MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei

Without doubt, ART is an integral part of every society and culture. It may narrate historical events, tales or myths of a particular country; it may also express the artists or the society’s emotions, beliefs or experiences. Art can become the ideal means for someone to protest against injustice; to prompt cultural diversity or denounce social and political division within a country. Art has always something to say or reminisce – even silence and emptiness is a way to express oneself.

As far as I’m concerned, art museums are very sacred places. Although, I’m not an artist nor can understand art properly, when I find myself in places dedicated to art – any kind of art – I feel possessed by a sense of devoutness. There’s always something (an exhibit) that talks to me and I’m more than pleased to hear its story!

Therefore, it is my firm belief that visiting art museums is a “must – do” when traveling. In this way, you may get a good insight of the morality, the edification, the beliefs and ideals, the fears or problems of a particular society. Because art is the imprint of a civilization on this world at a given time.

MOCA“, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, is no exception to the above.

I love such clear blue sky with trees.
And now here we are at MOCA!

Indeed, visiting MOCA was a revelatory experience for me because the majority of the exhibits there had so many things to scream out to the visitors and the entire world. The way I perceived the exhibition, it was like a journey to the history of humanity and Taiwan itself. I could only see the agony of the various artists who were posing so many and important questions to the audience: What is to be human? What have we accomplished as a species? What kind of atrocities have we committed and how much have we suffered from our own deeds? Where do we stand now? And, finally, to what ambiguous future are we heading towards? … So many emotions at once; they rose like a huge wave, ready to drown me.

Nonetheless, I found it fascinating, because in the end of the day, this was the result of people/artists who think deeply and seriously. Living in a world where shallow emotions and relationships prevail, this experience was more than encouraging.

I was amazed by the artists of “Rosa’s Wound” exhibition; mainly, because this exhibition is a tribute to memories! Those memories include the past from Taiwan during World Word II, Vietnam during Vietnam War, Indonesia during wars and times of oppression, and also foreign labours as slavery issue, such as fishery slavery. The artists present the hideousness of the war in a quite riveting way. Although people tend to forget the past mistakes and pain, the artists here rub salt into the wound, so as it won’t heal. Their purpose is not to allow the people’s mind to forget the horror, the terror and the bloodshed of the war, so as humanity won’t repeat the same faults.

Moving from the past to the present, the “Hiding in the Island” exhibition is something more than a reference to the Formosans, aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. Probably, the exhibition is an attempt to evoke public awareness on the societal issues which concern the county, such as homeless people, people in poverty, or excessive consumerism. From my point of view, the artists try to remind to the public the neglected or forgotten remnants of these tribes, which also constitute a part of this country’s population. So, finally these tribes should be acknowledged and included to the forming of a collective, social and cultural identity.

The Future That Never Comes” is the final exhibition of this route and, as the title implies, it is a glimpse to our future world. A world in which artificial intelligence will have become very common in our life and machines will carry out errands and tasks for humans. Through these ambiguous artworks, the artist probably challenge us to question ourselves whether we should take on the risk of this unknown evolution.

To conclude with, if you ever visit Taipei, do not miss the chance to go to see the MOCA. Although, the exhibitions mentioned above are not permanent – “The Future That Never Comes” exhibition will be in the museum until 03/05 -, however I’m more than confident that you’ll see a lot of interesting exhibits. Besides, bear in mind that art tames and educates the people, so make a favour to yourselves.

Side notes:

  • MOCA is an historical building and it was originally used as one of the eight primary schools during Japanese Era before being utilized as the main building for Taipei City Government until 1994. In 2001, the building was renovated into Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei.
  • MOCA is not just a building, it also features neighboring area as its exibition ground, so on the way from MOCA to the underground market toward Taipei Main Station, you can see many art works scaterring around in MOCA’s radious.

Address: No. 39, Ch’ang An West Road, Ta-Tung District, 10351 Taipei City, Taiwan

Visiting Information:  Open on 10:00 – 1800; Tickets sold until 17:30 p.m; Closed on Mondays (Click here for more details)

Transportation: Take MRT Red Line or Green Line to [R11] / [G14] Chungshan Station (Zhongshan Station) and leave from exit 1, following the map as provided here:

Da-An Forest Park – the Woods in our City

The moment we entered the area, we thought: “it has to be the woods!!”. However, to our surprise, it turned out to be the Da-An Forest Park (大安森林公園  Ta-An Sên-Lin Kung Yüan / Da-An Sen-Lin Kong Yuan). Some people call it the “Central Park of Taipei” because there are so many trees and plants in the park. Well, to tell you the truth, it’s hard to compare these two parks, however, the Da-An Forest Park is beyond doubt impressive!

