One of Tai Pei’s greatest landmarks is Tai Pei 101, the large skyscraper that looks over the city. It wasn’t always here, but it has become one of the most recognizable buildings ever since its completion in 2004. It is not only because of its unique architectural style, but also because it is the eighth tallest building in the world. It begs for anybody that comes to this town to come and visit it and see what it has to offer in the inside.
Of course when you get inside, you are only allowed access to three of the top floors where the observatory is, and the bottom six levels where the mall exists with its pricey shops and amazing food court. Many people who come here head straight up to the top level to overlook the city. It is a great way to get your orientation to the sprawling landscape, and look at the little neighborhoods that you might want to visit while you are out here. It is also a great place to watch the weather that comes rolling through this city next to the ocean. It apparently gets battered by mother nature quite a bit, which makes this place a bigger marvel because why would they create such a place if they knew that a huge storm might take it down at any time.
But that is what makes this an engineering landmark as well. When they designed the building, they installed a wind damper. I had no idea what this would be, but looking at it made me understand how something like this could make a building like this safe from typhoons and tsunamis. Basically it is a huge ball that is supported in the inside of the building by steal cables and a hydraulic system, so when wind does batter the building, this 660 metric ton weight will take the brunt of the force. They claim that by having this device at the top of the building, it makes it 40% safer against the forces of nature, and you won’t even feel the building sway during one of these storms.
How do I know about all of this you ask. Well, like all other places in Asia, whenever something needs to be explained, what better way to do it than create a couple of cute cartoon characters to explain it to the world. Cur the Damper Babies, a collection of strange characters that tell all about the wind damper in a video constantly playing and switching through different languages right behind the wind damper.
All of the excitement of being so high above the landscape can make anybody hungry, and the food court on the bottom level offers many options for meals that should satisfy any person. The most popular place is easily the dim sum restaurant, Din Tai Fung. During lunch, there is a two hour wait to even get a table in the restaurant, but you can always put your name in and go wandering around the rest of the mall while you wait.
It is worth the wait to because the food is amazing. The danger is that you will always want to order more than you need, but I would recommend getting a won ton, a dumpling or two, and some type of soup to supplement your meal. You will leave the place satisfied even though you had to build up an appetite while waiting for you food to appear.
Tai Pei 101 is the perfect start to an adventure out in this city, and I would recommend going there first to get a little taste of what this town has to offer.