Saturday, February 16, 2013

Another Visit to the Chiang Kai Shek Mausoleum

That Funky Monkey, even on three legs he's fast
During Chinese New Year, we thought it would be a good idea to take some friends on a trip into the mountains.  We had a pretty extensive list of things that we wanted to visit.  At the top of that list was a three-legged Formosan Rock Monkey that hangs out on this walking bridge up in the mountains.  i first made his acquaintance while showing a friend the bamboo forest.  We stopped at the bridge to check it out when the monkey appeared.

My first thought was that I was seeing some actual Taiwanese wildlife.  I couldn't believe this monkey was that bold.  Unfortunately, so many people had fed this monkey that he was now reduced to hanging out and begging from visitors.  he'd long ago quit doing what monkeys do to find food, he now was just bumming scraps of food from the tourists.  The absolute highlight of that visit though, was when that monkey went after some kid who was teasing him and chased him around the parking lot a couple of times.  That was when I knew that this monkey was a kindred spirit.  I wanted to chase that kid around the lot myself.

The bridge where the monkey lives
I had assumed that people wouldn't be in the mountains during Chinese New Year.  I figured they'd be hanging around their homes with relatives.  I was wrong.  It took me more than an hour just to get through a small part of Daxi.  I sat at the same stoplight through twenty rotations.  Everyone was driving to the mountains on that particular day.  We were able to get as far as the Chiang Kai Shek mausoleum before we were hopelessly mired in the traffic.  So we visited the mausoleum and went home.

The mausoleum was packed with people, many of them tourists from mainland China.  We looked at the statue garden, where statues of Chiang from all over the island were gathered a few years back.  It's interesting because there are many statues in the same pose throughout the island.  At one point in history these statues were found all over the island, but were removed during Chen Shuibian's Adminsitration and brought to the mausoleum.

The lake near the mausoleum
After that we took the hike up to the mausoleum itself.  The area surrounding the mausoleum is beautiful.  There is a lake there that's home to about ten swans, both black and white, although at one time there were eighty-nine.  The swans are carefully numbered and have bands that denote their sex.  Chiang felt that the swans symbolized purity, loyalty and elegance.

The mausoleum is handicap-accessible they have constructed ramps for wheelchairs to make it easy for visitors to pay their respects.  The staff members carry little paddles asking guests to please be quiet as you visit Chiang's resting place.  There is an honor guard that is changed every hour.

Other Posts you may be interested in:

Taiwanese History:  The Chiang Kai Shek Mausoleum
Traveling with M13:  The Sequel:  Return to Toad Valley
Taiwan Travelogue:  The Cross Island Highway