I love such clear blue sky with trees.
Walking in the Park. I love such clear blue sky with trees.

Certainly, vegetation is an extremely important feature of a city, but admittedly, it is rarely seen in most cities due to the urbanization. Thus, I was quite amazed to see such a place, like the Da-An Park, in Taipei. In fact, the Da-An Park is the biggest greenery in Taipei which accomodates not only the woods, but also a hill, a concert hall and even a small lake with a tiny island hosting a lot of wild birds!

On top of that, the park is located in a residential and school area, therefore, the skyline is clear since there are only few tall buildings. Anyway, why not take a better look at how beautiful the place is!

The area has been designated as the “7th Park for Taipei” since 1932, as it is one of the urban parks planned by the Japanese Government. After the World War II, the place was utilized as a garrison for military police and two military dependents’ villages until the tearing down in 1992. After 2 years of construction, the Da-An Forest Park was opened in spring of 1994.

In the photos above, you can see the statue of Kuan Yin (there also is a temple dedicated to him in Treasure Hill), a small hill, the Concert Hall, and a sample of soil horizon! (Click each photo for more information!)

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Chicken Lanterns in Da-An Forest Park. 2017 is the year of Chicken and the couple were set for the Lantern Festival during Lunar New Year.

As it was mentioned before, there is a small lake, or “ecological pond”, which attracts various kinds of wild birds to find shelter on the small islands inside the lake! Many photographers or bird lovers come here to watch the birds and sometimes, they even spend hours in this place!

Some birds are quite friendly to people. So, they may go out of the lake and walk in the park freely!

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Those ducklings went out of preservation range to seek food!

The park is considered as home for various species of the fauna; including, fireflies. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to see any fireflies, because the season was too early. But, I am sure, we’ll see next time!

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Let’s hide-and-seek!
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Flowers in Da-An Forest Park. The place locates in the area linked to the subway station.

If you want to visit the park, you can take the MRT Red Line to Da-An Forest Station, since the station is part of the park’s grounds. The station is well designed as it features intensive glass curtains and two “Light Towers” to collect sunlight for the lobby of station, while there are a garden with stream upstair and a terrace with ponds downstair. Outsides the garden, there is a coffee shop. You can sit there and enjoy a cup of coffee, while talking with your friends in this nice garden amidst this busy city.

Address: No. 1, Section 2, Hsin-Shêng South Road, Da-An District, 10657 Taipei City, Taiwan

Visiting Information: Take MRT Red Line to [R06] Da-An Park Station (Da-An Forest Park) and leave the station by exits 2, 4, and 5. Then, you will be in the park!

P.S. We have really fallen in love with this place, so we even stayed there until the moon came out! And it’s rare to see the New Moon and the Venus at the same time!! We were so LUCKY!!

A walk around Taipei City – Urban Style

So far, we have introduced you very specific spots of Taipei, like museums, restaurants, particular people, shops and … so on …. so on. However we haven’t shown you the most important thing …. The Taipei City itself; The cradle which hosts all these wonderful people and places.

So, the purpose of this post is to take you with us to our strolls around the town and show you the urban aspect of this amazing and diverse city of the far East. Are you ready to walk?

↑ These places in the photos above are the East Gate Town (東門町 Tung Mêng Ting), which used to be the residential area of civil servants located in the south of Taipei, and the West Gate Town (西門町 Hsi Mêng Ting); the place is located in the west of Taipei and it gathers mostly youths and fashion trends.

As you can see, Taipei has nothing to envy from a western city. You can find anything you want at any time of the day. Of course, the mentality and the aesthetics is quite different from the western standards, as it fuses the Chinese, Japanese, and Western styles. However, as soon as you get used to it, you realize that this is exactly what makes Taipei so attractive.

↑ Here you can see a part of the Inner City (left and top right); as well as parts of the southern Taipei (rest of two pic).

Walking down the streets of the city made us realize that we never felt insecure. In most western cities, riding the subway or walking in crowded places is not very safe because you may get pick-pocketed or molested. However, this is not the case with Taipei. Even when we were walking alone during the night, we never faced any incident. Well, we can’t tell whether we were lucky or ignorant, but certainly Taipei felt like a very safe city for tourists and locals.

↑ In the photos above (in the top 3) you can see the Ta-An Forest park, which is located in the south of Taipei. Some describe it as the “Central Park of Taipei” because its name stands for what it is: a forest. It even has a small lake. (we will come back with an independent post about it.) The bottom photo shows the Nan Hai Academy, a very typical Chinese building.

