Sunday, 2 December 2012

Monkey Mountain, Kaohsiung

Forced to choose among the many things there are to do in Kaohsiung during our too-brief visit, a trip to Monkey Mountain was at the top of my list. Hiking around Taipei is starting to become chilly and damp, whereas down south it seemed the weather was still perfect for this activity. Plus - there are monkeys!

A bus that takes you there from Kaohsiung Main Station. It's the number 56, as we found out from the information desk. We waited about half an hour before looking at the timetable more closely. One thing the staff at the information desk had neglected to tell us was that it doesn't run on Mondays. No problem, for the taxi rank is right next to the bus stop. 'Shoushan' is well within my Chinese speaking ability. We set off.

When we arrived (the taxi driver dropped us off at the zoo entrance) we discovered why the bus doesn't run on Mondays - the zoo is closed. (The taxi driver apologised profusely. I honestly believe he didn't know.) No matter. We wanted to hike and see the monkeys more than we wanted to go to the zoo anyway. So we walked along the trail, following the many maps and signs, to the main path to the monkey colony areas. Only to be stopped by a guard. Monkey Mountain is closed on Mondays.

Well, the weather was beautiful - fine, clear and warm, but not too warm. We simply weren't going to be put off. There are many, many trails and walks on Shoushan. Monkeys or not, Monday closures or not, we were going to have a nice time, dammit. 

And we did have a very nice three or four hours up there. And we saw monkeys.

The monkeys, Formosan rock macaques, are completely used to humans and just ignore you really. Unless you have some food visible, in which case they will apparently relieve you of it vigorously and effectively. You need to keep a tight hold of your camera too, just in case. But the ones we saw were never threatening, and it's interesting and gratifying to see intelligent animals close up in their natural habitat.

One small disadvantage of the restrictions placed on us by Monday was that we didn't get to the other side of the mountain, where apparently there are views across Taiwan Strait. Instead, we looked down upon Kaohsiung city:

Looking at that picture again reminds me of the gorgeous, mild weather of that day, and the delicate, fresh, green scent of the mountain air.

Here in Taipei the winter rain has started, and while that has its own cosy, autumnal charm, I can't help but remember those two days in Kaohsiung and the trails of Monkey Mountain with some wistfulness.

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