One of Ava’s deepest desires on this trip was to visit Taipei 101, the almost-tallest-building in the world. You can see it from our hotel, and yesterday afternoon we decided to try and walk there (although Ava opined, “It’s probably too far, we should get a taxi”).
Evan likes walking around. Indeed, it seems to be the only thing he does like at this point. He goes from howling and sobbing “Ai yah! Ai yah! Aiiiiii yaaaaah!” to quietly observing and even occasionally talking and humming.
We wandered south towards the tower through a quiet and pretty tree-lined neighborhood filled with schools and elementary aged boys and girls in cute green and white outfits. It was a relaxing oasis from the noise and intensity we’ve seen so far in central Taipei.
Eventually we got back to the hustle and bustle of the city proper, noticing they seem to be building a subway line down the street 101 is on. We stopped and got steamed buns from a street vendor (when I couldn’t understand the price, she grabbed the money from my hand, much to the amusement of the other people in line) and snacked on them during our walk.
Evan was in such high spirits he allowed Ava and I to feed him pieces of bun, and even let Ava tickle his ears, giving her a shy smile in response. He told us, “Hai yao!” when he wanted more. He loved the big diggers working on the subway, showing Diana with his arm how they pick up and drop dirt.
Finally we made it to 101. Ava was ecstatic. Grandma, Ava and myself rode the incredibly high speed elevator up to the observation floor on 89. Our guidebook kind of poo-pooed the idea, but I thought it was pretty cool. The elevator is frightening– your ears pop like crazy as it reaches 60km/h speeds. According to their literature, it’s the fastest elevator in the world (built by Mitsubishi, fwiw).
On the top, I felt strangely out of sorts, like internally my body knew it had just been thrown up in the air where it didn’t belong. Taipei spreads out pell-mell in every direction, an incredible mass of humanity. I couldn’t feel the building moving, but my Mom claimed she could. They have a mass damper in the middle that absorbs motion (supposedly earthquake motion, though I wouldn’t want to test that myself).
In true Taiwanse fashion, the exit is through an entire floor of gift shops and coral gem salesrooms. It takes so long to get through it that they have not one, but two coffee shops on the way out. Ah, capitalism.
We met Diana and Evan in the food court in the Taipei 101 mall. It is an astonishing sight in and of itself. At least 30 different restaurants in every style imaginable, including, yes, KFC and McDonalds among other American offerings. I ended up getting pork and rice from a Thai place, and am happy to report it was wonderfully spicy.
Evan had deteriorated by then, and we took a taxi back to the hotel, where he howled and sobbed away. I’m beginning to think of him as “little ai yah”.
He fell asleep, though, and slept through the night until 6:30. It’s back to the “Ai yah-ha-ha-ha *sob*” (interestingly, the “ah ma”s have dropped off to almost nothing) this morning, unfortunately. I hope we didn’t make a mistake in not staying here long enough for him to calm down some, but I suppose it’s too late now. 8PM tonight we get on the plane.
Today we plan on going to the Handicraft Market, five stories of shopping opportunities!