Here is what I thought of the city six years ago and posted on my Australian underwater blog:
Viewed from the 46th floor of Eastern Plaza Hotel is Taipei 101 showing how it towers above the city.
One might question the logic of building the world’s tallest building in an earthquake prone zone. Obviously the financiers know something, but how about insurance companies?
It all adds to the cost of things. Some floors of the building are yet to be completed inside, the retail shops section is well represented with international brand names but buyers seemed scarcer than the curious visitors.
UPDATE DEC 17 2004. Recent Guinness Book of Records for Taipei 101
1. Tallest building – highest structural height 508 meters
2. Fastest lifts (elevators) 89 floors in 37 seconds – 60 kmp!
3. Highest rooftop height 448 meters
4. Habitable floor height 438 meters
TAIWAN – the elite of Chinese culture
John H. has just completed a third visit to this ‘amazing little island’. Taiwan is an exciting country – ‘something like your first visit to Luna Park at the age of six’ I remarked to a friend when she enquired why I was visiting this almost unknown land (to most colleagues).
A breakaway province of China? There will be lots of news re Taiwan in the media in the coming months. The future of this island will effect every Australian – and possibly the entire Pacific. This I believe!
Bright neon lights, advertising signs (which you can’t read) and surprisingly, little English used by the local folk, apart from students.
They work hard at studies and have deep feeling for friends and family. There is no welfare system. Young respect and care for the elders. No nursing home ‘death camps’ as in the west. (Good point number one)!
Being an island culture the Taiwanese and Chinese have a strong sea tradition, as does Japan, and a very advanced attitude to many marine things from ship design to fishing hooks and even dive gear. Half of the total world production of notebook computers comes from Taiwan, plus semi-conductors galore.
Whale sharks are caught by net or harpoon for quasi-gourmet food. With the texture of tofu or ‘junket’. If you dine at a fisherman’s wharf type outlet, there’s a 30% chance of eating whale shark sold as ‘fish’.
Overall the Taiwanese diet is considerably healthier than the Australian breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Fresh vegetables, rice and almost no cola drinks give it a huge advantage. Coke and Pepsi almost unknown here. Try guava juice instead.
Refined-sugar creeps in elsewhere, and a shocking over-use of pork products. What’s wrong with pork? A living mass of virus’ to start with. Eat at your own peril. (Pigs have just four sweat glands, one on each trotter).
Taiwan pufferfish are bred via aquaculture, fed only mackerel they have (interestingly) not developed the usual poisonous characteristic. (Proof that food has a profound effect on life forms, change the diet and change the creature. It applies to humans too).
But the new safer pufferfish is not as popular with diners. The dare and thrill associated with the risk of death from the toxin, especially found in the fish liver was the near fatal attraction.
Seafood is far cheaper than anywhere in Australia. I wondered why during a previous visit. Now I know, it’s aquaculture.
Countless fish ponds are to be seen during the two-hour bus journey to Kenting from Kaohsiung in the south of the island. It’s a huge industry which Australia is keen to embrace. Does this mean more antibiotics in our food? Australia should study and try to learn from any mistakes.
Kenting is the equal of Australia’s Gold Coast but a day at the beach there may be near nuclear power station number three, and under a rented umbrella on plastic chairs. At night the neon’s make the narrow main street attractive and colourful. Taiwan glows by night. Plenty of power to burn. It’s a wealthy place where individual buying power is spread over many more levels by more classes than in Australia.
If Australia has five levels of wealth to poverty, Taiwan has fifteen. A better distribution of wealth?
Despite all these advancements with the sea, Taiwanese locals are not into diving or surf, yet. There are dive schools with instructors scattered around the north. Much of the world’s diving gear is made here too, but designed in Europe, USA and Japan.
The undersea has been sadly neglected, possibly due to spiritual beliefs in ghosts of ancestors who have drowned being active underwater?
August was the start of the ghost month when paper replica money is burned as an offering to the spirits of relatives.
All this in an island half the size of Tasmania with a population equal to Australian and New Zealand combined.
Add to this an occasional serious earthquake and a few dozen summer typhoons (cyclones) and you have a volatile land mass. A typhoon is always present in the summer, coming in from Guam where they originate, whipping up 10-12 meter waves.
See http://www.cwb.gov.tw which has an English version. It’s a great and simple design, better we thought than our Australian service. Serves the interests of the Far Seas Fishing Fleet which is said, now catches more tuna than Japan. You’ll see ocean temperatures, wind directions and heaps of info.
The climate here is on a latitude between Bundaberg and Mackay, with the Tropic of Cancer passing across the island. A sign near the coastal town of Hualien says: “Position of Tropical Cancer”.
Lots of this form of entertainment elsewhere.