Today was a free day, as is tomorrow.  Most of the group went out to Taipei 101 the first thing.  Taipei 101 is a landmark skyscraper in Taipei’s financial district, and was the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010.  It was designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoons and also incorporates Asian cultural elements in its design,such as a bamboo look from the outside.

The group split up after this, some staying and shopping in the Taipei 101 Mall, and then going to the Taipei Zoo, and some of us going to the National Palace Museum.

The Taipei Zoo is the largest zoo in Asia, founded during Japanese sovereignty in 1914.

The National Palace Museum is an art museum in Taipei which houses one of the largest artifact collections in Asia, spanning 8000 years of Chinese History.  The museum was originally housed in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, but many of the artifacts were moved to Taiwan to protect them, first from the Japanese, and then from the Communists.

I hung out with Jason, Shanne, and Robin today, so that’s why all the people pictures feature them.  The rest of the students did the shopping /zoo thing, while we went to the museum.  We encountered a couple of what appeared to be the Chinese version of the tin man in a little park on the way to the skyscraper.

Here is Robin next to a mural of Taipei 101.

The expense and wait for going to the top of Taipei 101 was too great for us, but Jason discovered that there is a little known Starbucks on the 35th floor that offers a terrific view for free, assuming you buy some coffee.  Jason ran us around and asked about 63 people for directions to this Starbucks while I explained to the girls what is meant by the American term “wild goose chase”, which they got a kick out of.  But being persistent paid off and we finally got to the hidden Starbucks and got some pictures.

Here is our crew with our “Starbucks Only” passes that got us through tight skyscraper security (no joke).

This is outside Taipei 101.  I got this same picture with last year’s group, so this will have to be a tradition as long as we come to Taiwan.

View from the bottom.  The unique jade-like color not only gives the building an Asian look, but blocks up to 50% of outside heat from entering the building.

Here is Jason in front of what are meant to look like Chinese coins (not Taiwan coins, oddly enough)  He is holding up his index fingers to represent the 1’s in “101” (yes, I had to ask).

That’s it for today.  The Museum did not allow any photos, so that’s all I have.  See you (virtually speaking) tomorrow.

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