I got to ring in 2011 from the inside of a giant fireball — the 85th floor of Taipei 101 (the home of the mass damper that changed my life), to be exact. Ron’s friend reserved a table at Diamond Tony’s for their first dinner slot at around 6PM. It wasn’t too crowded and we hung around until the fireworks show at midnight. It was like being on the USS Enterprise when the Klingons start firing. In other words, all of my childhood fantasies were realized. The explosions, glitter and smoke were pretty amazing, to be honest. They would have been fun to look at even if I hadn’t consumed several glasses of wine. As you can hear in the video, there was much excited screaming and hollering in the restaurant. The only thing missing was the ominous disembodied voice of Chancellor Gorkon’s chief of staff General Chang taunting us (“I can see you… can you see me, Kirk?”).

Here’s what the fireworks looked like from the outside. If you look veeeeeery closely, you can see me waving from the 85th floor (just kidding, you can’t):

This year’s fireworks display were designed by Cai Guo-qiang (蔡國強) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Republic of China’s founding and were the longest and most elaborate ever. Taiwan’s government made a big to-do about the ROC’s 100th birthday, but, fireworks aside, most people seemed indifferent to it. For example, I found when I was working on my newspaper’s holiday events listings that very few hotels and restaurants had promotions related to the anniversary. Most just had their regular New Years Eve specials. (On a semi-related note, here is a video by The Lonely Island about how cool guys don’t look at explosions. Do you think Cai Guo-qiang looked at the explosion?).

The scene at the top of Taipei 101 was fairly low key and relaxed, but the foot traffic at the bottom was insane. My friends and I got out of the building around 12:30AM or so and walked for an hour and a half before we found a taxi. Fortunately, I brought comfortable shoes to change into. I also like to think I burned all the calories from last night’s dinner, which included:

Champagne
The Continental’s favorite drink

Norwegian smoked salad, mozarella and avocado
Norwegian smoked salmon with mozzarella and avocado

Crispy duck breast with arugula salad and wild berry sauce
Crispy duck breast with arugula salad and wild berry sauce

Fish carpaccio
Carpaccio with salad and grapefruit (this was Ron’s appetizer)

Chargrilled steak
Chargrilled steak

Chocolate mousse cake
Chocolate mousse cake

Prosciutto, cantaloupe and olives
Prosciutto, cantaloupe and olives

My resolutions for 2011 are practical ones. I want to…

…consume more greens and less meat (yes, I know my NYE dinner was a meatfest but I’d like to start eating more vegetarian meals).

…start running again or at least jogging (I stopped this summer because I had lower back pain, but I figure jogging around a track at an easy, relaxed pace won’t kill me… right?).

…start reading more Chinese language books and actually writing down the unfamiliar characters and sentence structures I encounter, instead of just looking them up and then promptly forgetting them.

…become more familiar with my Rolleicord Vb camera.

…stop fretting about leaving our cat alone for more than one day and start traveling around Taiwan more (with my Rolleicord Vb camera).

…do something about my tetraphobia, which, admittedly, makes me more Asian than I ever thought I was.

Happy New Years! 新年快樂!