Friday, September 30, 2011

taipei continuation : maokong gondala

In Taipei near the zoo is the Maokong Gondola which has three stops. The cost depends on which stop you get off. We got off at the last stop, Maokong, and that cost $50 NT one way. You can use your Easy Card (Taipei's metro card) to pay. We didn't wait in line but there were people waiting. They were apparently waiting for the Crystal Gondola experience which is a gondola with a glass bottom. I didn't know about that or I would totally have waited, maybe not I'm not very patient. I'm not sure if they have to pay more but if it costs the same I would totally do it again just to push how afraid of heights I could be. This gondola actually reminds of the one I rode in Hong Kong except I don't know why but I felt like I was so much higher in this one.

gondola super high above the mountains
I think the best time to go on this gondola ride is around 4-5pm just because there is still daylight so you can enjoy the view and also see the sun set! After spending a couple hours up in Maokong you can also get the night view. Both are amazing.

Doesn't it look like I'm parallel to the sun?!? So freaking awesome. I definitely recommend doing this if you are visiting Taipei. So Maokong means either "cat's hollows" or "no cat" in Chinese. It was originally named "niao kang" in the local Taiwanese dialect and became the "maokong" that is used today. The name comes from the fact that the rocks in the stream beds were of varying hardness and so over time the water eroded certain areas of the rocks so that they have holes in them. The appearance of the holes looks like cat scratches or paw prints or something. I didn't actually walk all the way to the area so didn't get to see this. Bummer. I actually didn't know there was so much stuff to see in this area until I got the area brochure after leaving. Maokong is known for tea drinking so of course we had to do some of that!

all the things you need to drink tea minus the tea leaves..
So I don't know if you can see the cups nestled next to the yellow napkin packet but right next to the cups are two smaller cups. Those cups can seriously just fit your thumb finger and is so that you can pour a little tea into it just to savor the smell of it. Apparently the first batch of tea is emptied and used for smell in case the tea leaves aren't clean. A small ass container of Four Seasons Tea cost us $300 NT. So the proper way to drink tea is to use a clay pot because it enhances the flavor of the tea. How will I ever go back to drinking tea in Chinese restaurants?? Maokong is going to make me into an even more snobby tea drinker :P So put the tea leaves into the small little clay pot which literally only held like 2 small itty cups of tea... After steeping the tea for 1 minute you pour the tea into the clay pitcher that has the silver strainer on top of it. This is so that you can get more flavor and use of the tea leaves if its not constantly in water while you're drinking. Honestly I was so thirsty at this point having ran out of water a long time ago and not being able to find a milk tea shop to fulfill my thirst that for the first six cups of tea I just chugged it down like some uncultured tea drinker. After I finally stopped being so thirsty I sat down and enjoyed the delicious tea to awesome views such as this one...

can you see taipei 101 all the way in the distance??
buddha temple!
The first buddhist temple I've entered since I've been here. Can you see how different the architecture is from the other temples I've been to? I knew this was Buddhist because there was a giant Buddha altar! The door in the center is apparently only for gods to enter and that is why it is blocked and we can only enter through the side doors. Nice to know. Good thing I didn't try to step over the blockade.

fountain show!
There was a fountain show rght next to the gondola building in Taipei. The show occurred every half hour and I totally waited because I missed the magic fountain show in Spain and totally regret it. The show lasted for 15 minutes and the play of water and music went along together very beautifully.

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