Taipei 101: It's a Very Tall Building After All

 Though not necessarily the best destination in Taiwan, the Taipei 101 tower is certainly the most visible and the most famous.
 It's not that big. See, the lamp post is just as tall as the tower.
 It's designed to look like a bamboo stalk, although its square shape reminds me more of a bunch of chinese food takeout boxes stacked inside each other. Either way, it does look pretty cool. It's so high that all the buildings around it look like toys in comparison; that building to the right has around 20 stories (or more)!
 Since I'm talking about the building, one thing that makes the building so remarkable, architecturally speaking, is the inclusion of three tuned mass dampers to keep the building stable during natural disasters (Taiwan gets earthquakes and typhoons, just like Japan).
 While it's hard to see from the ground, there are design elements all the way at the top, too - this corner can be seen through the windows at the observation deck. And since that's probably where you're going if you come to Taipei 101, I suppose that's pretty important.
 So, how's the view? You can see forever! If I have my bearings right, this is looking somewhat southwest, and that sware building in the lower left is an elementary school, next to Taipei Medical University.
 Now, looking northwest, towards the Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial Hall and the city core.
 Looking east.
 Looking southwest again; the elementary school and university campus are on the right this time. Taipei pushes itself into the foothills.
 Southwest, towards the National Taiwan University (around that white dot on the left).
 A "closeup" of the National Taiwan University Sports Center.
Again looking northwest-ish. The right side of the picture shows Taipei Municipal Stadium and a little bit of the airport.
 A closeup of the Municipal Stadium complex.
 Directly north of Taipei 101 is the very large Taipei City Office, which looks like a toy (as do the cars on the wide streets surrounding it). From up here, everything looks like a tiny model!
 Here's the Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. The grounds in this part of Taipei are kept so well and the buildings are so large that people almost disappear - you have to enlarge these photos to see that there really are people walking around down there!
 Pacific Core City, a fancy shopping center north of Taipei 101.
 Once you've taken all the photos you can from the observation deck, you can head back out. This is the entrance lobby.
"But wait!" you scream. "Isn't there a mall at the bottom of Taipei 101?" Yes, there is. But like every other mall in the world, you won't really find anything unique or at a good price. So save your money for the night markets, or at least the souvenir shops at attractions, and buy that expensive shirt when you go back home. 

The views are amazing, as you can see in the pictures. There are two levels for the observatory - indoors and outdoors - but if the weather is bad you'll probably want to stay inside. You can see the difference in my photos from indoor and outdoor shots - the indoor shots tend to have a blue tint and sometimes reflections from the glass, despite my efforts to avoid it. But the outdoor observatory has a very high concrete wall which makes it difficult to take shots of nearby locations (such as the Memorial Hall). 

Taipei 101 is easy to find. Just look for the gigantic building and walk towards it! Actually, Taipei is quite large and spread out. Take the metro to Taipei City Hall Station and exit using the southwestern-most exit. Walk south on the main street two normal-sized blocks and one massive block (past the city hall) and you'll be there. The entrance is towards the southern end of the block. It takes several (15-20) minutes to walk from the station! Admission is $450NT for adults, and it's open from 10AM to 10PM. Note that you will probably have to wait with a timed ticket, especially during tourist season. It might be less crowded in the late afternoons, and you can see day, sunset, and night views on one trip. 

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