Saturday, June 28, 2014

Maokong Station & its Surrounding @ Taipei [Taiwan]

Before you wonder how the hell we got to the Maokong Station, it would be beneficial if you could refer to my blog post here for the gondola ride that originated from Taipei Zoo station.

The cable car journey took us a long thirty minutes from one end to the other and upon disembarking from the gondola; our stomachs were determined to search for a place where we can have brunch!

There was a slight problem; i didn't do any food research beforehand as that day was supposed to be a trip to Wulai but we woke up later than expected and i didn't realise there were so many choices!

Matters got worse when we were given three routes to choose when we exited Maokong station. It's like a game of chance even though it didn't take us long to decide that the road straight ahead might be our best bet.

Like any hungry stomach that requires food in order to stay sane, we were totally prepared to enter the first teahouse we came to. As a note, it was also encouraging to know that waffles were on the menu! With greater expectation came bigger disappointment; the place was not yet open for business!

Walked past this charcoal kiln display by the road; stomachs can wait as i snapped a few photographs. With the amount of fats i have, i strongly believe my tummy can withstand the slight delay. 

Brunch fulfilled at Da Guan Yuan teahouse! For my review, click here

Time to take a more relaxing stroll around the area to digest the food we had. The temperature wasn't as hot as Singapore although it was still quite a torture to walk with the sun toasting my hair! 

Zoomed in view of Zhinan Temple which i didn't manage to visit. I don't really understand why some people (even local Taiwanese) told me five days in Taipei were too long a stay. I think even the full nine days i spent in Taiwan would be insufficient for just Taipei / New Taipei area!

Farmland and tea plantation in front of us. I am unsure if it is private property although there didn't seem to be any worker whom i can ask for clarification. By the way, did anyone notice an item of interest in the photograph?

Personal interest for me that is; the tomb right smack in the farmland! p.s. guess that translates in 'private property'! I recollected from a conversation i had with a local cab driver that this is a common practice in Taiwan even though in Singapore's cultural context, it is a no-no to stay near a burial spot. 

We noticed the directional posts which would have meant the pathways were open to visitors! 

A mock granary store that acted as a rest area for tourists. Navigation along the path was straightforward and quite easy although the elderly would have to keep in mind that there were quite a number of steps and shelter was minimal. It would, however, be quite a nice walk in the cooler seasons. 

For those who have had the fortune to stay in a kampong would have plenty of memories reminiscing the good, old days when such scenes are aplenty. I enjoyed my village days and the only thing that put me off was the toilet with just a hole in the middle! Eeeeeeeeeeeuuuuuww!

The path we were on was known as the Camphor Tree Trail that was publicised as a reflection of village life in the past. 

I might have lived in a kampong but my family didn't owe any land, save for the zinc-roofed house we stayed in and small plots of land surrounding it. So, please don't ask me what plants these are. I took the picture simply because the little blue flowers were pretty.

Likewise for the above photograph! Judging from the shape of the leaves, I have a suspicion they are maple tree flowers; Canadian friends (i.e. Karen) would be a better judge on this!

When this view came to sight, i stopped momentarily in my track. When i was in primary school, i would often draw a similar painting based on my definition of an ideal home. A house in the middle backed with rolling hills, a pathway leading to town on the side, beds of flowers and a pond in front (which existed to the left of the photograph). 



I would add in a few animals as well. Sadly, not a buffalo or a cow as i didn't want to handle an enormous amount of shit. Remember, an ideal home in my young opinion then doesn't translate into a farmer's life. 

On second thought, i might have considered statues of these working animals instead. Less maintenance, less shit work and perfect for photo-taking. Would paint them brown though. 

Alex surrounded by yellow flowers. Despite my lack of knowledge for plants, i am aware what this plant supplies; an item often seen in Japanese restaurants. 

Edamame beans! I have fond memories of these beans as mom and i would play scissors-paper-stone, when we used to patronise Sakae Sushi for their buffet, and the loser would have to eat these beans! 

This sign clarified a lot more on the ownership of this farmland. According to what was written, it is private property and as visitors, we are of course not allowed to take away the plants / flowers (beans inclusive).

Chanced upon more tombs!

A closed up look; as you can see, some of them were more like houses and there was in fact a locked room behind the headstone. I am curious what lies beyond the locked door; a coffin or maybe a dried up corpse??

Start of the Camphor Tree Trail was actually right behind the restaurant where we had brunch! 

Another nostalgic display; this time an abode for pigs! From the Chinese-worded information panel, it was said that in the past, many farmhouses would build an area next to the kitchen to rear pigs. 

Darn, i need to lose some weight! The weight i managed to lose before i visited Taiwan was gained back in just the nine days i was in the country, with an addition of two kilos! 

No real piglet but better than nothing.

Walked back to the Maokong station where there were two stone cats. As mentioned before, i was under the impression that Maokong would be filled with cats. The origin of the name came from the potholes in the area which was known as to the locals as "cat hollows" (in the local Hokkien dialect, it is pronounced as neow-kang). 

With the Maokong gondola station behind us, to our left was a street with food stalls by the sides. It is also possible to walk to Zhinan temple using this way. 

One of the food stalls by the roadside. Charcoal toasted sweet potatoes would be great to have (to eat and to hold) if the weather was colder! 

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Map 
As above. There is a visitor centre within Maokong Station and i would suggest you check it out and take  copy of the English-language map which would help you in your journey. 


For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

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