Monday, August 2, 2010

The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial

The map I have has the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial listed as the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which makes it sound like a university lecture hall.

"I have Organic 'til 12:30 in Chiang Kai-shek. Wanna meet at the student center for lunch after? It's chicken parm day."

Aside: if it was chicken parm day, Liang and I would totally be there.

Chiang was one of the leaders of the Nationalist Party in mainland China. After the Nationalists were defeated by the Communists, they fled the mainland for Taiwan. Where, as Wikipedia so gracefully puts it, "Chiang ruled the island with an iron fist as the President of the Republic of China [nation-state to which Taiwan belongs] and Director-General of the Kuomintang [Chinese Nationalist Party] until his death in 1975."

The Memorial is actually an enormous complex. This is essentially the welcome gate.

A theatre and a symphony hall on either side of the enormous courtyard running from the gate to the actual memorial.

Halfway along, we pause for a photo. I tell Liang at least three times that what Taiwan needs is more reflecting pools.

In case you can't read the text: No entry for those wearing slippers or slovenly dress.

And inside is a massive statue of Chiang Kai-shek, a 'la Ol'Abe back in Washington.

Though, as you may suppose from the wikipedia statement, Chiang's legacy is contentious, whereas who hates Abraham Lincoln (Vampire Hunter)?


Mum said...

I can imagine your surprise when you arrived at this memorial. It is certainly bigger than a lecture hall. It looks like a beautiful complex.

DPLK said...

Crossing that plaza was like crossing a desert--it was so hot, the ground was radiating heat...thank goodness there was some semblance of a breeze. It was very impressive, though.

The memorial itself is fairly controversial...the last administration (DPP, the opposition party to the Nationalist Party) changed the name of the memorial to make it less focused on Chiang (trying to get rid of Nationalist Party references all over Taiwan, including the airport). The name/plaque has been restored now; there's a whole Wiki article about it!