Friday, July 01, 2016

Taipei 101 on Day 1....

It's turning into a busy summer. We had a few quick days in Singapore as soon as school closed and before a fun summer camp back in Hong Kong. Tthen a quick look at the calendar revealed a public holiday in Hong Kong today and so with some quick decision making we booked last minute flights and headed here to Taipei, capital of Taiwan.

I always imagine we can achieve more in a day than we actually can and so research where to visit and what to eat rigorously in the march up to the holiday. Making notes, prioritising etc. I was short on time with this one but found plenty of bloggers who have done this trip (with or without kids) and wealth of  other Internet resources to help compile a quick list. 

There is however an entirely separate matter - managing my expectations. Initially I always think we can knock numerous things off the list to see, do and eat. This is usually without considering that places must interest us all and food must appeal to us all. Of course once finally here I must also accommodate my own slow pace with the speed of V and enthusiasm of Kid and find a happy medium for us all. 

So today, Day 1 in Taipei, we ate a wonderful hotel breakfast and headed off to the tallest building in town, Taipei 101. The lines were short and post ticket purchase we were whisked up at great speed to the 89th level. The elevator once (2014-15) held the Guiness Book record for fastest elevator and while the record may have been beaten the ride was amazingly quick.

The Observation deck was similar to the one we had seen in the SkyTree in Tokyo. Big windows framing the city in every direction. 

I took this to show the curlicue design on the outside of the building up close. Taipei is dense but orderly in its planning and there is plenty of greenery around, hills and parks abound. 

We then went up to the 91st floor which has an outdoor observation deck. Boiling hot sun and 3 sides closed off meant there were almost no people on it beside us. Kid enjoyed his time at the binoculars while we sweated it out. I thought the framed windows a few floors lower provided a better unobstructed view in addition to providing blessed air conditioning. 

Then it was time to walk down a few floors to the engineering marvel that is a damper. Forgive me, for I am the daughter of an engineer (who would have loved looking at this with us). 

Sitting just 660 ft. from a major fault line, Taipei 101 is prone to earthquakes and fierce winds common in this area of the Asia-Pacific. To achieve stability and lessen the impact of violent motion, a gigantic tuned mass damper was designed. The damper consist of a steel sphere 18 feet across and weighing 728 ton, suspended from the 92nd to the 87th floor. Acting like a giant pendulum, the massive steel ball sways to counteract the building’s movement caused by strong gusts of wind. Kid and I both thought it looked like a giant beehive! We did marvel at its ingenuity and sheer size though. 

Then we took the neat and clean MRT 4 stops to Dongmen and walked briskly to our lunch destination. It was always the plan to visit and pay homage to the original  Din Tai Fung. A pilgrimage if you like. And so we waited patiently with the masses for 30 minutes before we were seated on the 3rd level of this very narrow dining epic. 

Steaming baskets of delectable xiaolongbao (soup filled dumplings) and Sui Mai alongside their unique egg fried rice and signature hot and sour soup covered our table. Kid was in food heaven as were we! It all tastes better her than any of the others - and that's probably not true but hunger and excitement certainly made it feel so! 

Then back to the hotel for a bit of down time. V went off to have a massage while Kid and I attempted a nap. We were foiled by all manner of sticking activities in a Lego Star Wars book. 

When it grew cooler we decided to head out again, this time to stretch our legs and give Kid a chance for a runaround. Daan park in the middle of the city is a beautiful manicured green space with something for everyone. Trees, grass and flowerbeds, walking paths, inline skating rink, sandpit, climbing frames and swings. Enjoyed the hubbub of Taiwanese kids and parents immensely!

And then, this:

Giant rain clouds, a couple of flashes of lightening and thunder and we found ourselves back in a taxi and headed to dinner. 

At the suggestion of someone from V's work we came to a small restaurant which serves variations on beef noodle soup. The one above was our choice; melt in the mouth beef, perfect al dente noodles, all in a peppery broth garnished with scallions. A fitting end to our day. 

Tomorrow I pick a few more (but not too many) places to see and eat at. Tomorrows gonna be a good good day. Stay tuned. 

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