Maokong and Bitan

Time to say 再見, our holidays in Taiwan are coming to an end *sadface*
And just to make parting even harder, our last day turned out to be just wonderful…
We decided to take the Maokong Gondola up to the tea mountains South of Taipei. Turned out we weren’t alone, despite the heat (33.5 deg) the queues outside the entrance were rather impressive! After about half an hour, we got onto one of the little gondolas and off we went.

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The ride across and up the mountain is really nice, the further up you get, the more you see of the city and the surrounding landscape, a truly fabulous view!

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Yet, this time we also saw the path of destruction typhoon Soudelor left in its wake, there were a lot of broken trees, demolisded tin-sheet huts and debris everywhere.

We got off at the second last stop, 指南宮, where various temples and pavilions are picturesquely scattered

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across the hills. The hordes of people traveling up with us mysteriously dispersed and disappeared, and it seemed we were almost alone now, wandering from one temple to the next, taking in the incredible scenery.

One of the vendors in the main temple gave J a necklace with a Guanyin Buddha on it and he loved it so much I had to buy it off her. Quite a ripoff but he insists it protects him and hasn’t taken it off since,  so I guess it was worth the investment 🙂

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There was a resting area next to one of the temples, where a kind old lady offered us tea, peanuts, lychees and eggs boiled in tea. Thus refreshed, we started the descent through the lush green, almost tropical flora, past derelict buildings and little shops offering all kinds of devotional objects.

Maokong is a perfect escape from the city. The air in the mountains is a lot cooler and fresher and the whole place oozes serenity and tranquillity.

Once back in the heat of Taipei, we took a cab to Bitan 碧潭, the area where the Xindian Creek, a branch of Danshui River, widens to form a lake.
This place is a favourite spot for both locals and tourists, with pedal boats for rent, a cycling trail along the water and  a nice boardwalk of restaurants and cafes overlooking the lake/river

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and the suspension bridge across it.

After a tea break with a view, we proceeded to the little night market in the alley just off the bridge and had a wonderful array of 麻醬面 (sesame noodles), 炸醬面 (more delicious noodles), 魷魚 (octopus) and chicken skewers, rounded off with lemon jelly and 冬瓜茶.
For a more detailed report on Bitan, I  recommend this fellow blogger’s description:

http://hungryintaipei.blogspot.tw/2015/04/exploretaipeitaiwanese-i-strongly_20.html?m=1

For us, the time has come to pack our bags. Au revoir Taipei!

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