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  Taiwan's National Chemistry Olympiad (15th NChO)(16th NChO)Chinese)

  Taiwan Directory                   Holidays and Festivals in Taiwan

  The Taipei City

 Taipei Railway Station

Just north of the 2-28 Peace Park, you can enter a little area of cram schools and coffee shops, where students from all over Taiwan congregate to study furiously for their college entrance exams. Continuing north, you'll reach the shops, department stores and luxury hotels surrounding the Taipei Railway Station.

The station is the hub of traffic throughout northern Taiwan, connecting all the train lines departing the capital with the Tamsui MRT line, buses to points throughout the greater metropolitan area, and express buses to Taoyuan's CKS International Airport. As you might expect, its a beehive of activity almost any time.

Directly opposite Chunghsiao West Road is northern Taiwan's tallest building, the Shin Kong Life Insurance Building, home of the upscale Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store. Towering above the rest of the Taipei skyline, the building features an observatory on the top story. Next door to the Mitsukoshi is the Asia World Department Store, and next to it, the Hilton Hotel.

Tihua Street

Historical old Taipei stretches north of the train station. Its primary attraction is Tihua Street. Running parallel to the Tamsui River, it was once the off-loading point for boats carrying goods back and forth from the sea. In time, as the mouth of the Tamsui silted over, the Tamsui harbor become incapable of accommodating large vessels. Keelung took its place as the principal port of northern Taiwan, and Tihua diminished in stature as well. But it never completely lost the aura of its by-gone glory.

More than any other area of Taipei, Tihua Street affords the feeling of stepping back in time. Long a center of the Hakka community in Taipei, it overflows with traditional dry goods, candies, flowers, teas and spices. As the Chinese New Year approaches, Tihua Street explodes with life, as crowds of shoppers descend upon the market's countless shops, scooping up treats for the holidays.

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The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Heading directly east from the Presidential Palace down Ketagalan Boulevard (recently renamed in honor of one of northern Taiwan's major groups of plains aborigines), you'll encounter the old East Gate of Taipei, and just beyond it, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

At the very center of this large complex is the memorial hall proper, featuring an enormous statue of ROC president Chiang Kai-shek. The entire grounds include sculpted gardens, two splendid goldfish ponds, the National Concert Hall and the National Theater, making it both a focal point of cultural activities and a much-visited green space within the city.

It's also the most favored backdrop for couples about to be married, who can be seen there on almost a daily basis, posing for formal photographs in full gowns and tuxedos. Directly opposite the south entrance of the memorial hall, the entire side of Aikwo East Road is occupied by wedding photo salons.

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 Ta-an Forest Park

                         

A block east of Yungkang Street, you'll find the biggest and newest park in downtown Taipei. Right next to the corner of Hsinyi Road and Hsinsheng South Road stands an enormous bronze statue of the goddess Kuanyin that predates the park itself. Like the name implies, the Ta-an Forest Park is dedicated first and foremost to trees, although they left space for plenty of grass. It also features a great outdoor performance stage that is the current favorite venue for rock and pop music concerts. The park is a favored hangout of in-line skaters.    

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Yuanshan

Heading north from the Taipei Train Station, you'll end up following Chungshan North Road, another gathering point for wedding photo boutiques. The road leads all the way north to Tienmu, but first it passes Yuanshan, a small mountain forming a natural threshold between downtown and northern Taipei.

Once this promontory was the site of the official Japanese provincial Shinto shrine, which was torn down in 1945 and replaced by the imposing Grand Hotel, built in imperial style by President Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling. Taipei's oldest luxury hotel and most noticeable landmark, the Grand still retainsa certain magnificence. Whether or not you stay here, relaxing with a cup of tea in the presenceof classical artwork from the National Palace Museum is a treat you can get nowhere else.

The Yuanshan area also is home to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, and the Kid's Play World, one of the best places in Taiwan to take your children.

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Waishuanghsi

            

East of Tienmu is the cozy mountain community of Waishuanghsi. This neighborhood of hard-to-reach villas is a great back door to Yangmingshan National Park, but its greatest renown is its most prominent resident - the National Palace Museum.

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The Eastern District

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Follow Chunghsiao East Road (near the Kuanghua Market) to the prominent Sogo Department Store, and you've found the Tinghao area, where Taipei's Eastern District begins. Up until the 1970s, east Taipei was mostly rice paddies. Now it is some of the priciest real estate on the planet, crowded with upscale fashion boutiques, piano bars, models and millionaires.

The epicenter of the East District is the intersection of Chunghsiao and Tunhua South Road, but the fashion strip keeps running down Chunghsiao all the way to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.

The entire East District starts as far south as Hoping East Road and extends as far north as the Sungshan domestic airport. Tying it all together is Tunhua Road. Flanked by blocks of brightly lit stores, restaurants and apartments, and embellished down the middle by its broad, tree-lined median, Tunhua makes a mockery of those false reports of Taipei as an unsightly city.

Close to the traffic circle where Tunhua meets Jenai Road is the main branch of the Eslite Bookstore, open 24 hours a day, where the insomniac crowd can be found leafing through magazines and novels at any given three o'clock in the morning. This is also a great place to pick up English-language books, particularly ones on things Chinese and Taiwanese.

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