Too many trips accumulated and too little time was available to me to write about them, or at least post some commented pictures on the blog. I will try to catch up but I will probably mix and alternate information from different trips – in Romania last fall, in Sicily earlier this fall and now from my most recent business trip to Taipei in Taiwan.

 

Let me thus start with information and pictures about Taipei 101. No, it’s not a basics training course, although the name may be fit from some points of view. It is about the tallest building in Taiwan, and the third in height world-wide, a building which kept the title of highest in the world for five years after it was inaugurated in 2004, and is 180 meters higher than the Eiffel Tour. It was the first building which crossed the 500 meters height threshold. 101 is the number of levels over the ground, and there are five more underground. It is also a symbol of exceeded perfection in a culture that has a cult of the numbers close to the Jewish obsession with numerology – one more than 100, one of the ‘perfect numbers’ for the Chinese.

 

The mayor of Taipei made a present for all those who registered for the social event of the IETF conference a free access ticket to the 89th floor, where the indoor observatory is located. We did not use them for many days, as rain and fog hit the city the day after we came in and lasted for most of our stay. The silhouette of many superposed pagoda shapes is however visible from distance in any weather conditions and dominates this part of the city same as the Eiffel tower seems to dwarf everything around in Paris.

 

Each evening of the week the tower is lit with another of the seven primary colors. On this shot the color seems to be violet so it must have been Sunday.

 

Here are the flags around and a more unusual perspective of the tower.

 

 

Most of the floors are occupied by offices. On the list there are many banks and the stock exchange, but also various global or foreign corporate brand names as Google Taiwan, L’Oreal or Starbucks. The lower five floors are ocupied by commercial spaces, the highest ones by the indoor and outdoor (which we did not caught open) observatories and by restaurants. Here is one of the two quite exclusive restaurants where we ate one of the evenings our traditional (during the IETF week) gourmet dinner. Unfortunately it was a rainy night, and the top of the tower was in the clouds (no, not networking clouds, but real ones!)

 

Here is a different perspective of the tower in a picture taken in between two of the 14 columns sustaining the Sun Yat-Sen memorial located at less then one kilometer from the tower.

 

And then Saturday came, my first (and only) free day after a very busy week of meetings. We woke up with the sun shining and with blue skies the first time during the week. We hurried through the breakfast and were wise to do it, we crossed the street from our hotel to the tower, we stood in the lines and eventually we were up there. In this picture you can see the Grand Hyatt hotel where we stayed on the right, the fairs building near it and the convention center where the IETF meeting was hold across the street, near the ‘small’ tower building.

 

By the time we were up there and started to take pictures the sunshine and blue skies had disappeared and clouds started to take control. We could see however most of the city and the suburbs from all directions.

 

 

The city of Taipei is surrounded by mountains to which the rather fierce character of the inhabitants is due, the character of people in a city that never fell to a foreign occupier (and they were a few during the history).

 

 

Modern construction in Taipei seems to have been designed with bird of if you prefer skyscraper view in mind. Clear contours, elaborated gardens and grounds for every sport you can imagine.

 

We descended one level from the 89th to the 88th store, were we admired one of the keys of the secret of the stability of this architectural wonder. A huge pendulum named by engineers ‘tuned mass dumper’ ensures that the silhouette of the tower stands to the threats of hurricanes and earthquakes which are not that rare in the region.

 

 

By the time we reached the line to descend back with the fastest elevator in the world (according to the promotion materials), fog gathered again around the highest levels and rained soon started. Friends told us that the observatories closed in the afternoon because of the bad weather. As that was also our last day in Taipei, it had really been ‘then or never’.