May 23, 2007

Episode XXV: Climbing the Roof


There is only one structure of the Kaohsiung city that is visible from a far distance. It is a symbol of the city and its pride I am sure. An 85-floor sky tower located in the downtown, the neighbourhood of the harbour. A building, which has got a shape of a Chinese character that means nothing else but high. No wonder why. It is 378 meters tall.

Kaohsiung's tower used to the Taiwan’s tallest between 1997 and 2003. It remains very impressive but few years ago a true rival appeared. It has got 101 floors and that is why it is called Taipei 101.

Taipei 101 is the first building to break the half-kilometer mark in height. Its 508 meters give it the title of the tallest in the world. It had left behind the giants such as Sears Tower in Chicago and Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Located in the eastern part of Taipei city the tower overlooks and absolutely dominates the environment. In Hong Kong for an instance there are many great structures. In Taipei there is only one that cannot be missed out.

In the neighbourhood of the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall and surrounded by numerous shopping malls and entertainment centre, Taipei 101 is one of the biggest attractions to a visitor who dropped in to the capital of Taiwan.

Taipei 101's design is unique thanks to a bamboo stalk's pattern. The tower looks very slim and soaring. It does not weight down with its figure. Actually it gives an impression of being quite light and slick. It does not look that heavy. It is just a pure height.

I have to admit that I am afraid a heights a bit. I really wanted to climb 101's observatory when I went to Taipei in a first week of April but it was a thrilling experience after all. It is so tall that almost unbelievable.

When I arrived to Taipei the weather was not good enough to have a clear view from up there. Clouds were covering tower's top floors. I was disappointed because I truly counted I will have a chance to see something. I had to wait until Saturday night when the visibility became satisfactory. Then I came back.

I have entered the fastest elevator in the world that moves with the speed of 60 km/h. That was something unreal. After reaching the destination I have realized that it is simply too high for me. I enjoyed taking a look but with some kind of natural and inexpressible pleasure I went down to put my foot on the ground again. Nevertheless I was happy to fulfill my goal.

Probably Taipei 101 will not remain the tallest of all for long. There are some challenging structures to be completed soon. One of them is a tower being built in Dubai in United Arab Emirates. According to the plan, it is going to be 800 meters tall. As a matter of fact it is already in cosmos. Or even somewhere beyond.

May 15, 2007

Episode XXIV: The Cabbage and the Palace


First week of April brings an important holiday to a Taiwanese society and its culture – Tomb Sweeping Festival. I could compare it to a Polish event that happens in November. People go to the cemeteries to visit the tombs of their family members. Lots of candles are lighted up. People prey and gather to spend an evening together.

Since Tomb Sweeping Day of 2007 was a Thursday, most of the people got the Friday off. It meant four days in a row that could be used for a travel. I made my mind quite quick. I decided to go to Taipei. I have been there before but for a very short moment. Without having a chance to see anything. This time it was supposed to be a different story.
I have stayed in the capital of Taiwan for three nights and I have an impression that I have seen a lot and felt the atmosphere of the city.

MRT system is such a wonderful invention that I cannot wait until it will be completed in Kaohsiung. It will definitely give a huge impact to the city’s development. It will take it to a next level.

Taipei as every cosmopolitan capital city has got a load of venues to visit. There are many tourist attractions and places of a cultural and historical interest.

In my opinion no visitor to Taipei should miss a National Palace Museum. It is said to be the biggest collection of Chinese artifacts and artwork in the world. Only some part of it is exhibited because of the lack of space I suspect. Splendid, magnificent and fascinating. In those words I express my admiration to what I have seen.
When visiting a museum in Europe I mainly expect to see paintings. In Taipei I have not seen many of them. The most famous and desired item to be displayed is something I would never believe. Not even an item of a great size.

It is something as common as a vegetable. But a vegetable one of a kind because made from an unusual piece of white-and-green jade. It is simply a cabbage. A small carving in a shape of a cabbage. It could sound a bit disappointing but after seeing its beauty I have valued it very high.

Architecture of that museum is fantastic. It is truly a palace of an art. A cabbage makes it even more mysterious and curious. For sure I will come back to see it again in the future.
Although I had a really good time in Taipei, on my way back to Kaohsiung I felt like returning home. That half of year here produced a strong emotional bond between the city and me. It is good to be here. I do not want to think about leaving but I keep my head up.