Day 6 – Taipei
So quickly we were into day six of our Taiwan tour. While we would still be staying in Taipei, we would be switching hotel to New Stay Inn just across Taipei West Bus Station. This would allow us to take a bus from across the road to Taichung the next day. In addition, after our day tour around Taipei, we won’t have to return to Xi Men Ding area to save time for the next day’s departure.
Breakfast was the same as the previous day at the restaurant on the 13th floor. There was a slight change in the main course for the buffet spread. I had a few cups of the hot chocolate while my wife had a few cups of cappuccino. The breakfast was good and we had a great start this morning.
We checked out around 9 am and it was efficiently handled. So we left Hotel Green World, one of our favourite hotels so far in Taiwan. Once again, we walked along Hankou Street at the corner after 7-11. We then turned left at the junction on Chongqing South Road and walked towards the main road to the bus terminal. We crossed the road at the traffic junction, walked pass the fire station, entered the lift lobby at the rundown building next door and headed for the fifth floor to look for New Stay Inn.
The hotel lobby that greeted us was in stark contrast to the condition of the exterior of this building. The lobby was spacious, bright and clean. The hotel staff were pleasant and friendly. We approached front desk staff and informed them of our reservation, left our bags with them to check in later in the afternoon and then left the hotel to kick start our activities for the day.
We entered the underground entrance just outside the hotel building and walked to the MRT station. We would be visiting Taipei Zoo this morning. So we took a train from the blue line towards Taipei Nangang Exhibition Centre. At Zhongxiao Fuxing station, we changed train to the brown line to Taipei Zoo. We arrived at the zoo around 10.20 am.
We saw many cute little kindergarten children outside the zoo with teachers shepherding them towards the entrance. It was a lovely sight. Interestingly, these little kids were well behaved. They were as adorable as the pandas and koalas we wished to see this morning.
We went up to the ticketing office and bought two entrance tickets costing NTD 60 each. Soon we were inside the zoo. We made a quick round on the right of the entrance of the zoo to look at some animals. These animals were not really of much interest to us. We used to be members of Friends of the Zoo when our children were little and we used to visit the zoo regularly in the past. What we were going after were the pandas and the koalas in this zoo.
So we walked towards the left and went into the impressive building that housed the pandas. We could only watched from a distance the pandas inside the glass enclosure. One panda was roaming restlessly at the back end near a door. This panda was really restless and listless and cut a sad figure in this enclosure. The other panda was sleeping soundly oblivious to all the visitors looking at him. Looking through the glass enclosures wasn’t really interesting at all so we left.
Once we were outside the building, the keeper opened the door to allow that poor restless panda into the open that delighted many visitors like us. Many were pointing fingers at the lovely animal and at the same time pointing cameras at him. He was roaming happily now in the cool of the day in the open with trees and grass on a slight elevation in a mini park.
He stood up between two branches of a tree and peeked out at curious and excited visitors while snapping of camera shots were on going. Seemed like he was posing for visitors to take pictures of him. He wasn’t shy at all. He was a really happy fellow now out in the open.
Next the panda went over to a tree stump and rested his heavy head on it making funny faces at visitors. He kept sticking out his tongue from time to time and moving his lovely face left and right and then up and down to the delight of many visitors.
A huge group of school children came and joined in this panda live show. They were no doubt bubbling with joy and exclaiming loudly how lovely the panda was to all those around. One boy even laughingly remarked that the panda had a dirty backside when that cute fellow stood up on a tree. Such was these kids having a great time without guile.
After a while, the panda moved on and climbed up to a shelter which probably was his favourite spot in this open park that he called home. He was there for quite some time turning and looking around apparently happy and contented with this outdoor fresh air excursion enjoying his freedom for the time being.
Having had enough of watching this lovable creature, we went to the place where the zoo kept the koalas. The home for the koalas was just next to the impressive building that kept the pandas. There are several enclosures both outdoor and indoor that keep the equally lovely furry animals.
At the first enclosure, a koala was sleeping soundly on a tree. Another koala was sitting on a tree looking out towards the wooden fence at the enclosure next door. Next we saw another koala perched on a tree resting among leaves.
