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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On Top of the World

In 2004, Tapei 101 became the the tallest building in the world at 1,670.60 feet high, but that's going to change soon.

I just read that the top piece of the Burj Dubai was just put into place on January 17, making it the tallest free-standing structure ever built at a whopping 2,684 feet. However, it will not take the title of "tallest building" until it officially opens sometime later this year.

So, Taipei 101 is still on top, and that's where we found ourselves earlier this week, too.

It took less than 40 seconds to reach the observation deck thanks to some space-age technology. The high-speed elevator that ascends at a speed of 37 mph, has a pressurized cabin, like an airplane, that makes take-off more comfortable and eliminates ear-popping. And the elevator is covered in the same material that is found on the space shuttls to protect it from the high heat and friction involved in leaving the earth's atmosphere.

On a clear day, you might see the mountains surrounding the city, but most days it seems to be smoggy from the pollution that settles in the valley where Taipei is located. Nonetheless, from this observation point, you can see how the city is spread out.

The free audio tour (offered in English) is a great travel guide to the city, offering suggestions of where to go when you're in Taiwan, whether or not you can see it from the sky-high vantage point.

The audio guide also offers spots to get a good view of Taipei 101 itself, such as Elephant Mountain, Maokong tea plantations (shown in the bottom photo) and the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

Facts About Taipei 101:

Taipei 101 has 101 stories above ground and five underground. Upon its completion Taipei 101 claimed the official records for:

--Ground to highest architectural structure (spire): 509.2 metres (1,670.60 ft). Previously held by the Petronas Towers 452 m (1,483 ft).

--Ground to roof: 449.2 m (1,473.75 ft). Formerly held by the Sears Tower 442 m (1,450 ft).

--Ground to highest occupied floor: 439.2 m (1,440.94 ft). Formerly held by the Sears Tower 412.4 m (1,353 ft).

--Fastest ascending elevator speed: 16.83 m/s (55.22 ft/s) (60.6 km/h, 37.7 mi/h).

--Largest countdown clock: On display every New Year's Eve.

--Tallest sundial.

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