long weekend in Taipei

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I would never have thought I get to return to Taiwan after my 2009 visit so soon, as my wish was to visit places that I have never visit first before re-visiting to places that I have been! Though this re-visit, I was like a proper tourist without a local friend’s guide…looking at the map, planning what I should explore, where to shop for foods/snacks, where to dine .. all of these makes the process of being a tourist more exciting and unpredictable!

IMG_3903Maokong Gondola

I was never interested in cable cars (!) however, Maokong was definitely on my list of places to visit while I was in Taipei. Its located near east side of Taipei, the nearest station for the gondola is Taipei Zoo Station. Once you have got offthe Taipei Zoo Station, jump off and follow all the exit sign to gondola station; you will walk pass the main road, the walking distance should be less than 5 mins. Remember to wait for the crystall gondola where you can see the scenery beneath your feets. A pleasant experience of the Taipei green lands that I would remember you to see!

IMG_4054Tea house in Maokong

It was not on our list to chill in a Maokong for tea, but there wasn’t much to do around the area, apart from walking along the path, eatery area a little further up by the station or find a place to chill. In the end, we walk along the path and eat as we walk while hunting for a tea house to chill and enjoyed a bit of the view down from the mountain.

Sadly to say, the sky didn’t like us at the time with grey sky all day but we still enjoyed the chilled time. It actually makes you slow your foot down to absorb, observe and appreciate the city that you are visiting. Never complain the bad things you see but really appreciate the tiny tiny details that you can spot in your trip!

Enjoying this peaceful time in the tea house was unexpected and once again has made me realised sometimes unplanned itinerary could make your trip better than planned itinerary.

Additional point is when you walk back to the station to catch your gondola or bus down, make sure you buy a tea leaves softserve from the shop that’s next to the bus stop. It’s their specialty of Maokong!!! On a side note, I would recommend you to take the bus down to the nearest MRT station, the ride was fun, the scenery is different and its cheaper to go back down via bus too!!

IMG_3828Taiwan 101 Tower

A must when you are in Taiwan, although you might think observatory is the same anywhere in the world. It maybe true but I still think that it is important for you to have an overview of how beautiful this city is whether is it in day time or evening time. I think perhaps the best time to come here is before sunset, so you get to see the before and after sun view. Yet, if you are on budget as a backpacker, I would simply pop by to the 101 Tower district, walk around and then find a clear space to snap this 101 behind you. I did this on my 2nd Taipei visit and equally it is a pleasant experience. Oh, not to mention Tower 101 has a few floors full of shops while the rest are offices, a bit similar to UK’s Shard or Walkie Talkie building.

IMG_3838Yang Ming Shan National Park

This is one of the best place to have your dinner at dawn, can’t comment much on the food quality as I had hot pot, regardless you will be rewarded with such beautiful scenery, isn’t this amazing?? Its definitely worth to ride up here for this amazing night view of the city.
On the other hand, by day this National park are full of hiking trail for you to explore the mountains in Taipei. I initially want to hike Elephant Mountain (XiangShan) to see this city view but in the end I didn’t get to do any hiking! So please (x 100 times) hike into any one of them, you will never regret this experience.

IMG_4351Dihua Street 

It wasn’t really on our list of places to visit before we board the fly, we went there to get the thin pork paper at night and found the street to be quite unique and hip which made us to decide to go back during day time. This end up to be the best decision ever made, this area was amazingly good, streets were full of shop signs of specialist shops with different settings, loads of lamp post…no wonder people says when you’re in Taiwan, you can see a little feature of Japan.

What’s best to do here? Stroll around all the alley way and shop around, you  find kitchen housewares, Chinese tea leaves to snack shops… We stopped by Summer Tree for a bowl of ice shave dessert to end our Taipei trip.

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Just couldn’t resist snapping and snapping… 

IMG_4142Yehliu Geo Park

We want to see some nature beauty and found Yehliu Geo Park to be somewhere that we can fit for the day before we head to Jiufen as a full day trip. By taking KuoKuang bus from Taipei West Bus Station – Terminal A to Yehliu Geopark. This journey takes about 90 minutes and the bus stops at the main street with a large Yehliu Geopark entrance sign. We went on a wet grey day with the ticket hall full of groups of tourist.. go through to the main Geopark, you will see countless of geographical formation. What you need to look out its the Queen’s Head but perhaps to get that earlier so you will see this beauty nature without many tourist. I gave up having a snap with the Queen’s head. Will be an amazing scenic if you go on amazing day but as a Londoner, we can survive any type of weather (hahah~~~).

IMG_4203Jiufen 九份

As mention above, I’ve made a day trip of Yehliu Geopark with Jiufen, I wanted to fit in Shifen into this day too but we did not managed due to time constraints… Nevertheless, from Yehliu Geopark, we walked back to the main road and walked across the road to this 7-11 shop where there’s a bus stop, await for the bus to Keelung; once you are at Keelung station, walk across the bridge and to the local bus stops. Look out for the bus to Jiufen which will take another hour or so to reach to. Once you are at the turn that states Jiufen Old Street entrance, alight there and enjoy your stroll where you will be belly full. A few must eat are taro icecream wrap in pastry, fishballs, wheel pancake, taro/sweet potato dumpling sweet soup.. and keep strolling until you see a steps down on your right hand side, where if you walk down  to the end and look up. You will get this amazing view as the picture above.

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I ended my Yehliu and Jiufun exploring by enjoying a warm cup of tea in a trendy tea house and enjoy such scenery before I stroll back to the entrance to get my ride back to Taipei.

I have to say, I tried to squeeze in as much as I can while I was in Hong Kong so I decided to revisit Taipei again since my 2009 visit. I enjoyed the city and got to know the beauty of this city even more by exploring like a tourist. Its never fun having guide taking you around the town. A weekend in one area is definitely worth it and if you have got two weeks to stay in Taiwan, you can certainly do a round tour of the Island of Taiwan..