The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Winter: Enough already!


Having cleared the driveway AGAIN, my thoughts naturally turn to being somewhere else. Somewhere warm. Somewhere scenic. How about Taiwan? The island's other name is Formosa, named by the Portugese from a Latin word meaning "beautiful."

I have friends who live there, and others that have visited many time. They are remark on how beautiful the place is.

Below is an excerpt from a travel article in the NY Times on spending 36 hours in Taiwan. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the full article. There is a slide show there that you don't want to miss. Check it out.

- The Snow Shoveling Daoist


36 Hours in Taipei, Taiwan

TAIPEI, the vibrant capital of Taiwan, distills the best of what Asian cities have to offer — great street food, crackling night life, arguably the world’s best collection of Chinese art, and hot springs and hiking trails reachable by public transport. With interest in mainland China surging, Taipei — one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Asia — offers a look at a different side of China, one that escaped the deprivations of early Communist rule and the Cultural Revolution. Here is a Chinese culture (some contend that it is uniquely Taiwanese) that practices bare-knuckled democracy and has preserved traditions thousands of years old in a way that was impossible to do on the mainland.

Friday

3 p.m.
1) ANCIENT WAYS

The National Palace Museum (221 Chih-shan Road, Section 2; 886-2-2881-2021; www.npm.gov.tw/en/home.htm) is considered by many to be the finest repository of Chinese art in the world; it houses artifacts dating back to the earliest days of Chinese civilization. The collection includes oracle bones, which have the first known written Chinese ideograms, as well as ritual bronze vessels, Ming Dynasty pottery and jade sculptured into the shapes of cabbage and fatty pork.

5 p.m.
2) TOP OF THE WORLD

But enough of ancient culture, at least for now. Immerse yourself in modern Taipei by going deep into the belly of the tallest building in the world, the 1,670-foot Taipei 101 (7 Xinyi Road, Section 5; www.taipei-101.com.tw/index_en.htm). The first five floors, with stores like Armani, Louis Vuitton and Sogo, should satisfy any shopping urge. Take a high-speed elevator to the indoor and outdoor observation decks, starting on the 89th floor, for unparalleled views of Taipei and its environs. In every direction lie city blocks and avenues winding among concrete-and-glass towers, with verdant hills rising in the distance. Wisps of cloud float past the windows. Beware of vertigo.

7 p.m.
3) OYSTERS IN THE SKY

Dinner is only a few floors away. Go down to the 85th floor of Taipei 101 to feast on traditional Taiwanese dishes at Shin Yeh (886-2-8101-0185). Try the deep-fried oysters and rolls stuffed with taro and shrimp. Set dinners start at about 1,600 Taiwan dollars per person ($50.40 at 31.75 Taiwan dollars to the U.S. dollar). Be sure to make reservations well in advance, ideally several weeks before arriving.

9 p.m.
4) MARTINIS WITH MOOD

Lounge bars have popped up all over Taipei. If you’re in a mood for dessert with your drink, try the bar in the consciously hip People Restaurant (191 Anhe Road, Section 2; 886-2-2735-2288). The attitude starts even before you enter: the double doors have no handles, nor do they open automatically. Figuring out how to get in is only part of the fun. Once inside, walk through the shadowy industrial rooms and take a seat at the bar or in the lounge, where cocktails are served in large glass globes. Next, saunter down the road to Rewine (137 Anhe Road, Section 1; 886-2-2325-6658), whose head bartender has won international awards for his unique cocktails.

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