Friday, July 06, 2012

The Philippines/Taiwan Trip - September 3-5, 2011 - There And Back Again

Saturday, September 3rd, was our last full day in Taipei.  The day's itinerary would take us to the northern party of the city. 

First stop, the Miramar Entertainment Park, which boasts the largest movie screen in Asia.  We rode the MRT line from the Technology Building station a couple of blocks west of our hotel north to the Jiannan Road station, which is just a short walk away from  the Miramar Entertainment Park  Its other main attraction is an insanely large ferris wheel, and below is a picture of the view you get from the Jiannan Road MRT station.   Unfortunately, the wife and kids are just silhouettes, but you get an idea of the size of the ferris wheel. 

And naturally, we rode the ferris wheel.

As you can see in the background, there's quite a view from the top of the ferris wheel.

After the ferris wheel was finished, the dilemma we faced was what to do next.  For a building called the Miramar Entertainment Park, there really wasn't much there that was particularly entertaining.  Turns out the movie theater there was showing Harry Potter The Deathly Hollows Part 2 in 3-D, so the kids said they wanted to see it, even though they had already seen it back home in the US in 2-D.  I relented, since there really wasn't anything else to do.  But first, we had to attend to our stomachs so we walked across the street to another building that had lots of restaurants in it.  We ate in an Italian restaurant, the name of which escapes me, though the food was satisfying.  Then we walked back to Miramar to see the Harry Potter movie.

For the evening, the next item on the agenda was to take the bus to the National Palace Museum, which houses a large collection of Chinese art and artifacts that the Guomingdang brought over with them to Taiwan when they fled the mainland.  On Saturday evenings, the museum is open free to the public after 6:30 p.m.

I had planned for us to take the bus there from the bus stop on Beian Road across from the Jiannan Road MRT station.  Based on my reading, it looked like the number of the bus that takes you to the museum was supposed to stop there.  So we waited, and we waited, and we waited, as bus after bus passed by or stopped that had a different number.  Finally, after about a half hour had passed, a small bus with the number stopped and we got on.  I told the driver we wanted to go to the National Palace Museum and away we went.

The route took us through the Ziqiang Tunnel and the ride lasted about 10 or 15 minutes.  By the time we got there, it was already dark and it was about 7:30 p.m.  I asked the bus driver what the fare was and for some reason he seemed confused and told us not to worry about, so the ride didn't cost us anything.

So in we went.  There were lots of intricate lacquer curio boxes on display.  Another exhibit that I remember was a recreation of what would have been a study room in a Qing official's home.  I also recall a series of paintings or drawings that told a story.  To my annoyance, my daughter kept complaining that she was bored.  I understood that the museum wasn't exactly her kind of place, but that since we had done things that she wanted earlier in the day, it was her turn to let her mom and I have some time to do things that we wanted to do. 

Before we knew it though, it was already approaching 8:30, and the museum was getting ready to close.  In our brief time there, we only managed to view the exhibits on the first floor.

I managed to get this shot of the outside of the museum at night before we made our way to board our bus.

When we got back to the stop near the Miramar Entertainment Park, we decided to have dinner before heading back to our hotel.  The Italian restaurant we ate at earlier for lunch was closing when we got back, so we ended up dining in a different restaurant in the same building called the Royal Host (amazingly, my daughter remembered the name!).  Both my wife and my son were quite tired and nodded off before our food was brought to our table.

We also took a couple of shots with the ferris wheel in the background at night.

And with that we took the MRT back to Xinyi and trudged back to our hotel.

The next morning we checked out and were driven back to Taoyuan Airport.  I snapped a photo of this building we passed that looked interesting, though I don't know what it was.

UPDATE: As Nino helpfully informed me in the comments section, this interesting building in neoclassical Chinese is the Grand Hotel.

Finally, back at the airport, I watched as our EVA Air plane was being made ready for the flight back to Hong Kong.

By the time we got back to Hong Kong and checked into our room at the Regal Airport Hotel, it was around 4 p.m.  I was hoping we could do something, like maybe do a dinner cruise while watching the Symphony of Lights presentation in the harbor.  I even called and made reservations for us.  But the wife and kids fell asleep.  I figured it was best to let them get their rest and by the time they woke up, it was already too late to ride the Air Train into Central to pick up our tickets and board the boat (luckily, I didn't have to give my credit card info when making the reservations!).  So we ended up walking over to the airport and eating dinner in an Italian restaurant that served pretty good food, though again I can't remember the name of it.

After that, we called it a night.  Before we checked out of our hotel the next morning, September 5, the kids were able to get some swimming time in the hotel's pool.  With that, we checked in for our flight back to New York.   We had a moment of brief aggravation when we were told that we could not bring in our carry on a snow globe with our picture in it from the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride from two weeks earlier for security reasons.  The helpful staff of Cathay Pacific were able to box it for me and check it in as additional, albeit very small, luggage that we would need to pick up at the baggage claim back at JFK Airport in New York.

When we arrived back home in New York, it was still September 5.  While you lose a day when you fly from New York to Hong Kong, the benefit of flying back to New York is that it is still the same calendar day thanks to the time zone differences.  Having made the trip two times previously, I wisely had scheduled a day off from work for September 6 so that I would be able to get some extra sleep and readjust to the local time.  And thus ended our third Asian vacation.


Taipei Geek said...

Great post :) That interesting building in neoclassical Chinese is the Grand Hotel. It's the biggest neoclassical Chinese building in the world, built in 1973.

Tommykey said...

Thanks for the info!

Stardust said...

I need to be on Facebook less. I was looking for the "like" button here. Great Pics, great to read about your family's experiences!

Tommykey said...

Haha! Thanks.