All too soon the day of our last stop on the Japan cruise arrived - albeit in Taiwan and not Japan. Although we would return to Kobe Japan in three days' time, we would have a hectic schedule that included a 5 hour bullet train ride from Kobe to Tokyo to catch our 6:10 pm return flight. So this, our stop in Taiwan, was our last day to tour.
Our ship actually docked in Keelung, a half hour drive northeast of Taipei. We had booked an excursion from the cruise line, the National Palace & Chiang Kai Shek's Memorial Hall tour that went from 8 am until 1:30 pm. On our return from that tour we'd still have some time left, but the area in Keelung near the ship seemed mostly industrial.
Our first stop, after a bit over a half hour in what appeared to be rush hour traffic, was at the National Palace Museum. According to Google maps, this museum has "one of the largest collections of Chinese art & artifacts in the world." Even the outside appears to be a work of art. The looks are deceiving as well, as much of the building is actually below ground, so it's even larger than it appears in the picture below.
Our next stop was at the National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine, perfectly timed so we could watch the changing of the guard.
After watching the changing of the guard we went to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Our last stop was to catch a glimpse of the Taipei 101 Tower. When first opened in 2004 this was the tallest building in the world. It kept that honor until 2009 when a taller building opened in Dubai.
Although the tower is meant to represent a stalk of bamboo reaching into the sky to connect heaven and earth, to some western observers it appears to be a set of Chinese food takeout containers.
All too soon it was time to head back to the ship and from there to Kobe, Tokyo and finally San Francisco. It was a wonderful trip, especially the week on our own planned in meticulous detail by Elizabeth. Although this was our second time to Japan, this was by far our most memorable experience in Japan, as well as South Korea and Taiwan.