taiwan travel diaries: maokong experience - fine tea and breathtaking views
Right after our visit to Taipei Zoo (read about it here), we decided to have a late lunch in Maokong since the Maokong Gondola station was just a short walk away...
You can also take the shuttle up the mountain but I think the Gondola ride is a huge part of the experience. It might be a little scary but the view is stunning.
Here's the Maokong Gondola Station:
Everything here has a Hello Kitty theme.
Roundtrip fare for a regular gondola only costs 120 NTD (143Php). You can pay in cash at the station or pay using your EasyCard.
For a glass-bottom gondola, I think the fare is around 300NTD. We opted for the regular one cause we're both not really big on heights. :P
I might get a mild heart attack from a glass bottomed ride but if that's your thing, by all means, go for it! :)
The gondolas are clean and spacious. Very similar if not identical to the ones going to Sentosa in Singapore.
The entire ride up the mountain takes about 15 minutes for a (roughly) 4 km stretch.
And the views are breathtaking...
You'll see several temples and tea farms...
After 2 stops, you'll finally reach Maokong. Make sure to look for this station with a Hello Kitty location stamp that you can use for documenting your travel journal :) (Most, if not all MRT stations in Taipei has this)
And finally, the mountain...
When you get off the station, you'll be faced with a forked road which can be pretty daunting especially if you don't know how to read and speak Chinese.
We weren't sure where to go first so we just went everywhere. :P
Pretty tiring cause everything here is uphill.
Soon after all the climbing, we got really hungry. First place we saw was this hawker center.
They had a lot of pretty cheap options that looked yummy but we wanted to eat somewhere less hectic and more relaxing so we walked some more to find a good restaurant...
Easier said than done. All signs were in Chinese and all roads were uphill. By this time we were pretty tired and didn't want to waste energy walking uphill just to find nothing so we began to ask around (thank god for my carabao Chinese! Hardly anyone here speaks English) and were lead towards the road on the right where most of the cafes and restaurants are lined up.
Thank you lord! By this time we both just wanted to scream "Take my money and feed meeee!"
There were several restaurants on this road and more uphill but we were really hungry and impatient to we decided to settle for one of the first ones we saw:
Don't know the name cause again it was in Chinese and we almost weren't able to eat cause even the menu they presented to us first was in pure Chinese with no pictures!
But the Taiwanese are really nice and patient. The owner found one of their staff members who could speak a little English. She showed us a different menu on the iPad with photos and some English so we could finally order.
This was one of the best meals of our lives!!!
We had this Misua with Garlic in Fish Sauce (yummy! the misua and Taiwain isn't as mushy as the one we have here in Manila).
Also ordered String Beans with Pork:
This was also really really good which is why I forgot to take a photo right away. The servings here are generous and by the time I remembered to shoot we were more than halfway done with the dish. :P
Kung Pao Chicken - Dennis' eyes lit up once he saw this on the menu (finally something recognizable! hahaha). Also, really, really good!
Fried Rice - I usually prefer plain white rice but this is an exception! It had egg and Taiwanese Sausage which we both fell in love with at the beginning of our trip! Yum yum yum!
All the food we ordered could easily feed a family of 5 but we ate all up. Every single bit of it to the last morsel.
Our total bill was about 800NTD (1147Php), but like I said earlier, family of five...hahaha.
Needless to say, the REALLY heavy meal left us a bit bloated and full (a bit? hehe) so we decided to walk up the mountain again and explore. The views here are spectacular. It was quite foggy that day but in the distance you could see Taipei 101 against all the mountains:
Still full, we decided to have some tea to wash it all down. We were in Maokong after all, what a waste not to try their tea...
There were several along the road. Both westernized and modern:
As well as traditional ones that look straight out of a Kung-Fu movie:
Along the way we came across this kiln which the ancients used to roast tea leaves:
And finally, our last destination in Maokong, Guan Ding Tea House:
Inside you will see them prepare the fresh tea leaves by hand (make himay, looks familiar? :P):
You can also purchase an assortment of teas and different products made with tea to take home.
There's nougat, cake and even Tea Tree oil!
The place was nice, quiet and smelled wonderful. The aroma of different kinds of tea leaves mixed together was so relaxing. Better smelling than any spa I've been in!
There was also a cute little dog running around but I wasn't able to take a pic cause he was so frisky! :)
In Guan Ding, we had some ice cream made with fresh green tea (around 100NTD (143Php) if I remember right) which really tasted like tea. Not too sweet, really good. (Sorry Haagen Dazs, this is way better :)
And some Green Tea (I forget which variety exactly but the owner recommended it to us):
You can share the pot but there's a minimum of 1 cup per pot here. If you want 2 cups then you need to order 2 pots. (A tourist thing maybe)
Anyway, this is not the time to be cheap. This is the best tea I ever tasted in my whole life. It isn't flat like normal tea. The taste is round and full and surprisingly, the leaves used look fresh:
It was unbelievably creamy in taste and very clean tasting. TWG can't even compare one bit. This was sooo good. Something you MUST try when you visit Taipei.
Also, before you leave the station, make sure to get a photo in this Hello Kitty neoprint booth! It makes a nice souvenir and only costs 100NTD/copy!
Maokong was one of the best experiences I had during my trip to Taipei. It's definitely a must-visit. Prices are a tiny bit more expensive than in the city proper but still not really that expensive at all and every penny spent here is really worth it.
Read more about my trip Taipei, Taiwan here:
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