This was our eleventh (and last) day in Taiwan. With a few hours to spare before our flight in the afternoon, we decided to go Taipei 101 (臺北101), the iconic skyscraper of Taiwan. To me, a visit to Taipei 101 is more symbolic than anything else. Yes, the view at the top of the observatory decks (level 89th and 91st) is great but if you have see anything from Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower, Melbourne’s Eureka Tower, Las Vegas’ Stratosphere or even Singapore Flyer, you have seen it all.
Though Taipei 101 is not connected directly by the MRT, you can take a free bus shuttle from Taipei City Hall Station (Exit 2). Also, I did mention in my earlier posting that you should always check out i-bon (available in most 7-11 convenience stores) first for any discounted tickets. I managed to get a good deal for my Taipei 101 Observatory admission tickets (buy one adult pass and get one child pass free) at i-bon.
Taipei 101 is both a shopping mall and office building. The shopping mall is from B1 to Level 6 and most of the shops are selling up-market branded stuff. Since our sole purpose of being there was just to go onto the observatory, we bypassed all the shops and went straight to the observatory ticketing booth at level 5.
From the lift lobby at level 5, it takes exactly 37 seconds to reach the indoor observatory deck at level 89 and that’s at least 30km/hr. It’s quite amazing that we didn’t feel any discomfort during the ascend. In fact, the lift was very stable.
At level 89 (382m above ground), you will get a bird’s eye view of the city. You can also get a free rental of an audio guide (available in eight languages) from the “Multimedia Guide Counter”, which will give you a more detailed explanation of the view from your position in the observatory.
Taiwan, as we know it, is an island sitting on top of the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a seismically active zone where tens of thousands of earthquakes happen every year. Even though only a fraction of that can be felt by the people, we are looking at hundreds to thousands per year; a number that is not small by any definition. So what protects Taipei 101, a building standing at 508m tall, from these shakes? The answer lies with the clever usage of mass dampers or more commonly known as “Damper Babies” as marketed by Taipei 101. These dampers serve as steel pendulums and will sway to offset the movements in the building caused by strong wind or earthquake (upto 7 degree tremour on the Richter scale). Do spend some time on the Level 89, where the actual dumper is open to the public, as it’s quite educational.
Besides offering of the best view of Taipei city (on a clear day), the observatory also has a gift shop that sells exclusive souvenirs at reasonable prices. I am not a souvenir collector but we did buy a postcard and posted to ourselves from the mailbox at the observatory. Simple activities like this was enough to make the kids happy. I guess the airmail from one of the highest post offices in the world is quite exciting to them.
When we first arrived at the observatory, the first thing that caught Alycia’s attention wasn’t the view nor the damper babies. It’s the “Bigtom” ice-cream at the Sky Cafe! I promised her that we would rest at the cafe after we were done and here’s my promise …
There is an outdoor observatory at level 91 but unfortunately it was closed during our visit due to bad weather. Then at level 88, i.e. one level down from where we were, is a collection of jewelry arts. These exquisite art pieces were made from Taiwan’s coral gemstones, jade and other precious stones.
Phew! I have finally completed the all the postings for our “Taiwan 2011″ trip and I hope you have enjoyed all the postings so far. I’m sorry that it took me 1 year and 3 months to complete the writeup for the trip and I hope I will do better for our other trip, “Taiwan 2012″!
Useful Information – Taipei 101 (臺北101):
- Take MRT to City Hall station
- Take Exit 2 to board the free bus shuttle to Taipei 101
Observatory Opening Hours:
- 09:00 ~ 22:00 hrs
- Outdoor Observatory at level 91 may be closed if the weather is bad