Friday, March 6, 2015

Taipei, Taiwan 2014 Day 2 Part 2: MaoKong 猫空

Most travel blogs or travel guide pages would recommend you to visit MaoKong 猫空 on the same day as the day you visit Taipei Zoo or even recommend you to go to MaoKong right after Taipei Zoo. That's what we did exactly. After we left Taipei Zoo (read post over *here*), we head straight to MaoKong Gondola Station to get to MaoKong.

How to get to MaoKong: First of all you need to get to the MaoKong Gondola. Take the MRT to Taipei Zoo Station. Follow the signs to walk about 5 minutes to get to the MaoKong Gondola Main Station (or better known as Taipei Zoo Gondola Station). Take the MaoKong Gondola to MaoKong Station/Sanxuan Temple Station.

There is also a MaoKong Gondola Station in Taipei Zoo called Taipei Zoo South Station. You can actually take the gondola without having to leave the zoo. We didn't know it beforehand so we stupidly wasted 5 minutes and energy walking all the way to the main station -.-'''

There are many alternative ways to get to MaoKong if you don't want to go to the zoo. Check out link over *here* to find out the ways.

I tried googling for ways to get to MaoKong without taking the gondola but couldn't find anything. But it is possible coz I've seen buses coming and leaving MaoKong which comes from/leads to various places. Might need to ask around the locals for more information.

If you've read my preparations and planning for this trip (on my Dayre *here*), you'll probably know that I was skeptical about taking the MaoKong Gondola or even going to MaoKong. Reason was I have a slight fear of heights. At that time I didn't know that there are ways to get to MaoKong without having to take the gondola. I was damn worried la. But I tell you it was worth it la. The view was beautiful. You'll know what I mean later on at this post.

Here comes the MaoKong Gondola~~~

I didn't take a pic of the whole MaoKong Main Station building coz I've totally forgotten about it. Probably was having a battle of thoughts in my head trying to think whether I should take the gondola or not.

So when you reach the MaoKong Main Station, you can actually purchase the ticket right before you enter the building. I can't remember how much was the fare but it is payable thru EasyCard (more info about EasyCard *here*). But if you are paying with the EasyCard, don't bother lining up at the ticketing line. Just head right into the building.

After you get into the building, you will not see the MaoKong Gondola right away. You will have to climb up/take the escalator up to about three or four floors up to the place where you would be taking the gondola. You can take the lift but I don't see anyone taking it. That's the problem when you go to Taiwan. They have lift everywhere but most people just use the stairs or escalator. They reserve the lift for old people, preggie women, parents with children or the OKU. But yet you still see old people climbing the stairs.

The line to get on the gondola is really long. But it is quite fast moving coz the workers are very efficient. Within about 10 minutes of queuing, we are already on the gondola. Not much time for me to chicken out =/

BTW there are two types of gondola to choose from. You need to let the workers know whether you want to ride on the normal gondola like the one you see above or the crystal cabins which looks pretty much like the gondola above but... the bottom of gondola is a clear glass for you to enjoy the view below the gondola. Of course we took the normal gondola coz no way anyone is getting me into the crystal cabin. I won't even get myself to step into the gondola.

If you guys want more info about MaoKong gondola which I didn't mention enough here, please click *here* to get to their official website. English is available =)

Here we go...

Pics from this point on are all taken by either SR or Jacy coz I was too nervous to do anything except for holding on to whatever I can hold in the gondola.

The journey from MaoKong Main Station/Taipei Zoo Gondola Station till MaoKong Station/Sanxuan Temple Station will take about 1 hour ride passing by two other stations: Taipei Zoo South Station and Zhinan Temple Station.

First half of the journey (from Taipei Zoo Station till Taipei Zoo South Station) the gondola will be going pictured above. This part of the journey was still okay for long as I look towards the front. If I look towards the back, I get dizzy from nervousness.

This is Jacy being worried but find my nervousness very amusing. I on the other hand is feeling nauseous from all this nervousness that I had to keep downing water so that I don't puke.

I drank so much water on the way up that I had to run to toilet the moment we reach MaoKong.

BTW in case you didn't realize yet, the MaoKong gondola is sponsored/partners with Hello Kitty. So all the gondolas and the stations are decorated with Hello Kitty and her friends. (Note: You can get Hello Kitty themed EasyCards from the main station or MaoKong/Senxuan Temple Station) If you are a fan of the cat, you'll love it but if you are not, too bad la. Still have to see the kitty everywhere.

From Taipei Zoo South Station till Zhinan Temple Station, the gondola will be going downwards like pictured above. This part I had the worst feeling ever. I was breaking into sweats and all. The journey was so long summore. But thanks to my hubby and Jacy, who tried their best to make me laugh, it was still bearable.

From Zhinan Temple Station on, the journey was so much more peaceful...for me la. Coz it was just going straight. But still scared la coz we are still hanging up mah...

