Friday, December 7, 2012

Tea Atop Maokong, Taipei (貓空, Picture heavy!)

Hubby was dying to go up Maokong (貓空) to take a peek, so off we went on a misty afternoon before it started raining non-stop, for how long, almost 2 weeks now? Sigh...

Of course we had to go on the Maokong Gondola. It would be a crime not too! There are 2 separate lines, a super crowded one for a standard cabin, and less crowded one for the "crystal cabin," with a fiber glass bottom so you can see beneath your feet ^.^ The line for "crystal cabin" isn't less crowded because no one wants to ride in it. You have to buy a ticket for either lines, but with the "crystal cabin" line you have to get assigned to a time block in addition to the general ticket. Hubby and I didn't know this as there was not a sign or any instructions, perhaps on purpose because otherwise everyone would line up for it?. We and a bunch of other folks wasted time standing around until we all realized they were announcing time blocks for the crystal cars! 

When we finally got our time block assignment, it was with an hour's wait and so we decided to walk around for a bit. The gondola is right next to the Taipei Zoo, and the surrounding area is kind of neat. Right behind the entrance for the gondola is a walk way with benches and mini playgrounds for parents to take their children for a stroll. As you can see, hubby finds this walk way fun whereas I thought it was kind of sleepy.

This walk way is parallel to the street along which the train track arrives into Taipei Zoo Station

This statue outside the Taipei Zoo Station struck me as odd. The inscription on it says "Love the animals," but looking at it I couldn't help but thought, " breastfeeding them?!?"

Anyway, we decided to walk to the station to get an ice cream cone and then walk back. On the way back, hubby caught a snap of the afternoon sun in the hazy sky. 

Gondola in action!

After much wait, we finally got to go up to the gondola platform. Here's the view from the platform. 

A standard cabin (left) versus the crystal cabin (right) with the clear bottom. It wasn't anything special and not worth the wait at all, especially in consideration to the breathtaking view through the windows. I would recommend skipping it as the line for the standard cabin, crowded as it is, moves way faster!

Unruly children (and tourists) are strapped into this cart. JUST KIDDING!!! xD

Believe it or not, you can see a lot of Taipei from the gondola, especially on a clear day. Too bad our afternoon was misty and hazy, but still the view was fantastic! Recognize that building, yes?

And of course it was fun to see the cabins slowly passing by too ^.^

There were some really neat buildings on the way, but I have no idea what they are!

Maokong is known for its Tieguanyin tea, and you can see many tea farms like these!

After a good 15-20 rides on the gondola, we arrived into Maokong Station. Hubby and I decided to go walk around for a bit before finding a tea house for tea and dinner. 

By the time we came back to Maokong Station and were ready for tea, it was already dusk. Walking further past the station, we saw this awesome view with Taipei 101 in the background.

This building here looked really interesting, but hubby and I didn't want to trek all the way over there on foot, especially when it was getting dark rather quickly at that point. Instead, we decided on Red Wood House (紅木屋茶館), a tea house right on the [paved] mountain pass we were walking on.

The tea house has 2 levels, and upstairs serving Western sweets, entrees, and tea, and the downstairs (staircase is on the side of the building) serving traditional Chinese tea and dishes. Of course we went downstairs and tried their Tieguanyin tea, which was quite expensive, NT$450 (~ US$15) for a tiny vacuum pack half the size of my fist!

But boy the tea was fragrant, and strong too! Each time, we let the tea soak for about, oh, 30 seconds, and yet each steep was still too strong for me taste.

I have to say, the biggest drawback to having tea on a large covered patio with a gorgeous view was expectedly mosquitoes. Even though there was a mosquito zapper near by that was zapping constantly every other second, I was still bitten a few times on my arms. Not sure why, but they just love [biting] me. 

Not happy to be mosquito food.

Our dinner was just okay, nothing special. The place is better known for tea I guess ^.^

After our descend from Maokong, I was craving something sweet. So we stopped by this Agnes B. Cafe L.P.G. (le pain grille) on the 1st floor of the Eslite Bookstore Xinyi branch.

The cakes all have fancy pancy feminine names, but based on their appearance and taste I'd say I ordered an opera cake (left) and a caramel napoleon (right) ^.^ They were alright, not the best cakes I've ever had, but they weren't bad either. A bit too sweet may be, but otherwise decent. As for tea I got earl grey, light but fragrant. With milk and sugar, it was just what I need to end the night filled with strong tieguanyin xD

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