Thoughts of a Canadian Exchange Student

Maokong Gondola (貓空纜車)

Posted in Culture, Food, Outdoors, Sightseeing, Taipei, Transportation, Weather by J on April 26, 2008

Ah~ If you want one of the easiest getaways from the hustle and bustle of Taipei, hop on over to the Taipei Zoo using the MRT and then go up to take the Maokong Gondola (貓空纜車). The fantastic thing about this gondola is that it costs just as much to take the MRT, which is, not much at all. You can get fantastic views for under 60 NTD (even less if you’re a student!).

So we took the gondola to the Maokong stop (貓空站) and took a look at the temple there. It’s nice and relaxing, especially when you watch the sun go down. It’s a nice quiet place, but fun with friends too. =) They sell ice cream there!


Jiufen (九份)

Posted in Culture, Food, NTU, Outdoors, Shopping, Sightseeing, Taipei, Taiwan by J on April 19, 2008

jiufen baoxiantao

Jiufen has this lovely little “Condom World” store. (保險套世界)

Jiufen (九份) is this little town about an hour away from Taipei. We went there to check it out because, well, it’s a tourist attraction. That and apparently the town was used as a model for Spirited Away. (According to Wikipedia.)

Anyways, I found out it’s a pretty nice place to go shopping and to have some interesting food. The view is really nice too. It’s totally a tourist destination. They sell lots of leather goods at Jiufen and snacks like chips on a stick. What I really liked was this ice cream rolled into a parsley-peanutty wrap thing. It’s so Taiwan. By “it’s so Taiwan” I mean it’s so innovative. I forgot to take a picture!

Oh these were great to eat~

Aside from all the good eats, things to buy, and the view, we also went to take a look at the historic part of Jiufen. Historically, it was a mining town but now, it’s mostly a tourist destination. I hope that there aren’t any malevolent ghosts hanging around!

The ghosts did it!

Oh by the way, if you’re ever near the Zhongxiao Dunhua (忠孝敦化) area in Taipei, the food is great there! There’s a larger variety of food to eat than the food around the NTU campus. See exhibit one:

At a teahouse near Luxy: Mmm… delicious!

Taroko Gorge (太魯閣國家公園), Hsincheng (新城) & Hualien (花蓮市)


Flowers near Hsincheng (新城).

During the time of the Qingming Festival (清明節) (April 4th), a friend and I decided to jet off (ironically by train: chug, chug, chug-a-lug) to visit Hualien’s Taroko Gorge. Thank-you for not raining!

Hsincheng (新城):


Nearby Hsincheng (or in it?).

We stayed at a very nice place in Hsincheng. The hotel was situated where it was basically a reserve for the Taroko native people (原住民). The organic veggies provided were reminiscent of home. Mmmm… food.

One thing to watch out for when you’re in this area are the DOGS. Ohmygosh. There are many dogs all over the place and some are probably strays. I don’t know. They are very, very territorial. Growl!

Taroko Gorge (太魯閣國家公園):


The Buddhist monastery near Tiansiang.

Ah! The most fun part.

We walked to Tiansiang (天祥) from Taroko (太魯閣). On the way, we encountered close calls with tour busses and cliffs (jump!!), dark tunnels, one way roads and loads of “falling rocks” signs. I even learned the characters for “falling rocks” because I saw it so many times. It’s 落石 luo4shi2.

I was in awe when we arrived at the cliffs. I forget what they’re called, but they’re on the No. 8 highway. They’re magnificently tall. So tall that… you just can gape in wonder. According to the tour guide that I was eavesdropping on while we stopped there, there used to be native people that lived at the top of the cliffs and got to the top by going up a trail on the face of the cliff (of which, I was unable to discern).


Bright red bridge.

We also saw the Swallow Grotto (燕子口) and the Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲洞) in addition to other things on the highway. Like bicyclers and cars and busses and cars and scooters and cars and scooters.

A very, very good day. I’m so 熟 (shou) with the road now! There’s just something good about walking. However, it also felt so good to arrive in Tiansiang. We did it! (And early, too. We made it in time for the bus back.)

Hualien (花蓮市):


The cows in Hualien city.

Hualien, the city, was okay. Although, I’d call it more of a town than a city. Where was everyone?

Lastly, the Mochi / Magi / Mashu (麻糬) etc. So good! Get it from the Zengji Mashu (曾記麻糬). Don’t forget to bring stuff home for your loved ones! (Traditions…)

(Note: It’s so weird to look at photos that you have taken the day of that you write on because it already seems so far removed.)