Tag Archives: Taipei City

‘陽明山東西大縱走活動’ ‘Yang-Ming Shan East-West Vertical Traverse’ 2023!

The start of the Yang-Ming Shan East-West Vertical Traverse

When life gives you mountains, as they say, put on yer boots and hike. Don’t just stay home looking at ’em from a distance and dreamin’. GO! Get out there. And especially if you live in a big polluted city like Taipei, built in a river basin surrounded by mountains on 3 sides, and especially when the public transport system is so good, and the weather obliges. Make the most of it. If you go with friends, that’s great. If you go on your own, that’s great too. I often like to go hiking on my own, that way I can walk at my own speed, go where I want to go and stop when I want to stop. It’s fun! The mountains are calling, and we must go. So GO!

Mt. Qixing from the Balaka HIghway, heading to Mt. Datun

Just north of Taipei City are the Yang-Ming Shan 陽明山 mountains, and the ones that are open to the public are a long ridge of 10 summits, volcanic in origin, mostly very steep and some oozing sulfur from the fumaroles (that’s what you can see in the above photo ~ the sulfur smell is very strong)! All 10 are within the Yang-Ming Shan National Park 陽明山國家公園, with well-maintained paths and the summits all marked with posts. On the top of each post is a Chinese character in metal which can be rubbed with a pencil (like a brass rubbing) or photographed, and together the 10 characters form the phrase: ‘陽明山東西大縱走活動’ translated as ‘Yang-Ming Shan East-West Vertical Traverse Activity’. This is the official name of the hike, and Saturday was the day! The photo below shows the 10 posts, in order from east to west, left to right, with 2 extra posts, one of which is the post on top of the highest mountain on the traverse, Mt. Qixing, 1120 m.

The other extra post is Mt. Zhugao 竹篙山 which was part of the traverse until 2019, when the cattle at nearby Qingtiangang 擎天崗 attacked someone so the authorities enclosed the cattle and so closed off Mt. Zhugao, and relocated the summit marker to Jixinlun 雞心崙, where it remains until now. Mt. Zhugao is beautiful, and now that the path is reopened, I like to include that summit too ~ that way, it feels more like 10 real mountains, and the views are stunning on a clear day, so do include it if you can!

The view from Mt. Zhugao towwards Qingtiangang and Mt. Qixing

The 10 Chinese characters on the summit markers are Mt. Ding (“陽”), Mt. Shiti (“明”), Jixinlun (“山”), Mt. Qixing East Peak (“東”), Mt. Qixing Main Peak (“西”), Mt. Datun Main Peak (“大”), Mt. Datun South Peak (“縱”), Mt. Datun West Peak (“走”), Mt. Miantian (“活”), and Mt. Xiangtian (“動”).

And so there I was, on Saturday April 29, 2023 setting off at 5:20 am heading for the Yang-Ming Shan Mountains. Living in Taipei City, I can now get to the bus stop at Jiantan MRT Metro Station – opposite the new performing arts centre (see photo below) – in time for the M1 (市民小巴1) minibus that leaves at 6:30 am going up to Fengguizui 風櫃嘴, for the start of the walk at Fengguikou 風櫃口. The bus was packed out, and I was nearly the last person on, so I had to stand all the way up that very steep and very winding road – the road was full of very energetic cyclists. Don’t miss that bus – the next one is 10:10 am, so if you miss it, the only real alternative option is to get a group together for a taxi.

New performing arts centre opposite Jiantan MRT Station

That early bus is the reason why I’ve never before even tried to do this traverse from east to west, I’ve always done it west to east. When I lived out on the NW coast beyond Tamsui, the buses there didn’t start early enough to get me to Jiantan for that M1 bus at 6:30 am, it was just too early. So all my previous experience of this hike is from west to east. My reports here (in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) all start from the western end at Qingtian Temple 清天宮 and end at the eastern end at Fengguikou 風櫃口. Ending at Fengguikou you have the challenge of getting through the hike in time for that last bus from Fenguizui down to Taipei at about 6:00 pm – if you miss it, you’ll have to walk another 2 km further down the hill to Shengren Waterfall bus stop. In contrast, the S6 (小6) bus from Qingtian Temple down to Beitou MRT Station in Taipei runs far more frequently and until late in the evening, so it feels a bit less pressured to do the hike from east to west.

