Taipei Taiwan

A Seamless Blend of Old Traditions and New Technology

By Helmut Dostal

hf-Taiwan9The Regent
touching distance of Taipei’s financial, entertainment and cultural centres, set us up for a day of sightseeing and gourmet dining at one of its eight exquisite restaurants.

Taipei 101
The towering height of Taipei 101 can’t be missed. Serving as an icon for modern Taiwan, this building puts a sleek spin on traditional Chinese architecture. It was the world’s tallest building until the completion of the Burj Khalifa. A tour includes a peek at the 660-ton steel pendulum that stabilizes the building from typhoons and earthquakes. Panoramas of the dazzling city lights below stretch for miles, and eventually abut the Elephant Mountain.

Taroko trainhf-Taiwan10
I spent two hours on the Taroko Express, travelling from the capital to the east-coast county of Hualien. The railway is named after the Taroko Gorge, the 19-km landmark carved out by the Liwu River over 200 million years. The gorge serves as a popular sightseeing spot within the Taroko National Park. The marbled rock faces are stunning; I recommend that visitors rent a car and spend a day travelling along the gorge.

Gaia Hotel & Restaurant
Though I only spent a brief time at the Gaia Hotel, the fresh design and stylish restaurant made a lasting impression. Highlights include the four-storey lobby with shelves holding more than 5,000 second-hand books for guests to read, a spa and rooms overlooking nearby greenery at Beitou Park. Minimalist but inviting, you won’t find a surface in this building that isn’t gleaming.

National Palace Museum
One of those places you can get lost in. With more than 700,000 ancient Chinese artifacts spanning more than 8,000 years (from the Neolithic to the modern age), this museum is one of the largest of its kind. Bronze sculptures, jade carvings and ancient books alone provide enough perusing material for several days of touring
this national treasure.

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Photos: Helmut Dostal. The Regent. Taipei 101. Gaia Hotel. Ah Mei Tea House. Taroko Express.