China 2011: Day 2 Noon
Our first guided tour was a 3 hour of the city, hitting various major attractions...
1. Chiang Kai'shek (how the heck do you spell his name under the Wade-Giles system again?) Memorial was first. We saw the changing of the guards thing at 9 AM. Poor guys. Shiny metal helmets in the muggy subtropical heat (getting worse throughout the day) for hours must suck. Then we went under the memorial where they displayed various historical stuff. I took photos of the shiny medals things. Unfortunately, our guide was rushing us through the exhibit, so I'm not sure what/where the medals are from, but I'm sure I'll get that info once I sort through my photos. Oh, and there was also an Egyptian exhibition there too (we didn't go in), which gave me a WTH moment.
2. Quick drive by of some major goverment cities, cuz apparently traffic control don't allow people to park anywhere close for photos, apparently.
2.5. Stopped by a handicraft/tea shop, purely for advertising purposes. A waste of time, but whatever.
(Then! Suddenly! It started to rain. Hard.)
3. Martyr's Memorial was next. Pretty much a memorial to all soldiers since the start of the Nationalists. It's about what you expect... buildings with rooms that have walls full of names.
(Then! Suddenly! The rain stopped and the sun came out. The muggy heat immediately returned, and you'd never knew that it'd rained except for the wet ground.)
4. Some...temple...forget the name. Apparently dedicated to the local earth diety (tu di). And to Guan Ying.
5. National Palace Museum again. We were only guided through the main attractions and the special exhibition though, quickly. Only about an hour spent there total. All I can think is that my aunt would've been appaled. :P I did like the special exhibition on carvings though - I don't recall seeing it at all yesterday, so I guess it was only for tours or something.
Since I won't have any photos of the museum, I guess I should go over some of the "main attractions" of the museum since our guide took special care to point it out...
* Jade Cabbage - Carved from a single piece of jade, white on the bottom, green at the top. Two grasshoppers (crickets?) are carved into the cabbage leaves, representing fertility.
* Pork Skin - Carved from jade (nephrite?) of all things. Brown colored thing that looks just a layer of pork skin. (Foreigners might not get the resemblance, but since pork skin is a common delicacy for Chinese, it's readily recognizable.)
* Small boat carved from a single piece of walnut (shell?). Magnifying glass shows 8 people carved onto the boat as well as intricate designs on the boat itself.
* A layered (dodecahedron?) something-hedral ball of 17 layers one inside another, each an independent layer but all carved out of one block of ivory.
There were other awesome carvings of rhino horn, bamboo, wood, and ivory too. Nice. We also bought some souvenirs from the shop to give to family/coworkers.
Then it's back to the hotel. I noted further on the way back that while there's a decent amount of cars and pedestrians on the streets, there's virtually no bicycles like normal Chinese cities. Instead, their presence is replaced by a large amount of motor bikes everywhere you look. Interesting...