For Thursday we decided we wanted to hike some of the Taipei hills, so we choose Elephant Hill which is renowned for its view over the city. As usual, we took the MRT, this time to Xiangshan Station. There was a sign when you come out of MRT, but it was not entirely clear after that. We went through Zhongqiang Park to the road, made a left to go up the hill and around the corner to the right to find the start of the stairs.
So. Many. Stairs. However, it is well worth it, as the views were great.
Note that there are multiple viewpoints, so if one is crowded just keep going up for the next one.
Having looked at Taipei 101 all morning we decided to stop there next. There is a large Din Tai Fung in the basement, but also busloads of tourists, so we decided we’d rather wait at the original and headed back to Dongmen.
We were a little low on cash at this point (most places don’t take credit cards) and had our second round of ATM adventures cards at Sino bank, which wouldn’t take either of our cards. Having made friends with the Din Tai Fung hostess (this was our third time since Monday) Leandra was advised about another ATM across the street. Success! Our last meal at Din Tai Fung was just as good as the others, and this time we tried the sesame peanut noodles. While they have a spicy option, we were a bit scared of that, so we ordered the regular version and simply added a few drops of chili oil. It was an excellent combination.
Taiwan is famous for pineappple cake, but the most famous place was not convenient to the rest of our plans, so we opted for a store near our hotel. Upon walking in we were offered several samples, along with free tea. We loved the sour pineapple so bought a box to share with family over Christmas.
After dropping off the cakes at our hotel, we took the MRT to the Taipei Zoo Station, then walked 500m to the gondola. We thought it a little odd that they didn’t connect them more closely but the weather was fine for an outdoor walk. Hello Kitty was everywhere in the station, including our cabin on way up…
The ride was quite pleasant with views of the zoo and lush green hills – palms, tree ferns etc.
At the top (Maokong Station) we turned left and walked along Zinhan Road for about a mile. This area is famous for tea houses, and we saw several with amazing views over the hills and the city. We walked past the Tianen temple and around the bend to a viewing point.
Leandra wasn’t interested in tea, so we returned to the gondola to go down one stop on a glass bottom car.
The Zhinan Temple complex was bigger than expected with an array of beautiful gardens and walkways.
After regrouping in room, and recharging phones, we went back out to Raohe Night market specifically for the pepper pork bun, as well as the bakery for the last chocolate strawberry bun.
For our final market we decided to visit the massive Shilin night market. The largest yet, Shilin covers multiple blocks and features more game and food stalls on the periphery, with clothes and other shops in middle. It feels like you could wander for days. Leandra finally tried the flamed beef – her verdict was “chewy,” but she ate most of it. :)
Exhausted after another long day we went back to the hotel to pack for our early morning departure. We really enjoyed our time in Taiwan and we will definitely return for a longer future trip.