Thursday, June 26, 2014

Maokong Gondola (貓空纜車) - Loving The Crystal Cabin with itsTransparent Floor @ Taipei [Taiwan]

When my colleague suggested Maokong as a destination for my Taiwan trip in April, i thought it would be a place filled with hundreds or even thousands, of paw-cleaning cats as mao is Mandarin for cat! 

Well, i don't recollect seeing any real feline while i was there but i do remember taking a gondola ride with an insane fellow who scared the hell out of me! Before you read further, do note that the "said" lunatic is none other than Alex.

First thing: buy a ticket! Since we only had the intention to take the cable to the last station, drop for some photo taking and then back, it was actually more worth it to buy single-trip ticket at NT$50 rather than round the trip ticket at NT$120 each. By the way, isn't this year the horse year!? 

The crystal cabins are of no difference from typical gondolas with the exception of one significant feature; the 48mm-thick reinforced glass flooring that can withstand the weight of five passengers! 

It's a no-brainer which one we chose; the crystal cabin of course! Beware of the queue that would be much longer than the line for normal, boring cabins. Luckily we visited on a Tuesday and it didn't take us more than ten minutes to get to the front of the line. 

As of December 2013, Hello Kitty was selected as the annual mascot for Maokong Gondola and you could find many images of the mouth-less cat spread all over the place! Not that it really matters to me even though if i have to choose, i would prefer the teddy bear theme at Sun Moon Lake ropeway.

Finally, our crystal cabin!

The excitement tapered off when we realised it would be a shared cabin. :( Guess we didn't have much choice as the crew's priority to shorten the queue for the crystal cabins which grew even longer than when we first arrived. 

Maokong Gondola has a total of four main and two angle stations over a distance of approximately four kilometers. It doesn't travel in a straight line and hence, require the help of the angle stations to make the "turn". The one in the above picture is the starting station; Taipei Zoo Station.

That feeling of soaring high above the ground was immensely scary for a person who is afraid of height. With both feet planted firmly on the glass, i was at the same time also grabbing on to the hand rails by the side of the cabins. It's never too early to prepare in case the glass gives way.

Don't give me bullshit about how strong the glass is, that it is CE certified etc; i watched too many Final Destination movies. Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. 

As we had strangers as 'company', we put on our best behaviour and simply took in the natural sights surrounding us. Frankly, it did get a bit boring after a while with frame after frame of greenery and more greenery.

Scenery got better after the cabin passed the Taipei Zoo South Station; the view of the suburban Taipei in front of us! At this moment, we should be at around an altitude of 100-200 meters.

What does this remind you of? Some of the Chinese should be able to draw references to the bwa bwei wooden blocks Taoists use for divination purpose. Its appearance means we should be reaching the Zhinan Temple Station. 

The drop, which wasn't horrifying so long you keep your eyes ahead of you, stay still and don't look down. 

Partially blocked Zhinan Temple. I would have enjoyed the temple as its patron deity is Lu Dongbin, one of the legendary eight immortals! Again, it's a pity i didn't have the time. 

A picture of the temple against the hazy looking Taipei 101! Check out the hill right below the skyscraper (which used to be one of the tallest in the world); do you know what those non-green structures are? They are tombs!! 

We exited the Maokong station, had lunch and walked a bit before proceeding back to the station for our trip back to Taipei Zoo station. Queue for the crystal cabin on our way back was much shorter!!! Many people must have been freaked out on their way in! Hahahaha. 

Anyway, it was a blessing for us as we were given the option to have a crystal cabin just for the two of us! Yipppppppeeeee!! We can laugh loudly, pick our nose, take a million photographs etc without disturbing anyone! 

There isn't any significance to the above picture but it proves to show we basically let go when we had the whole cabin for ourselves! 

Everything was alright until this bloody idiot insisted i took a picture of him lying on the glass!!!! I am telling you; my heart almost popped out when i saw him in this position!

One thing for sure, he is not acrophobic and could think of dozens of poses to take advantage of this rare opportunity! In the above photograph, he imagined himself to be a highly skilled martial arts expert who could hover in the sky.

He could even pretend to be scared while the real acrophobia (me) had to accede to his never ending demands to take pictures. It's not helpful when i kept having horrifying images of the glass cracking! 

I was persuaded to take a strike a pose too. Damn, what was i thinking then?!?!?!?! Maybe that explains why i looked a little unsound in the picture. 

To add salt to the injury, the indisputable scaredy cat in the Gang of Four took to appreciate the scenery using another angle; face down. $%#$%@%^

Sigh... i felt so useless, so weak... Okay, to comfort myself, it's easier to label the asshole as a lunatic! Guess that is the same label some friends gave me when i said i love to visit the cemeteries!

Alex literally maintained that position of looking down throughout the journey until we are about to reach the Taipei Zoo South Station (have staff mah, so have to put on our best behaviour coupled with Alex's innocent expression). 

The next crazy thing Alex did was after asking me what the Taipei zoo has. Like a little boy, he was thrilled to hear that the Taipei Zoo has pandas and dragged me out of the cabin at Taipei Zoo South Station! 

Hello buddy, time wasn't on our side!!! 


Website (in English)

Map of Maokong
As above!

How to Get to Maokong Gondola
Damn accessible - take the metro to Taipei Zoo Station and walk less than five minutes to the Maokong Gondola Taipei Zoo Station. For other modes of transport, please refer to here

Operating Hours / Ticket Prices
Check the website of maokong gondola which is incredibly informative! There are also seasonal activities (for example, apricot blossoms from January to February) which you should really consider while you are planning your trip!

Additional Information
For ladies wearing skirts, please don't attempt to stand up in the crystal cabin. If you die die need to, do consider wearing pants. :) 

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.


  1. Hello! Just curious that you bought another one-way trip ticket at Maokong Station again at 50NT?

    1. Hi! I think i would have bought another one-way ticket although we eventually dropped at Taipei Zoo South Station.