Lining up to get on the 6:30 am M1 Bus at Jiantan MRT Station

The weather forecast for Saturday was sunny in the morning, clouding over in the afternoon with possible thunderstorms and rain moving in overnight. In the event, there was no rain, it was just overcast in the afternoon – which was great. This hike is best done in spring or autumn because of the weather, the summer is too hot, and winter can be too wet, so a sunny day in April is ideal! And just a note about the pandemic, Taiwan has lessened its restrictions considerably, and as from today, May 1, Taiwan has downgraded the legal status of Covid to that of a less serious disease and disbanded the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), with its daily press conferences, resulting in some adjustments to the country’s Covid policies. The only places now where facemasks are compulsory are in ambulances, hospitals and care homes, but as the use of facemasks is a health issue here rather than a political one, so many many people are still wearing them, certainly on public transport, in schools and at work, and quite a few even outside. Some were hiking in Yang-Ming Shan this past Saturday wearing facemasks – they will say it’s now become a habit, and there were lots of people on the trails, and that even outside there is still a risk of catching Covid. Just to say, facemasks are here to stay for the time being anyway, that’s just the way it is.

We started walking from the bus stop at Fengguizui – 7:00 am was the time the bus got there, and we all took off from there. Many on the bus were doing the whole traverse, and we kept seeing each other all day long at different places en route. The hike officially starts at Fengguikou (see marker post above), about 20 minutes walk up from the bus stop. An hour later, at 8:00 am, I got to the first summit, Mt. Ding 頂山 (768 m)…

And about an hour after that, at about 9:00 am, so I got to the second summit, Mt. Shiti / Shitiling 石梯嶺 (865 m). What a beautiful day!

This is the area where the famous Yang-Ming Shan cattle live, and we saw quite a few. There are 2 kinds, water buffalo and Tajima cattle (distinguishable by their horns, buffalo have large curved horns in a crescent shape, Tajima have smaller, straighter horns) and they’ve been living up there since the days of the Qing Dynasty. They are now semi-wild, managed by the National Park authorities. The sorry saga in 2020 of how the cattle had become such a tourist attraction over the years that trouble was inevitable – and when someone was attacked and killed by one of the cattle, so the authorities decided to enclose them behind fences. But the space they were given was clearly not large enough and the grass provided insufficient nourishment that an unusually high number of them died that year. So now, there’s a different management policy that has reopened areas to the public, but with large safety notices, bollards to help you escape from any charging cattle, and a big education program to make people aware of the dangers of approaching too close.

Cattle safety bollards

Another hour later, at about 10:00 am, and I arrived at summit No. 3, Mt. Zhugao 竹篙山 (830 m) which is now fully open to the public, but the summit marker has no Chinese character on the top! The big round thing in the photo is one of many in that area, originally built for military defence, like a pillbox. The views are amazing, all over Qingtiangang 擎天崗. This is the first section of the hike completed, yes!

The hike continues to Jixinlun 雞心崙 (763 m), the highest point on the Lengqing Path that leads from Qingtiangang to the Lengshuikeng Visitor’s Center 冷水坑遊客服務站. There were several cattle alongside the path…

The path is very very popular and there were lots of people enjoying a day out in the fresh air. The only thing that would dampen their spirits is that the coffee shops at all the Yang-Ming Shan Visitor Centers are currently closed while they try to find new people to run them all. The visitor centers have water machines for hot and cold drinking water, also toilets and some soft drinks machines, but no food – so take all you need with you.

