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The most popular wing of Taichung's National Museum of Natural Science is the Life Science Hall. There are some relatively mediocre exhibits here like 'Rhythms of Life'; more interestingly, there are the giant bones of what apparently was a mastadon (or maybe an elephant, can't remember) that lived in the Penghu islands (Pescadores) and is now extinct. Then there's an exhibit on evolution; head into that exhibit. It will eventually lead into a larger exhibition room concerning the development of life on earth and DNA; continuing on, it covers the Precambrian and Cambrian Eras. However, a good amount of these exhibits are in Chinese only; try and make out what you can. The exhibit eventually reaches the museum's famous Dinosaur Hall, where there are a collection of dinosaur fossils as well as a 8-meter model of a dinosaur that moves and roars. Exhibits continue on about birds, early mammals, and eventually humans; including exhibits about population, birth, death, and other things.
Written Aug 29, 2006
The Taichung City Hall has been slowly relocating from this older building to a newer one outside the old downtown. The original Taichung City Hall is a brick Western-style building constructed by the Japanese during their occupation of Taiwan. The building is now open to the public and entering the building is free; there isn't much to see inside though, since it's made of mostly deserted offices. You can walk around the square-shaped building and see all there is to see in 10 minutes.
Written Aug 28, 2006
Wufeng (Fog Peak) (霧峰) is a 'small' village with a population of 80,000, south of Taichung. The town sits at the base of Tiangbi Shan (Elephant Nose Mountain) and is mainly an agricultural village; there is a major agricultural research center in the village. Driving around the city, you're likely to see rice paddies, and on clear days, distant views of the Taichung skyline. The big draw of the town right now is the 921 Earthquake Museum; this town was one of the heaviest effected by the 921 earthquake. There aren't too many tourist sights in this town, but there is plenty of good food.
Written Aug 24, 2006
The 921 Earthquake Museum is Wufeng is one of the better earthquake museums I have been to, with exhibits all conveniently in both Chinese and English. The museum commemorates the earthquake on September 21, 1999 centered in Jiji, Nantou County. The 7.3 magnitude quake caused more damage and deaths than any other earthquake in the recent history of the Republic of China (In the 1970's, a similar earthquake hit Tangshan in the People's Republic of China; see my Tangshan pages about that). The quake leveled thousands of buildings, destroyed basic infrastructure (including the Wuxi Bridge from Wufeng to Caotun) and killed around 2,500 people, 100 in Wufeng alone. The museum sits on the former site of Guangfu Guozhong (Guangfu Junior High School), which was completely destroyed by the quake (my grandmother used to teach here...). The new museum is (unwisely) built on top of the earthquake fault. I don't remember the admission, since if you visit on Wednesday morning before 10:00, it's free (hours are 9:00 to 17:00). The museum has a good video on the quake, and interactive exhibits on how earthquakes occur and tectonic plates. Currently, the museum also shows a 49-minute video about Indonesia's 2004 tsunami. There is also a large screen that identifies all recent major quakes (at the time I was there, a 5.5 had just hit Java). Outside the museum is the former sports track of the high school, which was split in half.
Updated Aug 24, 2006
Donghai University's famous Luce Chapel is considered to be one of Taiwan's most beautiful buildings (it certainly is one of the most interesting). The building has been around for quite a while, and was constructed in memory of Henry Winters Luce, who died in 1941. The chapel lies in the middle of an open lawn, with paths leading to its entrance; on most days, the chapel is not open. It is worth wandering around the area. You'll often see couples around the chapel.
Written Aug 24, 2006
The Shi-hua International Tower is currently Taichung's tallest building (though this is slated to change, since a new 307-meter tall Taichung Tower is being planned). The tower was not completed until 2004, although construction began in the 1990's; the tower now stands 192 meters tall with 47 stories. Sadly, there is no observation deck on this building, or in fact on any other building in Taichung. The building is immediately recognizable, with the words ONE plastered on the top.
Updated Aug 24, 2006
Donghai University (Tunghai College) (East Sea University) (Donghai Datsue) (東海大學) is one of Taichung's best institutions of higher learning. While the university is best known for the Luce Chapel, wandering around the campus is also fun (a few facts you're probably not interested in: one of my parents taught here). Near the entrance, you can see students playing basketball and baseball; further in, there is a path into a forest designed by the students of the college. The Luce Memorial Chapel is unmissable; if you turn left near the chapel, you'll eventually reach a student activity center with a bookshop and a cafe. Turn right and you'll pass the university's various departments and reach the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Auditorium. Not much to see there. There is also a library nearby.
Written Aug 23, 2006
The Taiwan Provincial Museum of Fine Arts is supposedly the best museum of fine arts in Taiwan sheng (meaning, the island of Taiwan, excluding Kaohsiung and Taipei), but I didn't find too much I liked about it. There are too many little children running around (it's not that I don't like little children, I just don't like it when they run around), and there really isn't that much art here. Plus, the museum building is rather unattractive; whoever designed it was definitely not an artist. Admission to the museum is free; it's open from 9:00 to 17:00.
Written Aug 22, 2006
This European-looking building was constructed by the Japanese in 1911, and used as the Taichung Municipal Goverment until recently. The building now houses a museum, which probably won't be of too much interest to most visitors. The museum is completely in Chinese, and has regularly rotated exhibits; in August 2006, the museum had exhibits concerning a few authors of the Republic of China. However, admission is free; the building is open from 9:00 to 17:00.
Written Aug 20, 2006
Taichung's Confucius Temple (Cong miao) (孔廟) is relatively new (about 50 years old), but honors a very venerable man. The temple complex is very large, and includes a small park leading up to the gate; past the gate, there are two major halls. As you'll probably notice, temples dedicated to Confucius are very different from other temples (like Buddhist and Daoist temples). There's no place to burn incense here, and there is no statue of Confucius (just a sign). The temple roof is not ornate, and does not have various deities and animals decorating it; the columns of the temple are also undecorated. This is because Confucius valued simplicity, and although it may not seem very simple to you, compared to other temples, there is very little decoration here.
Visiting this (and other Confucius) temple on Confucius' birthday, September 28, and it'll be an exciting and crowded place.
Written Aug 18, 2006