Friday, August 5, 2011

[XINYI] Taipei 101

As if sensing that this trip to Taipei would be full of sleep and rain, I decided to go where any tourist in Taipei would probably go for a been-there-done-that photo. Taipei 101. From 2004 to 2010 it was the world’s tallest tower until Dubai’s Burj Khalifa snatched that title away. You know these skyscrapers, they like outgrowing each other. In the observatory on the 89th floor there is a wall listing the top 10 tallest towers in the world. Only two are outside Asia, both of which are in Chicago in the United States. Four are in mainland China. One is in Hong Kong, and then you have Taipei 101, the Burj Khalifa, and KL’s Petronas Twin Towers. Too bad you can’t jump off Taipei 101, neither for leisure nor for suicide.

Without a doubt, Taipei 101 is probably the only tower I’ve seen that got me awestruck. Well, it was probably the same feeling when I first saw the Petronas Twin Towers. Taipei 101 is designed like a bamboo shooting up to the sky, the birth or rebirth of something good. Because of this the design is rather unique, in that the building seems to have husks. Now you know why AJ Hackett hasn’t set up a bungy jumping facility here. Try to jump and you’ll probably end up dead before you reach your lowest point. You’ll just bump into each “division” of the building until your limp body reaches the end of your trip down. Ouch. It would obviously be the same if you jump to your death. You’d just end up falling on one segment after the next instead of one big black out. Not cool.

You can choose to get off at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial station or Taipei City Hall. This depends on which attraction you’d like to see first. The City Hall is right in front of Taipei 101 which is next to the World Trade Center. They are clustered in one place which makes taking photo easier. The Sun Yat Sen Memorial is a few blocks away despite having its own station.

A giant Sun Yat Sen is seated at the hall by the main entrance of the memorial hall. You’ll most likely think that he’s ripping Abe Lincoln off with that pose which was what I also thought at first. However, after putting much thought on the topic I realized that it's just the best position for a giant statue. Make him stand up and you’ll have to build a higher ceiling. Have him lie down and the pose will seem rather awkward, not to mention inappropriately suggestive. So yes, sitting down is the best way to go. Who cares whether Abe Lincoln popularized it or not.

The memorial hall is not that well illuminated at night, which explains the lack of an exterior photograph. Sun Yat Sen, on the contrary, receives sufficient lighting, which makes him an easy target for photographs regardless of time. He also has a good view of the old people doing Tai Chi and the young ones doing hip-hop around them by the landing of the steps. This is perhaps the reason why Sun Yat Sen hasn’t marched out of the building out of boredom just yet. He gets plenty of entertainment from where he’s seated anyway. I love the sense of community by the way. The area seems to be a popular choice as a recreation spot for locals.

The City Hall is not that impressive if we talk about the architectural aspect. It is a rather boring building and is effortlessly eclipsed by its tall neighbor. The entrance fee to the observatory at Taipei 101 is NT$400. This provides you access to the observatory, Damper Baby, and the viewing deck outside on the 91st floor, which was unfortunately closed when I visited because of that attention-deficient bitch we often refer to as the “Weather”. No, Damper Baby is not a human child. It is a huge 660-ton ball of gold which protects the building from excessive shaking that could be brought upon by strong winds or earthquakes. It is one of the features of the tower aside from the spectacular views of downtown Taipei. Oops! I almost forgot that Taipei 101 still houses the world’s fastest elevator. From the fifth floor all the way to the 89th, the elevator only needs around 37 seconds to get you there. I recorded the ascent on cam and I can tell you that it’s legit, having experienced it myself.

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