By the time I got to Lengshuikeng Visitor’s Center it was about 10:45 am, and this is the place to start the ascent of the highest peak on the traverse, Mt. Qixing. There are 2 peaks up there, east peak and the main peak – and both were heaving with people. It is THE mountain to climb! It was midday and very hot and sunny and at the top everyone was lining up for photos at the marker posts. First to Mt. Qixing East Peak 七星東峰 (1107 m)…

This is the view below from east peak towards the main peak – check out all the people on that far-off summit – and the mountains in the distance on the left are the Datun range, also on the traverse, that’s where I’m heading next….

View towards Mt. Qixing Main Peak

At 12:00 noon I got to the main peak of Mt. Qixing 七星主峰 (1120 m), with its 2 marker posts….

The path from Mt. Qixing down to Xiaoyoukeng Visitor Center 小油坑遊客服務站 is steep but beautiful, passing by the fumaroles with all the steam coming out – yes, the smell was terrible!

Xiaoyoukeng is about the halfway point of the traverse, and the path to the start of the second half, the Datun section, goes along below the Balaka Highway – it’s a lovely path, and often the place where I see snakes. There were no snakes on Saturday, but the weather was beginning to change a little, and the heat was lessening. From Anbu, the trail turns left and starts the ascent of the Datun range of mountains. The first (and highest) summit is Mt. Datun Main Peak 大屯主峰 (1076 m), actually the second-highest summit of the whole day. It’s summit No. 6 of the whole traverse, and really from here, you have the feeling that the end is in sight. It was 3:00 pm by now, the sun was gone, it was overcast and the views were hazy. But it didn’t rain!

This section of the walk, Mt. Datun South and West peaks is the most thrilling of the whole traverse, with ropes to help you pull yourself up and down the very steep slopes. The main thing on Saturday was mud, it was oh so muddy – just don’t do this hike in white shoes! Lots of people emerged from the hike covered in mud and very dirty. First though, the hike down from Mt. Datun Main Peak is steep stone steps, and then a nice walk up to the summit of Mt. Datun South Peak 大屯南峰 (959 m).

This summit is the place to get your gloves out, ready for the very steep and very muddy descent of the south peak. It was much too difficult to take more than this one photo, trying to keep my balance and not slide down that slope!

This section is followed by a flat bit between south and west peaks which is all mud, then a steep mostly dry ascent….

And finally to summit No. 8, Mt. Datun West Peak 大屯西峰 (985 m).

It was now 4:30 pm and most of the people on this trail along with me were all heading for Qingtian Temple, doing the whole traverse. A man from Tainan had traveled to Taipei especially to do this trail and he was having problems finding the way, the map and the signposts weren’t very helpful. We ended up doing the last section more or less together – I was going slow, my legs were suffering from all the exertion!

Chinese hydrangea (Hydrangea chinensis) 華八仙 native to Taiwan and China

At 5:20 pm, we reached the summit of Mt. Miantian 面天山 (977 m), with its big microwave reflectors that help with transmitting radio signals. Normally there are great views over the NW coast, but it was dull and overcast. Most of the mountain is forested, so it was quite dark, and the path is famous for being quite slippery after rain.

And so to summit No. 10, the final one, Mt. Xiangtian 向天山 (949 m) at 5:35 pm. There was still a little of the Oldham’s Azalea in flower, a bit of bright red to bring some colour to the dreary weather.

And from there, it was downhill all the way to Qingtian Temple. The final part of the hike is actually lit by street lamps, and there are local people sitting by the path selling vegetables and fruits they’ve grown there. We got to the temple at 6:30 pm, and there was a bus at 6:45 pm. The place is not just a temple, but also a whole village of houses, public toilets, a water machine, and a place to wash boots. And with nice views down to Taipei as the evening lights went on. It was dark as we arrived at Beitou Station soon after 7:00 pm. We were all tired and aching, but exhilarated and grateful to have completed the whole hike.

Yes, 陽明山東西大縱走活動 Yang-Ming Shan East-West Vertical Traverse 2023 is completed, thanks be to God!

