Travel often unveils how ignorant we are about the history that happened far away from us.
Before visiting Taiwan, I did not know what is the difference between the Republic of China (ROC) and the People's Republic of China (PRC). But after being there a couple of times, it became quite clear that China is not popular in Taiwan and that you shall never call refer to a Taiwanese as Chinese. Why? Because China does not recognize the independence of Taiwan. When did this start? How? Who are these Chiang Kai-Sek and Sun Yat-sen fellas that, besides having incredibly long names are also worth impressive Memorial Halls?
Taiwan is a pacific island, between Japan, Philippines and China. Lush mountains, paradise coastline. Discovered but the Dutch and Spanish, that named it Formosa. Qin dinasty would eventually recover control of the beautiful island until 1895, when it was ceded to Japan. The Japanese influence remains very strong - at least on what I've seen so far - 50 years are a long time and wandering the streets of Taipei feels very much like exploring Tokyo. But Japan lost a war in 1945, so what would happen with Taiwan then?
Indeed, China had also been through a lot of wars, for a much longer time.
The Qing Dynasty (the last), collapsed in 1912. The Republic of China (ROC) was then born but this period dug China into the Warlord era - the country was a bit Game of Thrones at the time, where power was split among powerful independent warlords. Meanwhile, Sun Yat-Sen, lead the national unificationist Kuomintang (KMT) party, seeking foreign support as an attempt to unify the country. Sun Yat-sen turned into the father of China but help from the Soviet Union eventually resulted on the foundation of the Communist Party of China (CPC). As we say in Spanish "give me a hand, but not to the neck..."
This kicked off the fight for power between Nationalists and Communists, on a civil war that started in 1927 with Chiang Kai-Sek (who essentially followed Sun Yat-Sen's ideas) on one side and the communists on the other. He will eventually lose the war, with the People's Republic of China (PRC) taking over Mainland China in 1949 and the ROC (in-pieces) reallocating to Taiwan.
Today, China (PRC) says that Taiwan is the 23rd province of China. Taiwan (ROC) claims independence and the international scene looks to another direction. International recognition of the ROC has gradually eroded as most countries switched recognition to the PRC.
The Memorial Hall is packed with heaps of Chinese tourists, offloaded from those "buses of terror" featuring "guide with umbrella in hand" and "gazillion tourist group who would get lost in 5s without the guide - in a country where their native language is spoken".
However, the building is impressive and specially, the park in the surroundings is a breeze to explore, with its Feng Shui Garden and a Bigtom ice-cream house, for increased chill with sweet bubble tea by the lake.
What is Bubble Tea?? A taiwanese drink that contains little balls of tapioca nicknamed bōbà (波霸) slang for "large breasts" that sounds like "bubble". It is very popular in Asia - we used to have a Taiwanese bubble tea place near our home in Daikanyama which was ALWAYS having a queue in the entrance - but honestly, has always felt way to sweet thing for me.