Game of Thrones is baaaaack! And so is my GoT fantasy league! *faint* This season, just like last year, I’ll be doing recaps about the episodes from a fantasy perspective. So I encourage you to get to Fantasizr and put a team/league together so we can watch our favorite characters verbally eviscerate, shockingly kill, and get all slobbery on Dornish wine together. And oh yeah, I did a quickie draft guide: "Who to draft in Season Five".
My cousins were still here for their visit, which gave me occasion to visit Taipei 101 for the first time. My interest in going up tall things to look at cityscapes is pretty low but I figured this had to happen at least once during my stay here. So up we went in the freakishly fast elevator and then when we got to the top…greyness. Yup, most of the city was covered in clouds or smog or whatever that was. Basically the experience was as I expected. Except for one thing, the gigantic tuned mass damper located on the 87th floor. Aka, big yellow gumball that keeps the 101 from collapsing by sucking up kinetic energy or something. (Like a round Sebastian Shaw or Strong Guy, if you’re really into X-Men.)
As we queued to get upstairs, we kept seeing the stupid looking Damper Baby mascot and commenting on how generic and dumb it looked. After I actually saw the thing and learned how a tuned mass damper worked, I was all in on Damper Baby and his merchandise. Everyone needs a damper baby in their lives, to stabilize us in times of need. Amiright?
Mid-week I discovered the Taipei Zoo. Since I’m a bit of a zoo snob — I am from San Diego after all — I hadn’t really considered going to the zoo here before. But we went and I was sold the instant I saw a (fake and oversized) pangolin mounted on a pay phone. Of course, that was as real as it got because the pangolins inside were no more alive. But still, very cool of Taipei Zoo to have some (stuffed) pangolins!
The entry fee for the zoo was only NT$30 for students so basically I got in for a dollar. It cost me more to subway over! So now my go-to day activity will be visiting the zoo, just to chill out and enjoy the quiet and hang out with some camels or hippos or something.
Also I want to tell you about the plight of the Formosan black bear and how China’s pandas have pushed them aside, even in their native Taiwan. The Formosan black bear is a wonderful (also endangered) animal and very cute in its own right but the dumb pandas capture everyone’s attention — even the Taipei’s zoos staff. No more I say, no more! Look for the distinctive V-shape on the Formosan black bear’s chest and support the fight against those Chinese attention mongers! Okay, I guess you can fight to preserve both, but the way people flock to the panda and ignore the Formosan black bear is really the perfect animal metaphor for China and Taiwan's standing in international circles. The Formosan black bear, my new favorite animal!
Oh! But I can’t forget bubble ball, which was half an hour of complete madness. I don’t know if you’ve seen it already but bubble ball is when you get inside a plastic bubble and then try to ram people. Technically there’s a soccer component involved but I didn’t care about that. I think I kicked the ball maybe twice the whole time. My focus was on the bump, bump, bump.
Once safely cocooned in my clear bubble, I was on the attack and only interested in hitting or being hit. It was so fun! Even though half an hour sounds short, once you’re in your inflatable tank and running around and sweating like crazy, fifteen minute sessions are plenty. I tried to work on my “dive, somersault, spring right back up on my feet” move but I’m gonna need more practice. In sum, bubble ball is a high recommend and I can't wait to go again. And here's a video my friend made of us playing!