| The capital
city in the north, Taipei was selected
as a 'special municipality' in July 1967, thereby
obtaining the same status as a province and its mayor the same rank
as a provincial governor.
Taipei has stretched out to 4 times its original
size, making it the fastest-growing city in Asia.
Taipei is an energetic and costly city, and it
lets you know it. It's packed full of people, cars and smog - a
real hotbed of renao. It's not a relaxing stopover, but the food
is excellent, the people are very friendly and there are some excellent
About 6 million people live in and around the city,
tempted by the excitement of a bustling city on the move.
Real estate is virtually unobtainable - Taipei residents
have long dispensed with the dream of home-ownership - and the government
is encouraging businesses to set up somewhere else in Taiwan. In spite
of this, the notion still prevails that to make it big in Taiwan,
you have to set up in the heart of the capital - even if the air
is everlastingly toxic.
The city centre contains
the Taiwan Provincial Museum, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the National
Museum of History and Chung Cheng (Chiang Kai-shek) Memorial Hall,
which is a fine example of traditional Chinese architecture. The
superlative main entrance is more than 30 metres (100 feet) high.
One of the new attractions in Taipei is a trip to
the Fu Hsing Dramatic Arts Academy where acrobatic performers and traditional
Chinese opera are trained and where there
are stage shows. Also new to Taipei is the City of Cathay,
an imitation of ancient Chinese town which is positioned within
the Chinese Culture and Movie Centre.
Built in 1740, the Lungshan (Dragon Mountain) Temple is dedicated
to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. It is one of more than 5,000 temples
and shrines in Taiwan, and is observed as the finest
illustration of temple architecture on the island.
Some other marvelous buildings of
Chinese architecture in the capital are the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the Martyrs' Shrine and the Chungsham
Building in the Yangmingshan district of the metropolis,
a 40 minute drive from Taipei's city centre, where you can also find the National
Palace Museum which houses the world's
largest and most precious collection of Chinese art treasures
(over 6,000 items). Yangmingshan National Park
is well-known for its cherry and azalea trees, and draws thousands
of visitors during blossom season.