Sunday, June 03, 2007

Living high

For my birthday recently, we took a trip down to the new Dream Mall, the largest retail center in Southeast Asia (for the moment, anyway). The mall features not only a Marks & Spencer, T.G.I.Fridays, and Toys 'R Us, but tops off it's 121,000 ping (that's 400,000 square meters for the ping-impaired) with Taiwan's only Hello Kitty ferris wheel. Oh, yes. You can see it here (along with a giant cup noodles) lurking in the background. Everything behind us is mall. Mall, mall, mall. We've been three times and still have only seen a portion of it: Muji, Starbucks, Baskin-Robbins, Nitori, McDonald's, the National Palace Museum shop, Birkenstock, Mont Blanc, Hankyu (a Harrod's wannabe, but we'll take it), Mister Donut, and more. The entire fifth floor is devoted to children's shops and an indoor playground. There are three levels of underground parking (below a six-floor garage). The food court is massive. I don't even know where they've hidden the movie theatres.

For my birthday, however, our mission was clear: ascend from the ninth floor to the roof and finally – finally!– ride the ferris wheel. On our two previous attempts the lines had been ridiculous, but on a Monday, at five in the afternoon, we hit it just right: one couple ahead of us, lovely light, and fifteen minutes of spectacular city views. It really was a nice ride. (In this photo you can see the view from the ferris wheel, when we were just coming over the top, looking back at the main plaza where the first photo was taken.)

I took a dozen pictures (a couple more of which can be seen here and here) as we made the trip around, then we hit the ground running (the wheel never stops moving) and headed in for dinner. It was a great birthday, and a great way to wrap up our fourth year here. The kids and I leave tomorrow, and I'm ready to come home for the summer (though with not nearly as much on my shopping list anymore, since Kaohsiung is now a shopping mecca). I'm ready to see family and friends, ready for zucchini and raspberries and littlenecks, ready for cool summer days and no typhoons. But Kaohsiung is home now, too, and it will be good to come back in August and get back into the swing of things. Have a wonderful summer, everyone!