There is no way you can miss Taipei 101 in Taiwan. It’s the tallest building in Taiwan, and nothing comes close in Taipei. To me Taipei 101 sticks out like a sore thumb, or I guess looks like one big stalk of bamboo.
It was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010. (My sister was in Taiwan in 2007, so she was here when it was still the worlds tallest building). And still the tallest and largest green building in the world, not just because of its green facade but because it is an environmentally responsible building (named by the LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design in 2011).
Taiwan has lots of earthquakes and typhoons and as scary as those things are for regular buildings, the worlds tallest (or what was) would have to be quite impressive. And that has been proven in 2002 when when the building was still under construction a 6.8 magnitude earthquake killed 5 construction workers but the buildings structure was not hurt.
Should we go up to the observation deck?
Anyways, we decided to check it out anyways. We didn’t know when the next time we would be back in Taiwan (or the area) and observation decks are always on a list of things to do and see. Might as well check the Taipei 101 Observation Deck off my bucket list (if I ever have a bucket list). And lucky for me, my friends were willing to go up with me despite the rain and overcast.
Observation Deck Tickets:
NT$1000 fast pass
NT450 Concession (Children above 115cm & students)
We paid NT$450 because of the youth cards we’d gotten when we arrived and came in handy at quite a few places. The youth card is available for anyone between the age of 15 and 30. Go to YouthTravel.tw for more info.
Note that you can’t bring any food (pets, banned substances, dangerous items, betel nuts, and chewing gum) and since we had quite a few snacks in our backpacks we decided to get a locker to store our backpacks before going up to the observatory.
The Elevator to the Observatory Deck
This elevator is the fastest elevator in the world. It took us from the 5th floor to the 89th floor at 37.7mph. The ceiling of the elevator took us into space with lots of stars and comets, I guess that kept us entertained during our short ride in the very fancy elevator. I’m usually not very good with roller coasters and can get motion sickness rather easily too but I didn’t feel anything in this elevator (just had to pop my ear for a quick sec).
When we got to the 89th floor, it was actually pretty quiet. I’m assuming the weather really did stop people from coming up to the observatory. The outdoor observatory on the 91st floor was closed because of the weather. They will tell you when you buy your ticket.
Since the observatory was relatively quiet, we were able to just walk around and wait for the sky to clear up a little bit. We were able to get tiny glimpses of the view, and interestingly I thought it was actually magical seeing the city through these clouds.
We managed to spot another landmark! This is the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall glowing in the distance. Its yellow/orange roof was not hard to spot compared to all of the other buildings below. We went to the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall a couple days later, where we had nice views of Taipei 101 as well.
We found a corner that is slightly wedged out. From the windows, you can get a glimpse of the side of the building. But the fun part was where we were standing. There is mirror on the floor and on the ceiling, creating a pretty trippy effect.
I guess this is somewhat similar to how some tall buildings have the glass bottom observatory area. This was the effect we were getting with the mirrors.
There was also art exhibit. The “One Stroke Calligraphy” exhibit displayed original calligraphy pieces by Hsing Yun 星雲大師, a buddhist monk and founder of the largest buddhist temple in Taiwan Fo Guang Shan 佛光山. There is a sister temple in LA that also had a similar exhibit going at the same time (which I visited when I got home).
And as a tradition, I picked up a couple post cards in the observatory and sent them home. I just find that convenient. Everything is there and ready for me, and I don’t have to worry about finding stamps and and post office.
The Wind Damper
After exploring the 89th floor observatory deck, we wen over to the wind damper room. The wind damper is officially called the Tuned Mass Damper (TMD).
Wind dampers are used in tall skyscrapers to help the building from moving too much during earthquakes and typhoons. So people in the building wouldn’t be too alarmed. Wind dampers are usually hidden within the structure of the building, but here at Taipei 101 it is out in the open (dangling between the 87th and 92nd floor) for public viewing. This is the only one in the world for public viewing, you can even see it in action if you happen to be at Taipei 101 during an earthquake or typhoon. Of course this is not the only one in the building, it’s just the only one that visible.
From my picture it doesn’t look like much, but it really is actually a big ball put together by 41 steel plates each 5 inches thick. It weights 66o tons with a diameter of 16 feet. Check out the Taipei 101 website for more info about this damper and to see a video of it in action…
The wind damper even has its own mascots. Taipei 101 Damper Babys! Aren’t they cute? They come in five different colors and each represent something different, and have different personalities and everything.
The yellow one in the picture above is “Rich Gold.” His personality is “generous and giving, knows many secrets to fame fortune” and his dream is “to bring fortune to all who work hard.” And finally his catchphrase is “Strike it rich!”
The other ones come in red, black, silver, and green. Check out Taipei 101 website for the other Damper Baby personalities, dreams, and catchphrases. They are also there to answer any other questions you may have about the wind damper.
Back down to Earth
There is a nice mall inside of Taipei 101 that goes up to the fifth floor. Most of the stores are high end store, but its always nice to do a little bit of window shopping. I recommend that you check out the grocery on the basement floor, we ended up getting quite a few snacks and souvenirs their.
But then again, there is plenty of shopping around Taipei 101 in the Xinyi district. We found ourselves back in this area on our final day for more shopping.
Just outside of Taipei 101 are a few things to check out for pictures. There is always the “LOVE” sign and the”101″ sign (it had a big inflatable sheep/goat/lamb there because of lunar new year). Problem with that sheep/goat/lamb is that you can’t see the “0” in “101”.
Do you think it was worth going to the observatory even with the bad weather?