Taipei 101 observatory

I had a quiet second day in Taipei but continuing the theme from the first full day, I went to another popular site: the Taipei 101 observation deck. I bought a ticket online to bypass the huge queues on the day.

I’ve been to a few observation decks, but this was impressive in so many ways. The minute you’re in the lift, there’s a screen telling you how fast you’re going.

This was the fastest lift in the world before being overtaken by the CTF Finance Centre Tower in China. The lift would have to be fast because Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world for five years before the Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai.

Most people go to the 89th floor because you must pay more to go to the 101st. On the 89th floor, you’re inside the building and see everything through the windows. However, if you walk up a couple of flights of stairs, you’re outside. Not many people realised this since there were only a few of us up there.

On the main floor, there are plenty of activities for children and lots of shiny displays for people to adorn their selfies with. It was a good touch and, as I was learning, not an uncommon one in Taiwan. I’ve not seen this in any other tall building, which after taking in the views, there’s not much to do. Here, you could also buy souvenirs, and food and drink.

The Taipei 101 is just 200m from a major fault line. Lots has been done to keep it stable, including piles being driven deep into the ground and bedrock. During the building’s construction, there was an earthquake. Two construction cranes fell from the 56th floor and five people died. There was no damage to the structure of the building.

Some of this was explained in a video about the Taipei 101 tuned mass damper, the world’s largest and heaviest. It’s a huge gold ball and weighs 660 tonnes (about six blue whales). The damper keeps the building stable on windy days and during earthquakes. Like a pendulum, it swings slightly to counter any motion of the building. It’s an incredible feat of engineering and cost $4m.

Finally, in the tower, I saw a video of previous firework displays. Originally a feature of the opening ceremony, the firework display has become a spectacular annual event. The firework displays were stunning. You can see some of them on YouTube.

After leaving Taipei 101, I headed towards Songsham Cultural and Creative Park. It had another fine-looking eslite bookshop. The previous day I’d briefly popped out to see another eslite bookshop — one of the longest underground bookshops in the world.

You can also see in the photos below some fine trees. These are quite common and are full of character.

In the same mall was a DIY baking shop! They provided a tablet showing instructions, all the ingredients and equipment, including a thermometer to make sure your creations are baked all the way through.

I’ve been baking bread for years. I miss having fresh bread when travelling. It’s surprisingly difficult to get decent quality wholemeal or sourdough bread in East Asia. Quite often the bread has a ton of stuff in it, including sugar, butter, and milk.

Until a few years ago, I’d never baked a cake or made biscuits. However, I was surprised that you can make something tasty quite easily. The hard part is making sure you have the right mix of ingredients in the quantities required to produce the chemical reaction needed by the cake/biscuit. Following a recipe simplifies the process!

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