It was barely sunrise when we walked through the grand archway of the Dajhong Jhihjheng gate into Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The open plaza, bordered by the brilliant white Memorial Hall, and the pagoda-style National Concert Hall and National Theatre, is typically buzzing with activity. This morning it was serene. We could hear the sound of flowing water and smell the flowers in the nearby gardens and koi ponds.
We watched as a small group of locals — young and old — congregated in the plaza, offering hushed greetings and subtle bows. As if on cue, the conversations stopped, each claimed a spot on the tiled terrace, and stood stock still. Moments later, they began to perform Tai Chi. They moved like ballet dancers, nearly trance-like, in slow-motion movements, gently and fluidly lifting their legs, swirling their bodies, twirling their arms. We gazed in mesmerized silence as they performed their beautiful morning ritual.
It wasn’t long before the sun rose in the sky, bouncing shafts of light off the blue-glazed roof tiles of Memorial Hall. More people began to arrive, tour buses pulled up, and the bustle of the day began. But for at least a little while that morning, our world slowed down to an incredibly peaceful pace.
21 Zhongshan South Road. Free. 011-886-2-2343-1100, www.cksmh.gov.tw/eng/index.php