Monday, March 31, 2014

1600 Pandas World Tour - Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂) [Taiwan Day 211: Black and White - March 30, 2014]


"Panda army invades Taipei”. I had read this news in Taipei Times a few months ago. After invading Paris, Hamburg, Rome and other cities in the world, 1600 pandas marched to Taipei for a successful invasion. They have conquered Taipei City Hall, the Taipei MRT and other scenic places in Taipei. Their last stop was the Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) Memorial Hall and I went there to meet and greet the black and white battalion.
 


 
It was my second time in CKS. My first time was when I went to see the baby mammoth “Yuka” in Taiwan Day 134 entitled “Ice Age”. Unlike my first adventure in CKS which was an indoor exhibit this panda exhibition was an outdoor one. It featured 1600 paper mache pandas made by the French artist Paulo Grangeon. It was said that there were only 1600 pandas left in the wild and this Pandas World Tour aims to remind people of their diminishing number. Aside from the pandas, there were also a few paper mache Formosan bear to remind Taiwanese of their endangered bear. The Formosan bear has a characteristic V white strip at its chest making it very unique.














The pandas were staged in the plaza between the National Opera House and National Concert Hall. I couldn’t distinguish any difference between the two because they looked the same for me. They are very big buildings with an orange roof. They looked like giant temples and I imagined that I was in Korea. I consider CKS as the Luneta of Taiwan while the National Opera House and National Concert Hall equivalent to the Cultural Center of the Philippines.







The main highlight of this adventure was to take pictures with the pandas. There were areas where you can touch, hug and have pictures with life-size baby pandas and I queued to have my pictures taken by the staff. It was a nice experience. 



I was the only one among the line who doesn’t have any companion. Most of the people were families having their family bonding on a Sunday morning. I was even asked by a Taiwanese guy to take a picture of his family with the 1600 pandas as the background and in return I asked him to take my picture with the thousands of pandas also as the background.



My favorite photos were the ones with the giant Formosan bear with the CKS Hall behind. It was panoramic and the pictures have a ‘Taiwanese’ touch. 


My whole set of pictures will always remind me that I am in Taipei and in Taiwan Day 211 I saw 1600 pandas. All in black and white!
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