Hi Jessica, this post’s title has too many colons because it is also a tour blog post!
The first day of the new year brought more adventuring in Taipei. Although it was a day to recover from the previous day’s festivities, many Glee Club singers also used it to bike along the beach, hike in the mountains, visit neighboring towns, and visit the Taipei zoo.
My day started at 12:00 PM, when I did some tour work to prepare for the Korean leg of the tour and went to lunch at Mos Burger. I had a hamburger patty on rice buns, with a marmalade dressing, which was an interesting and tasty combination of flavors. I left the hotel at 2:00 PM to go hike Xiangshan with a group of Glee Club members, and when we arrived it was already quite crowded and warm. The hike consisted almost entirely of stairs for the first 400 meters, so we made quick progress and had some lovely views of Taipei 101. I appreciated how well the trails were maintained; they were clean of trash, wide enough to accommodate even the New Year’s crowds, but also not too obtrusive around the wildlife. One of the Glee Club singers had even brought his butterfly net, and he caught a few interesting specimens on the way up. When we got to the peak of Xiangshan, our group split in two, one going back into town down the backside of the mountain, the other continuing about a kilometer further to reach the next peak. I was feeling a bit sick by this time, so I went back down the mountain with the first group.
As we walked to Taipei 101, we passed an interesting sign:
It was on the outskirts of the city, and the irregular font made me question whether the installation was actually authorized or affiliated with the president-elect. The gaudy, abstract art piece behind the name was also ambiguous, given Trump’s affinity for gaudy gold objects and the fact that many of his critics will satirize that personality trait.
When we arrived at Taipei 101, which looks bit more imposing in the daylight, we got our tickets to the observatory level, and stood in line to get in the fastest elevators in the world (1010 meters per minute!). Taipei 101 is the 5th tallest building in the world, and was the first skyscraper to be built over 500 meters. We learned these fun facts as we walked in concentric circles, getting ever closer to the elevator. At one point, we got our photo taken, which was promptly superimposed on a skyline picture of Taipei 101 and displayed for everybody in line to see.
When we finally got in the elevator, the ride was quite smooth. The g-force was noticeably stronger, and I could feel my ears pop as they adjusted to the change in pressure. 32 seconds later, we arrived at the observatory level, and took in the city. It was night time, so although we couldn’t see the mountain range to the west, all the buildings were lit up. The moon was just starting to wax, and it was the only thing bright enough in the sky to compare with the lights of the city. We also took a look at the huge wind damper, a golden pixelated sphere that looked like it was constructed out of legos. With its pistons and thick, yellow cables, it also looked like the brain or heart of an enormous robot.
By the time we got back down from the tower, it was quite late and we were all hungry, so we went to the shopping mall close to the hotel and ordered some food at the food court. For whatever reason, both the food courts I went to in Taiwan were below ground. In the US, they tend to be at ground level or even a floor up. We had our first concert the next day, so when I got back to the hotel, I rested up for a bit before going to bed.