Chiang Kai-Shek / Taipei 101

Wake up to some sort of Taiwanese daytime talk show blaring through the window. It’s insanely loud. It’s so fucking loud it might as well be in our room. It must hurt like hell to be in the same room as that tv. Maybe they’re hearing impaired or something, cuz that is crazy. Gaaaaaawwww we’re up.

Follow some cute cartoon signs in Dreaming Dragon back to where Shawn previewed the laundry for us the night before. We’ll probably be here for another day at least so perfect time to get some laundry in mid-trip.

We head back over to Eight Elephants to let them know we’re going to stay another night here. There is a new girl laptopping on one of the colorful sofas. She’s dressed in a sleek, tight, black… something and looks like European Catwoman from the Matrix. Agent Getz’s gives me the wide eyed “are you seeing this” look. I am. We pay rent and split. Through the lane, under the piano sign, past the 7/11, and into the Taipei streets.

Grab breaky at a newer looking spot called Tomato on a little side street nearby. It’s all healthy grub here and we get some breakfast combos that end up being a ton of food. The coffee is excellent.

Queenie decides that she really should get back to Taichung and visit her parents. While we were in Taichung her folks were in Yilan visiting other family. And when we came around this side of the island they were making their way back to Taichung. Trains passing in the night. So Queenie is going to take a couple days to get back home and see them. Agent Getz and I exchange a mischievous glance that screams ‘Boyz night out!’.

We hit the metro and split paths midway. Hugs hugs bye bye to Tha Queebs, she takes a car to the main station to catch the train. Agent Getz and I are left to investigate another area of Taipei. Zssssht go the doors, mind the gap, up the steps, out into the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial plaza.

Chiang Kai-Shek is kind of a big deal.

The CKS plaza is this expansive open area with three large buildings and an impressive gateway. There’s a temple to CKS and a large Theatre where they put on symphonies/plays/productions/etc…. There was some sort of semi-coordinated flash mob dance routine happening on it while we were there. Unfortunately the central section of this beautiful plaza was taken up by several large white tents. They must be putting on some festival sort of event here this weekend. We get closer and see some dudes trucking wheelbarrows full of ice. Wtf? A little closer and we see signs for Disney’s Frozen. Daaaah barf.

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We climb the stairs to see the man himself. There are two guaaaaaaaards on either side that at first I thought were plastic statues, but they turned out to be totally real dudes standing insanely still. Great view of the plaza from up there.

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We walk around a bit snappitty snap snapping. The grounds and gardens are amazing. I can’t wait to see Frozen here this weekend! For the 8th time!! Looks like Edward Scissorhands does some of the gardening here.

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In the near distance we could see the towering Taipei 101 building looming over the city, it’s slight greenish tint looking ominous against the overcast sky. We bee-lined out of CKS on a direct course.

A fairly impressive building, back in 2004 Taipei 101 was the tallest skyscraper in the world (usurped by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2009). It remains the tallest green building in the world, collecting the LEED platinum award for energy efficiency and environmentally conscious design. It looks pretty rad too.

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We enter through a pretty high end mall and take escalators up a few floors to the elevator for the tower. There’s a line to get in that looks about 30 minutes long. A security dude sees us looking for the end of the line and detaches one of those airport line pole things and lets us in. He points us to a metal detector. We go through without taking anything from our pockets. He just doesn’t care.

There is a novelty picture taking green screen set up and Jamie and I post up in front of it for a glam shot. Completely without talking about it, at the very last minute, he throws in the thumbs up and I whip out the gun point. We start laughing. They show us the result. We start laughing even harder.

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We exit the glam booth and get in line. The picture we just took is on all of the monitors around the elevator entrance. People are looking back at us and pointing and giggling. The girl from the couple in front of us looks back, “You are celebrities! See?”, she’s pointing at the screen. Haha man, what a riot. I thought the picture would switch to the next group getting photos. Nope. It stayed up the whole time we were in line for some reason. And that’s how we became the poster boys for Taipei 101.

