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Google Gives World Inside Look at Taiwan Sunflower Protest

Photographer: Wally Santana/AP Photo

Student against a trade pact with China, remove barricades before peacefully leaving the legislature in Taipei on April 10, 2014. Close

Student against a trade pact with China, remove barricades before peacefully leaving... Read More

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Photographer: Wally Santana/AP Photo

Student against a trade pact with China, remove barricades before peacefully leaving the legislature in Taipei on April 10, 2014.

When people ask me what it was like inside Taiwan's legislative chamber these past few weeks, I fumble for words and show them a handful of pics I've taken with my smartphone in a ham-fisted attempt to explain the scene.

Since March 18, when a group of students stormed the building and took it hostage in protest against what they called "Black Box" tactics by the government, the passionate and committed group had camped out there day and night, eating, sleeping, blogging, chatting, learning and explaining.

When I arrived one morning, after getting through three layers of security (student-led security as well as police) my contact was curled up asleep on the floor, fully-clothed, behind one of the benches. This wasn't a one-off.

As the occupation dragged on -- amid demands to retract a trade pact with China and implement an oversight law on future deals -- the Sunflower Movement, as it's known, settled in. How can I explain in words or a few pics what it's like to walk through Taiwan's hallowed halls of democracy, stepping around napping students, over empty sleeping bags, past an eclectic (and sometimes profane) collection of protest posters, and see the smiles of white-coated volunteer doctors and robed volunteer lawyers?

Google has managed to save me a lot of that work, employing their 360-degree photograph technology with a user's uploaded pics from inside the chamber. Now you can get a fuller sense of the scene: students in the corner chatting, media cameras on tripods waiting for the next press conference and the cardboard occupation clock, which counted the hours since they took over, hanging under a picture of the founding father, Sun Yat-sen.

The photos themselves were taken by Lin Nung-yao, according to details attached to the images. The pics are uploaded by users, said a Google spokesperson.

The students packed up yesterday and were gone by last night. Already academics have collected and documented many of the signs and posters in an effort to archive a moment in Taiwan's history. In the meantime, anyone with an Internet connection can walk around the chamber and remember the Sunflowers.

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