Saturday, January 28, 2012

Maokong Tea Gardens and Maokong Gondola

I never got around to finishing my posts about the Taipei trip 2 weeks ago. So here's one.

The second and last day in Taipei was spent in Maokong Tea Gardens. We wanted to go there last September but we went on a Monday and we discovered that the Maokong Gondola (cable car) is closed every Monday.

So this time, we went on a Sunday. I was expecting a lot of people because it's a Sunday. But I guess due to the rains, we didn't have to line up very long. Unfortunately though, most of the view was covered by the fog.

The foggiest part!

But it was a great ride! We took the Eyes of Maokong Gondola (units with glass bottoms). There isn't much fog below so you get to see everything but it's not scary at all.

Yay glass bottoms!

Tea plantation

We arrived at the Maokong Station and had lunch at the eateries nearby. It was so cold up in the mountains and it was raining too! We, people from the tropics, were freezing!

After lunch, we took the bus to the Apricot Gardens because I read something from the Maokong Gondola website that apricot blossoms bloom during January. However, we could not find the flowers. Apparently, we were two weeks too early for the blooming time.

Where are the apricot blossoms?

I found this lone apricot blossom though. At least.

Hello there.

So we just decided to try other places. We went to Tea Master Chang Nai-Miao Memorial Hall. It's a small building. We didn't enter the residence museum at the second floor anymore because it costs NTD150. Instead we just looked around the shop at the first floor.

It's a great experience though because I learned a few things about tea in Taiwan from Miss Angela (the granddaughter-in-law of Tea Master Chang Nai-Miao).

Apparently, Taiwan is the number one exporter of tea in the world. Even Mainland China imports tea from Taiwan.

Miss Angela gave us a sample of spring tea. It has this roasted flavor and some flowery scent too. (It's spring tea after all.)

Tiekuanyin spring tea

I bought one pack! A bit expensive at NTD300 for 50 grams but I then it's not everyday that I get to buy tea leaves straight from the gardens.

We left the shop and then took a look at their tea gardens (with permission of course).

Tea gardens!
And yeah, three layers of clothing plus a scarf

We took the bus back to the Maokong station and rode the cable car back to Taipei Zoo station.

This time, there wasn't much fog so I was able to enjoy the view more.

Hello, Taipei 101!

My co-instructors and I were talking about the piers and the cable car mechanism on the way back. We're all from Engineering, after all. It's amusing because the Maokong Gondola had safety features like lightning rods and ground inclinometers (which, I think, gives signals if the ground's slope is changing due to erosion or maybe seismicity).

When we got to Taipei Zoo station, there were LOTS of people in line for the cable cars. I guess we're lucky that we didn't have to line up that long.

We were also able to watch the Dancing Fountains beside the Taipei Zoo station. Come to think of it, I don't remember the last time I've seen a fountain show. I don't even remember ever seeing one.

This is just beside the road. No entrance fee or whatever.

Oh, did I mention that a one-way ride at the Maokong Gondola from end to end costs only NTD50? Wherever can you get a great 20 to 30-minute cable car ride for only PhP75?? In other countries, that's only good for one train ride. T_T

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