My godson Max is obsessed with elevators, and since Taipei 101’s elevators once held the world record of the being fastest commuter elevator in the world, we really had to go.
Possibly the first thing that comes to mind when people mention Taipei is the tall skyscraper that has become the city and the country’s iconic symbol. On our first day in Taipei, after having barely figured out how to get metro passes for ourselves so that we could use the MRT, we went to see Taipei 101 and see what it was all about.
Taipei 101 enjoyed quite a long reign as the world’s tallest building. It towered over the world’s skyscrapers from 2004 up to 2011, when it was dwarfed by the out of this world Burj Khalifa in Dubai. At 101 floors or up to 509 meters, it is a dizzying view from its top floor observatory. I’m really scared of heights and I wasn’t looking forward to being that high up, but even CNN touted it as one trips you have to make in your life. Well, okay, CNN. If you say so.
I can Google a lot more stuff about Taipei 101 but since you’re a big human now, you can do it yourself. What Wikipedia wouldn’t tell you is that going to the Taipei 101 via the R MRT line is very anticlimactic. You get off at the Taipei 101 station and then boom, there it is, and you won’t even get to see all the way to the top because the train ride ends at the very base of it. It’s so high up that you really have to bend over backwards or lie down on the floor to see the tip.
What I did find cool about the Taipei 101 though, where these things:
-The super fancy mall in the first five floors. You really have to go through all of the high end boutiques and stores before even getting to the main entrance to the tower.
-I also thought it was pretty cool that the building is green, and it is one of the foremost examples of LEED-certified architecture in the world.
-The elevator ride, which was basically what we went for, was really short (they weren’t kidding about the world record) but it featured a bit if a light show with some music (don’t forget to look up).
-The view gets old quite fast. When you get to the top, there is nothing to look at but endless cityscapes. Sure, its fun for the first few minutes, and then what? Still, if you like appreciating things in miniature, it’s one of those trips you really have to make. I marveled at how Taipei looks so pretty from up high — one can see how meticulously designed the urban plans of the city are.
-There are some really cool buildings that you can see from the top. Look around and spot different buildings of different shapes and sizes – there are stadiums and open theaters, old buildings and ultramodern skyscrapers, twisty buildings and round buildings, and bridges. Lots of bridges.
-The surrounding mountains look surreal.
-There is a bunch of shops that sell souvenirs and food, so when you get tired of looking at the buildings and snapping photos of the view, you can get some ice cream or maybe even a beer. Don’t forget to get discount coupons upon entry at the main entrance. They will give you a book of coupons when you buy a ticket, and you can use that for discounts up the restaurants and merchants in the observatory floor.
-The tuned mass damper ball is quite a sight to look at. It’s the huge metal ball that keeps the building from swaying in the wind or during earthquakes. It’s on your way down to the exit.
-You can go up to the topmost level of the observatory and go out into the open air part of the roof. It’s a bit windy up there.
-You can use your school ID for student discounts! I used my UP ID and I saved 40NTD on the entrance fee. That’s half a Hot Star fried chicken’s worth of savings! Yum.
A lot of travel savvy guides regard the Taipei 101 as a tourist trap, and that one doesn’t really need to go up just because. Apparently a better view of the city is just a few blocks over, up the Elephant Mountain whose summit can be reached by a quick hike.
Needless to say though, it was something that we would like to do for Max and he had a blast! He wouldn’t stop talking about the elevator ride and he was so happy, and that’s more than enough for us.
How are you liking these Taiwan posts so far? Nobody still hasn’t given me suggestions, dammit.