The Majestic Taipei 101 Tower

The Taipei 101 tower in downtown Taipei city was the world’s tallest inhabited building at the time it opened in 2004. I had the chance to visit the area a few times, first to walk about, then for the Xmas experience, and finally to check out the heights and sights up there from the 73rd floor, where the Google office is located.

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There is a huge, luxury shopping mall inside the tower and many lifts that feel like smooth, silent airplanes going up. It’s quite a thrill, nicely crowning the already exciting walk around Xinyi’s modern neighborhood. Absolutely the number 1 urban experience in Taipei!

Xmas & New Year 2012/13

The winter’s cold temperature settled in, yet still in double digits. Certain areas of Danshuei and Xinyi were decorated for Christmas (even though it isn’t a local tradition nor a holiday), making it fun to revisit the Taipei 101 area.

Christmas Day itself turned out to be both delicious and sunny, while new year’s eve offered great fireworks right outside our door in Danshuei! We even lit up a couple of sky lanterns, which flew into the dark night sky, propelled by fire. Reportedly, 800.000 people gathered around the Tower 101 on this night — some of which wearing diapers to deal with the difficulty of leaving the area and finding WCs!

Gentle Fall

The fall of 2012 was gentle in Taipei, keeping warm temperatures until November, when the rain started pouring almost incessantly. Before that, we got to explore Danshuei to the fullest and drove south to Wulai, historically an aboriginal village with hot water springs.

Classic Airplanes at the Taipei Aviation Museum

Right at Taipei Taoyuan airport — the airport near Taipei City where most international airlines fly to — there is an interesting collection of old planes from Taiwan. Despite being a fan of race cars more than airplanes, I couldn’t miss the opportunity for a good photo shoot… I was fortunate enough with the sunny weather and charismatic sky, so it turned out great! Check it out:

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If you’re a plane buff, click here for the full photo album of the Aviation Museum at Taipei Tayouan Airport!

Shrimp Fishing

Shrimp fishing is both a way to pass time and to prepare the next meal. There are indoor tanks in Taipei open 24 hours a day! The shrimp (more precisely, the king prawn) is brought in from the sea and thrown into a water tank where people can fish it. The waters are opaque so we can’t easily see where they are, as if we were fishing in the sea or river.

Now, given the choice of a good vegetarian meal versus meat or fish, I usually go for the first one, for many reasons. Shrimp, for example, is a bit controversial due to the high percentage of bycatch in industrial fishery. That aside, going fishing is definitely an interesting experience, even in hard ground. There’s more nature contact in the wild waters, but in turn the tanks provide a social atmosphere. We got the help of a few people and even doubled our prawn-count thanks to a friendly and generous couple that was fishing beside us.

Though we weren’t fishing directly at the natural hangout place of these prawns, it was still interesting to make that effort for a meal, an effort that goes beyond paying for something pre-hunted and sold at a supermarket or restaurant. It enables a connection that has been lost with the modern food industry, not only because we get to hunt but also because we have to kill our own food before eating. But I have to say, from a shrimp perspective, there are better ways to die than being shoved on a stick; suddenly, boiling water seems more attractive!

All in all, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable evening… and most importantly we survived it! Just today I came across this article in the news: “Escaping shrimp infects woman, causes death.” Yikes.