Friday, July 16, 2010

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Chiang Kai-shek Presidential Residence, Shilin

7/16/2010 Taiwan Explorer
A wonderful garden full of history


The Chiang Kai-shek Presidential Residence or Shilin Official Residence 士林官邸 in northern part of Taipei City) is today an ecological garden, which is open to public. It used to be the home of Taiwan's (actually R.O.C.'s ) former president Chinag Kai-shek, an important figure in 20th century Chinese history, a key figure in both China and Taiwan. He was president of Republic of China from 1948 until his death in 1975. He was also Director-general of the Chinese nationalist party (or Kuomintang) from 1938-1975, he fought the Japanese during WWII and the Chinese communists during the Chinese Civil war (1927-1950). When his forces were losing most of the battles against the communists in the Chinese Mainland, he and 2 million of his soldiers retreated to Taiwan, where he reigned and lived until his death in 1975. Taiwan was not a democracy under his rule, his lifelong dream was to reconquer China and unite it with Taiwan.

Mrs. and Mr. Chiang on a poster at the entrance.

His official residence was in Shilin District, the part of Taipei, which is very close to nature and much more peaceful. His wife, Madame Chiang (born Soong Mei-ling, 1898-2003) was a fascinating woman herself. She was a fluent English speaker, a Christian and very popular in America. She was on the cover of TIME magazine (1937), her public appearances drew crowds as big as 30.000 and she was the first Chinese person and the second woman to address both houses of the American Congress. She died at the age of 105 years.

Both lived in the Official Residence from 1950 to 1975. After his death, Madame Chiang moved to New York (USA). The heavily fortified and guarded residence was opened to public in 1996. Today you can visit the beautiful gardens every day from 8-17h (at weekends to 19h). But you'll see many tourists in huge groups from Mainland China and sometimes it's hard to make a photo of some of the main sights. It's better, if you go early in the morning, if you're going with the intention to make some panoramic photos.

The residence is easy to find: Take the Red line MRT from Taipei Main Station to Shilin Statio. You can find maps of Shilin at the station, that will direct you to the residence, you'll need to walk about 10min to arrive there.

Let me share some photos of the Shilin Official Residence:

A direction sign near the entrance makes it easy to find your way.

Roses were one of Madame Chiang's favorite flowers.

Outdoor amphitheater.

Bears or mice? I don't know. But pretty cute, right?

Orchard and patches.

This is called "The face of Mother Earth".

A cute Taiwanese girl. You can see quite many here.

The face from close.

The whole area is called "True love of the mother Earth".

The Official Residence of Mr. and Madame Chiang (photo taken through bars).

The residence itself is not open to public.



After walking around the gardens for a while, my girlfriend and I took a rest on some of the benches under some old trees. We had some donuts and a cute kitty paid us a visit. The cat was hungry so we fed it, but once she finished few chunks of our donuts, she became lively and started to run around and catch mice.

A nice pavilion.

The residence from another angle (taken through the bars of the gate).

Blooming bushes.

Another nice traditional Chinese pavilion.

The orchid pavilion.

Lovely orchids inside.

The famous and popular Victoria chapel from inside.

The president's Cadillac. I would recommend you to see this part of Taipei and combine history with nature.

The Shilin Presidential Residence is really a lovely place. And there's so much more to see. We've been there in spring, but I'd love to visit in summer and autumn just to see the beautiful changes of nature.


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Pinyin: Shìlín Guāndǐ
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