At the next enclosure, a koala was busy on a tree trunk scratching and looking up and down. He was quite an active fellow among the few koalas here. Visitors were pointing excitedly at him and taking pictures continuously.
Over at the indoor enclosure, a lovely koala gave us the loveliest look ever. We were really overjoyed looking at the cute and adorable expression of this little fellow. Nearly twenty years ago in Australia, we had the privilege to carry one such lovely animal for picture taking. How we missed those days driving up and down the country with our little children to spot koalas in the wild during the nineties. This adorable koala really made our day.
At another enclosure, a lone koala was sitting at the end of a tree branch looking around scanning the area like a radar. Another lovely sight indeed. These creatures can really melt hearts. How can we not to love them! How we wish we could curdle them!
After watching other lovely furry friends sitting on tree branches contented with their lives here in Taipei Zoo, we moved on. Our mission for this day’s outing at the zoo had been accomplished.
The zoo in Taipei has many different areas for animals from different parts of the world. A bird park is also part of this zoo’s attraction. There is a children zoo as well. Due to time constraint, we gave all these attractions a miss.
We went to wait for the bus to take us to the bird park where we could hop on to a train to get to the gondola station further up hill. It was nearly noon time when we boarded the minibus heading towards the bird park. In a few minutes, we arrived and we went over to the queue for the train ride up to the gondola station.
About five minutes later, the train came and we boarded this train and were soon on our way to the gondola station. When we arrived, we exited the zoo and went to queue for the cable car ride up to Maokong Hill. There wasn’t any one at the queue up at the zoo station. Very quickly the gondola came and we entered a cable car. My wife and I had the whole car to ourselves.
On the way up, we had a nice view of the city from the forested hills. It was a pretty sight. Had it been a bright day, the view would be even better. After passing forestry hills below and parks occasionally, we reached Maokong Station after about 25 minutes but unfortunately it started raining lightly. It was after 12.30 pm when we left the gondola station.
Moakong Station is an unique looking building. It sits beautifully at the top on this side of the hill. It was a little wet as we made our way uphill towards a street with stalls and also a food centre.
This food centre has a number of food stalls. It was quite crowded during lunch time. Thankfully, we managed to find a table in the crowded food centre. While my dear wife looked after the table and seats, I went to buy food for lunch. We bought more food after the first round. The traditional Taiwanese food was delicious. The lunch was great and we were satisfied.
After lunch, we explored the surrounding area of Maokong Hill. This area was pretty busy. There were many signage along the road to provide direction to various places and attractions.
We walked down another road and saw a minibus waiting along the road. There is a bus going down the hill back to Taipei City. We went up to enquire and found that this bus served only areas on the hill.
We walked further uphill another way and looked around and then went back towards Maokong Station. The gondola station was a lovely place to hangout. The air was fresh and the rain had subsided. Visitors were coming and going and taking pictures of the surrounding area.
We decided to walk up to a café across the road from Maokong Station. We went in and ordered cakes and coffee and went upstairs to chill out for a while. It was a nice place to rest a while and people watch and enjoy the pretty sight on this hilltop area.
It was already 1.15 pm when we sipped our aromatically fragrant coffee and enjoyed our hot lava chocolate cakes. It was made even more enjoyable on a cool day on a hilltop. This was just perfect.
When we were finally satisfied with this simple indulgence, we left the café. Along the road outside Maokong Station, more visitors were loitering around and some were on the road outside the food centre.
We walked into the gondola station and hang around for a while looking out onto the hill below. It was so refreshing. Shortly after, we entered the station and found a queue of visitors waiting for the car ride back to the base station. While waiting along the staircase, the car operator was shouting out there was vacancy for two more persons. Everyone in front seemed to be in bigger groups, so we raised our hands and were beckoned to move up.
We then boarded a car with another couple already inside the car. So there were four of us this time and this car was a glass bottom car where we could see through the floor below us. Many no doubt prefers this glass bottom car so the queue is usually longer. There are others who has fear of height and so they would give this type of car a miss.
Soon we were over the forestry hill again on our way down. With the glass bottom, we could see below over the tree tops in the forest. It was pretty cool to look down to see winding roads and even some interesting vegetation on the hill below us.
