It wasn’t all work & no play at the International Biology Olympiad in Taipei (27-hour stints in the jury room notwithstanding!). Our hosts took great care to show us some of the sights & tastes of Taipei, taking jury members on several excursions while the students were sitting their exams.
I was rather startled to see a ferris wheel built into the side of a building, as we headed off to lunch after observing the practical exams!
That particular lunch was a very lavish affair :-) It set us up very well for a bus trip up into the mountains, to the Chungshan building in Yangminshan National Park. We were staggered by the scale of this building – & by the fact that it’s built over a hot spring vent. The smell of hydrogen sulphide gas was everywhere (our docent called it the ‘painful gas’).
And of course we had to go to Taipei 101 – until recently the tallest building in the world at 509m. The views from its observatory floor were spectacular. The lift was pretty amazing too, as it can apparently move at 1010m/minute. It took us much longer to get from the ground to the 5th floor – where the high-speed elevator runs from – than it did to get up to the observatory on the 89th floor, because of the queues. (We were keen to use the escalators instead but I think our hosts thought they might lose some of our group if we did that!)
Apparently the ‘world’s fastest elevator’ title now belongs to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, but that speed’s rather impressive nonetheless.
So of course, one of the things on the collective mind of the NZ IBO committee is, what are the various places and activities that we would like to showcase to our international visitors, when it’s our turn to host?