Travelogue: Taipei 101

The Taipei 101 is a one of a kind building.  For a couple of years, it was the tallest building in the world – until Dubai finished the Burj Khalifa in 2010.  But it’s not really special for its height, but for its design – like the nodes of a bamboo pole.  Or, for the more crude, Chinese takeout containers stacked on top of each other.

It took me quite some time visit the Taipei 101, since I waited for the perfect weather, so I could see far into the distance from the observation tower.   But it was totally worth it.

Wherever you go in Taipei, you can’t avoid seeing the Taipei 101 – given its profile and height, it’s visible from almost anywhere.

Even through the fog:
Taipei 101 -  in fog 1 Taipei 101 -  in fog 3

The base of the Taipei 101 is a shopping mall – sleek, modern, and utterly boring.  Also, empty.
Taipei 101 -  building mall

But from the base, for NT500 (~$17), you can ride the world’s fastest elevator to the observation deck.  From the outside, the elevator looks incredibly plain:
Taipei 101 -  unassuming elevator

On the inside though, there’s a helpful display showing current altitude, as well as speed – and this elevator tops off at 1000+ meters per minute.
Taipei 101 -  fastest elevator 1

And of course, at the top of the ride, there is helpful display telling you exactly how fast you just went:
Taipei 101 -  fastest elevator 2

Once you’re at the observation deck, you’re treated to an absolutely amazing panoramic view of Taipei.  And you realize, Taipei is a city built right on the edges of a mountain range, with buildings nestled in the mountain’s valleys:

There’s also an outdoor observatory!  It’s walled off, but you can still see into the distance, feel the wind, and look up at the tip top peak of the Taipei 101:

When I was at the top, the winds were so high, that they were whistling through the metal guards.

On the observation deck, they also displayed the submissions of a photo contest, trying to get the best picture of the Taipei 101.  Here are some of my favorites:

Since Taiwan is somewhat of an earthquake-prone country, the Taipei 101 relies on this massive several-hundred-ton balance ball to keep it from wobbling:

Interestingly enough, this balance ball has also become the mascot for the Taipei 101.  Apparently, there are a few different colors of the mascot, and they stand for… something?

The sunset viewed from the Taipei 101 is pretty good:

And once the sun goes down, the night scenery is also quite nice:
Taipei 101 -  top view nightscape

All in all, I found the Taipei 101 to be quite nice – very nice views, and not too much of a tourist trap (I’m looking at you, KL Tower).  You do have to walk through a jade / sea coral gallery on your way to the down elevator, but even though I didn’t buy anything, I still enjoyed the artistic talent that went into making these art pieces:

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