Thu, Jan 13, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Taiwan's Ferris wheel should not be missed

Top of the world. You get a great view of Taipei from the world's second biggest Ferris wheel at Neihu's Miramar Shopping Complex

PHOTO: TAIPEI TIMES

Neihu's Miramar Shopping Complex boasts the world's second largest Ferris wheel. At 110m at its highest point and 70m in diameter, the wheel takes about 17 minutes to do a single circuit. With a capacity of 288 passengers -- six people to each of its 48 cars -- it has already proven to be a crowd puller despite being open for just over two months. If you fancy a ride, avoid the weekends unless you have the patience of a saint. You'll have to wait at least an hour in line then and on public holidays. Still, it's an experience not to be missed, and in fact the amusement park rivaled Taipei 101 as the best place to see in the new year.

From the Ferris wheel during the day, it's possible to see the National Palace Museum, all the way out in Waishuangxi and the Taipei 101 building to the south. Probably the best time of day to enjoy the view, however, is dusk, when the sky turns into a deep blue backdrop to the scenery spread out before you.

That's not to say, of course, that the night view is without its charms. In fact, you'll be kicking yourself if you forget to take your camera along to capture the city lights from on high.

The wheel itself is lit up with the help of 624 sets of neon lights. There is also a spectacular light show, orchestrated by a Japanese designer, in three parts: the "Melody from Heaven," the "Colors on the Ground" and the "Dances of the Winds."

If you want a ride in the world's biggest Ferris wheel, you'll have have to fork out money for a trip to London, home of the 135m-tall London Eye on the South Bank of the Thames. The Eye, one of the public projects built to commemorate the turn of the millennium four years ago, is still one of the city's biggest tourist draws.

The London Eye takes around 30 minutes to make one circuit, and has 60 passenger cars, each the size of a small bus, holding 20 people. The rides need to be booked in advance, and each car comes with a guide to make sure you don't miss anything. From the top you can see the whole of London, with a view of up to 40km away. In the distance you will even be able to see Windsor Castle.

Sunset is a great time to go, if you want to see London's architecture at its best, lit up against the darkening sky.

A trip to Japan will also get you to a Ferris wheel of note. Tokyo's Odaiba district, known as Palette Town, has what is perhaps the most romantic Ferris wheel to be found anywhere on the globe. It has provided the backdrop to many movie scenes, including scenes in Bayside Shakedown with Yuji Oda. It's also become one of the top choices for Romeos who plan to pop the big question.

Odaiba is Tokyo's newest commercial area, sitting on the side of Tokyo Bay with Rainbow Bridge and the Ferris wheel as landmarks. At 115m tall, the wheel takes 15 minutes to go around once. The scene from the top at nightfall, looking over Tokyo Bay and Shinjuku, with the Rainbow Bridge lit up in seven colors, is simply unforgettable.

Back in Taiwan, there are still a number of choices open to you if you want that Ferris wheel experience nearer to home. In Taichung there is the 28m-high wheel in Yamay Resort's Discovery World which, despite its modest dimensions, offers a comprehensive view of the entire park, as well as the Houli district beyond. It takes a quarter of an hour to make the journey round once, so you can have a while to relax.

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