Friday, August 29, 2014

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall [中正紀念堂] & Its Change of Guards Ceremony @ Taipei [Taiwan]

The visit to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall might not have materialised if not for Kon, who insisted it's a must-do for any tourist to Taiwan! His only compromise was that i can choose between Chiang Kai-shek and Sun Yat-sun memorial halls.

Given the vastness and grandeur of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, it's not that hard for me to make a decision betwee the two especially when it was along the way to Jinfeng; known to serve the best luroufan in Taipei

Entering from Aiguo East Road, you would not miss this building with its traditional Chinese architecture that reminded me so much of my journey to the Forbidden Palace at Beijing

But this is Taipei and the building doesn't house the imperial families of ancient past; instead, it was built in 1980 as a home for the country's National Theatre. 

Catching the hourly change of guard ceremony was definitely one of the touristy things to do and i thought i was lucky to have caught it upon stepping into the square!

Turned out it was a group of greenhorns who were still being trained for the honourable position which involved standing in front of a statue in a motionless, expressionless state. 

Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness - the official main entrance to the National Theatre and the Concert Hall. Oh, i haven't shown you how the Concert Hall looks like!

Ta-dah! Frankly, i find it hard to differentiate the concert hall and national theatre from far!

A tentage was set up in the middle of the liberty square (known sometimes as Chiang Kai-shek Square though) for unknown reasons; it appeared to be a huge storage. 

Another dazzling photograph showing the national theatre.

The objective for my visit; the imposing Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall that was said to borrow the design from the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Alex could not resist doing this! Sorry for replacing his face with the smiley icon; the cannot-make-it photographer took a shot that didn't show him in a very good light.

Now you can see better the positions of the square in relation to the gate and the two buildings. Don't play play; it was the actual venue for many mass demonstrations in the past, including one that drew 22,000 participants in 1990! 

Climbed up a flight of stairs to reach the 70-meter high memorial hall; for the elderly and those with physically disabilities, there is a lift you can use. 

The elevated view in front of us! 

Weather that day was easily the hottest in my entire Taiwan trip and it was pleasantly relaxing to be seated in the shade while overlooking the impressive sight ahead. 

Ceiling of the hall; those with eagle-sharp eyes might have noticed a web across the entrance. That's a net to deter birds from flying into the hall.

Anyone can guess what this symbol is? It's the party logo for Kuomintang which continued to rule Taiwan till this date and was included as the national flag for Taiwan (on official records, it should be Republic of China).

Bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek with explanation of the Three Principles of the People inscribed right behind; Ethics, Democracy and Science. I shall not bore you with the details but if you are interested, click here

The guard, eh, guarding the statue. 

Since the change of guard would not take place for another half an hour, we proceeded to another level where we can be educated on the history for the memorial hall.

It was constructed to honour the contributions of the late Chiang Kai-shek after his death in 1975. A ground breaking ceremony was held in 1976 and the whole compound was eventually opened in 1980. 

Got back to the hall at 9.45am and the whole area was already cordoned off to facilitate the change of guard ceremony. By the way, the ceremony takes place every hour from 10am to 4pm (on Wednesdays, it would be till 6pm).

Such tall heels! Oh please, i definitely need them more than the guards! 

There was a short introduction about the hall before the ceremony officially began; notice the three guards coming from the right side of the picture?

It was a solemn affair although the hall wasn't as dead quiet as i expected it to be; not with so many "clicks clicks clicks" resonating throughout the area. 

Time for the "currently on duty" guards to step down from the platform with their high heels.

That metal piece on the sole made a hell lot of noise! 

Coordinated movements by the guards as part of the ceremony which was sometimes referred to as an acrobatic performance by some. 

I wasn't fascinated.

Until they got into the above position; finally there would be some exciting action! Are they going to bayonet one of their kind??!?!?!?

Obviously not; at this point, even Alex was asking if we could leave! Even though i wasn't impressed, their dedication and effort to perfect the movements were still very commendable.

Took the elevator to the ground floor where there was an exhibition on art pieces; there were a few floors worth exploring but we were hoping to get back to the hotel earlier so that we can do some last minute packing for our flight back to Singapore!

Whatever the case, i did manage to snap a painting showing the late Mr Chiang Kai-shek on a horse in a battle.

Exiting from the Gate of Great Piety! 


No.21, Zhongshan S.Rd., 
Zhongzheng Dist.,Taipei City 10048
[Exit from the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall MRT Station]

Website (in English)

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