We also saw some lovely parks and in the middle of the hill was a small pagoda like building with a small pond surrounding it. This could be another attraction on the hill.
Along the way, the city appeared again with buildings built up among smaller hills covered in greenery. Had it been a sunny day, the view would no doubt be astounding.
Eventually, after about 30 minutes, we were back to the base station. It was an enjoyable ride and this was the first time we took a car with a glass bottom. Though it was cloudy, the ground was dry outside the station. So there was no rain on ground level other than on the hilltop.
We walked back towards the MRT station outside the zoo. It was the same route on the reverse this time. We took the brown line train and changed train at Zhongxiao Fuxing station. Over there, we took a train from the blue line and we were back to the main train station in Taipei City.
It was already slightly after 3 pm as we walked pass stalls and shops in the underground mall. There were shoppers but it was not very busy during this afternoon. We went all the way and exited at exit Z6 and went up to ground level and the building for New Stay Inn was just right in front.
We went up to fifth floor and approach front desk for our room key. It was promptly given. So we collected our bags we left with them and went to our room. We didn’t know what to expect for our room but to our surprise, our room was lovely.
We loved the soft theme wall paper in a clean and comfortable room. Though not very big, it was more than sufficient for us. The lay out was more square than the long and narrow layout we had over at Hotel Green World.
The bed was firm and comfortable. The bed sheet was very clean as well. A small table and chair set was at the corner facing the wall near the door.
In front of the bed was a big wall mounted TV. Plenty of channels were available although most were Chinese programs. Wifi was excellent. There were special lighting effects of ceiling lights for the bed. It was a lovely setup indeed.
Bathroom was great as well. There were plenty of space with a nice trendy bathtub and a separate shower stall. Toilet was quite a distance from the bathtub too. This was a really nice bathroom.
We were really happy with the room. Sound proofing seemed to be on the downside though where noise from outside and the room next door could be heard. Nevertheless, we were still grateful for this room just for the night. We were actually expecting a room with much smaller floor area. So New Stay Inn turned out to be pretty good and we were glad we made the right decision to stay here for the night before departure.
So we made ourselves comfortable and rested for some time before heading our for dinner and more shopping before leaving Taipei for Taichung the next morning. We were actually quite tired after the day’s outing so a much needed rest was great.
We ventured out again around 6 pm. It was time to explore this side of Taipei City near the main train station. We roamed a few streets looking for a good restaurant for dinner. It was already dark and the streets and buildings were lit up. It was a cool evening very pleasant to stroll in the open.
After checking out a few restaurants, we decided to have dinner at this restaurant where it dated back to 1971. We were not disappointed. We had the best beef soup noodle and pork chop rice set so far during our Taiwan tour. The owner chatted with us during dinner and explained to us what the restaurant looked like before the recent renovation. The restaurant was nice and presentable and comfortable enough for a meal. We were glad we had our dinner here.
Next we roamed the streets again and enjoyed the lovely lighting of the buildings in this busy area. Though it was not as crowded and busy as Xi Men Ding, this place was colourful and lovely as well, a very pleasant place to roam and shop too.
We then went back to the underground mall to shop. The place was busier at night. After looking around for a while, we noticed a stall selling soles for shoes. The owner was very patient to explain his products and eventually, we bought some pairs of soles to ease the pain on the heels of my dear wife due to the long walk during the tour.
Having done shopping at the underground mall, we hit the streets again. We looked at eateries hoping to buy supper. We ended up buying bread and buns in a bakery. Finally, it was time to return to New Stay Inn to spend the night.
Back in our room, we chatted with the children and shared with them stuff we bought for them again. With the TV entertaining us, we had buns for supper. We made coffee and tea as well. The hotel provided a water dispenser at the hotel lobby where we could help ourselves with hot and cold water. It was so convenient.
We needed to pack as well because we would be leaving for Taichung early next morning. Our bus trip to Taichung would depart slightly after 9 am. Even though the bus terminal was just across the road, we still didn’t want to rush in the morning. So with everything in order, we watched a little more TV and gradually headed into slumber. A new city adventure would await us the next day.
Continue to Day 7 …