Taiwan Day Five: Back to Taipei, Maokong Gondola, Bitan Scenic Area, and Yilan.

On my last full day in Taiwan, I woke up early in Hualien to head to the train station.  I jumped on a train with about a minute to spare again!  When I got back to Taipei Main Station it was around lunch time so I decided I needed to try McDonald’s.  They had a cute little set menu with some interesting mini-burgers, curly fries, and a coke float.  It was really good!

After that I took my stuff back to the hostel, and rested for awhile.  I was looking for something low key to do in the afternoon, so I decided to go on the gondola up to the Maokong tea village at the top of a mountain bordering the city.  This ended up being one of my favorite places in Taipei, so it was an excellent decision.

I rode the subway all the way to Taipei Zoo and followed the directions to get to the gondola station. The views on the way up were stunning.  I stopped halfway at a beautiful temple.  It was amazing walking around such a peaceful place overlooking Taipei. Definitely worth stopping for and exploring before heading to the top.

After exploring the temple and taking a lot of pictures, I made my way up to the top of the mountain.  I got there just in time to find a cute little tea shop with an amazing view.  The tea was expensive, but worth it.  I felt a little weird being alone, but again, it was worth it.  It was really hot outside, so drinking super hot tea wasn’t the greatest idea but it tasted really good.  I stayed there for about an hour watching the sunset.  It was so peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful!  Definitely one of the best moments I had throughout my entire trip.

Eventually I had to make my way back down the gondola to go across town to meet my new friends Rachel and Miguel for dinner.  On the way down I got an entire ‘car’ to myself.  It was slightly terrifying because it was completely dark, and I was alone, but the nighttime views were stunning.  I think I did a pretty good job of staying calm even when the lights kept flickering on and off.  I made it safely to the bottom, got back on the subway and headed over to meet my friends at Xindian Station.

By the time I made it over to meet Rachel, I was starving so she showed me all the best vendors in the little night market that was in the area.  I got a delicious chicken kebab, and some watermelon juice.  We found Miguel and walked around the scenic area of Bitan.  It was really nice, but I wish I could have seen it during the day.  After that Miguel wanted to eat a real dinner so we went to a nearby restaurant.  By the time we finished it was nearly 11, but Miguel insisted on driving me about an hour outside of the city to experience the hot springs of Yilan.  We went to a free public area that had a small hot spring only for your feet.  We stayed the for about an hour before heading back to Taipei.  It was an amazing last night in Taiwan.  Had I known this country was so amazing, and that travelling alone wasn’t as bad as I thought…I would have planned a longer trip.  I definitely want to go back!

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