Taipei – Taipei 101 and Raohe Night Market | Taiwan Day 2
Since we’re in Taipei, of course we had to visit the iconic Taipei 101! The building boasts an astonishing 101 floors above ground (five floors underground) and stands at 508 metres tall. I shall not go into which building is currently the tallest in the world because the competition is ongoing. There’s always someone who is trying to build an even taller one, so let’s forget it.
How to Get There
There’s a free shuttle bus service outside Taipei City Hall Station (台北市政府站). Take Exit 2 from the station. There’s a bus stop along the road outside a departmental store and just wait at that bus stop. The bus comes at intervals of 15 to 20 minutes.
Upon arrival, go to the fifth floor of Taipei 101 shopping mall. The ticketing counter and entrance to the Observatory is located there. Ticket is at NT$500 per pax. Flash your Youth Travel Card to get the ticket at NT$400 per pax. That’s savings of NT$100 woohoo!
The World’s Fastest Elevator
You will take a lift up to the 89th floor. Taipei 101 also houses the world’s fastest elevator (at least for now). The elevator ascends to the 89th floor in just 37 seconds flat, at a speed of 1,010 metres per minute, which is 60.6 kilometres per hour! Imagine it as a car travelling vertically up? The cost for each of these high speed elevators (there’s two) is reportedly US$2.4 million. No pray pray okay…
Once you step out of the elevator, you’ll be greeted by the staff and offered a handheld audio tour guide. It is available in eight languages: English, Chinese, Cantonese, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. It is free of charge and you can listen in on the explanations to gain a better understanding on what you see in front of you at the various parts of the observatory deck.
A 360 degrees bird’s eye view of the surrounding terrain.
The World’s Largest & Heaviest Damper
Down to the 88th floor to see the world’s largest and heaviest wind damper (again, at least for now). It weighs a massive 660 metric tons, which is 660,000 kilograms, equivalent to about 330 cars! The damper is to negate and/or reduce the effect of typhoon winds and earthquake tremors common in the area. I shall not bore you with the physics behind this, but you can read here (under Structural Design) if you are interested.
Heading back down in the same super fast elevator. If you’re wondering, the speed down will not be as fast as the speed up, due to gravity. Again, I shall not bore you with the physics! I’m starting to feel like a nerd already haha.
Wu Fen Pu
After Taipei 101, we took a taxi to Wu Fen Pu (五分埔), which is a wholesale garment market. There are about 1,000 shops selling clothes (both women and men), as well as accessories such as bags and shoes.
How to Get There
To get there by train, alight at Houshanpi Station (后山埤站). Take Exit 1 (Wu Fen Pu Commercial Zone) and walk along Jhongpo North Road (中坡北路) to the intersection of Jhongpo North Road and Yongji Road (永吉路). Wu Fen Pu should be on your left.
Disclaimer: I did not try this path as I took a taxi, so please don’t curse me if this instruction is incorrect haha. If you’re lost, you can always take a taxi. It’s a much more affordable mode of transport in Taiwan, unlike in Singapore!
The entire Wu Fen Pu wholesale garment market area looks like this. Plan ahead how you want to systematically cover the grounds as all the streets look alike. You’ll get confused easily and go, “Have I walked here before?”
TIP: Avoid going to Wu Fen Pu on Mondays, as it is reserved for wholesalers. The shops will still be open, but you will probably have to squeeze with the wholesalers and hence, your shopping experience may not be as enjoyable.
A lot of Taiwanese people are pet lovers, especially dogs. I saw numerous dog owners walking their dogs without leashes, and the dogs are very obedient and disciplined. They don’t run about nor bark excessively. It’s common for them to bring their dogs out while shopping, and there are also shop owners who bring their dogs to the shops too.
See the two poodles above? The black one was so obedient, it just stayed put beside the cash register as instructed by the owner who was standing outside the shop. The brown poodle was being friendly, mingling around with customers before deciding to take a nap.
Raohe Night Market
After Wu Fen Pu, we walked over to Raohe Night Market (绕河夜市). It’s about 15 to 20 minute walk. If your legs are tired by then (which I think you will be), just cab over. We found our way by asking passersby.
Yes, they sell pets at Raohe Night Market. See, poodles are really popular over there.
Settled our dinner at this roadside stall. Marcus ordered this bowl of NT$25 braised pork rice (滷肉饭) and indeed, you get what you pay for. A dollar for the teeny tiny bowl of rice. Look at his face. I was laughing at him while I enjoyed my (regular size) bowl of noodles. Evil much? Hahaha. The braised meat rice was good though. If you like it, you can order 2, 3, or even 5 bowls to fill your stomach.
Bing tang hu lu (冰糖葫芦) as dessert. This is usually caramelised haw in a stick, but I bought strawberries instead of haw. I love it! I have a sweet tooth so this is like a heavenly combination of sweetness with my favourite fruit. There’s also caramelised cherry tomatoes. I’m totally missing this. Anyone knows if we have it here in Singapore? Please leave me a note if you do! 🙂