Taipei Tourist Spots: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, Taipei 101 and Ximending

The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

It’s always fun to allow yourself to be touristy at times, especially when new to a destination. And since it’s my first time in Taiwan, I was interested to see the famous spots that makes Taipei distinctive. The significant attractions that iconize and built the country throughout the years. Here’s a visit to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, Taipei 101 and Ximending.

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San Pascual | Balinsasayaw House: Home to 80,000 Swiftlets

Close up with a couple of swiftlets
Close up with a couple of swiftlets

At the towering limestone cliff walls in Palawan or high up the ceiling in the deep cave chambers in Cagayan, I have seen harvesters risk their lives climbing sharp walls or hanging by the ceiling supported only by a rope in order to gather the swiftlet bird’s nest. The swiftlets locally known as the Balinsasayaw uses their saliva to build their nest. When the nest is submerged in water, it becomes gelatinous and has been used as an exotic ingredient by the Chinese in their Bird’s Nest soup for over 400 years. People risk their lives for this as this lucrative nest cost about US$2000 per kilo. A house however in San Pascual, Burias Island in Masbate have another story. There is a Balinsasayaw House where an estimate of 80,000 swiftlets live right under their basement.

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Cotabato City: People’s Palace and Al Nor Complex Changing Lifestyle

The People's Palace, seat of the local government in Cotabato City
The People's Palace, seat of the local government in Cotabato City

If one would imagine Cotabato City solely from how media paints it to be, I would picture people cowering in fear hiding in their homes, areas devastated by bomb blast or probably a war zone (now that is exaggerating a bit). But being there is different. I didn’t have heightened alarms ringing in my head like when I was in Basilan during an election period, and I see people, families happily going around the street. Yes there are military check points for safety purposes but threats to security won’t stop this city from developing, especially with the people striving for a change. With the old structures are new establishments changing the way Cotabateños live.

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Pyin U Lwin: Wandering Around the British Hill Town

Pyin U Lwin walker
Pyin U Lwin walker

Pyin U Lwin is all about rest and relaxation. On my 6th day journey through Myanmar, I decided that it was the perfect day to turn-off the alarm clock and stay tucked under the sheets a bit longer than usual. Letting the cool climate dictate when I should be up and about. But that plan partly failed as I was already up by 7am. Good thing I was excited to explore Pyin U Lwin, a town which is still part of Mandalay Division is characterized by its strong British influence found almost 3500ft above sea level at the Shan State Highlands.

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Yangon: Mesmerized by the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda

The Magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda at twilight
The Magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda at twilight

Surprisingly, the endless stream of people didn’t bother me at all. My sight was fixated at the cone-shaped stupa piercing the sky. The afternoon light strikes its slab of gold layers making it shimmer magnificently under the sun. I am humbled by the towering presence of the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred, the most ancient and the 2nd oldest Buddhist pagoda not only in Burma but all over the world. Surrounding the main stupa are numerous mini stupas, shrines, pavilions and prayer halls that it’s easy to get lost on the platform on a hill and be overwhelmed by the many details.

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Fly and Sail Day 2: Soaring High Above the City in the Singapore Flyer

View of the City from the Singapore Flyer
View of the City from the Singapore Flyer

A 360-degree panorama of Singapore’s modern city and nearby land areas of Malaysia and Singapore unfolded in front of our eyes as our capsule steadily soar high up the giant steel wheel known as the Singapore Flyer. Modern skyscrapers spread out like a rise and fall of a 3D chart and portions of some reclaimed areas promised more structures which from the looks of it came from an architect’s sci-fi dreams. It was mid-day but the view was impressive, how much more if it was late afternoon when the city starts to light-up under the twilight cloak.

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Cagayan: The Legend of Apo Lakay-lakay in Claveria

The Legendary Lakay-lakay Rock formations in Claveria
The Legendary Lakay-lakay Rock formations in Claveria

The afternoon spent chasing waterfalls has gone. After seeing Portabaga, Macatel and Mabnang Falls it’s time to head back to Claveria. We know the town shuts down early so we had to get back to catch the eateries in the evening. It was a timely arrival in front of our inn as the sun was about to set over the distinct landmark of Lakay-lakay, a legendary group of rock formations at Taggat Lagoon clearly seen from the beach of Claveria. Among the delighted crowd playing along the waves of Claveria Beach, I remember the tale Mang Bong told us about Apo Lakay-lakay during our Parambolan feast.

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