New Year’s Eve at Taipei 101

Quick lesson on Taipei 101 : Coming in at 508 m with a price tag of  US $ 1.8 billion, 101 is THE skyscraper in Taipei.  This icon of Taiwan was the world’s tallest building from 2004 – 2010 (finally beaten by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai).  Currently it holds the title of the largest green building in the world.

The 101 floors above ground (hence the name) house offices, bookstores, restaurants, and a plethora of fashion shops where you can find almost anything.  Numerous businesses also call this building home.  The highest floor (101) is home to a private club called Summit which is a secret hangout for either the Taiwan mafia or Taiwan’s kung fu ninjas. I haven’t found any information on yet – seems to be a secret.

The building has 5 additional underground floors, and is built to withstand typhoons and earthquakes.  The elevator running up and down from the 5th floor has been clocked at 1010 m / minute – currently the fastest in the world.  All in all, it’s a pretty amazing feat of engineering.  Here’s what it looks like:

And at night:

Every year, Taipei 101 hosts New Year’s celebrations.  This basically means thousands of people gathering together to countdown and see a dazzling display of  fireworks launched from all the floors of the building.  This was my first time, so I was pretty pumped about seeing this highly popular event.

It was pretty busy, but we managed to get a decent spot from where to view the fireworks:

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Then the show began:

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The theme this year was “Time for Taiwan” – which rotated around the viewscreens on the top of the building in English and Chinese.  Fireworks lit up the building, launched from each floor in a blur of colour, light and smoke.  Reportedly,  22 000 fireworks were set off.  The show lasted about 2  1/2 – 3 mins, then the crowds started dispersing.

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While the show was pretty decent, there was no countdown, at least none from where we were standing.  I guess “Time for Taiwan” didn’t include time for a countdown.  And I’m not positive, but I think the fireworks went off a little early.

I later found out that this year’s show was not as good as the years before.  Last year was Taiwan’s 100th birthday, so maybe the Taipei city government blew all the dough on last year’s fireworks, and cut the budget for this year.  Regardless, it was a good way to start off the year.

Next year, maybe I’ll go early and experience it from ground 0.

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