Total distance: 26.04 km / 16.1 miles. Elevation Gain: 1,912 m / 6,273 ft (no wonder my leg muscles were complaining!) Elapsed Time: 11.31 hours. Moving Time: 8:15 hours.

Would I do it again? Yes! Highly recommended! What a great day it was, even if I am still aching 3 days later! 😂😂

Location, Location, Location @ St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei!

Location is everything – or could be! Taipei is a high-rise city and getting higher, and with it, more expensive. Rows of old 5-storey buildings – shops below, apartments above – are gradually being cleared and replaced with gleaming new office or apartment buildings, many with over 20 storeys. The modern definition of a skyscraper is now usually a building over 40 storeys, but Taiwan doesn’t have many compared to other cities in Asia ~ mainly because of the high risk of earthquakes. But there are still lots and lots of very tall buildings, and with new earthquake engineering methods, so taller ones are going up all the time. My family is interested in seeing photos of my new area of Taipei City – so let me share them with you too…

We’d better start with Taiwan’s tallest building, Taipei 101 with its – yes, you’ve guessed it – 101 floors, designed like a bamboo, and with a massive golden ball near the top that helps to absorb the vibration in the event of a typhoon or earthquake. These photos of Taipei 101 are taken from the Four Four South Village, originally a military dependents’ village, now a historical landmark and cultural area…

And the photos below are taken from the shopping area on the other side of Taipei 101 – it’s fun to go at night for the lights…

Taipei 101 is about 30 minutes walk or 3 stops on the MRT from my new base at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei. The cathedral – which must have been one of the grander buildings in the area when it was built in 1956 – is gradually getting dwarfed by taller and taller buildings going up all around it. So much so that it is hard to locate – these 2 photos below were taken this very morning – the cathedral is hidden on the left of that glass-fronted building behind all the motorbikes!

Spot it here across the road and snuggled in between buildings…

The big tall building on the left in this photo behind the cathedral is the National Science and Technology Council….

While outside and directly opposite the cathedral on Fuxing South Road is a new 23-storey high-rise building going up – replacing a row of 5-storey buildings – drilling has been going on all day long for the last few weeks. These photos show the progress in the last 2 months. Once finished, it seems likely it will block the morning sun from the cathedral – with its shadow of the cross on the roof…

Current status of the new building is this, with the red crane in place ~ behind them all is Taipei 101, out of sight but definitely there….

Right behind that new building going up is the National Taipei University of Education campus. The photo below is nearly the same view at ground level, but turning left just outside the cathedral, towards the Fuxing South Road junction with Heping East Road, where the Brown Line MRT turns the corner up above…

The nearest MRT Station is called ‘Technology Building’ and due to its height above ground, the line gives good views – this is looking north…

Behind the cathedral is a street lined with places to eat, and full of students at lunch times and evenings…

At the end of one of those streets is the local Da’an Matsu Temple, tucked away in among the buildings… when they have a parade of the deities, it’s quite something, the noise of the firecrackers and the smell of the incense means events in the cathedral have to pause while they go by….

And meanwhile, around the local area, these are photos of early morning traffic starting up…

St. John’s Cathedral is located in the Da’an District of Taipei City, and 10 minutes walk away is the Da’an Forest Park, built on land previously used for military dependents’ villages. There’s a lake with hundreds of egrets and herons nesting on an island, another lake with red bicycles that power the water fountains and a permanently based flower-painted bus that serves as a blood donation centre, and lots of bamboo and flowers. In the early morning it is full of older people doing exercise, while in the evenings and weekends, it’s full of families, young people and visitors.

