Taipei 101 (臺北101)
My initial and only intention of going to Taipei was to witness the tallest tower in that city (just kidding). From what I gathered on the internet, travellers are advised to go to the tower early and have patience queuing in line as it can be hours stretched long. I’ve prepared myself mentally, I’ve made a decision that if I had to wait for more than 3 hours I should just kiss the plan goodbye.
A few stops away and I made it to my destination. After getting off the HSR in Taipei Main Station to change to their intercity train, I had some problem finding which train to take. The station has 5 different lines, I’m not usually bad with signs but I kind of lost my mojo that day. I finally found the line after some careful screening through all the maps.
After getting off the train, there will be a sign that leads you to Taipei 101 exit. The picture below is only the tower’s “leg”, it was quite difficult to capture the full frontal of the tower from where I stood.
There was barely a line when I arrived. I was only standing behind a few people, I was so relieved to know that I didn’t have to wait in a crazy line. It was almost 1pm when I reached the counter, surprised to see not so many people around that time. I assumed they came in group and the counter for group package is located on the ground floor. I read on the internet, someone said upon reaching the counter you have to go through 5 floors of high end boutiques but I took the elevator near the main entrance from the train station and it took me straight to the 5th floor. Anyway, ticket to Taipei 101 Observatory is TWD500 per pax and TWD450 for students. You can access to level 88, 89 and 91.
Just how fast does the elevator go? If you ask me, I didn’t feel a thing and after a few blinks, I was already above 300m and reaching to the 89th floor.
Tens of thousands of earthquakes happen every year yet Taiwan could build a tower as tall as this. Situated in a seismically active zone, it makes the surface of Taiwan pretty unstable, hence the many occurrence of earthquakes. The climate is also one of the concerning factors they had to consider when building this mega tower. I remember watching Mega Structure on Taipei 101, the careful planning and future measurements taken are impeccable. I’m not an architect or engineer to go into the details of this structure, but being on the 89th was truly a priceless experience.
The view from the 91st floor is even more breathtaking with the wind blowing in greater speed, truly made you feel like you’re on clouds – not for the faint hearted. I had no clue what areas I was surrounded by but you don’t get to see that many tall buildings in Taipei anyway.
Inside the building lies plenty of things to see, from jade collection to antique decorations, foods, fancy shells, informations about the tower, photo booth, gift shop and many more. You will be given a remote-like device to loan for free that gives you audio information about the tower, available in many languages, not only it’s educational, it also saves a lot of cost to hire people who are fluent in 10 languages.
After spending more than an hour at 388m high, I headed down into the mall before making my way to my next stop called Ximending.
Finally, a pretty decent full frontal view of Taipei 101. From the tower, I walked down the street for half an hour before reaching the nearest train station from the brown line. I took the train from there and headed to Ximending. They say that place is the Mecca for youth culture, the Shibuya of Taiwan. I had to check it out.
Ximen is a vibrant place with lots of shops, restaurants, cafes and people. The place is not much to look at during the day. It comes alive at night or on the weekend when little vendors show up with crafts and unique cheap clothes for sale. It’s definitely the place for youngsters and those who like to shop for stylish clothes.
Taipei represents a non-conventional concept that blends art, culture, and living in its aesthetics. You could go for a hiking trip, take the Maokong Gondola or visit the temples. It’s not a futuristic city, but the humbleness of it makes Taipei a great city to visit. A blend of old and new which can be refreshing to some people because sometimes a fast changing situation (urban growth) makes us miss the simplest thing in our city. Taiwanese are so polite and organised; they like to wait in line, they’re incredibly warm-hearted people and their hospitality and passion in welcoming foreigners is famous across the world.
I get to experience real Chinese culture and get lost in translation; which is my favourite part of travelling.