Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises

Welcome to Taipei

The New and the Old

Taipei is the capital of Taiwan and an exciting blend of modern and traditional. About three million people or one third of the total population of Taiwan live in Taipei. Here visitors can see one of the world's tallest skyscrapers and ancient temples. Modern restaurants and traditional night markets serve food for all appetites. For fun, locals like to sing karaoke, a Japanese style of singing modern songs, or they can go to classical music performances.

Taipei, Taiwan

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Facts about Taiwan

Taiwan is an island near the southeast coast of China.

Earth in the morning. Eastern China and Taiwan

The Strait of Taiwan, a channel of water 180 km (110 miles) wide, separates Taiwan from China. The people of Taiwan call their island "The Sweet Potato" because of its small round shape.

The official language is Mandarin Chinese. The government of Taiwan calls itself the Republic of China. Taiwan says that it represents all the Chinese people. The People's Republic of China disagrees with this statement. There is much tension between Taiwan and China, but the people of Taiwan have lived in peace for many years. During this time, the economy has grown and the people enjoy high levels of education and health care.


The National Palace Museum has one of the largest collections of Chinese artifacts in the world. The Museum contains over 650,000 pieces of Chinese art. Only a small part of the collection is on display at one time because the collection is so big!

Chiang kai shek memorial hall in Taiwan

Visitors can see Chinese calligraphy, porcelain, and paintings dating back almost 10,000 years. Many of these artifacts were chosen by Chinese emperors for their personal collections. Popular objects to see in the museum are a jade sculpture in the shape of a cabbage, a bronze bell made for a king, and a stone shaped like a piece of meat.

Longshan Temple, a Buddhist temple built in 1738, is one of the most important sites in Taipei for architectural and religious reasons. The temple building mixes a traditional Chinese courtyard design with the design of a palace.

Mengjia Longshan Temple for a mixture of Buddhist and Taoist deities in Taipei, Taiwan

The outside of the building has curved lines and colorful dragons and birds that look down from the roof.  Fancy stone and wood shapes decorate the walls.

Longshan is also important as a place of worship. The temple was built to honor the god of mercy, but altars for hundreds of gods and goddesses line the sides and back of the temple.

Visitors come every day to listen as crowds of religious people sing prayers or chant early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

A huge stalk of bamboo looks out over the city. That's Taipei 101, a skyscraper shaped like a stalk of bamboo. For years, Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world.

City of Taipei at night, Taiwan

Visitors go to shop, to get a sky high view of the city, or just to ride the thrilling elevator. The first five floors of the building contain one of the fanciest malls in town. On the 90th floor tourists can walk around the outdoor observation deck and see breath-taking views of the city and mountains. Even the ride up to the observation deck is exciting. The elevator zooms up the 90 floors in only 40 seconds!

A short ride from Taipei sits Yangmingshan National Park, one of nine national parks in Taiwan.

Yangmingshan national park in Taiwan

A popular attraction in the park is the historical Zhongshan Building. The classical sloping green roof and bright white walls of Zhongshan make a stunning picture set against the hills of the park.

The building honors the first president of Taiwan. A picture of Zhongshan Building was recently put on Taiwan's one-hundred dollar bill.

To enjoy the natural beauty of the park, visitors can take a guided tour. They learn about the volcanic activity which formed the terrain of the park. They can walk around an extinct volcano and feel the gas and steam that still escapes from underground.

Hiking trails bring walkers through a bamboo forest out to a field called the Valley of the Sun. Hikers view a peaceful field dotted with cattle grazing on thick green grass.

Another peaceful area of the park is Bamboo Lake where a 13 hectare (32 acre) field of flowers blossoms at different times of the year to the delight of visitors.

Drinking and eating the way the locals do is a great way to experience the fun personality of Taipei. Visitors should try bubble tea, a tea drink mixed with tapioca balls and milk. Tea houses all over the city serve many variations of bubble tea. This drink is probably Taiwan's most famous export. People in North America and many other countries now love bubble tea too.

Jioufen village, Taipei, Taiwan

For dining, Taipei is famous for its night markets. On certain streets outdoor vendors serve snacks from late at night until early morning. Students and office workers gather at the night markets to snack and socialize with their friends. Shilin Night market is probably the most famous night market in Taiwan. Here brave tourists can snack like the locals on a Taiwan specialty – stinky bean curd (a thick soft substance that is formed when milk turns sour).

A fun way to see many of these attractions plus more is by bicycle. Visitors can join an 8 hour bicycle tour around the city and through the down town area. The tour stops at 20 popular attractions including a traditional breakfast restaurant (food is included in the price of the tour), Longshan Temple, Taipei 101, and many others. Riders can get a little tired on the tour so the guides try to go slow and take breaks.

Still, many people like the shorter tours better. They get to see a lot of the city by bicycle, but they also have time after the tour to do what they please.

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "terrain" mean?
    1. the arrangement of clouds in the sky
    2. land of a particular type
    3. the classical architecture of the buildings

  2. What does "vendors" mean?
    1. people that sell something
    2. people that play music outside
    3. people that ask for money

  3. What does "thrilling" mean?
    1. costing a lot of money
    2. causing boredom
    3. causing strong excitement

  4. What does "sloping" mean?
    1. a straight line
    2. a curved line
    3. a short line

  5. What does "extinct" mean?
    1. still active
    2. no longer active
    3. a natural form

Wh Questions

  1. How do people get to the observation deck of Taipei 101?
    1. They ride a bicycle for 8 hours.
    2. They walk up 90 steps.
    3. They take an elevator.

  2. Why is the National Palace Museum a popular attraction?
    1. It has a very large collection of Chinese objects.
    2. People go in the morning and late afternoon to pray.
    3. People go to the 90th floor to view the city.

  3. Why do the people of Taiwan call their island home "The Sweet Potato"?
    1. the people of Taiwan are sweet and friendly
    2. the round shape of the island
    3. the sweet potato is their favorite food

  4. What building is on Taiwan's 100 dollar bill?
    1. Taipei 101
    2. Longshan Temple
    3. Zhongshan Building

  5. Where is Bamboo Lake?
    1. the Strait of Taipei
    2. Yangmingshan National Park
    3. C. the southeast coast of China

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Longshan Temple has a fancy shopping mall in its courtyard.
    2. Longshan Temple is important for religious and architectural reasons.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. The island of Taiwan is about 180 km (110 miles) from the coast of China.
    2. The Strait of Taiwan is near the northeast coast of China.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Longshan Temple is an important architectural site, but it is not an active religious site."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Taipei is small enough that you can see many of its popular attractions by taking a bicycle tour."
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. B | 2. A | 3. C | 4. B | 5. B | 6. C | 7. A | 8. B | 9. A | 10. B | 11. B | 12. B | 13. B | 14. A

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