Despite the fact that Taipei is a huge city, it’s remarkable that you can go from the one part of the city to another really easy. Coming from a country quite unorganized, we were astounded by the easy access to any means of transportation; be it subway, bus or train. Indeed, the transportation network is extremely well organized and friendly to the tourists. (OK, apart from the fact we personally can’t read Chinese. 😛 ) So, even without a local guide, it actually needs effort for someone to get lost. Plus, Taiwanese people are very polite and they will assist you in case of emergency. By the way, riding a taxi in Taipei is outrageously …. cheap! So in case of need don’t hesitate to call a cab.

As we’ve mentioned before, Taipei is surrounded by nature. You may start walking and you’ll find yourself close to the nature within a small amount of time. Nature and civilization coexist in this city harmonically. This place in the photos above is close to Treasure Hill in the south of Taipei.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the tour around the city. Of course, there are so many other parts of the town to see, but our purpose here is to give you a taste and tempt you to come and see by yourself. Exploring Taipei is a life time experience. So, how about you book your tickets … ?

The National Palace Museum – the Forbidden City Reversed

The National Palace Museum

– Is this a Temple dedicated to God?

“No.”

– Then, is it the Imperial Court?

“Nope.”

This is a museum. To be more precise, it is the National Palace Museum  (國立故宮博物院 Kuo-li Ku-Kong Po-wu-yüan or Guo-li Gu-Gong Bo-wu-yuan, “National Old Palace Grand Museum”).

To your information, the National Palace Museum can be traced back in 1925; and in the 47 years since its construction, it has undergone five expansion projects to reach the proportions seen today. Indeed, it is consisted of 3 floors containing the main exhibitions, plus the basement where visitors can find souvenirs and other information related to the museum. At the moment, a new ward is under construction, but it’s not open to the public yet.

As I mentioned already, the museum was established during 1925. However, It was originally located in Peking/Beijin, and more specifically in the Ts-Chin-Chêng (紫禁城 Zi-Jin-Cheng, “Purple Imperial Palace”), commonly known to the West as the Forbidden City. Since the Forbidden City was used as a palace, hence the museum was named “Palace Museum”. Moreover, this is also the reason why the Museum is build like a palace or more precisely, like a Ming-T’ang (明堂) – the place where an emperor used to hold meetings or worship ancestors-and-gods, with Northern Chinese style. The building itself is build in turquoise, yellow, and white. Although. turquoise is quite rare to see in Chinese buildings, this could possibly be  an implication to the Chinese Dragon (Lung 龍), while yellow is the symbol color of the Emperor in Chinese culture.

All the exhibits within the National Palace Museum are of unique beauty and aesthetics; each of them evidences the cultural identity of this nation and unfolds the long history of the Island.

Among the exhibits, you can find a large part of the Manchurian Empire (滿清帝國, also known as Ch’ing or Qing, China’s last imperial dynasty) holdings, which were transported to Taiwan in 1949, after avoiding the flames of war; the objects are housed in the National Palace Museum since then.

Additionally, the National Palace Museum hostes two iconic “national treasures” of Chinese; the Jadeite Cabbage and and the Meat-shaped Stone. However, we can only see the Cabbage, as the Meat is currently located in the newly-opened the South Branch of National Palace Museum in Ka-gī (嘉義 Chia-yi). We are certainly visiting it!!

The Jade Cabbage
Jadeite Cabbage

To your historical briefing, the “national  treasures” in the museum were taken by the KMT-led government from the Peking (Beijing) National Palace Museum near the end of Chinese Civil War (or Chinese Revolution). This act is indicative of the complicated history of Taiwan – especially after the World War II.

Without doubt, the National Palace Museum in Taipei is not only a exemplar of architectural beauty, but also a place where every visitor can admire the cultural heritage and prosperity of this country. It accepts millions of visitors every year, with the overall number exceeding the 4.36 million.

So, if you ever find yourself in Taipei – whether you are a tourist or a national of Taiwan -, you definitely have to visit the National Palace Museum in order to get a better insight of the long and ambiguous history of this country.

Visiting Information: Unlike most of the museum, National Palace Museum is open everyday! You can visit there during 8:30 to 18:30, and it’s extended until 21:00 on Friday and Saturday!

Address: No.221, Sec. 2, Chi-Shan Road, Shi-Lin District, 11143 Taipei City, Taiwan

What’s Nearby?

  1. Chih-Shan Yüan (Garden of Great Virtuous) [Coming Soon!]
  2. Silks Palace at the National Palace Museum [Coming Soon!]