Monday, 21 October 2013

Qingnian Park

We are spoiled for parks and easy access to the mountains here in east Taipei. Both apartments we've occupied have had green views and if we ever feel like a hike in the fresh mountain air we only have to go a few stops on the MRT. West Taipei is flatter, busier, less planned and more noisy but it has its share of green areas too, as we found out yesterday when we went to the Wonderland of Animals and Insects in Taiwan outdoor exhibition in Qingnian Park, Zhongzheng District.

Although the park is difficult to get to by MRT, with no stations within easy walking distance, our journey wasn't too difficult in the end. We caught a taxi from Guting Station, and the driver not only understood where we wanted to go, he even took us to the correct entrance for the exhibition, knowing why we were going too.

Known as the Youth Park in English, the area is easily large enough to accommodate the many giant models of insects and animals of the exhibition, including a 63 metre whale. There are a baseball stadium, golf driving range and water park on site, as well as large hothouses (oddly enough it might seem, but they house cacti and other plants that can't tolerate the heavy rain). We also saw a playground and small ornamental lake, and, looking at the map, Qingnian Park adjoins the riverpark, giving more options for walks in green areas and cycling with rented bikes.

The highlight of our visit was walking through the huge model of a whale. We had to queue for about twenty minutes but it was worth it. I'd been expecting just a blue tunnel through the interior until we were, as my son put it 'pooped out the back end'. But we found instead that the whale was full of models of things you might, or might not, expect to find in a whale's stomach.

Huge jellyfish and squid were standard whale fare, we thought.

And a sunken ship was also a reasonable guess at what you might find inside a whale.

But the volcanoes were stretching it just a tad.

The rest of the exhibit was fun, too, though for the older child visitor I would say there needed to be more things to actually do. It was mostly just a look-see kind of exhibition. We loved the sense of humour, though.
 This giant mosquito was dressed as a nurse, giving an 'injection'. If only real mosquito bites were beneficial.

And this praying mantis was wrestling a truck.

The place was packed the day we went, which was to be the final day, but I read recently that the event will run for another week.

Outside the exhibition area the park itself was a pleasant environment to enjoy. My son had fun getting dizzy and dirty rolling down a hill seemingly built for that exact purpose.
Although Qingnian Park is a little out of the way for us, we'll definitely return, probably in the late spring next year when the water park re-opens. With the river park nearby, playground and plenty of open space, it's healthy, open air entertainment for a whole day.

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