Hello from a very nervous me. Hahahahahaha~

I'm only smiling when they ask me to pose. Other photos which they took candidly... I was like all gloomy looking. Hahaha~ Think back I also feel funny.

Jacy asked me to take a pic with SR coz we don't have enough pics together it seems.

Look at how tightly I'm holding on to the railing hahahahaha~

Jacy refused to let SR take a pic of her coz she felt awkward. I refused to move my hands away from whatever that I'm grabbing on. So in the end she took a selfie on her own. Hahahaha~ Sorry ah if I wasn't so scared I'll take a pic for you.

Remember I said about the beautiful view on the gondola? I'll show you some of the pics that SR had taken on the gondola.

This pictures actually can't show you the real beauty coz my Sony still has a lot of lacking if compared with my DSLR. SR kinda regret that we didn't bring our DSLR la. But then it'll be a big burden to bring the big camera around lor.

Okay let's just look at them pictures...
This was taken at the journey between Taipei Zoo South Station and Zhinan Temple Station

As we get higher, it gets mistier. Just like our Genting Highlands

You can see Taiwan's famous landmark, Taipei 101 in a distance

That's about all the scenery la. Didn't wanna post too many coz they look pretty repetitive.

Seriously the pics do no justice on how beautiful the scenery was. You gotta go to experience it yourself...if you don't have height phobia like me la.

We've reached MaoKong!!!

See what I said about Hello Kittys everywhere?

Even the toilets that we immediately rushed to had Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel as the Female and Male indicator

Remember before taking the MaoKong Gondola, go to toilet and make sure that you don't drink too much water before going on it. You won't want to pee in the gondola right?

BTW the temperature at MaoKong is generally colder than other places since it is up on a mountain. Just like all the our highlands in Malaysia. Think Genting or Cameron but slightly colder during Autumn and even more during Winter. I seriously am so proud of myself for bringing a coat along that day. Poor Jacy only had a thick scarf and a thin cardigan to keep her warm.

There are many attractions at MaoKong within walking distance. So once you are at MaoKong you don't have to worry about transport. But most people go to MaoKong to visit their tea houses and cafes coz MaoKong is generally famous for tea and tea leaves. That's also exactly why we went to MaoKong....To chill and to drink tea. If you guys want to find out other attractions at MaoKong, you can google or check out *here*.

We actually wanted to go check out the Tea Museum but it was getting dark (Taiwan's days are shorter during autumn/winter. It gets dark as early as 5pm). We had the mind set of dark = dangerous #Malaysianproblems. But don't you worry coz Taiwan is actually very safe and a lot of people are walking around too. The other reason why we didn't go coz our legs are still tired from walking the whole day at the zoo *ahem* lazy *ahem*

There were so many recommendations on tea houses and cafes that I've found on the internet but I think I only found one of them while exploring for a bit. It is kinda difficult to find our way coz it is really dark (It was only 6pm!!!) when we were there. So in the end we just agreed to settle with the first tea house or cafe we came across.

And it was this...
Add: 台北市文山区指南路三段38巷33号2,3楼

 There wasn't much info I could get from googling this restaurant. Just some bloggers' review about it. They do have a FB page *here* (Only available in Chinese). But there is not much info either.

山中茶shares a building with a few other tea houses as well so it is kinda difficult to really tell you the exact location. Rough directions is as you walk out from the gondola station, turn left. Continue to walk and pass by the MaoKong Night Market. Continue to walk summore until you come to an area filled with many tea houses. Their building is the first one in sight. Like I said we just stumbled upon it and just went in. So sorry I couldn't give much information.

We all looked nice in the pics except errrrrr... Jay Chou wannabe at the bottom =.=

Since we are at a tea house we decided to order a set of tea to experience the authentic Chinese tea drinking experience. You know like those drinking tea from the whole traditional Chinese tea set sorta thing. Like this...

I went to a Traditional Chinese tea crash course once. The class basically teach you how to brew the tea leaves, what are the different use of the tools in the tea set and basic tea drinking etiquette...which I've no memory of anymore (> . >)

But don't worry if you don't know any of those I've mentioned above coz the waiters/workers at 山中茶 will teach you how to do it all. The guy who taught us was so detailed and careful. For now I still remember all the steps he had taught. Now I just need to get a tea set to practice what he did.

This is the tea that the guy recommended us

At MaoKong (or any other tea houses in Taiwan), the price of the tea set is dependent on the amount of people you have and the tea that you choose. Sorry we can't remember how much we paid for the tea. =/

Other than tea, we decided to order some food. If you have the chance, do try to dine in MaoKong coz the food here are mostly infused with tea or anything that is famous on the mountain (Different mountains have different specialty food ie: Yang Ming Shan/Yang Ming Mountain are more floral based). You find it anywhere else. But it is slightly more expensive than other places.

