Taipei Main Station, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101

This is day of 2 of my Taipei Trip. Click here to return to the main Taipei Travelogue

For day 2, my family visited the following places
- Taipei Main Station (Shopping)
- Chiang Kai-Sheik Memorial Hall
- Din Tai Fung at its birthplace
- Taipei 101(Tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010.)

Taipei Main Station

Taipei Main Station
After breakfast at the hotel, we decided to go collect our pre-purchased train tickets to Hua Lien. A brief guide on how to purchase a Hua Lien ticket will be published later. Otherwise, you could also get a train ticket on the spot! As we travelled in December, there was a large Christmas Tree in the atrium.
Taipei Underground Mall
Taipei Main Station has an underground Mall with 28 exists! There are plenty of maps found at every exit just to make sure that you don't get lost. The shops are a delectable mix of food stalls, small restaurants, bakeries (including Li Yi (李儀餅店) which sells Pineapple Tarts), clothes, shoes, cometics (Cosmed for those who are looking for facial masks) and other various local produce (Ginger Tea).

There are lots of ladies' shoes at good prices.
Ladies Shoes
There is a row of book stores too! However, most of the books sold is in Chinese. If you are looking for English books, visit Eslite (pricey) whose flagship store is located in the XinYi area near Taipei 101 and is eight stories tall. Otherwise, Page One has one in Taipei 101 mall.
Book Stores
Things to take note:
1. Do not to arrive to early as the shops only open around 10:30 - 11:00am. This applies to many huge department stores including the huge Shin Kong Mitsukoshi.
2. There are lots of lady shoes available at cheap prices.
3. It is located at Taipei Main Station, Exit 1 North (北一門)
Taipei Underground Shopping Mall
B1, No. 100, Sec. 1, Civic Blvd.,
Zhongzheng Dist. Taipei
Opening Hours: 11:00am - 9:30pm
Tel: +886-2-2559-4566 / 886-2-2559-4560

Taiwan Railway Bento

For lunch, we had the Railway bento. The word bento means rice box and it originated from Taiwan where locals bring the bento on board the trains to consume during their long train journeys. You can purchase this from train stations, on express trains (not local or commuter trains) from staff pushing carts in the trains or from vendors calling out from traion platforms. Just listen to the staffs call out 便当 (Bian Tang) which means bento. Eating is allowed on railway and HSR trains but not on the MRT trains!
TRA No.1 Boxed Lunch Store
This is how the boxes look like.
The various boxes
The most expensive bento on that day was a variety of vegetables with a pork fillet that is boiled. The sides were excellent thou the pork fillet would have been better if it was the pork chop that is grilled!
Pork fillet bento NT$100
This bento had piece of fried fish, one stir-fried vegetables, tofu, preserved vegetables and a braised egg with rice. This option is for those who do not like pork. Savoury but definitely not the best of what Taiwan Railway Bento has to offer.
Fish Bento NT$80
The most traditional railway bento would be the Pork Rib Bento and is usually the cheapest (NT$60)! It usually comes with two stir-fried vegetables, preserved vegetables and a braised egg with rice. This bento in my humble opinion is the best of all the bentos being served! The piece of rib is very flavourful and isn't tough.
Pork Rib Bento NT$60
Though the meals aren't perfect, it is definitely above average for on-the-move meals and satisfying. A must try if you need to keep your tummy filled as you travel.
Things you need to know:
1. There is a vegetarian option available.
2. The meals are only for Takeaway.
3. Price: NT$60-100
Taipei Railway Bento (TRA No.1 Boxed Lunch Store)
West 3 Entrance,
Taipei Main Station
Opening Hours: 10:30am - 7:00pm
Please click here for opening hours for other stations!

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

After we were done with lunch, we headed to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. Many guide books, broachers and posters to Taiwan should have a picture of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Located in the heart of Taipei, this area is 250000 square meters and is the attraction most visited by foreign tourists. Travelling to this place isn't hard as it has it's own MRT stop, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Gate to liberty square (自由廣場)
If the building looks like Tiantan in Beijing, you are right as Tiantan is the inspiration for the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The four sides of the structures are made of white marble with roofs decorated with deep blue glass as part of the reflection of blue and bright sun. Climb up the 89 steps to the memorial hall. The specific number of steps is meant to represent the number of years President Chiang lived. Or you could take the lift which you will have to walk to sides of the building to access.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
The garden is planted with red flowers. As a whole, the blue white and red express the National flag and the spirit of freedom, equality and brotherhood. Pictured at the bottom is two orange tiled roof buildings which are the National Theatre and National Concert Hall. World famous musicians and renown playgroups have conducted performances here.
Liberty Square (Viewed from Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Inside the Memorial Hall, you can pay respect to the historical great leader or enjoy the hourly change of guards which is the main highlight for many visitors. Come 15 minutes before the start of the change of guards to secure the best spots. The best spots are directly in front of Chiang Kai-shek and the right corner of the hall (facing Chiang Kai-shek) near a lift/exit.
Statue of Chiang Kai-Shek
The ceremony will take around 15 minutes. Pretty impressive.
Change of Guard
Once you see the guards leaving, you can take the lift down to visit the museum for the story of Chiang Kai-Shek. Signs are both in English and Mandarin.

