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Taipei 1

I flew into Taipei yesterday afternoon after my lecture in the morning. I took EVA air for the first time, it wasn't too bad (cheap ticket at least!).

It turns out they use 747-400s similar to the ones they use in Japan... all coach seats on the lower deck, i ended up getting the first row in the very front of the plane (directly below the cockpit). It was ok, a short flight from HK, only about 75 minutes. thats a picture as we took off of an aircraft maintance facility at HK airport...

I don't know how much press this is getting in the US, but the last few weeks Chen Shui-bian, the president of Taiwan has been the subject of much protest, a lot of people want him to resign and have been staging big rallies. Since today (the day after these pics were taken) is Taiwan's National Day, they seem to be resurging again to organize more rallies.... they all have red shirts and hats and flags, and to keep it peaceful, some people are carrying red roses... and apparently giving out Free Hugs.

This is right near my hotel, i stopped and listened for a minute. The speaker was saying something like

This is actually (believe it or not) my first trip to Taiwan, so I really have little idea where anything is around here or what there is to see. I decided to go out, get some food and see what there was to see...

I decided to try the subway and go to the City Hall station... because I know thats where Taipei 101 is...

There she is... currently the tallest building in the world. Its actually part of a mall thats connected to a large (brand new looking) shopping area. There is an absolutely huge Mitsukoshi department store, its bigger than anything I've seen in Japan... like 3 or 4 separate multi-store buildings connected by walkways. I like the design of this area, it reminded me a bit of the UDX center in Akihabara....

Taipei 101 is actually built on top of a mall too, as its only a few years old, everything was quite new and fancy. Interesting architecture here too.

It costs about US$12 to get to the 89th floor observation area, which is similar to how the World Trade Center's observation deck was, windows all around, some shops, etc. They had a free audio tour to introduce the various things... a little too much detail probably, but better than nothing.

The views were impressive, but unfortunately the windows were really dirty! maybe I came the day before the monthly window washing or something, but it was hard to get a good picture through the windows. Thats the shopping area i had just walked through in the right picture. The building on the right is the Cathay Bank building...

One of the features of this building is extra protection against Earthquakes and typhoons, both of which Taiwan has a lot of. They have a very large pendulum thing hanging in the top of the tower, (nerd talk: I think the main purpose is to change the natural frequency of the building...), on the bottom of that weight is a bunch of huge hydraulic dampers to keep it from swinging.

There's actually a 91st floor outdoor observatory, you have to pay an extra $3 and go up two flights of stairs...

Its nice and open. Its starting to get a little cool in Taiwan right now (cooler than HK at least), but this thing is designed, so it wasn't that windy up here. There was a great view of the nearly full 'mid-autumn' moon too (not pictured). :-P

but the best part was:

no windows to impede on my photos. There is a large ledge outside of the fence though, so you can't get a view of anything too close to the building, unfortunately.

I headed back to the hotel, i stopped at the main station to find that the protesters were still going at it:

Today should be interesting, there were cops on every corner when i left my hotel at 7am, and there were a lot of protestors gathering. I'm going to head back to my hotel soon to take a nap,i'll see them again on my way back.

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Hong Kong
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April 13, 2007