Monday, 25 February 2013


Maokong, southern mountain suburb of Taipei City, lies about twenty minutes from Taipei Zoo via a cable car system known as the Maokong Gondola. It's famous for tea and potholes. Formerly one of the biggest tea growing areas in Taiwan, there are still many plots full of tea bushes to be seen on the mountainside, and other-worldly potholes line its riverbeds.

I was in Maokong last summer when I walked from Silver Stream Waterfall to Maokong Gondola Station, and stopped briefly in Maokong itself. But the area really deserves at least a day of exploration.

Riding the cable car is exciting and a little scary as you go from summit to summit, passing over forested valleys hundreds of feet below. Transparent-floored cars are available for the especially brave.

One sight I love to see is an allotment apparently in the middle of nowhere. Although Taipei is surrounded by mountains, any vaguely level space has always been put to good use by an enterprising Taiwanese person.

The dark green lines of plants are tea bushes.

Maokong is spread out across mountain slopes. The main streets are lined with restaurants and tea shops, all with wonderful views over Taipei. Snaking away from the streets are many long and short hiking trails, leading to interesting sights, such as Zhinan Temple and potholed riverbeds, or just meandering off into the mountains.

Spring had arrived in Maokong the day we visited. Wild and cultivated flowers were blooming en masse, creating some beautiful sights and filling the air with scent.

 Escaping down a trail into a cool valley, we came across one of the potholed areas.

According to the China Post, the potholes are made by small stones being spun in a circular motion by the river current, and eroding holes in the soft rock of the riverbed.

We heard, rather than saw, the local wildlife, as the trees were alive with birds. This little chap didn't escape my camera lens, though.

The Tea Promotion Centre exists for those who would like to find out more about the history of the region, but we decided to leave that for a rainy day. The weather was too beautiful to waste any of it indoors. We contented ourselves with a close-up of some tea bushes instead.

After a 'winter' of mostly balmy, perfect days, we're now moving into our second Taiwan spring, and looking forward to many more such excursions as our delightful day in Maokong.

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