With an amazingly delicious meal of xialongbaos at Din Tai Fung, we had to, literally ascend to the summit of Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan!
Built between 1999 and 2004, the Taipei 101 was initially christened as the Taipei World Financial Center, but the name was changed to Taipei 101 for the 101 floors above ground.With its height of 509 metres, it was the tallest building upon its completion, until it was dethroned by the Shanghai World Financial Centre in 2008. Incidentally, the Taipei 101 was the first skyscraper to cross the height of half a kilometre!
People have often speculated that the significance of 101 goes beyond 101 floors. Some say, 101 signified the coming of the new century as the tower was built (100+1). Others believe that the name symbolizes going beyond perfection - 100 is regarded as a traditional number of perfection. A few believe the number signifies the dawn of the digital age - 101 in the binary numeral system.
The skyscraper has a unique design. If one looks at the Taipei 101 from a distance, it appears as though there are eight take-out noodle boxes stacked up one over another. These eight segments have eight floors each. Now the number 8 is regarded as a symbol of abundance, prosperity and good fortune in Chinese culture.
There are four discs mounted on each face of the building where the pedestal meets the tower - these represent coins, which again symbolises prosperity. Also design motifs like the ruyi, representing heavenly clouds appear throughout the structure.
This trend of blending feng shui with modern architecture is a trend I have observed firsthand throughout the Chinese speaking world - whether on the Mainland in Shanghai's Pudong district or in downtown Singapore!
At night, a bright yellow beam of light from its pinnacle is lit up signifying liberty. Each evening from 6 to 10PM, Taipei 101 is lit up in one of the seven colours of the spectrum. These colors coincide with the days of the week - red for Monday, orange for Tuesday, yellow for Wednesday, green for Thursday, blue for Friday, violet for Saturday and purple for Sunday.
Celebrating the Taiwanese spirit!
The ticket lobby for the observatory!
Hello Kitty clings on to Taipei 101! I wonder what is behind the fascination that people have in these parts for the character, Hello Kitty!
A model of the skyscraper!
Window shopping as wait for turn to go up!
Guinness certified fastest elevators!
And there we are on the observatory!
The Grand Hotel, a landmark of Taipei (the red building in the centre of the frame). This hotel falls in the league of the Taj Mahal in Mumbai, Raffles of Singapore, the Peninsula of Hong Kong and the E&O of Georgetown, Penang. There are many colourful legends about this magnificent property!
The Keelung River, bisecting Taipei...
Dark and ominous clouds tell us that Typhoon Dujuan is approaching!
Across there is Taipei's original airport - the Songshan Airport, which is still in use for domestic and regional flights!
A helipad below us...
The ice cream bar!
We were tempted to buy a mango ice cream, which was, well, lousy!
Kids having a whale of a time up here...
The hills on the south-eastern side...
The Taipei 101 is designed to withstand the gale force winds, typhoon and earthquake tremors that are common in these parts. A 660 tonne steel pendulum is suspended from the 92nd floor which serves as a tuned mass damper. The pendulum sways to offset movements in the building caused by strong gusts or tremors...
The damper became a hot tourist attraction. Cashing in on the popularity of the damper, the city created a mascot: the Damper Baby.The mascot's figurines and souvenirs sold in various Taipei 101 gift shops. They even have Damper Baby comic books and a website. Hello Kitty better watch out!
The highest post box in Taiwan!