Back to sharing with you my Taiwan travels =)
We took a quick little train ride to watch the flag lowering ceremony at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. The single trip “tickets” are actually plastic coin tokens. It was the only time I used those tokens because later on we just bought the stored value cards similar to our Singapore’s ezy-link for the rest of the holiday as it’s cheaper and more convenient.
This monument is built in memory of Chiang Kai Shek,a political, military leader who ruled as former President of the Republic of China (Taiwan). He was also an influential member of the Kuomintang(KMT) and Sun Yat-sen’s close ally. The hall was officially open on the 5th anniversary of the leader’s death.
This areas also houses the National Concert Hall and the National Theater.
Above is the ceremonial gateway at the entrance to the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial.
We were there early for the flag lowering ceremony so we had sometime to look around and explore the place. There were pigeons and manicured gardens lining the way to the memorial hall and many of the Taiwanese brought their little dogs for walks there.
There were lots of locals but I wasn’t the only tourist around. Many tourists from the People Republic of China and a student tour group from Japan were there as well.
Here I am taking photos with the main building of the memorial hall. Memorial Hall is white with four sides. The octagonal roof rises 70 meters above the ground and is covered with blue glazed tiles. The blue and white colors of the building and the red colour of the flowerbeds echo the colours in the flag of the Republic of China. The octagonal shape picks up the symbolism of the number 8, a number traditionally associated in Asia with abundance and good fortune.
Two sets of white stairs, each with 89 steps to represent Chiang’s age at the time of his death, lead to the main entrance.
I got up the flight of stairs just in time as the flag lowering ceremony starts. The whole procession begins from inside the main memorial hall with the huge bronze statue of Chang Kai Shek. Inscriptions on the side walls read The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity and The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe.
Representatives of the armed forces guard the main hall during its open hours and the branch of service represented changes periodically according to a rotating schedule. They have a change of guard every hour so if you didn’t catch the flag lowering ceremony you can still catch the change of guards.
The flag lowering ceremony happens around 5pm and in the contingent you have 5 military representatives and 2 body guards in black to shoo enthusiastic tourists away. The military representatives twirl their bayonet guns expertly as part of the ceremony and a show of their awe.
As for the colors of the military uniforms you see, the Army wears the green uniform, navy wears the black in summer and white in winter, and the air force wears blue. You can see all the different representative during the flag lowering but during the normal hours, you would only see one branch on duty as the 3 branches rotated their guard duty only once in 4 months.
Here we can see the representatives from the Navy handling the flag with much respect and solemn duty.
After the ceremony, I hung around the National Cultural Center and the parks for a bit before heading for dinner. As you can tell in the photos, it’s really windy in Taipei!
I’ve had the whole ceremony down on video so you can watch it here too! If you are viewing my post on anywhere other then my blog (eg. iphone, BB or FB) you won’t be able to see the video so if you want to watch it you’ll have to go to www.renzze.com.