Across from the park is the Holy Family RC Church ~ these photos were taken at Chinese New Year (hence the Christmas tree still up)…

And the Taipei Grand Mosque

St. John’s Cathedral is also only a few minutes walk from Taiwan’s top university, National Taiwan University (NTU) with its Royal Palm Boulevard, bicycles galore (no motorbikes allowed on campus), and lots of students and visitors. It’s a beautiful campus, and so quiet in the early mornings…

Taipei City is built in the Taipei Basin, surrounded by mountains, and it was only when the railways were built under the Japanese Colonial government at the beginning of the last century that the city started to develop – before then the land was mostly agricultural, and transport was mostly by boat along the river from Tamsui. Some of the houses from that time still remain and are now preserved. This one is part of the campus of the local junior high school, and was built by the Huang family…

This one was built by the Chen family and is on the edge of the developed area, in Fanglan, near the NTU campus…

Other important historical areas are some of the old military dependents’ villages that have been preserved – the most famous of which is Treasure Hill, located by the river on the other side of the NTU campus. It’s a great place to cycle from here. In more recent years it has become an ‘artist village’, and at weekends is always full of young people…

For some views of the Taipei Basin, the surrounding mountains are the place to go, and most are easily accessible from the city. This is the view from Elephant Mountain, Xiangshan…

Another one is Guanyinshan with all its steep ups and downs – inactive volcanoes – with ropes in big supply, great views and tea at the top with some of the locals….

And back down in Taipei City, one of the best places for breakfast is this one selling the more traditional breakfast foods – these photos were taken at Chinese New Year, but I was also there this morning, and it is just as popular as ever….

And so back to St. John’s Cathedral – and if you’re ever in the area, do come and visit, there’s always lots going on: Sunday services in English at 9:00 am, in Chinese at 10:30am, combined English and Chinese service on the last Sunday of each month at 10:30am, a student English Bible Study plus lots of other Bible Studies, cell groups, youth activities etc, there’s also the cathedral kindergarten for children ages 2-6, and a community centre offering classes in all sorts of things from Taiko Drumming to String Orchestra to Fitness. There’s something for everyone!

St. John’s Cathedral website is here, services are live-streamed, and if you’d like to check out this video, it’s us doing a Happy Birthday St. John’s Cathedral celebration on March 16!

Welcome to join us anytime!

The above photo of the cathedral was taken on February 22, 2020, the day of Bishop Chang’s consecration. Since then all the palm trees on the left have gone, one was blown down in a typhoon – fortunately it fell towards the cathedral and caused no damage – had it gone the other way, it might have hit someone – and the rest were deemed too dangerous. If I get a sunny day, I’ll take a photo to show you but it’s now quite bare in comparison! Palm trees or not, we’ll be celebrating Palm Sunday with palm branches, palm crosses and a Palm Sunday procession this coming Sunday ~ so welcome to come along and join us!

Updated April 4, 2023: And this was Palm Sunday 2023!

Happy Lantern Festival! 🏮

The Taiwan Lantern Festival meets Covid-19…..!

It’s the final weekend of this huge extravaganza, Taiwan’s annual Lantern Festival with lanterns, light shows and huge crowds of people everywhere ~ and in the midst of them all there’s a few lanterns dedicated to Covid-19, made by the Taiwan Prisons Department ~ they’ve certainly attracted a lot of attention! This is the best one…

Since I’ve been back in Taiwan, life has revolved around the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations – and now the Lantern Festival for the Year of the Rabbit. The main Taiwan Lantern Festival this year is hosted by Taipei City ~ thousands and thousands of people descend every evening on the lantern festival sites at Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Songshan Cultural Park (the old tobacco factory), City Hall and Taipei 101. There’s plenty to see and do and take photos of, with rabbits galore, and lanterns made by different groups of people, including many by children. The centrepiece is a huge rabbit lantern that revolves every half an hour…

There’s a huge variety ~ these are a few of my favourites…

There’s also new street art associated with the Lantern Festival…

And we did an evening trip up Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) to see the view – you can even see and hear the Lantern Festival from up there too…

There’s so much to see! The Taiwan Blue Magpie Lantern is one of the most beautiful, and the bird on the top revolves round in a circle…

All worth seeing if you’re in Taipei this weekend!

