We began this Christmas season with brunch wtih some friends at the officers club on Kadena, where low and behold, Santa decided to visit! #santa! #iknowhim! Of course we had to take a pic with him while we were there #stepasidechildren #santalooksalittletoohappy After unlimited mimosas, and some day drinking festivities, we thought karaoke sounded like a great idea. #naturally For those who have never experienced karaoke at an Asian business or country - please do yourself a favor and go now. You get a private room (#nooneneedstohearmyhorriblevoice #exceptfriendsandfamily #andmaybepeopleinnearbyrooms...), with a phone that you can pick up and order food and drinks, which they then come deliver to you! #perfect Most places around Okinawa are either a BYOB and cheap price for the room per hour, or you pay a set price for 2 hours per person but it includes an all you can drink, drink menu. We had a blast singing the night away with our friends Charlie and Katie
Keeping up with the Whittey family tradition on Christmas Eve, I cooked my dad's cioppino for some friends. In my opinion, it wasn't as good as my dad's, but Nate said it was pretty damn close #goodenough Can't wait to have my dad's cioppino for Christmas next year!
I'm embarrassed to say, but it was also my first time watching the movie Die Hard #pathetic #iknow But hey, at least I finally watched this great Christmas movie! We ended the night by playing some "Heads up" with our friends Katie, Charlie, and Joe (Nate's work partner over here).
Christmas morning, we got up and got to skype with my family for two hours (during their Christmas Eve). My mom, dad, and aunt Karen were down visiting Jill the pill in LA. #thewholecrewishere We toasted with champagne, teased each other, threw in some sarcasm #whitteyobligation, and opened gifts. Definitely miss being with family during the holidays - but at least technology helped make it a little easier :)
Fun fact, KFC is very popular for Japanese to eat on Christmas day. Every Christmas season, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to fried chicken from KFC, becoming a nationwide tradition! #damn! The trend began in 1974 with a marketing campaign "Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) To get this coveted KFC special Christmas dinner (which now includes chicken, cake, and wine/champagne #iwantsome), often requires ordering it weeks in advance, and for those who didn’t will wait in line, sometimes for hours. #fingerlickingood According to KFC, the packages account for about a third of the chain’s yearly sales in Japan. This may seem weird to us in America, but in Japan, only about 1% of the population is Christian, so Christmas isn't an official holiday. It makes sense that they wouldn't slave away over cooking dinner all day, and instead order a convenient, tasty bucket of chicken, or even a whole roasted chicken! It probably doesn't hurt that most stores also dress up their mascot, Colonel Sanders, in Santa outfits. #funfactsaboutJapan #themoreyouknow
As we did last year, the morning of December 26, we headed out on another vacay! On our way to Vietnam, we had around a 7 hour layover in Taipei again. So we decided to explore some more of the city for a few hours and get out of the airport! Since we didn't have a whole lot of time (takes about 45-60 minutes to bus from the airport into the city), we just went to go see the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial (中正紀念堂).
The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is located in the center of Taipei and was erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China. This memorial was built after Presiden Chiang Kai-shek died on April 5, 1975 and opened on April 5, 1980 (the 5th anniversary of his death). The roof of this white building is octagonal in shape, symbolizing the number 8 with is traditionally associated with abundance and good fortune in Asia. On the bottom of the memorial is a a library and museum documenting Chiang Kai-shek's life and career, and displays the history and development of Taiwan. It includes many artifacts like old documents, pictures, uniforms, and even cars owned by the former President. The upper level of the memorial has the main hall, where a large statue of Chiang Kai-shek is located.
After going through the museum and exhibition area, we headed upstairs to the main hall with the bronze statue of Chiang-Kai Shek. The characters behind Chiang's statue read "Ethics", "Democracy", and "Science", and the inscriptions on the side read "The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity" and "The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe". The bronze statue is guarded by military personnel which change hourly on the hour. (see pics and videos of this below)
The videos below show the changing of the guards ceremony.
Below the memorial is Liberty Square, with the National Theater on the left an the National Concert Hall on the right. Two sets of white stairs, each with 89 steps to represent Chiang's age at the time of his death, lead to the main entrance of the main hall. As soon as this memorial opened in the 1980s, the square has been the site of choice for mass gatherings, and new public meetings. In the 1980s, and early 1990s, the hall and square were at the center of many pro-democracy demonstrations with the most influential rally is the Wild Lily student movement of 1990. These movements helped usher Taiwan into it's era of modern democracy. The first popular elections of national leaders was held in 1996.
We ended our tour by walking through the gardens, which were quite peaceful and beautiful. Then, we headed back to the airport for our flight and vacay to Vietnam! Check out our trip in the next blog.
Follow in our Footsteps:
Getting from the airport to the city:
The best and most economical way to get to Taipei from Taoyuan airport is by bus - there are many Airport buses that take you to the Taipei main station, with drop off points along the route at major hotels and MRT (metro) stations.
Bus Info here
Taxi - costs anywhere from $30-$50 depending where you go in the city
Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial
No. 21, Zhongshan South Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
+886 2 2343 1100
Hours: 9am - 6pm
Changing of the guards: Hourly on the hour
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!