In Cambodia they have the Buddhist and Hindu temples, in Japan there are temples and shrines. In Taiwan they have memorial halls, erected to commemorate some of their greatest historical leaders. In my short time in Taiwan, I was able to visit two of these—Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek—two of the most popular tourist spots in Taipei. I know I promised to do slow traveling and to stay away from the tourists spots as much as possible, but I’m allowed to break my own rule. Besides, if you are only given 4 days in a country, you should forget about slow traveling, that ain’t possible. So what’s so special about these two memorial halls that locals and foreigners alike like to visit them?
In Xinyi District you can find the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. It can be easily reached by train, in fact, one of the MRT Stations is named after it due its location. Before this trip, I don’t know anything about Sun Yat-sen, I just went with the suggested of my friend, Christine. Because she didn’t have her own WiFi we had a little bit of miscommunication and I ended up at Nangang Exhibition Center, which is the last station of the Blue Line. Good thing the fare is not that expensive and it’s easy to use the MRT, lest I’d be depressed.
So after my little “joy ride,” Christine and I finally met at Sun Yat-sen Station. We started walking, and I had no idea where we were going. Christine had been in Taiwan a week before me so she is more familiar with the area; hence I let her decide where we should go.
We grabbed coffee, I had noodles in a 7-Eleven where we also chatted for a bit, before we set out to go to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.
So who is Sun Yat-sen?
Good question. I had no idea either.
Until this trip of course. Sun Yat-sen is the national father and the first president of the Republic of China. Born in 1866, Sun was a Chinese physician, writer, philosopher, calligrapher, and revolutionary. Being the founding father of China, he is revered as one of the greatest leaders of modern China. Sun’s greatest legacy is the Three Principles of the People, a political philosophy that promotes nationalism, modern government, and people’s livelihood.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall was built in 1972 in his memory. It’s a multi-purpose multi-purpose social, educational, and cultura center for the public center. The place is big, with a land area of about 28.4 acres. It’s most prominent feature is the humongous sitting Sun Yat-sen statue by the main entrance hall. It would remind you a lot of that Abraham Lincoln statue. There is a formal changing of guards every hour, which we weren’t able to see.
In the memorial hall’s proximity you will find the Chung-shan Park, with a beautiful garden and an Emerald Pond known locally as Lake Cui.
Interesting Fact: China has their own Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chung-shan Park.
From Sun Yat-sen you can see another famous Taiwanese landmark, Taipei 101. Christine and I didn’t feel the need to go up there; we were okay with just taking some photos with it in the background.
I wasn’t really planning to go to Chiang Kai-shek though most of my friends recommended it. But the Tour me Away Taipei Chillout tour that I joined included CKS in the itinerary so I was able to visit it by accident. About Tour me Away, let’s talk about that next time.
This memorial hall was built in tribute to another former president of the Republic China, Chiang Kai-shek. He was was a Chinese political and military leader and he was the president of China from 1928 to 1975. He was the leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), a Chinese Nationalist Party. The lost of KMT from the communists in the civil war forced CKS to flee China and to begin a government in exile in Taiwan. This is the reason why many countries consider Chiang’s government as the legitimate Chinese government.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is located in Zhongzheng District. The roof of this memorial hall is of octagonal shape to represent the number 8, which according to Chinese tradition is linked to abundance and good fortune. There are two sets of stairs leading up to the main entrance with 89 steps because CKS died at age 89.
Just like in the Sun Yat-sen memorial hall, there is a big statue of Chiang inside this building. Tourists like to watch the guarding mounting ceremony here, and I happen to have witnessed it when I visited.
Both memorial halls can be visited free of charge. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is open daily from from 09:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except Chinese New Year Eve and Chinese New Year. The Memorial Park on the other hand is open everyday from from 05:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall on the other hand is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.