Sunday, November 27, 2011

Maokong Gondola Ride in Wunshan District, Taipei

     After one day rest for my sister-in-law and her friend, it was time for us to depart to Taipei. We would meet and join other Americans for a 14-day-trip around Taiwan. We decided to take the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) to Taipei. It would save us about 1 and half hour from Taichung to Taipei due to its highest speed up to 300km per hour. Normally, it would take us 2 and half hours from Taichung to Taipei by bus. 
      This was in Wurih station which is in the suburb of Taichung. When the government started this project, its idea was to improve the development of the economic situation and life standards in the urban areas. Thus, it would balance the differences among cities and remote areas. 

      Because most of its stations are in the rural areas except Taipei, it causes some problems like how to go to its stations from cities and time saving issues. Therefore, Taiwan Railroad System has extent its service to every THSR station and THSR also provides a free shuttle service to solve the problems. The most convenient service for tourists is that some buses offer various lines to take tourists to other famous destinations. For example, you can take the ride from Taipei to Taichung and then catch a bus to Sun Moon Lake without any transfer or hassle.   
     Maybe for international trade, THSR system was conducted by two different systems. Its traffic controls and designs are base on Europe System and its cars are remodeled from Japan's Shinkansen system.    
     Length: Taipei to Kaohsiung 345 KM (214 Miles) 
     Cost: US$ 18 Billions 
A View of Dadu Mountain 
     After a joyful and smooth ride, we arrived at the Taipei train station and caught a taxi with our 4 suitcases and other small bags. 
Most of cabs are operated with propane for reducing air pollution.  
This was our hotel room. 
Water Jet Massage Shower System 
     After a short rest in the hotel, we took the Wenhu Line of Taipei Municipal Rapid Transit (MRT) to Taipei Zoo for a dinner gathering with our friends in the Maokong area. 
     Maokong is in the mountain area of the Wunshan district, south-east of Taipei. It was a major tea production in the Taipei area. Because of tea's  high economic profits, more and more farmers  planted tea in other areas. Maokong lost its glory of a major tea producer; however it has transformed into an agricultural recreational area and has attracted more people to visit it. It provides people with outdoor activities like hiking and social events like drinking tea.     
A lot of people took Maokong Gondola for Sat. night out . 
     Due to the high volume of visitors and narrow roads, it caused traffic congestion and brought local residents inconvenient on weekends or holidays. The Taipei city government planned to build the Maokong Gondola system to solve the heavy traffic problems. At the same time, when integrated the MRT, Taipei Zoo, and the gondola system attracted more tourists to visit this area.    
 Info from   
It was an exciting ride with a significant view of the Taipei Valley 
We got off at the last station. It was dark already. 
     We had to walk about 15 minutes to the most famous restaurant in this area. One of our friends was unable to walk for a long time and the road was hilly. So, I stopped a car and asked the couple if they could take my friend to the restaurant for me. They did help us. As I mentioned before, Taiwanese are very friendly, especial to foreigners. They will try to help people when they are in troubles. All of our friends were surprise for my action and the result. 
We had 11 people and 14 dishes. 
This is the most famous dish in this restaurant. It is called Rose Shrimp. The chef uses roses as one of the main ingredients in this dish. You can taste and eat the roses.  Of course using tea as the main ingredient in other dishes is one of the reason that attracts people to visit this restaurant. Have you ever had a Tea Popsicle?   
Learning how to use chopsticks
     Our friend wore a sweater and was too hot for her. So, I asked the owner if  we could buy one of their uniforms. The owner found her husband's uniform and gave the shirt to my friend as a souvenir. It was another surprise. 
A view of Taipei City from the restaurant-- I had more than a couple of glasses of beer. Was it the result of alcohol effect that made the image blurred.  
     Thank my friend Lily and her husband Mr. Tsai and her children for inviting us to such a wonderful place. We all had a great time and enjoyed the food and the atmosphere, especial their companies and their friendships. 

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