Sunday, July 01, 2007

Holiday in Taipei!

Just got back today from a week long tour/visiting trip to Taipei. Its been a great experience, I always enjoy visiting places that I've never been to before. Knowing little about the island, I went in with an open mind and came back discovering a whole new world and culture that I never really had much insight of previously.

As one flies into Taipei, one will look out of the window to look at a bustling metropolis nestled in a mountainous island. Looking further out to the Taiwan strait, one is reminded that this is one of the major political flashpoints in the world, an area of potential conflict which hopefully will never have to happen.

Great thanks to Wayne for being a great host an a tireless tour guide. After meeting at the designated rendezvous point on touching down, we wasted no time and headed straight to the Taipei 101. It was essential to make good use of the good weather and clear skies (as my prior experience at Jinmao Tower in Shanghai would suggest).

I am hereby proud to brag that I have taken a ride in the world's fastest elevator. At 1010 metres/min, it certainly is pushing the limits. As soon as the levator door closes, the cabin pressure starts to adjust to condition the passengers ear drums. In a mere 37 seconds, visitors to the observation deck are whisked from the ground floor right up to the top. At around the 77th floor, the lift motor kind of cuts of and the rest of the journey is simply completed using the momentum already built up. Neat stuff.

The views, needless to say, are simply spectacular. There's also this huge ball at the top which acts as a balance to counterract the forces on the tower due to earth movements or typhoon winds. The fengshui element in the tower is pretty significant too. The round coins seen at regular intervals on the building obviously symbolize wealth and are there in hopes that the prosperity in Taiwan will continue.

Great thanks also to Wayne's grandma who took care of us with impeccable hospitality. We stayed at her place for 4 nights in this are called Muzha. She even kindly prepared breakfast for us in the mornings and fruits when we returned.

I was quite impressed that his grandparents drive and dine at western restaurants! and go to far flung places for vacation! I could never imagine my grandparents doing that!

We visited Zhi nan gong the next day. The public bus system in Taipei is really quite usable though not too user friendly to foreigners as everything is in traditional Chinese. I am really impressed by how they have a comprehensive system to help move people through this sprawling city. Its very affordable too.

Somehow i can't help but feel that life in Taiwan is more colourful though more chaotic than Singapore. I guess its mainly due to the freedom given to the media and the ability of people to speak and criticize freely. Every night on the news, there is plenty of gossip. The hottest thing when we were there was the outurst from President Chen's daughter, who's husband was faing a jail term for insider trading. They just kept playing it over and over again and even turning it into a ringtone!
World's longest ice cream!