Ta Ta Taipei

August is traditionally my favorite time of year. That overwhelming feeling of summer freedom peaks, my birthDAY means I usually treat myself to a nice vacation, and even the most ginger of us get a tan.

The worst part about August is that it ends. For most people the new year begins in January. But I have always gotten a sense of finality, of something coming to a close and having to start fresh at the end of August. This year, once again, I am starting over. New city, new apartment, new job. The only thing consistent this time is that it is the same country, and relatively close, only about a three-hour move (from Rochester to Albany in upstate terms).

But before I get too reflective, let’s backtrack to July.

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Matt arrived my last week of work for Principal American School in Nankan. He had the privilege of joining me for my last day of “work” as a kindergarten teacher. The kids went absolutely wild when I brought a stranger into the classroom and introduced him as “Mr. Colleen”.

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They got a little more crazy than usual, and I allowed it. Even bi-lingual automaton children need a chance to be kids.

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My students have no idea that I will not be returning in the fall, and I didn’t feel the need to try to explain that to twenty six-year-olds. If their little goldfish memories serve them correctly they won’t even remember a Ms. Colleen come September. Regardless, it was difficult to say goodbye, especially to my naughty class I’ve had for both semesters. It was even more difficult to say goodbye to my Chinese co-teachers. I don’t think I would have survived this year if it weren’t for a few of them who got me through the tough classes, and helped me to develop my style as a teacher.

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The last week of work was only part-time hours so we had some time to do some exploring in Taipei. Summer in Taipei is a nightmare (keep in mind I’m already someone who thinks Taipei is a nightmare) not only is it the usual crowded, but this time its crowds of hot sweaty smelly people, pushing their way through the thick, still summer air. We resolved this problem by deciding on a museum day.

We started with the National Museum of Science Education to see the special Adventure Time exhibit.

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The exhibit was advertised as “interactive”, but there were do not touch signs on everything, I should have known “interactive” is Taiwanese for “taking pictures”. It was really well done, a lot of time and money was put into it and any fan of the show could appreciate it. However, I couldn’t help the disappointment I felt at the lack of inter-activeness.

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The museum itself was really neat, and had a lot more that we wanted to explore but our tickets only allowed for the special exhibition floor.

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We continued on to the National Palace Museum, a mere 30 minute bus ride away. Our museum day wasn’t as genius as we thought, it seemed that every Chinese tourist in Taipei that day had the same idea.

The National Palace Museum is huge, 3 stories with ever-changing displays of ancient Chinese artifacts.

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They have a floor guide to the museum in English and Japanese as well as Chinese. You can also get audio tour guides in several languages. If you can’t read Chinese I would highly recommend an audio tour. Our budget vacation didn’t make allowances for audio guides so we wandered through reading whatever English descriptions we could find.  We started on the third floor and got to the second in about 2 and ½ hours. We skipped the jade section due to the number of Chinese tourists eagerly crammed in a queue to see the jade cabbage.

http://www.npm.gov.tw/en/Article.aspx?sNo=04001080

After a lunch break in the gardens we finished the first floor in an hour or so.

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My favorite display was the paintings. http://www.npm.gov.tw/en/Article.aspx?sNo=03000117

Most depicted mountain scenery with “lofty scholars” contemplating in the foreground. Like an English pastoral during the Romanticism period.

Next was the Museum of Fine Art. The main display was work by Taiwanese artist Dean-E Mei, who moved to New York City to attend art school. It mirrored his personal quest for identity with that of Taiwan’s quest for identity on the world stage.

I liked the concept, and a few pieces I thought were great. However, most of it must have been too “fine” for me to understand because I thought it was crap, like most Dada art.

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“A City Seven Streets” was a better exhibit and what I thought should have been the highlight. With seven rooms of installation art each done by a different artist playing upon the theme of streets in Urban Asia.

http://www.tfam.museum/Exhibition/Exhibition_page.aspxddlLang=zhtw&id=504&allObj=%7B%22JJMethod%22%3A%22GetEx%22%2C%22Type%22%3A%221%22%7D

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take pictures in that section.

And just if you thought we were getting too cultured for our own good…

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We ended the day with dinner at Modern Toilet. The bathroom themed restaurant in Taipei, where the food is served in a toilet and looks like poop.
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