Taiwan, June 8, 2006
So look up often to see the sky(scraper)
Taiwan may be a big island, but in Taipei, as in most Asian capitols, space is tight. Tight because of a constantly growing population, increasing through emigration as well as births, and land policy restrictions that keep sprawl in check.|
How tight is space in Taipei, you ask? Well check out this vertical church to the left.
Now if that's how they treat religion, you'd be amazed at how tight they build regular houses. Or how massive. My hotel, the Holiday Inn Asia World is sixteen floors of concrete imposition that would occupy a city block in Washington, DC. Here it is but one of several buildings on the block.
Space is so tight in Taipei, they built the world's tallest building here, Taipei 101. At 508 meters, it juts half a kilometer into the sky and it the landmark by which all directions are given. Computex may be Asia's largest computer showcase, and the reason the city's expat population quadruples this week, but taxis know "101" as a destination better.
And maybe they should. Going up to the top of the world's tallest skyscraper, I rode in the world's fastest elevators, moving at an ear popping 1010 meters per minuite (37.5 miles per hour). One up top, the view, even during Typhoon Taipei was stunning. I couldn't see far, not that my eyesight would let me anyway, but the view below was vertigo-inducing enough.
Then, I went up to the outdoor observation deck, a surprise I didn't think this building would have. The last skyscraper outdoor observation deck that I went out on, The World Trade Center's South Tower, doesn't exist anymore. There still is the Empire State Building, but that's a bump on a log compared to the height of this observation deck.
Oh, a note to all those B.A.S.E jumpers out there; the roof of Taipei 101 is just calling to be leapt from. At the bottom, you have to pass through a simple medal detector, easily circumvented with non-metal parachute gear. Then, at the top, while there are guards, they are pretty chill. Not one was outside when I wandered around the outdoor observation deck, which is a short stair climb up from the enclosed observation deck.
Last but not least, the fence looks easily surmountable if you have decent upper body strength and once over the fence, you'll be standing on the roof of the observation deck below and able to get a good running start to leap well away from the building. Add to it the stiff breeze at that height and you'd be well on your way to fame.
That and probably decent jail time if they caught you. I'm sure that Taiwan, with its Japan with Chinese characteristics culture, would be more than happy to throw a book of charges against you.