Saturday, 29 January 2011

Taiwan Day 2: National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

rain  10 °C

Since we stayed in Taipei Park Hotel, the closest metro station is Da'an Station (大安站). To get to the National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (國立國父紀念館), we need to switch metro line at Zhongxiao Fuxing Station (忠孝復興站).

Aerial view of the street from Zhongxiao Fuxing Station, Taipei, Taiwan
Aerial view of the street from Zhongxiao Fuxing Station

A bit of drizzle in the morning. Since we're going to the National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (國立國父紀念館), and spent time indoor, so it didn't matter so much. We got off at the namesake metro station on the Blue Line.

Yellow used to be the colour of the Emperor, and roofs of Forbidden Palace are in that colour. We're told that the roof is in the shape of the wings of condor...ok...its flat top does remind me of some ancient Chinese headwear. And the flat square roof top is quite a departure from the traditional central roof-beam structure (which has no rooftop). So it's a blend between the old and new (East and West).

National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan
Looking like it's part of the roof structure, Taipei 101 attract attention like a lightning rod. It's hard to avoid.

Entrance, National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan
Main entrance to the Memorial Hall. It incorporates both traditional and modern architectural elements.

We were there 10:55AM, which meant the Changing of the Guard occurred 5 mins after we arrived. Since we were late comers, there were already packed crowd around the area where the Guards performed their Changing routines, which occurs every hour on the hour. Since we're not that tall, we didn't get to see the action in full view.

I noticed that there are balconies on 2F (it's actually the mezz level) where only few people hung around. So we decided to view the Changing of the Guards thingy from the balcony an hour later after we checked out the rest of the place.

Honour Guard, National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan Honour Guard, National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

Yanks no doubt noticed that the statue of Dr. Sun's pose bears a striking resemblance to that of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washing D.C. Except for their sizes. That isn't surprising giving the influence of US on KMT, and subsequently on Taiwan by providing them a military brolly.

If you think that I'm just speculating, let's look at another interesting exhibit in the main exhibition hall, which has a commemorative postage stamp made in 1942 in Denver, Colorado that has the images of Lincoln and Dr. Sun side by side. So it's not so coincidental that these two historical figures are being compared by the Yanks as well.

On the one hand, Dr. Sun is the Founding Father of modern China while Washington is the Founding Father of USA. Not Lincoln. On the other hand, this comparison makes perfect sense. Dr. Sun was not only a founding father, but a emancipator like Lincoln. Dr. Sun freed China from the feudal system, which is of course a master-slave system not unlike that in the US before the Emancipation. The only difference is that one is based on class, and the other race.

Statue, National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

If there's a historical figure that's most similar to Dr. Sun in my view, it would be Atatürk, not Lincoln. To the West, he's Dr. Sun, to the Chinese, he has always been referred to as Gou Fu (國父 "Nation's Father"). And Atatürk means "Father of the Turks" (Ata = Ancestor). Like Dr. Sun, Atatürk is the founder of the Republic. Mustafa Kemal took presidential office in 1923, while Dr. Sun in 1911. They were therefore contemporaries of each other living through the same tumultuous years of WW1. The two founding fathers of the 2 republics are revered in their respective countries. Both historical figures are defined as the architects of creating their modern nations, and the 1st presidents of those 2 countries rising from the ashes of a fallen ancient empires. The Ottoman Empire was referring to as "Sick Man of Europe" while the last imperial Qing dynasty of China was called "Sick Man of East Asia" (東亞病夫).

The term "Sick Man of East Asia" was intended as a parallel to "Sick Man of Europe". Indeed, these parallels in the histories of these two nations not surprisingly led to the parallel rises of these two historical personages. Replacing the old order with the new.

Apart from the main exhibition hall, there're also B&W Chinese classical landscape watercolours and paper cut Galleries.

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