And finally, just published this week by the Church Mission Society, my latest link letter, including my new postal address – click on the link below…

With the end of the Lantern Festival, so it is the start of the new term and new semester for many of Taiwan’s colleges and universities this coming week. In a few days, facemask restrictions will be lifted for those indoors including children, students and teachers at schools and colleges, all that is except in care homes, medical facilities and public transport – although it’s expected that many people will continue to wear them as a matter of course. Lent is coming too, with Ash Wednesday this coming week. For once, Lent has not overlapped with the celebrations of Chinese New Year or Lantern Festival. It feels like life has been one long celebration since the start of Advent – perhaps it’s time for a bit of reflection, contemplation and penitence! If you’re in Taipei City, then come along to St. John’s Cathedral for our Ash Wednesday Service at 7:30 pm, or to our regular Sunday services, 9:00 am in English, 10:30 am in Chinese and a combined Chinese / English service on the last Sunday of each month at 10:30am. Welcome ~ and see you there!

臺北大縱走 Taipei Grand Trail @ April 2022!

Yes, the Taipei Grand Trail ~ and the second time I’ve done it this year, whoop whoop! The first time was over Chinese New Year in February 2022, all in the rain and mud. Check out my previous post below for intro, photos and description of the trail – it was fun, but oh so wet!

This time, I used the official app, Hiking BIJI. Last time I couldn’t install it as it was set for only those with a Taiwan Google account, but since then the app developers have opened it up for some international users – if your country is not listed, then get in touch with them directly, they have great customer service! Anyway, this time, with the downloaded maps, I followed and recorded the route of each section, collecting ‘treasures’ as I went ~ meaning the phone pinged every so often as I passed another treasure on the map, 49 in total, 7 on each section. At the very end of the trail, this ‘Mission Completed’ notification appears on the phone ~ due to the pandemic, the 2021 project has been extended to the end of 2022….

The Taipei Grand Trail circles Taipei City, and each of the 7 sections can easily be done in a day, though some are much easier than others. It’s a fun way of seeing new places, getting some fresh air and doing a whole lot of exercise all at the same time. The weather this time round was much better than last time, sometimes hazy but mostly sunny and dry. As it’s spring, so there’s lots of flowers, birds, insects and creepy crawlies to look out for ~ including the endemic, gregarious and very beautiful Taiwan Blue Magpie 臺灣藍鵲, 3 of which kept us entertained at Lengshuikeng Visitor Center on Section 3 of the trail…

Taiwan Blue Magpie

Over the 3 weeks I’ve taken to do the Taipei Grand Trail, Taiwan’s Covid situation has seen a big change. On the day I started, Monday April 4, when we had a few days off for Tomb-Sweeping Festival, there were 275 new cases announced, of which 133 were domestic, 142 imported, and with overall deaths standing at 853. When I finished the trail on April 23, there were 5,172 new cases announced for that day, of which 5,092 were domestic, 80 imported, and deaths at 856. Some 99.5% of new cases in this surge are apparently mild or asymptomatic – and most people can quarantine at home. Those considered more at risk, like the over 75’s and those on kidney dialysis, are admitted to hospital. The government has announced their new policy of gradually loosening restrictions, allowing the case numbers to grow slowly, and relying on facemasks and vaccines rather than following Hong Kong & Mainland China’s policies of hard lockdowns and isolating every confirmed case in quarantine centres. I read that Taiwan is one of the last countries to open up its borders to the outside world, so we expect a tough few months ahead. It will also take a while for people to get used to the government not stepping in with new rules and restrictions every few days – now that everyone is vaccinated and as long as we wear facemasks, the rest they’re leaving up to us – to manage our own lives and take our own precautions. A new kind of lifestyle for many. Facemasks are compulsory mostly everywhere – though fortunately not for outdoor exercise, but it means that people are still a bit unsure what to do for the best. Activities are slowly being cancelled or moving online, and people staying home a lot more. There are noticeably less people on the Taipei MRT and the paths of the Taipei Grand Trail as the month has gone on. On Saturday lunchtime at Makong, the restaurants and tea-shops were largely empty ~ normally a sunny spring day would see them packed out.

