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Taichung City, center of economy, communication and culture in the middle of Taiwan Province, is the third biggest city of the Province as well. Situated at the center of the Taichung Basin, west part of the Taiwan Island, Taichung City was established in Qing Dynasty, 1886 (the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu's reign), which was once the provincial capital of Taiwan.
The terrain of Taichung City is high in the north and low in the south, the western side of which though facing sea, yet is blocked by mountains, thus scarcely being the victim of typhoon attack. Renowned as the cleanest city of Taiwan, the streets and roads of Taichung City are neat, quiet and tastefully laid out. There are tourist centers inside the city area, like Zhongshan Park, Baojue Temple and Confucian Temple. They are the cultural center of Buddhism of Taiwan, and over years the Buddhist dharma gatherings are all held here. Always being known as a city of culture, Taichung has many colleges and universities of high education which are only secondary to Taipei City.
The Parkway. This narrow corridor of greenery forms a pleasant parkway which runs south/north between the Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Natural Science, intersected by the main Taizhonggang Rd. You can spend minutes or hours walking along it, or just relax in one of the parks.
The southern end is home to the Art Museum with Modern and Traditional exhibits, a cafe on the third floor and a garden area which is particularly popular with families at the weekend. Linked to the Art Museum is the Taichung City Cultural Affairs Bureau, with a large reading room among other facilities.
At the north end of the Parkway behind the Science Museum is a botanical garden home to interesting plants and trees (with a few dinosaurs hiding in them). You can climb to the top of the little hill and listen to the birds singing. Some Taichung residents do Tai Chi and other exercises outside the Museum, early in the morning. Beyond the botanical garden, is a cycle track and path where the greenery continues through a more residential area. The gardens here are carefully tended by locals. The roses create beautiful perfumes in the evening.
Shops on either side include cafe's, restaurants and a 24 hour optician. If you continue walking along this path, it takes you West, past the university hospital to another nice place - Zhongsheng Park. Here there is an open-air swimming pool, old style benches and a foot massage path.
From Zhongzheng Park, North and across the river is the Baojiue Temple. South of the park is the Yizhong Street area, Confucius Temple, Martyrs Shrine, Chungyo department store, Taichung Gym and Taichung Park.
The downtown area is sufficiently compact to make it easy to get around on foot, although many shop owners will utilize the sidewalk in front of their business. This can make walking something of an ordeal, dodging traffic as you are forced to walk on the street.
Make sure the maps in your guide book have "english" as well as "chinese" characters, so you and the cabdriver can communicate by pointing at the map. Cabdrivers only speak chinese.
As Taichung is located in the middle of Taiwan, it is conveniently located for making trips to both Taipei and Kaohsiung. There are frequent, comfortable and inexpensive freeway-bus services plying the routes. The journey to either city by bus or train takes around 3 hours, or as little as 1.5 hours given optimal traffic conditions.
As in many Asian countries, night markets are a staple of Taiwanese entertainment, shopping and eating. Night markets are open-air markets, usually on a street or alleyway, with vendors selling all sorts of wares on every side.
The currency of Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD, but also referred to as TWD). An easy rule of thumb is that NT$100 roughly equals US$3. Plenty of ATM's around.
Most hotels and department stores accept credit cards, most restaurants and small stores do not !
English is sporadic spoken.
Cafes which offer free WiFi for customers are plentiful, although you may have to wander around before finding one. Rather, Cafes which offer free WiFi for customers in Taiwan should be called gaming cafes.
There seem not set opening hours for stores, it seems as long as there are customers they stay open. Chinese New Year, 6 days long, is the time when all the Taiwanese are traveling and transportation can be very hectic.
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