Taipei, Taiwan — Thursday, March 4

This morning started off quite interesting. It was the day of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Taiwan. It happened around 8:18 AM. I had just finished breakfast and was back in my 9th floor hotel room when it started shaking. It lasted for about 15 seconds. I could feel the building shake, and I could see my room moving back and forth. It was a surreal experience. Thankfully, everything was okay in Taipei.
Once I got outside, I headed to a couple of temples — Confucius Temple and Baoan Temple. The incense sticks and burner below were at the latter temple.

I didn’t get to go inside of the Taipei Story House. It’s being prepared for a huge floral exhibition that will begin later in the year. It was built in the English Tudor style and is usually used as a location for literary events.
Here are a couple of pictures of Taipei 101, the world’s second-tallest building. It was Numero Uno until several weeks ago when the Burj Dubai opened.

This is one look at the Taipei 101 Mall. It’s huge in there, and the shops are of the “upper crust” variety. I haven’t been a mall rat since the late ’80s, so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in here.
The real reason for being here was to go up to the observatory. Here’s a model of the world’s fastest elevator, which I took up to the 89th floor. It moves at a rate of 1010 meters per minute. It was pretty impressive.
And here’s the view from Taipei 101! Alright, the weather was awful on this day. But, you can still get a pretty good idea of just how tall this building is. I don’t like high places, so I didn’t linger too long around the windows. I was also hoping that the city didn’t experience any aftershocks (remember the earthquake from earlier in the day?) while I was up there.
This is one of the dampers that keeps the building from swaying all over the place because of the wind. This thing is really, really, really heavy.

And here’s a view from the bottom of Taipei 101.
After walking around inside of the clouds, I decided to see a landmark that was a little closer to the earth. I hopped on the subway and got out at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial.

I got there just in time to see the changing of the guards. A huge crowd started forming while I was walking around, but I didn’t really pay any attention to it. Then the soldiers started walking in. Lesson of the day? When a crowd starts forming, something is about to happen. Don’t walk off.
Just outside of the memorial, the 2010 Taipei Lantern Festival was in full swing. Here are a few pics (above and below) from that.

Don’t let the few photos here fool you. There were dozens of lantern floats and displays. But I thought this SpongeBob creation was pretty cool.

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