Taiwan and Japan

2015 - 2016

Day 3

Taipei Zoo and Maokong Tea Plantations

Today we ventured out to the Maokong area which is famous for tea growing and the Taipei Zoo. After leaving our hotel we got some breakfast at “Dante’s cafe”. They had a lot of western type food but some interesting ones too like egg, ham and peanut butter toast!

After breakfast we took the train to the zoo. The zoo is pretty huge and has a lot of nice greenery. We tried to see as much as we could with the time we had, but we couldn’t fit everything in - not bad for $2.50. We even paid the admission fee using our train card!

Unfortunately I forgot to bring my zoom lens so I didn’t get many good close ups the of the animals, but it was nice to walk around either way. We stopped for food and got some really nice chicken and beef pockets. They also had the same sort of vending machines as Japan and with the fairly cold weather, a hot chocolate went down nicely!

This area has a cable car system to get over and around all the mountains between the attractions. You can use the standard train card here too. It operates between the normal MRT train station, the zoo, a temple and the tea houses.
Rob wasn’t dealing with the heights too well, but he eventually became a bit more comfortable with it and was able to enjoy the beautiful view of the clouds floating over the mountains and city in the distance.

We got off the cable car at the temple stop and were greeted with a water feature and a smallish temple over the water.

After a few photos we made our way down to the actual temple with was much more extravagant. Along the way there were all these small, red cards hanging off the trees. We later found out that these are wishes for the new year.

One of the officials from the temple offered to give us a tour. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but outside was fine. There was some chanting and bells ringing that could be heard from all over the temple and very detailed carving work all over the wooden structure.
The tour went through a room in the middle of the temple that had a statue of a god for every year. The guide asked us what year we were born in and showed us the corresponding god and what they were famous for. We were also given the opportunity to donate money to that god.

Amy wanted to put a wish on the tree and one of the staff spoke just enough English to help us out.

She even helped Amy write on the card and suggested places to hang it.

From here we got back on the Gondola and went to the final stop, the tea plantations. Amy had watched a video that had recommended a particular tea house that do a tea ceremony, but even though we watched the YouTube video on the street, we couldn’t find that exact place, but the one we ended up at was pretty nice. It had a great view down the mountain and also did a tea ceremony.

We ordered the tea ceremony and asked for a suggestion for a local tea variety and before long we had all the equipment we needed for the ceremony on our table. The waitress spoke quite good English and demonstrated how to make the tea for our first round and then Rob took over for the rest. If this computer thing doesn’t work out, I think he may have found a new career.

Once the water is hot, the lady used poured the hot water in to the cups and over the teapot to warm everything up. The teapot was in another bowl to keep it warm from the hot water that had been poured over it. The hot water was then poured into the teapot and gave us a rough guide for how long to let it brew for before pouring our cups.
It was really nice tea and as the waitress explained to us, every cup we had tasted a little different.

The tea ceremony was a great way to finish off the day. We were even able to take the left over tea back with us, although we may have to ask the hotel staff for a teapot!