I still remember saying out loud, ‘what a lucky a****** this guy is, his whole life will be a vacation!’ when I saw pictures of Javed Miandad’s (Junaid) son’s wedding. Regardless of how she looks or the amount of gold that she was wearing, her dad is one filthy rich man and Junaid most probably does not need to work for the rest of his life.
Little did I know back then that I will get married to someone whose work will make my life a vacation at least for the initial period of our marriage. Am I enjoying it? I would be highly ungrateful to Allah (SWT) if I say that I am not. Do I want to spend the rest of my life like this? No, I dont want to spend the rest of my life like a nomad. I would want to spend more time at home and less at a hotel. Obviously, a vacation should be earned and I dont call these trips vacations..they will be part of my ‘routine life’ for some time.
Anyway, I was in Taipei for the last 12 days and perhaps that is also the reason why I was not updating the blog so frequently or responding to your comments. The trip went well, at least for me. So without further vents of my emotions, I’l just talk about the city itself.
The much talked about tower is not actually 101 floors….its 91 floors. The height is added by the pinnacle. Nonetheless, the building is humongous, grandiose and state of art, especially because the city lies on the earthquake prone region. Taipei 101 was built with this in mind in addition to all other challenges posed to all skyscrapers all around the world. The effect of tremors is controlled (mellowed by 40%) by a huge steel pendulum weighing 660 metric tonnes, serving as a tuned mass damper, suspended from 92nd to the 88th floor.
Taipei 101 has two observatories: one indoor on the 89th floor and one outdoor on the 91st floor. Both of them offer a 360 degrees view.
The building can be a shopper’s paradise an houses outlets of some of the world’s most popular brands. It also has a bookstore (Page One) which boasts to have the largest English Books collection in the whole of Taiwan. And oh, the building also has the world’s fastest elevator.
National Museum of History: Not much to write about. It mainly houses pottery (something I have no interest in) and a few Buddha statues which are worth seeing. The only good thing about the museum is the Botanical Garden which is just adjacent.
National Palace Museum: Architecturally charismatic. The museum is huge and can take you nearly 4 to 5 hours and even then you cannot claim to have seen it all. When the Communists were advancing on Beijing in the final years of the Chinese Civil War, the Nationalists grabbed all they could from the Forbidden City and brought it to Taiwan. Its interesting to see possibly some of the most secretive documents in the museum. The best thing about the museum is that the entry is free after 5 pm on Saturdays….we were lucky to have reached at the right time. Sadly, they dont allow photos to be taken inside the museum.
Shilin Night Market
Not the only night market in the city but definitely the biggest, a ‘must-see’ attraction especially for women. You can buy both branded and unbranded stuff here and the market is so huge that you can actually shop till you drop. Food is in abundance here but obviously as language can be an issue, avoid eating as you might end up eating pork even if you ordered some fried fish. We ate at a korean restaurant and ended up eating so much (shopping can make you hungry!) that I was on the verge of throwng up by the end of it.
Simply loved it! Its a 4-storey book shop!! 😀 I ended up spending 3 hours in the store and wasnt really impressed wen Pasha came to pick to me up….seriously wanted to stay a lil longer.
One of the only two mosques in Taipei and as it was merely on a 15 minutes walking distance from the hotel, I visited this one a few times. The beautiful mosque was built in 1950s with funding from Saudi Arabia and houses a small library in addition to the basic facilities like the wudhu area and separate prayer halls for men and women (the ladies prayer hall is on the second floor). It was simply beautiful to be referred to ‘sister’ by men in the mosque and made me feel at home immediately.
And finally, a bit of Geography
Its a mountainous city with one of the peaks being volcanic. Other peaks are now believed to be ‘extinct’ volcanoes. Wallah-u-Alam. The city is one earthquake prone region and earthquake tremors are quite common….2-3 per month usually of 5-6 magnitude on Richtor scale. We were lucky (or unlucky :S ) to have witnessed one such earthquake during our trip.