Growing up in Ireland, you don’t learn much if anything about Asia. I think the first I heard of Taiwan and its capital, Taipei, was a documentary on the Discovery Channel about Taipei 101. At the time it must have been the world’s tallest building – I was only a kid.
It stuck in my mind for some reason. Dublin doesn’t have any skyscrapers. I’m serious, the tallest building is 15 stories and it was only completed in 2010. Probably long after that documentary, considering that Taipei 101 opened in 2004. Anyway, you can imagine after my years of fascination that it was quite a surreal experience to finally stand in front of what is now the 8th tallest building in the world.
I was told that you could see the Taipei 101 building from anywhere in the city, and it’s true to some extent – we could see it from our hotel room despite being nearly an hour’s walk away. However, you can’t see it from the ground in most places as other (albeit significantly shorter) buildings block your view. We hadn’t checked into our hotel when we went for the long walk to the financial district where Taipei 101 is located.
To the left is the picture I took when I first saw Taipei 101, jeez you’d swear I was going to marry the building at this point. To the right is the famous “mass damper”
I got the full awe-factor when seeing it come into view for the first time. My husband, being from Toronto, a city full of tall buildings, didn’t see the appeal. Despite having been up the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (current tallest building) a few years ago, this was somehow more impressive. Must be the nostalgia and years of anticipation.
The Damper Baby mascot is super tacky but my heart warmed when I read in its profile “favourite extracurricular: swing”
Our Visit to Taipei 101
After a lot of queuing (I think it must have been around an hour or two), we made it to the observation deck and saw the famous mass damper from the documentary. I couldn’t believe it! If you don’t know what the mass damper is, you can read about it in detail here. It’s basically a giant ball in the top of Taipei 101 which swings in the opposite direction to the building during an earthquake or typhoon.
I didn’t expect to find the Damper Baby mascot. Unfortunately it wasn’t very cute, but quite ugly. I think it looks like a surprised wasp. The stats they made up for it were quite adorable though.
If you know me, you’ll know that I am irrationally afraid of a large number of things. Earthquakes are one of them, and the main reason I didn’t visit Taiwan before now. So, I was a bit nervous atop this building, but did feel safe that Damper Baby was protecting us!
The View from Taipei 101
Big building, big shadow
The other attraction at Taipei 101 apart from the Mass Damper is of course the view. As I mentioned, I’ve been up many tall buildings now. Tokyo Tower, the CN Tower, the Shanghai Pearl, the Hong Kong ICC building…yeah. So it takes something different to impress me. In the case of Taipei 101, that was the juxtaposition between the city and the mountainous backdrop. I loved it!
Taipei 101: Practical Info
Getting there: You can take the metro to the Taipei 101 station on the red line. I also consider it walking distance from most places but I am the type of person who doesn’t mind walking an hour and a half anywhere.
Opening Hours: Taipei 101 opens at 9am and closes at 10pm. Last admission is 9.15pm.
Tickets: The base of Taipei 101 is a giant mall. So it can be tricky to find the ticket office. It’s on the 5th floor and they cost NT$500.