Our primary purpose for visiting Taipei 101 was to get 360-degree views of the city which attract visitors from around the world.  This is made possible either through the 383.4 m. (1,258 ft.) high Indoor Observatory at the 89th floor or the 391.8 m. (1,285 ft.) high Outdoor Observatory at the 91st floor, the second-highest observation deck ever provided in a skyscraper and the highest such platform in Taiwan.

Inside the high-speed elevator

From the shopping mall, Jandy, Isha and I went up to the 5th floor to purchase our admission tickets (NT$450/person, around US$13), me paying via my Mastercard credit card and Isha paying in cash.  As it was drizzling outside, we weren’t allowed to go out the Outdoor Observatory.

The Damper Baby mascot

Upon purchase of our tickets, we all queued, at a long line (it being a Sunday), for our turn at one of the 2 high-speed, double deck elevators  (which access’ the 88th through 91st floors) built by the Japanese Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corporation (TELC). While on line, all visitors are requested to pose, for souvenir photos, beside a picture of Taipei 101. Isha posed alone while Jandy and I posed together.  The resulting photoshopped photos can then be purchased at the Indoor Observatory (NT$400 for Isha’s single pose and NT$600 for our joint pose).  We didn’t bite at the offer.

Taipei 101 Indoor Observatory

Once inside the NT$80 million (US$2.4 million) elevator (which accommodates 24 persons or 1,600 kgs.), we could still hear our ears pop (in spite of its atmospheric pressure control) as we ascended 1,010 m. per min., which is 16.83 m./sec. (55.22 ft./sec.) or 60.6 kms./hr. (37.7 miles/hr.).  We arrived at the 89th floor in 39 secs. flat.  In 2004, the elevator held the the Guinness World Record of the world’s fastest passenger elevator. Each elevator, which features an aerodynamic body, has state-of-the art emergency braking systems and the world’s first triple-stage, anti-overshooting system.

Special exhibit

Upon arriving at the 89th floor Indoor Observatory, we were welcomed by the Damper Baby mascot.  Before exploring on your own, we were given a free multimedia guides to listen to, with  recorded self guided voice tours, in 8 languages, detailing sights and the history of the Taipei Basin from 30,000 years ago to the present.  While listening, we all went around to appreciate the somewhat hazy view of the entire city from large, blue green-tinted windows with UV protection.  Green mountains seem to embrace the valley city of Taipei. Appropriate labels and names of the buildings and structures are posted to assist visitors.  There were also informative displays and special exhibits.

Taipei City Hall (foreground)

Taipei World Trade Center Hall 1 (foreground)

The observatory also has an outlet of Big Tom’s Ice Cream.  Posted flavors here include “Obama Brownie,”“L.F. Marionberry Cheesecake,” “Soy Cream Cinnamon Caramel” and more. Like most ice cream joints, you can choose to get your scoops in a waffle bowl.  They also offer bagels, cakes, waffles, freshly ground coffee, tea, orange juice and other specialty items to go with your ice cream.

Big Tom Ice Cream

Taipei 101 Indoor Observatory: 89/F, No.7, Hsin Yi Rd., Section 5, Taipei 110, Taipei City, Taiwan.  Tel:  (+886-2) 8101-8899. Website: Taipei-101.com.tw.