one of the largest displays of Chinese imperial artifacts in the world.
From the outside, it was spectacular, with its brilliant grounds and architecture, nestled amongst the picturesque mountains. We made our way through the rabbit warren of rooms, learning about Taiwan’s different dynasty’s as we went. The jewellery that was on display was special, and so vibrant in colour. We learned that jade is Taiwan’s national stone and is meant to bring the wearer good fortune. I was fascinated by the traditional scripture and how the writing is read and written vertically, rather than horizontally, as it is in English. Each character was so delicate I couldn’t imagine how anyone (let alone a young child) would remember each symbol and be able to differentiate them at the speed that we read and write.
We saw many temples and admired their cultural significance, including the Confuscious Temple, the Longshan Temple and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. They were busy places but worth visiting. Tourists attempted to fit the front of the temple and a face or two into the screen of their mobile phones, which reminded me of an article I had read on Mount Everest, and the crowds of people at the summit. It felt like the wrong place (at least to me) to be taking selfies. After seeing these, I must admit, the temples in Taipei were some of the most beautiful that I have ever visited.
I recently read that protests similar to those that are happening now in Hong Kong could possibly break out somewhere like Taiwan. The anti-government protests are against extradition laws held between Hong Kong and China, China being a communist nation. Protestors do not want this law to pass, fearing that it will be the end of civil rights for Hong Kong. I can’t imagine the beautiful streets of Taipei full of protest. It seems such a peaceful, organised city, much different to that of Hong Kong, which we visited on our way home back in April. But who’s to say what is likely to happen anywhere. We can only hope that something will be learned or changed as a result.
This is the last post in my series on Taiwan and I don’t like to leave it on such a serious note, but it is important that people realise that these protests are not so far away, and they involve people just like us fighting for what they believe. How would you feel if you were in a position like this?
Those of you who have read Part I, II, III and IV, I hope you have enjoyed reading what we got up to on our trip. Taiwan is a beautiful place, with so much to do and see and I would love to go back one day soon.