The guards taking their leave
Things you need to know:
1. To get here, take the Red or Green line to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, sometimes labelled as C.K.S Memorial Hall.
2. The honour guard change shifts on the hour from 10am to 4pm. Wednesdays are from 10am to 6pm.
3. Camera Tip: For those using AWB (Auto White Balance) on your camera. This is the one place you want to turn it off and put it on florescent blub mode so that your photos don't turn out extremely yellow.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
No. 21, Zhongshan S.Rd.,
Zhongzheng Dist, Taipei 10048, Taiwan
Tel: +886-2-2343-1100
Opening Hours: 9:00am-6:00pm (daily)

Din Tai Fung

When in Taiwan, why not visit the ever popular Din Tai Fung at its birth place? It is a 800m (10 minutes) walk or 2 stops by bus from Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. The flavours are exactly the same as those found in Singapore with an exception of the Pork Chop over fried rice. Be sure to order the Pork Chops as it is moist and flavourful!

Turn up at the place and put down your name. You will be given a number and wait for your turn. Arrive early or be prepared to wait for a table! The staffs are very friendly and genuinely wants you to enjoy yourself!

Must Try Dishes:
1. Pork Chop over Fried Rice
2. Xiao Long Bao

The pork chops were superb. Try it to believe it! The rice was fluffy and delicious. MUST TRY.
Pork Chop Fried Rice (with egg)
When you are at Din Tai Fung, it is obvious that you have to order the Xiao Long Bao (XLB). Every XLB has 18 folds and are made fresh in the kitchen! With such precision in making the XLB, there are specific instructions to eating the XLB too! The XLB tasted similar to what we have in Singapore. The skin was thin, meticulously wrapped and no leakage of broth. The warm and tasty broth accompany with the cold weather during winter was an excellent choice. MUST TRY!

Guide to Xiao Long Bao (Provided in the menu):
Step 1 : Add 1 portion of soy sauce and 3 portions of vinegar to the ginger. Put soy sauce before the vinegar.
Step 2: Lightly dip a Xiao Long Bao into the sauce mixture.
Step 3: Place the Xiao Long Bao on a soup spoon and make a small hole to release the broth onto the spoon.
Step 4: Enjoy the broth
Step 5: Add slices of ginger (Optional), and finish up the dumpling contents!
Xiao Long Bao
The retro interior. Plain and simple.
Interior of Din Tai Fung (Xin Yi)
You can also get souvenirs to remember your experience at Din Tai Fung
The exterior of the original Din Tai Fung outlet along Xin Yi road in Taipei.
Exterior of Din Tai Fung (Xin Yi)
Overall, the meal was just as good as the one in Singapore. A MUST TRY for a Din Tai Fung Die Hard Fan.
What you need to know: 
1. Nearest MRT station is Dongmen Station (東門站), Red line (捷運信義線). If you have intentions of visiting the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, its a 10 minutes walk to Din Tai Fung!
2. You can travel 6 minutes by train to Taipei 101, using the Red line (捷運信義線) from Dongmen Station to Taipei 101/world trade centre station.

Din Tai Fung (Xin Yi)
No. 194, Section 2, Xinyi Road
Daan District, Taipei, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 10:00am - 9:00pm (Mon-Fri)
09:00am - 9:00pm (Sat-Sun)

Taipei 101

The last attraction of the day would be the Taipei 101. The Taipei 101 was designed to resemble a gigantic bamboo stalk! It held the title of "World's tallest building" from 2004 to 2010. You will experience a pressure-controlled lift which will take you up at 1010m per minutes. It will take you 40 seconds to get from the ground level to the 89th floor observation deck. The weather was terrible in December. We decided to ascend the towers even though we could not view the outdoor deck on the 91st floor. Be sure to plan your visit on a clear weather when winds aren't strong!
Exterior of Taipei 101
This is one of the views from the Taipei 101. From the picture below, you can tell that there isn't much to see from the top of Taipei 101. For the best view of Taipei, you should climb Elephant Mountain where you will be able to see Taipei's skyline with Taipei 101 in it!
View from the Taipei 101
Inside the tower, there is the massive gold-coloured iron wind damper (Nick named Damper Baby) which keeps the tower stable through typhoons and earthquake. 
Taipei 101's Giant Damper
If you are on a budget and don't want to miss out on the views. Consider heading the to secret 35th floor Starbucks in Taipei 101. Here are the steps:
1. You will need to go through the SongZhi Street entrance and find the visitor access kiosks.
2. On the kiosks, search by floor and enter 35.
3. Select Starbucks or Illy Expressamente and tell them the number of people and your last name.
4. Once you got your visitor permits, take the elevator that goes to floor 35 and enjoy the view!

Things you need to know:
1. You will need to purchase a ticket NT$500 per adult or NT$450 per child (under 12) at the 5th level to access the 89th floor observation deck. Complimentary if the child is under 115cm.
2. There is a Din Tai Fung in the building.
3. Nearest train station is the Taipei 101 station (XinYi Line), exit 4. Otherwise, take the MRT blue line (Nangang Line) and wait for shuttle bus or walk 10 minutes.

Taipei 101
No. 45, Shifu Rd.,
Xinyi District, Taipei City
Opening Hours: 09:00am-10:00pm
Last Ticketing & Entry: 9:15pm

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Day 3 is in progress.

Here is a map that shows the places I have visited on day 2 of my Taiwan Trip. Enjoy!
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About Haoming Koo

Koo Haoming. Founder of The Fat Chemist. Currently an undergrad at the National University of Singapore with a burning passion for science! Inspired to start a blog after reading the book, "Napoleon's Buttons, How 17 Molecules Changed History". The book fills the gap between Chemistry and History. Adapting the style of the book, posts written by me highlight the chemistry in the food we eat.
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