Sorry, there won’t be much in the way of pics today. We spent the morning at the National Palace Museum, which doesn’t allow cameras. However, I’ll try to attach some commercial photos of the biggest attractions.

We started by making our way up the several hundred steps required to get to the entrance to the museum, which is built on the slope of one of the many mountains around Taipei.

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We immediately headed to the 3rd floor to check out the biggest attractions. First up was the jade cabbage, a large piece of jade carved to look like piece of cabbage with two grasshoppers on top. It’s considered one of the best examples of “cute jade” carvings, which use the natural color variations in jade to enhance a carving.
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Another famous piece found at the National Palace Museum is the meat shaped stone. It’s layered jasper that is carved to look like a piece of pork cooked in soy sauce, complete with the layers of skin, meat, and fat you’d find in the actual piece of food.
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The other famous things we saw were the nested ivory ball and olive stone boat. The nested ivory ball is an intricately carved single piece of ivory. What makes it so interesting is that a series of balls were carved out of a single piece of ivory inside each other so that you can rotate the balls inside each other. I’ve done a bit of research since then and I think that this one has a total of 21 layers of balls, which is amazing. We could only see six layers in person. Apparently this was a child’s toy, and the goal was to pass an ivory pin all the way through the ball by lining up the holes properly. Here’s a picture of the ball without the other ivory trimmings that were on display with it. For reference, the ball is probably about the size of my fist and the gap between layers was probably 1/16 of an inch or so.
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In the same room was the olive stone boat, a tiny carving of a covered river boat with 8 people on board and working doors on the sides. In addition, 300 characters of text are carved in the bottom. This is amazing because the whole carving is a little more than an inch in length. The whole thing isn’t much larger than my thumb from the tip down to the first knuckle.
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We looked at plenty of other stuff, though it was still only a small fraction of their collection, and then headed to the gift shop. We picked up two scrolls to hang on the wall – one of a famous poem in Chinese calligraphy and the other of a famous Chinese painting.

After grabbing lunch, we headed toward Taipei 101. Unfortunately, when we got close we noted that we couldn’t see more than halfway up the building due to the low cloud cover. So instead, we did some shopping. At one point, I was able to catch a view of the building between the clouds, though, so here’s an image of the building at night.
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For dinner we met Dawin’s uncle and his family at a very popular teppanyaki (a.k.a. hibachi) restaurant, where he’d reserved a private room and the executive chef himself to cook our meal. This was serious teppanyaki; no onion volcanoes, no flipping shrimp onto plates, just 3+ hours and 7 courses of seriously good food. If you ever get to Taipei, Robin’s Teppanyaki is highly recommended.

Tomorrow, we’re headed back to the airport in the morning, so this will wrap up the Taiwan 2012 blog series. It was a ton of fun. Can’t wait to come back. Though next time I plan to know some of the language. It’s tough to have zero communication abilities. In Europe I could at least read the written language and try to pronounce things, and since many of those languages have common ties I could sometimes even tell what the words meant. In Taiwan, I had nothing, so the goal is at least to be able to have a simple conversation next time.