Maokong is a popular hiking destination located in the south eastern region of Taipei. For hiking enthusiasts, you can hike all the way up Maokong (from Chengchi University) but for those who just want to make it to specific destinations in Maokong the Maokong Gondola is the best option.
The Maokong gondola runs from Taipei Zoo to Maokong. It’s a short walk from from the Taipei Zoo MRT stop and that is where we picked up our gondola tickets. You can always just use your EZ-Card to ride the gondola, but we ended up getting a separate set of tickets.
The ticketing office helped us decide on getting the best deal. We simply wanted to go to Maokong and make one stop at Zhinan Temple and of course make out way back to Taipei Zoo.
Once you’re at the Maokong Gondola station, you’ll see Hello Kitty everywhere! Hello Kitty is the current mascot for the Maokong Gondola but according the the Maokong Gondola website, this endorsement will end on May 5, 2015. We were lucky to be in Taipei just in time to see Hello Kitty.
There weren’t very many people there at all, probably because of the rain. There really wasn’t much of a wait. We took this opportunity to take the crystal cabin. The crystal cabin is like any other cabin except for the fact the bottom of the gondola car is window giving you a view of what is below.
Each cabin seats up to five people, and lucky for us we managed to have the cabin all to the three of us for part of our trip up to Maokong.
It was actually really nice being in the crystal cabin. The rain obstructed most of the view, but with the “glass bottom” gondola, the rain couldn’t cover most of our view below. Apparently you can see the hippo statues in the Taipei Zoo (on a clear day). Plus we had “Adventure Kitty with a Magnifying Glass” accompanying us on our ride.
Even with the rain (and some wind) the gondola was really stable and smooth.
By the time we arrived in Maokong it was still raining. We simply stayed around town and wandered around.
For those visiting Maokong, Tiannen Temple, Sanxuan Temple, Camphor Tree Trail, and the Teipei Tea Promotion Center are popular destinations. All of which I would say would be great to go see if it wasn’t raining.
Usually this would also be a perfect place to see the Taipei skyline, but as you can see above it was gloomy and raining.
But because of the weather, our focus was more on the mountain then the city. I saw these beautiful pink flowers blooming in the distance in Maokong. I first though they were cherry blossoms, but I later read that they are apricot blossoms.
It is only apricot blossom season from January to February of each year. Other seasonal flowers on Maokong include: Lupin Blossoms (March to April), Tung Tree Blossom (April to May), Bamboo Shoot (May to June) and Spring Tea (May to June).
Before leaving Maokong, we we decided to stop for some lunch. We picked out a couple things to share between us, more Taiwanese street food for us. We got an Oyster Omelette 蚵仔煎, Fishballs 綜和丸菜頭湯, Tea Oil Rice 茶油飯, and Tea Oil Noodles 茶油麵. The Oyster Omelette was NT$70. Noodles, rice, and fishballs are all each NT$50.
Oyster Omelette 蚵仔煎 is actually one Taiwanese street food item that I really wanted to try in Taiwan (we get this whenever we go to Taiwanese restaurants at home). Oyster Omelets are not as simple as a regular omelette with oysters inside. The oysters and eggs are accompanied by some greens (varies) topped with a unique clear gelatinous thing and finally a special sauce is over poured the omelette.
Tea Oil Noodle and Rice were listed under Maokong specialties, and that was why we decided to try it out. The fried noodles were topped with minced meat and bean sprouts, where as the rice was a sticky rice mixed with pork both with possibly a tiny hint of tea flavor. Both the noodle and rice had the same flavors.
After lunch, we hopped back onto the Maokong Gondola and stopped at the Zhinan Temple Station.
This is where one of the most revered Taoist Temples in Taiwan is located. Although the Zhinan Temple (Chi Nan Temple) is considered to be Taoist Temple it follows “The Three Teaching,” a kind of local belief that incorporates aspects of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. This is also what I grew up believing (and believing that this was what Buddhism really was).
We saw the temple from the gondola station and as you can see from the picture above it was under some renovation. And as it started to rain harder, we decided not to head over to the temple.
We didn’t stay long because it started to rain harder. We took a few pictures tried to walk around a little bit and then quickly got back on the gondola.
Honestly, the gondola was the best part of our visit to Maokong. If it wasn’t for the rain, I may have spent more time there. We headed to the National Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine, wandered into the Grand Hotel, and then ended the day at the NingXia Night Market.
A quick note. We went to Maokong on February 4th, 2015. This was the day a TransAsia Airways plane crashed in Taipei. I remembered getting messages from my family concerned about where were were during this crash. And our answer was “we were wandering around somewhere in the mountains somewhere on the other side of town.”