Monday, August 13, 2012

Taipei 101

No visit to Taipei is complete without seeing Taipei 101. I have seen quite a few buildings but I can safely say that Taipei101 is the most impressive structure I have ever seen. It is some distance from the metro stop but when you round the corner and see the tower rising hundreds of feet higher than any building around, it is quite awe inspiring. I wont go into too much detail about the background of the building but its good to have a few facts in case you are on a TV quiz game some day. So...

Taipei 101 is the second tallest building in the world at 509m or 1670ft. It was the tallest building in the world until it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai  (828m). The more striking fact though is that it is hundreds of meters taller than any of the surrounding structures, this makes for an incredible view from the top. It is possible to see almost the entire city of Taipei and New Taipei all the way to the surrounding mountains. 

While 101 is no longer the tallest building in the world, its elevator to the observatory of the tower rises faster than any other elevator in the world at 37.7mph. It was a fast enough pressure and height change that it actually cracked my watch. 

After arriving at the top instead of the small observation deck I was expecting there were two entire floors dedicated as a museum with plenty of interesting facts, kitschy activities, and even a museum of coral statue and jewelry. Everything was of course for sale at an extremely high price. One floor down there was an exhibition of the damper ball which decreases the sway in the tower by counterbalancing its effect. The ball itself was very interesting but it has also become an unofficial mascot of the tower, there were toys and dolls of the Damper Babies which were the Japanese characters who described the use of the ball. Oddly enough they only spoke Japanese with Chinese subtitles.

The remainder of the building is mixed use offices and shopping, which is mostly on the lowest levels. The mall in 101 is very fashionable and there are outlets of all the clothing brands that are much too expensive for me to want or afford. I was however taken in by a restaurant in the basement DinTaiFeng. It is a 1 star Michelin restaurant specializing in xiaolongbao or soup dumplings. My next post will describe these in more detail because I could write a book on how incredible they are

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