Here's what we have...
茶油面线/Tea Oil Mee Suah

Note: Most tea houses have almost the same menu. So you can get what we ordered in other tea houses as well.

I loved this!!! I was skeptical about ordering the tea oil mee suah/thin noodles coz I read in other blogs that this mee suah has a bitter after taste due to the tea oil. But when I tried it, there was no bitter taste at all. It had this light tea taste. It may look dry in the pic but it definitely wasn't. Since it was cooked in tea oil, it is oily. But not to the extend till it is too overwhelmingly oily. The oiliness was just right. This is one of the dish I would highly recommend to all who plan to dine at MaoKong.

But then again Jacy didn't like it as much as I did (SR liked it as well). So it really is up to personal taste preference.

三杯杏鲍菇/Three Cups Mushroom

This is another favorite!!! 杏鲍菇 is one of my favorite mushroom...manatau the rest of them also love it too. So it was all our decision to order this.

Usually people would order 三杯鸡/Three Cups (three cups being rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil) but I do not like chicken. So we opt for something different.

This is so so good~~~~ Since the tea oil mee suah is a bit plain (only has the slight tea taste and that's all), so this goes so well with the mee suah. Another highly recommended dish!

茶叶炒饭/Tea Leaf Fried Rice

This is the one dish that I didn't like. Tasteless and nothing special. No tea taste at all.

Gorgeous pics of us enjoying tea after dinner lolol

Can't decide whether SR is super fat during our Taipei trip or he looks fat coz of the jacket he's wearing.

You can also find tea flavors ice cream at MaoKong. The most famous flavor has got to be 铁观音/Tie Guan Yin.

We decided to try two types of tea. I think we got 铁观音/tie guan yin and 乌龙/oolong. Didn't really like it coz it was leaning more towards sweet than strong tea taste. I'm all about strong tea taste coz I love tea.

After finishing our ice cream, we decided to head back. Had to finish the ice cream first coz Taiwanese have a strict rules about not having food or beverages in their public transport. So remember to finish all your food and drinks before you get up on the MRT, bus and MaoKong gondola. Trains ironically allows food.

The ride is even scarier. It was all dark at some parts of the journey. The wind was quite strong that night that it rocked the gondola while it was moving. I was shivering from the cold and also from being scared.

I was really quiet that SR asked me to smile for a picture. Then Jacy got worried that she started to put on music and sing lolol. My best friend is the best la. She knows her voice soothes me.

Oh I forgot to mention this. There was this lady worker whom we met at one of the stations. I think she saw that I was looking pale or something. So she asked me if I am okay with a very kind smile. I nodded my head and she smiled even brighter and told me: "加油!(You can do it!)" Then we were on the way back, we met her again. She saw us and waved with a super happy look on her face like we're her long lost friend from outer space.

It's these little things about the Taiwanese that made me love Taiwan so so much. They are so genuine, friendly, helpful and cheerful. I have not encounter a rude and unfriendly Taiwanese at both of my visit there. It made me got so frustrated when I came back to Melaka and encounter rude people.

When it comes to the area where there are buildings, the view was breathtaking again. All the lights look so beautiful from way above =)

We ended the hour journey while listening to Jacy's singing and enjoying the beautiful view.

Last bit of Hello Kitty before we leave the MaoKong Gondola

I think I've reached my quota of looking at Hello Kitty for a year after visiting Taipei Zoo and MaoKong lolol.

That's the three of us walking back to Taipei Zoo MRT Station to get back to our next destination

It was extremely cooling that night that we enjoyed walking by the roadside slowly while chatting.

From the Taipei Zoo Station we took the MRT back to XiMen Station and went to explore XiMenDing which I will be blogging in the next Taipei trip series.

SR and I are planning to go to Taiwan again hehe~ I don't know if I've mentioned it before but we are planning to go again either in 2016 or 2017 Winter or Spring. This time round we are planning to go not only Taipei but also Taizhong and hopefully put Tainan into the itinerary as well. It's too soon to say anything. I'll keep you guys updated if it happens.

For now, we are planning for our wedding anniversary trip in May. Not planning to go somewhere overseas coz we are both so broke now at the moment. Thanks to non-stop spending from November 2014 till CNY which just passed. We have few places in mind which are Langkawi, Penang or one of the islands in Terengganu. We have not looked into much details yet coz SR has to go get his leave sorted out first. This also will be updated once we are confirmed about our destination.

I'm planning to go take a nap now that I've successfully posted a blogpost lol. Damn tiring la these days. Stupid PMS is probably approaching. So not looking forward to it =/

See you guys in the next post then.


Previous Taipei trip posts:
Day 1: Getting There and Shihlin Night Market 士林夜市
Day 2 Part 1: Taipei Zoo台北动物园

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