Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Taiwan Trip (Part I): 1 Day in Taipei - Teapot Mountain

Earlier this month, Q and I had a good (and eventful) escapade to Taiwan. It will be fondly remembered, and you will see why soon.

According to all our friends and also the media (FYI, Taiwanese drama was the Korean drama equivalent during my early teenage years. 流行花园,恶魔在身边,恶作剧之吻,MVP情人,转角遇到爱... omg I can go on forever! ) Basically, EVERY SINGLE girl had once crazed over some drama before and in our mind, Taiwan has always been this hip cosmopolitan, shopping-cum-eating heaven, top with great scenery. 

But oh boy, there are SO SO many other sides to Taiwan that we absolutely didn't expect of. So to all of you think of like I used to, forget about all those and let me now show you THE Taiwan that we came to know about. 

Since both of us are not a city/shopping person, we decided to only have one day in Taipei. Instead of spending the day shopping, we headed towards Jingguashi (near JiuFen, a very touristy town near Taipei) for a hike in the mountains. 

Before the trip, we ordered some stuffs (sleeping bags, hiking shoes, tent, fleece wear etc.) from Taipei's Decathlon and had it delivered to our hostel (Banana Hostel, see here for hostel's details), who kindly received for us in advance. It saved us a lot of hassle of bringing these things over and it was also cheaper than Singapore's Decathlon. 

That's Q happily unpacking the Decathlon parcel in the very homely common room at Banana Hostel.

The bus ride to Jinguashi via JiuFen was quite an experience. Since the whole place was on mountains, the road was rather winding and steep, and the hundreds of tourists flopping around on the same narrow road didn't make things easier. After alighting and a little climb, we finally reached at the trailhead of the Teapot Mountain!

The weather wasn't the best of course. It was really just heavy fog and greyness. You can see this blog for photos on this stunning place on a sunny day. It was really amazing.

Here's a little about us.
We both have this wild spirit trapped under our corporate selves. At the core of us, nothing but only nature can soothe our hearts. Sure, a drink or two in a quaint little bar might bring us several delights, but to be able to witness and feel the raw beauty of nature is the only thing that can completely wash away the fatigue in our minds and lights up our souls.

I can't stress how important it is to us, especially having to work and put on a front EVERY SINGLE DAY. We were tired. Spiritually tired. Tired of not being able to actually experience being alive, tired of committing to a meaningless routine with other equally uninspired souls. And the funny thing was, we didn't realize how much we needed to be with nature up until the moment looking at this mountain and feeling the wind brushing on our skin. It's really so easy to forget what you want and who you are when you are made to repeat the same cycle day in day out.

The place used to be a gold mine before the government bans all mining activity. No luck of discovering shimmering gold rocks though, but even these vibrant rust-like rocks are such a stunner to the eyes.

Our initial plan was to climb through Teapot Mountain and get to Mt. Banping, but sun was setting and the weather got really cloudy so we decided not to risk hiking in the rain and in the dark. Nevertheless, I was really glad that we squeezed time for this hike despite touching down in Taipei only at 7am on that morning. Instead of a shopping/night market paradise, I would now know Taipei as a city with several good hikes just on the outskirts. 

Getting around:
1) Taoyuan Airport to Taipei City
-Take KuoKuang Bus #1819 from the airport and alight at Taipei Station (the last stop). Around NT125 each and 15-20min journey. They have buses 24/7 and leaving approx every 15min. When at the station, you can also buy bus tickets in advance for the next city that you are heading to. 

2) Taipei city to Teapot Mountain: 
- Take Bus #1062 from Zhongxiao Fuxin Exit 1 (once out of subway, u-turn and then left turn). It has buses leaving every 10min. NT110 each and alight at last stop (1.5hr) and enter the Jinguashi Ecological Park. Walk to the end to a bridge, after going up a long flight of stairs and following the road subsequently, you will hit trailhead.

- Get the EasyCard once you arrived. It can be used throughout for all trains and buses in Taiwan (at a slightly lower price than paying cash upfront) and you can get the remaining amount back when you are leaving. That was one thing we regretted not getting as we thought it could only by used in Taipei.

- The ride back from Jinguashi took almost 3hr due to jam at JiuFen and we were left with very little time to explore Taipei's night markets. One little girl even shouted dramatically 'FREEEEDOM!! AT LAST!' when we alighted. So do start the hike early if you can. 

Do try to squeeze in this hike the next time you visit Taipei, and be guaranteed that you'd return back very much in awe and satisfied :)