April 29, 2006 - Saturday
Taipei, TW to Dayigwong, TW

[Composed May 2] Today is a sight-seeing day. Items of desire - the Taipei 101 building (tallest building, fastest elevators) and the National Palace Museum. We arranged to leave the bags at the hostel so off we went - breakfast a moments walk from the hostel and then we trekked a couple blocks to the subway. One transfer and we popped out near Taipei 101 and walked several blocks. We spent a bit of time in the building and Felipe met a gentleman he has known for some time. He was visiting, with some other people, from Thailand. When he heard that I would be visiting Thailand he offered me his card and said to give a call should I need any assistance. The generosity of others continues - how to extend the courtesy others extend to me?

Down from the building we visited a nice restaurant for lunch. Felipe wished to treat me to a welcome dinner - Peking Duck. Delicious. Thank you!

From lunch we entered the subway to travel to the National Palace Museum. The subway was underground for all of my travel so far but this line did end up being an elevated line. After the subway we took a bus that went directly to the museum. Sections of the museum were under construction - and there are FAR too many items to view and only a portion of the items are able to be displayed at one time. We visited several different rooms but the primary room was the one that caught my eye - the detailed ivory carvings. I have no pictures and there is no 'net access as I type this (so I am unable to research a photo or link for you). One carving was made from a single, solid ivory column (elephant tusk??). The carving was detailed - and that would get attention from many - but what was carved was astonishing. Chain links suspending ornate "sections" (I can't even remember the complete piece well enough!). One of the sections were "balls" about 4" in diameter - one ball inside of the next - about 4 to 9 balls all told. All made from solid material - the inner balls were not removed from the outer ones. The carving tool had to carve out the inner balls through holes in the outer balls - the time is must have taken!! The craftsmanship!

From the N.P.M. we bus and subway'd it back to the hostel, fetched our bags, and subway'd to near the "domestic" airport (then another taxi) for the 1 hour flight to Makung on one of the Penghu Islands - a series of islands to the south west of Taiwan's mainland. The flight was routine domesitc flying - twin jet engine, MD-90 perhaps. Nearing the landing spot Felipe pointed out the bright lights below - they were not city lights but rather lights on boats that were out squid fishing. Squid's are attracted to the light apparently. At the airport Felipe arranged a taxi ride for me to his house. He would take his motorbike and bring Tom home. The taxi ride took perhaps 25 minutes (cost 400 NTD - about 10 USD) where I sat back and watched the dark scenery pass by. Felipe arrived home about 20 minutes after I did.

Breakfast with Felipe and Tom. This is one of the additional "watch what you eat" items. In general the goal is to stay away from tap water and any items that come into contact with tap water (without being first boiled). The beverage was soy milk - served hot or cold. Felipe and Tom ordered hot and I ordered cold. Well, to get it cold the restaurant simply put ice cubes into the drink - and the ice cubes were probably made with tap water - there ya go (so far I'm fine). Oh, and brushing my teeth last night - yep, I forgot and used tap water (instead of bottled water). No issues - but some of the thinking needs to be turned up a bit.

Police scooters

Subwaying it to Taipei 101 - the world's tallest building with the world's fastest elevators.

Taipei 101 - up into the clouds. (Wikipedia info). We're hoping the clouds will dissipate when we arrive at the viewing decks.

They did - well enough.

When we purchased our tickets we were given discount coupons for ice cream. The stand was bounding in cow "stuff". The employee uniforms were even fairly mooo'd up (I considered asking the employees for a photo but figured they had enough to deal with). So, David, here is a shot - just for you.

Many tall building has mass dampers in them. They help the building stay motionless on windy days - anti-sway devices. Taipei 101 has three of them (if I read correctly) and is the only building so far to publicly display one.

Hmmm - cables on the outside. Must be a window washing day...

There they are - hanging down there. Highlighted in the red box.

Chicago is just "a bit" east of here.

While we were walking around the viewing deck Felipe (right) saw a gentleman he knows. Ake Chaisawadi, Ph.D. from King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi - Bangkok, Thailand.

Being the geek I am I pulled out the laptop to make a "first post" from the skydeck of the tower. Foiled - was not to be - no public wireless available.

And I agree. That thing was FAST (and smooth). Being used to the Sears Tower skydeck elevators (2.5 minutes??? for the ascent) these things cranked at 30 seconds for the ascent. The elevator car is visible to the left of this picture. No better photo exists as the reflections were difficult to deal with.

Info sign - Click for a larger size

So, we found out that we could go to an outside viewing deck another two or three floors higher - sure thing. Up some flights of stairs and out we went. Here is one of the window washing carts.

Felipe and Tom - Outside viewing deck - Taipei 101

Somewhere down at the end of the cable are a couple guys cleaning windows....

From the domestic aiport - airplane taking off.

Stairwell - looking down a whole bunch of distance. Supposedly the stairs do go to the bottom but security checkpoints exist keeping us from considering a walk down.

Ugh - yea let's just keep this picutre a tad smaller than the others. Nothing to see here folks, move along, nothing to see, move along...

Lobby area

Weather station. Click for a close up to the stats

Tile walkway. The aligned tiles in the center are for the visually impaired folks.

Here's a GREAT example of some of the things you can see on the scooters. Pail strapped to the rear (blocking the license plate), kids, barefoot, package in the step through area, bags hanging off everywhere. This is common as scooters are the primary transport for many people. Parking is tight so scooters make good use of the space. Scooters also filter up to the head of the line at stoplights. Traffic lanes are fairly well used but ample lane changes do exist - with scooters filling in any available slot. On the open stretches of roadway the scooters have a lane for their use at the far right of the road. All in all - not too crazy. Click for a close up of the scooter.

Lunch - Peking Duck. Delicious. And thanks to the restaurant for "speeding up" our order so we would have more time at the National Palace Museum.

Felipe getting ready for one of the delicious parts of the duck - brain.

Subway then bus to get to the National Palace Museum.

N.P.M. No photos from inside though.

Back on the subway. Here is where we are at. Pick your destination - the number in the circle at the destination is the cost of the trip. The machines below change money to a card token.

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