During our holiday in Taiwan we visited Taipei zoo. We were a little worried about conditions at the zoo, but after a swift google, decided to make a visit.
On arrival, we swiftly headed towards the Panda zone, to be extremely surprised to find Mr Panda up and about, eating, and showing off. My understanding of Panda’s is that they sleep 90% of the time, so we felt very lucky to see one not only a awake, but also eating! He sat there on his little bamboo throne observing us as much as we observed him. In fact, he made me wonder who was in the zoo after all…
We explored animals from around the world, with the highlights including the Panda, Elephants, a camera shy Giraffe, and some bathing Hippopotamus. Admittedly, there were lots of sleeping animals, but those that were awake seemed happy and were all eating and enjoying the sunshine. The zoo is also set in lovely grounds, along the side of a mountain. This makes for a rigorous walk around, but means there is plenty of lush jungle vegetation about.
The best bit of the zoo though was what it showed us…we became aware of a large cable car journey that went from the bottom of the zoo, far into the mountains in the distance. We decided to inquire, and found out that is a cable gondola, that takes you high up to a small village, Maokong. This village is famous for its locally grown tea and breathtaking views of Taipei. Somehow, we hadn’t heard of this place until our trip to the zoo and we were keen to explore. We would never have known about the heaven awaiting us if it wasn’t for our trip to the zoo.
The gondola ride was breathtaking, both in terms of the views it offered, the engineering, and the height…I admit I was more than a little nervous about that part. At times, we must have been 100 m from the ground, swaying slowing between mountains. The ride took 30 minutes, and offered us the chance to look out across Taipei from a unique vantage point. Dan, naturally, took a few photos of me not enjoying that view, as I came to terms with the height and potential for a gruesome death. However, we survived! And it was totally worth those short moments of discomfort.
Maokong is a small village, which offers numerous tea shops to sit and relax in. In usual form, we decided to visit one a little further away from the tourist crowds, and right in the jungle on the mountainside. At first, it looked like it would be a fail, as we entered from the back entrance along a narrow winding path. We were greeted by a cat and nothing else, so decided to hastily retreat. Whilst trying to select a second option, we stumbled on the front entrance, and were greeted by a smiling man and a warm welcome! This time, it was immensely successful, and we enjoyed not only delicious and refreshing tea, but also relaxing vibes and very tasty dumplings. We relaxed here for well over an hour, enjoying the sounds of the jungle and peace that comes with nature in this way.
Afterwards, I spent an alarming amount on fresh tea and we took the gondola back down to Taipei, admiring more of that beautiful view. It was a perfect day, full of happy animals and great tea. What more could we ask for?!