After our first day in Taiwan, our guide took us to a hotel about an hour away from Taipei. Since the hotel wasn’t in the city, we were able to get large, comfortable rooms for a fraction of the price for a room in the city. However, it did mean that we were sort of in the middle of nowhere, and there was nothing to do at night. We also learned that their “Continental Breakfast” was really, really bad. I actually think this might have constituted the worst hotel food I’ve ever had in my entire life, and I’m usually not picky about food.
At least we each got ridiculously large king sized beds to flop around on?
Our first destination on the second day was the Yehliu Geo Park, located in a cape called the Yehliu Promontory. According to their website (link here), the geo park measures approximately 1.7km (about 1.1 miles) long. It is most famous for the various natural rock formations that were created as the combined result of tectonic plate movements, tidal waves, and erosion by exposure. Many of these rocks were given imaginative names by the townspeople, of which the most famous is the “Queen’s Head”.
The park was also scattered with dozens of ancient sea urchin fossils. It was fun to search for them amidst the almost-alien landscape of rugged rocks.
The park was packed with hundreds of tourists, and much to my sadness and in spite of the valiant efforts of the park rangers, there were so many people who blatantly ignored numerous signs posted and were climbing all over these delicate and ancient natural wonders. Apparently their needs to take pictures preceded the need to preserve these natural formations that may not even be around for another 10 years, the way things were going right now. 😦
Our next stop was the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Complete in 1980, it was erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, a Chinese political and military leader who was also the first President of the Republic of China (Taiwan). While the memorial was full of various exhibits and displays of Chinese calligraphy, photographs of Chiang Kai-shek, and so on, as we were on a guided tour, we were directed straight to the main chamber of the Memorial Hall where we watched the changing of the guards ceremony. It was insanely hot, and the sunlight reflected off of the shiny marble floors and walls meant that we were sweltering in the heat during the painfully slow and honestly dull ceremony.
Our last destination was Taipei 101. The world’s tallest building until the erection of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (2009), it is also the world’s largest environmentally friendly building, having been awarded the LEED Platinum Certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design rating system.
To reach the observatory on the 88th floor, we took a high-speed elevator. The whole trip, from the 5th floor to the 88th floor, only took an impressive 37 seconds. By the time we reached the 88th floor, the sky had darkened enough that we were able to look out on the beautiful night lights of Taipei.
We could also take a look at the impressively-designed damper. Designed to withstand typhoon winds of up to 126 km/h (134 mph) as well as the strongest earthquakes in a 2,500-year cycle, the steel pendulum weighs an astounding 660-tonnes. It is suspended by thick metal cables and stabilized by pneumatic legs, and can rock up to 1.5 meters side-to-side.
The damper also served as inspiration for the tower’s mascots: Damper Babies. Coming in 5 colors (gold, black, silver, green and red), their adorableness has proved to be a major marketing success, even launching their own comic book series.
That’s it for the second day of my Taiwan trip. Hope to see you for the next post!