Back to our regular programming … we had a full day, with a tour of the National Palace Museum, Taipei 101, and lunch at Din Tai Fung during the day. If nothing else as a tourist, you must visit the National Palace Museum to see the historic artifacts — the largest collection outside of China. Of course, the tour isn’t as meaningful unless you have a good tour guide, and we had Theresa, who is affiliated with the government tourism agency.
Through the tour, we learned about the unique qualities of Chinese bronze, the mythical creature that is included on every piece, and the writing that is always inside the pieces to commemorate the occasion. We saw the emperor’s puzzle boxes and the intricate way they were made for his amusement. We didn’t get to see the famous jade cabbage — a must-see like the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo — but we heard the story of how it was carved from a single piece of half-white, half-green jadeite which contained numerous imperfections such as cracks and discolored blotches. These flaws were incorporated into the sculpture and became the veins in the cabbage’s stalks and leaves. It was presented to the empress at her wedding to Guanxu in 1889 to wish fertility and abundance and symbolize purity. (The empress never did bear children, and in her depression committed suicide by drowning in a well.) But I can’t show any of this to you or describe much more, since no photos are allowed in the museum. You’ll have to see it yourself to appreciate everything there.
That night, we met up with Sara Lin, a Taiwanese chef with China Airlines. Our mutual friend, Yasuo Ogawa of Cowabunga Computers, introduced us via Facebook and asked her to show us the locals’ version of Taiwan. Here’s how the full day and night went:
These are just highlights from the day. If you want to see all the photos, click here.