Certificate of Completion: there’s only space for a name of 10 English letters – so Chinese name to the rescue!

There are 12 places on the Taipei Grand Trail where you take a selfie with the Chinese character on the post, which when put together in a collage produce a phrase: 臺北東西南北大縱走壯遊趣 which means something like: ‘Taipei East West South North Grand Trail’. My 12 photos go round the collage clockwise below, starting in the top left, with the middle 4 photos extra ones taken at strategic points…

Coming up below are the 7 sections, which I didn’t do exactly in order, depending on the weather and time available – with a collage of photos for each section, mostly trying not to repeat those taken back in February….

Section 1 第一段:關渡站至二子坪 Guandu MRT up to Erziping 二子坪 in Yangmingshan 陽明山 National Park: Tuesday April 5

Section 1

Section 2 第二段:二子坪至小油坑 Erziping to Xiaoyoukeng via Yangmingshan 陽明山 Datun West, South & Main Peaks 大屯山 & Zhuzihu 竹子湖: Wednesday April 6

Section 2

Section 3 第三段:小油坑至風櫃口 Xiaoyoukeng to Fengguikou via Yangmingshan 陽明山 Mt. Qixing 七星山: Monday April 4

Section 3

Section 4 第四段:風櫃口至大湖公園站 Fengguikou down to Dahu Park MRT: Saturday afternoon April 9

Section 4

Section 5 第五段:劍潭支線 Jiantan Trail: Dahu Park MRT to Jiantan MRT: Easter Sunday afternoon April 17

Section 5

Section 6 第六段:中華科大至麟光站 China Univ. of Sci. & Tech, Nangang to Linguang MRT via 95 Peak: Saturday April 16

Section 6

Section 7 第七段:麟光站至政大後山 Linguang MRT to Nat. Chengchi Univ. via Maokong 貓空 Tea Plantations: Saturday April 23

Section 7

The Tea Plantations at Maokong are of special interest – the workers were there picking the tea leaves while I was there – and so have their own collage….

Maokong Tea

All in all, 7 days hiking the Taipei Grand Trail is a great way to spend a few weeks, fitting in the sections around weekend and holiday activities. Following routes on an app and listening out for the pings is really quite interesting. It’s my first time to stick to a hiking app and complete a project that is quite so detailed. Today I went to the Geotechnical Engineering Office in Taipei to collect my certificate, scarf and keyring, all marked with the Taipei Grand Trail. YES! On every section of the trail, I met lots of people, some several times on the same route, and we all helped each other out when we couldn’t find the way, or with taking each other’s photos – sorry you have to endure so many of my selfies, ha ha, what a laugh it was to get them! Anyway, overall, selfies aside, the Taipei Grand Trail is highly recommended, and spring is maybe the best time of year to try. So go for it. YES, GO!

臺北大縱走 Taipei Grand Hike / Trail @ Chinese New Year 2022!

Rain, rain and more rain – and mud, such a great combination! Plenty of both to keep me wet and disgustingly dirty for a whole week. Hey, at least we had no wind, or at least not at the same time as the rain. We even had 3 whole days when there was no rain at all! Overcast maybe, cold, damp, and very wet underfoot, but rain, no. And there were even 2 days when the sun came out briefly and we had blue sky for a few minutes. Luxury! This is the only blue-sky view of Taipei City that I got, taken from Qixingshan 七星山, Day 3.

Many asked me the question, “Wouldn’t it be better to wait for good weather?” Of course, yes! But if the good weather doesn’t come, then still get out there and make the most of it! You never know what you might see. Check out this temple with the cherry blossom for example….

And so it was that the weather forecast for Taipei for the whole of the week for the Chinese / Lunar New Year (CNY) celebrations was rain, rain and more rain. 🌧️🌧️ And the weather forecast was right spot on! 😕🙃