Taiwan's National Chemistry Olympiad
and Festivals in Taiwan
Taipei Railway Station
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ta-an Forest Park
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
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
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.
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
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
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.