Taiwan is a small island, mostly covered by mountains. No matter where you are in this country, there’s usally a mountain to climb near by.
I really love hiking. I mean, I totally suck at it and am dying a hundred deaths while going up a mountain, but I just love the feeling to “have made it” to the top. And of course, usually the views at the top are breath-taking.
There are a couple of hikes I wanted to do in Taiwan, but I only managed to do two:
- Teapot Mountain in Jinguashi
- Elephant Mountain in Taipei City
Hiking Teapot Mountain
This is one of the most popular hikes in the area of Juifen. To get to the starting point of this hike, one has to take the train from Taipei City to Ruifang, change to a bus which will take you through winding roads through Juifen up to Jinguashi and then walk the last bit to the start. Further information can be found in this great blog post: Hiking Teapot Mountain and Mt. Banping
What I noticed (and heard of) is that Taiwanese hiking trails usually consist of stairs. Teapot Mountain is no exception. To get to the top, you just take stairs, after stairs, after stairs. Sometimes, music is played along the trail to keep you entertained (or keep you going on since the music probably doesn’t match your taste and you try to get away from it as soon as possible…). In our case, there was no music playing along the trail, BUT the singing trash car was making its rounds in Jinguashi, and I swear I heard the music going on forever!
Almost at the top of Teapot Mountain, the stairs end and you have to climb the last stretch, through a small hole in the rock, with the help of ropes. This was the most exciting part of the hike and I loved it. And then, you finally made it! Enjoy the views.
Hiking Elephant Mountain
The start of the hiking trail to Elephant Mountain can be reached by a 15 minute walk from the base of Taipei 101, making it very accessible and super close to the city center. It’s a very famous hike for both Tourists and Taiwanese, since it offers amazing views of Taipei City and can actually be done in 15 minutes (so I’ve heard). Well, it took me 45 minutes to get to the famous view point… As with Teapot Mountain, this hiking trail also mainly consists of stairs. Thankfully, there are a few benches every hundred meters so you can take lots of rests and take your time to get to the top. While taking a rest on a bench, a western foreigner passed by me and asked if I was OK. I must have looked terrible and exhausted. I laughed and told him I was fine. He laughed back and said I haven’t even done half of the trail yet. OK, thanks for cheering me up, I thought
Even halfway up to the viewing point, you can already have some great views. I went up in the late afternoon, so that I would be able to take pictures with sunlight, through sunset and when it was dark. At the top of the viewing platform, there are a few big rocks, on which the savvy photographers already set up their equipment in the early afternoon to have the best spot for sunset pictures. I just sat quietly on a bench, trying to ignore the mosquitoes and watched peacefully how the city turned dark and became alive again through all the lights.
For further information, please check out this blog post: Hiking the Four Beasts – Elephant Mountain
While hiking in Taiwan, or generally, while being out in nature in Taiwan, I noticed something that seemed strange to me. People go hiking in every possible outfit! I saw people hiking in business outfits, wearing nice shoes, wearing mini skirts, wearing heels, wearing hand bags, wearing princess costumes and so on.
I always try to wear clothes that seem suitable for outdoor activities (to me). I was a little confused that Una and her sister brought hand bags to the Teapot Mountain hike, but I later found out that Una’s sister didn’t want to take the full hike with us and that Una just didn’t know that the hike contained a “real” climbing part. As I mentioned before, many hikes in Taiwan consists of stairs, so it’s actually possible to do it while wearing a mini skirt and heels. Although this just looks strange to me.
The funny thing is, I read that it’s very German to dress differently for outdoor activities. Other nations are making fun of us, because we buy everything for “outdoor” activities and we need a set of “outdoor shoes” and “outdoor underwear” and “outdoor hiking pants” for all our outdoor activities.
So maybe, maybe, it’s us Germans who are actually the ones that dress strangely for hiking
I love how traveling gives me another perspective of little things like this.