Travel Journals: Taipei 101

Let’s talk about Taiwan.

I spent the last few weeks telling you all about my (terrible) time in Paris, so let’s change gears a little here.

I studied abroad in Taiwan when I was 19, in 2014.

There are so many stories to tell from my 5-month stay in Taipei (the capital of Taiwan), but I think the best place to start is with Taipei 101.

For those who don’t know, Taipei 101 is the most iconic building in all of Taiwan; it’s what the country is known for.

Taipei 101 - 1

For a short time, it was the tallest building in the world. Its name, Taipei 101, comes from the number of floors that it has.

What this building is known for, now, is the incredible damper installed to keep the building stable, which is the biggest of its kind in the world.

This type of damper is used in other tremendously tall buildings, but it’s particularly important in Taiwan as the country is located on a fault line, and regularly experiences earthquakes. The damper limits the sway of the building in everything from typhoon level winds to massive earthquakes.

I visited Taipei 101 twice during my stay, once in the first few days, and once in my last few. The first time was during the day, so I could see the landscape for miles, and the second was at night, so I could see the entire city lit up below me.

Strangely, one of the things I remember most from my first visit is the weather.

I arrived in Taiwan in February, but the country is considered to be a tropical climate, so I expected it to be warm.

I was wrong.

In February 2014, Taipei experienced record cold temperatures, getting near freezing at night and not nearly warm enough during the day – temperatures that I definitely had not packed for.

The day that I went to visit Taipei 101, we finally had a break in the weather. It was warm and sunny, and, at last, got to enjoy some time outside in this gorgeous country.

Taipei 101 - 2

By the time I visited Taipei 101 the next time, towards the end of my trip in May, the novelty of Taiwan weather had long worn off.

Never have I experienced the kind of heat and humidity that I experienced in Taiwan.

When I came home, I mentioned the harrowing humidity so often that it became a joke amongst my friends and family. Whenever someone complained about the weather in (significantly more temperate) Michigan, someone else would pipe up, “But it’s nothing compared to what Emma experienced in Taiwan!” At which point I would roll my eyes, but immediately regale them with tales of the endless rain, heat, and humidity.

But I digress.

One of the coolest things about Taipei 101 is how vastly it towers over everything in the city. There is not a single building in the entire expanse of the city that even comes close to the size of Taipei 101.

IMG_2537

It’s the perfect navigation tool.

Or it would be, if I had any sense of direction.

If I was out with my friends and we got turned around, it’s very easy to spot Taipei 101 from just about anywhere in the city. For most people, it’s perfect for orienting yourself.

I still had to whip out Google Maps, of course, because it’s not going to do any good to orient yourself based on Taipei 101 if you don’t know where Taipei 101 is in relation to where to want to go. Fortunately for me, I had much more directionally savvy friends while living in Taiwan.

Taipei 101 is one of those iconic buildings that you can’t miss out on if you visit Taipei. Not going to Taipei 101 would be like going to New York City and not going to the Empire State Building, or to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. It’s a must-do, no matter how touristy it seems.

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