Day 2, we’ve no proper itinerary planned, except to know that we wanted to get some scenic views of the city before going crazy shopping on Day 3 & 4.
I heard from colleagues that Yangmingshan was a good bet to experience nature at its beauty. So to Yangmingshan we went. Took a train to Taipei Main Station before switching to bus 260 at the bus-stop right aside the HSR (HighSpeedRail) station. If you’re unsure, just ask the information counter at the Taipei Main Station, they’d give you easy to follow directions. :)
Waited about a good 20 minutes for the bus under the scorching sun. The weather in Taipei has been rather erratic, it was supposed to be autumn but for the past few days it was at 31 degrees celcius! Managed to land ourselves a seat right at the back – thankfully – because we later realized that the Taipei culture of always being ready to give up seats to the elderly, preggy, and those with kids was starting to put us in a spot. Especially when we needed a seat BAD. And in Taipei, they actually have the priority seats in another colour (which usually occupies about 60% of the bus or train carriage). So we were so glad that we managed to land a seat on the ‘normal’ seats.
55 minutes bus ride later, we reached the entrance of Yangmingshan. Didn’t quite know what to make of it because we were stopped at a bus bay, and the other routes were either to take a 2.4km stroll to the visitor centre under the hot sun, or to wait for a shuttle which would take us to the various stops around Yangmingshan. We opted for the shuttle of course, despite the queue. Was a little taken aback when a siao (small)-bus came along instead (those that can only sit 10 pax), with the rest of us squeezing for a standing space. P/s: the frequency of the bus is about 20-30 min so we really didn’t want to wait for the next round, because even if we did get a seat we would prolly have to give up to one of the many old foggies visiting the park as well.
And just like the Trip Advisor reviews, boy the bus ride really sucked! If you can opt for a private driver, or rent a car to drive around Yangmingshan – please just go for this option. The roads were extremely windy, throwing us to the right & left (even with both hands grabbing the bars) each time it turned. Roads were very narrow with 2-way traffic which nearly got the bus off the cliff at one point when one of the cars from the oncoming traffic steered too much into the other direction. #(!)@!*@!.
I was getting rather irritated from the lack of air-conditioning in the bus, windows shut and cramped space. I don’t think I’ve ever been so claustrophic before. So glad when we finally decided to stop at one of the destination: Er Zi Ping. And trust me when I say that we had no friggin idea what this destination was about, except that we saw a lot of people hanging around. Hence we assumed that the place should be popular. 2nd p/s: they don’t have a friggin’ visitor map nor english description of what each place is about
We walked for about a good 2.2km before contemplating if we should make a turn back. Didn’t know what we were supposed to look for, plus we were not in proper trekking attire. A lady we stopped along the way encouraged us to walk right till the end because she couldn’t exactly explain what the destination was about. Besides, we were left with about 30 more steps hence we went for it.
And here’s what we saw:
But I suppose for a couple whose seen the beautiful Swiss mountains and taken in the fresh air of a LOTR lookalike venue, this wasn’t quite what we were expecting. But nevermind, we were on a holiday anyway…so open minded we left ourselves to be…
We decided to catch the rest of YMS park using the small bus but when we finally managed to board one some 20 minutes later after our long & disappointing walk out to the busstop – lo & behold we saw a group of older folks. And we knew what that meant – giving up all seats in the bus and standing as the bus driver took on the winding road like he was in some competition. ppppfffff !
The entire jouney up and down YMS takes about 35-40 minutes and it was only when we were at the foot of the mountain did the husband lament how he didn’t manage to snap any shot of a good view due to a lack of recommended lookout points. We decided to hop on the bus for the 3rd time, this time seeing if we could stop elsewhere to take in the view. Only to our horror when we realized that the bus stop to our soughted lookout point would require a 40 minutes WALK although the bus made it seem too short a journey.
As I mention, both of us were NOT in our hiking wear and that included footwear. I was whining and grumbling as I took on the upslopes and steep stairs. Brrr.
After several brush with near-death experience either from motorists who weren’t keep to their lane, or near delicate-looking cliffs, we finally ended at where we wanted.
It was the prettiest view at YMS alright, and we even attracted other motorist on ‘em scooters to stop for the scenic view at one point. While I wished that we were here during the cool Spring, where one would be seeing colours and colours blooming from the mountains and trees, looking at this view which was facing the sea did it for me too.
Thereafter, it was another 40 minutes of hiking to find a bus stop to get ourselves down. Oh boy, my feet were killing me.
We did get to our destination in the end (thank goodness!!!). I told the bobo that the next time we want to do something like this, we had got to be more prepared – and that includes hiring our own private transport or renting a car or something!
We also managed to grab a cab at the foot of the mountain, to the dismay of other passengers who were also waiting for cabs. But hey, we were willing to pay the cab driber +20% additional as he quoted because there was no way we could withstand another trip in the bus!!! And boy we were famished.
Danshui was not too bad. Gave us a sense of old Taipei as we walked through the night market, sat by the wharf and took a boat to the ‘Lover’s Bridge’. Gave out an ‘old-school romance’ vibe.
Ended our night by taking the train back to Shilin for our favourite snacks again (its only 3 stops away from our hotel) before heading back for more Taiwan variety drama on the hotel TV (it’s an addicition!).
If only Singapore TV entertainment could inject such ingenuity…