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We get on the elevator and blast up 90 floors. Zhhhhhhst! A hot host clad in flight attendant style attire welcomes us. The display floor with shops and floor to ceiling windows unfolds in front of us. Not a bad view up here. Our tickets came with some sort of 2 for 1 beer mango float drinks so we scope that out first. Hmmmm mango ice cream in beer, Getz is skeptical. He takes a sip and goes directly into sour face and some convulsions and some “ohhhhhh gaaawd!”. I try mine. Pffffft! Fuck is it terrible. It may be the single worst (beer) drink I’ve had. I tell Getz we came all this way and we have to finish both drinks. Eye roll. We spot an infinity mirror. Mango floats to infinity and beyond!

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We walk around and get some shots of the view. We also wander into a room described as Damper Baby. So Taipei 101 has a tuned mass damper that acts to offset the gusts from typhoons and the roll of earthquakes, both prevalent in Taiwan. It is a 660 tonne steel pendulum that hangs between the 92nd and 87th floor. 41 circular steel plates were brought up one at a time during construction and welded together to form a sphere 18 feet in diameter. Its a pretty amazing feet of engineering. And a pretty amazing feet of marketing too. Taiwan, being the capital of cuteness, decided to create an anime character out of the damper and called it Damper Baby. This bundle of cute has become a local hero of sorts and there are figures and toys available in the gift shop and stores around the tower. You can hang with damper baby up on floor 92 and learn about his incredible personality!

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Ohhhhh damper baby, you’re the one. You make Taipei so much fun. We continue to near-barf our mango floats down and check out the view.

Then we head to the observatory and check out the view from the top of the tower. Pretty chilly up there. Windy too

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The light was getting low at this point and we’d had our fill of barf floats and damper babies. It was time to exit through the insanely expensive gift shop. There were a number of large sculptures made from coral. Is that even legal? Coral from coral reefs?

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Anyways, there were a number of large sculptures in the gift shop ranging in price from Kia to Aston Martin as well as some condo priced jewelry. Drisdelle and I politely declined and got in the 30 minute line to exit.

Back out on the streets we pass by what looks like some sort of tech conference. Since our undercover ‘jobs’ have us working in the tech industry posing as software dudes, Getz and I are curious to see what’s going on in the convention hall. Looks like you need a badge to get in. But we aaaaaaare white guys… worth a shot. Act casual. We walk right in past the badge clad door peeps. Hmmm that was easy. There is a massive convention floor filled with vendors from every major tech/computer/gaming/chip/processor/software/whatever industry all represented. And each booth has the most unbelievably hot Taiwanese booth babe working it. Getz and I walk around dumbfounded, pointing, laughing, perky and amazed.

We swing past the Epson booth and for some reason there are 3 babes dancing to Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’. Incredible. A little further down we find the Xbox section and 2 gangly dudes are playing a dance game using the kinect sensor. They’re trying to dance along to ‘Uptown Funk’ and wow is it funny. One guy launches a swift side kick for some flare and we bust out laughing. What a nice, random thing to stumble upon this tech conference. We exit and stroll on.

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A little further down the street and we’re getting mighty parched. We go into a weird mall looking thing with escalators up up up through a number of vertical shops. We find a Chili’s. We can’t. No, we just can’t. Back down and on the way back out we spot a door we’d missed on the way in. It’s called the Lighthouse Beer Bistro. We investigate.

The place is kind of cool. It’s going for a hip gastropub kind of vibe. Some hoity toity types are beering and snacking. We decide to do the same. There are a number of beers from some local brewery called Premium Malts. I go with the Aroma premium (meh, it’s not too memorable). We also get a bacon and sausage plate as well as some truffle fries. Both were great.

As the sun starts to set outside Getz and I begin formulating an evening investigation plan. When he used to live here previously he’d gone to a place called snake alley. It was basically a super sketchy night market alley. Some vendors there would make snakes dance and then cut them open so you could drink the blood… and the semen. Sounds like a good place to start. We’re on the case.

 

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