Saturday, July 15, 2017

A day at Yangmingshan and Shilin Night Market

I originally scheduled Yangmingshan for my second day in Taipei, however due to the rain and my inappropriate outfit (*ehem ehem* shirt and shorts) I had to postpone it for another time. On my last few days in Taiwan, I finally decided that regardless if I’d experience horrible weather, I’d still push through. I didn’t bring any jackets for this trip so I had to buy a very cheap sweater just so I could have something to warm me from the tough winds.

the grasslands of Yangmingshan National Park

Yangmingshan National Park 陽明山國家公園 is one of the more accessible national parks from Taipei covering Beitou, Shilin, Wanli, Jinshan and Sanzhi of New Taipei. Spanning an area of almost 114 square kilometers, this is home to different flowers and plants which is one of the reasons people flock the area as seasons change. Aside from that, hiking is also a popular activity here, serving as gateway to Taiwan’s tallest dormant Volcano, Mt. Qixing.


There are numerous routes you could take to reach the park. You can check out more info about transportation through the park’s official site
From MRT Jiantan Station – take bus R5 or S15/S17 MRT Taipei Station – bus 260

One can get around the park through bus, getting around one scenic spot to another might not be doable just by walking so it's recommended to go by car or by mini-bus. If you take the bus S15 from MRT Jiantan, it would take you through the park’s destinations such as Xiaoyukeng, Qingtianggang, etc. But if you prefer to alight at Yangmingshan bus stop, you can purchase unlimited bus rides for 60 NTD through shuttle bus #108 however bus intervals are not that frequent, you may have to wait 20-30 minute so plan accordingly.

Bus Stop for 108 are as follows:
Yangmingshan Stop >Visitor Center> Boy Scouts Stop >Zhuzihu Stop 1 > Central Weather Bureau >Yangming Academy House >Zhuza Police Substation >Dinghushan >Youyuan Stop >Qixingshan>Anbu >Erziping >Xiaoyoukeng > Zhonghu >>>Lengshuikeng > Qingtiangang

yangmingshan bus

Also within the grounds of MRT Jiantan is Shilin Night Market, what I did was I paired these two in one day. If you don’t see yourself spending too much time in YMS, then you can go very early to the national park, hit National Museum in the afternoon (which is also located around this district) then head off to the night market after. If I had more time, I would have really wanted to go to the museum since it features about 700,000 artifacts which is said to be one of the largest collections in the world.

qixingshan taipei

As I was on the way to the mountain, dark clouds started to form and I had this feeling of doom. I was sending "positive" thoughts into the air (rain, rain, f*** you, rain, come again another day) to no avail. It seems like the God of Mountain (if there ever was one) didn’t want me to enter the premises of Yangmingshan. However, I was more determined and a bit prepared than I was the first time. It was pouring hard as I alighted the bus. I can’t help but notice hikers and passersby looking at my outrageous outfit, again, I was wearing shirts and shorts. I hurriedly bought the unlimited bus coupon, not knowing how many bus trips I actually needed.

qixingshan taipei
the wet stone steps up Qixingshan

Because of its location, it just made sense to make Xiayoukeng as my first stop. I thought there was a tourism office there but it was deserted at that time. I had no idea that there would be a trail to a mountain from here, so regardless if it was raining, I bit the bullet and went up. After a couple of steps, the cold winds have overpowered me so I had to change into my warmer clothes that I brought just in case. I’m a bit sad I had to use it. I had to think twice when I saw the wet stone stairs, I wonder if I can keep my balance and not tumble down.

blogger taiwan
lol who goes hiking with umbrella? probably just me?
taipei mountain

Turns out the cemented steps weren’t so bad after all. The only problem I encountered was that the trail sometimes gets too narrow that it’s quite difficult to have a two-way traffic for hikers. Often times, hikers going down would give way for me which I totally appreciate. I was also greeted with the usual “Jia You!”, there was a couple who had to ask me if I was crazy hiking out there alone in this weather. Nope, still sane.

qixingshan yangmingshan
almost zero visibility.. I have a weird brain and kept thinking of movies such as 'The Mist' and 'Silent Hill', thankfully nothing worthy of a horror movie happened on this hike
as you make your way up, you’d notice that distinct sulfur smell (nope, not the time to call the Winchester brothers yet!) lo and behold, this fumarole is the culprit
fumaroles yangmingshan
see that smoke, it's not burning grass definitely, look more closely and you'll see more...
fumaroles qixingshan
...fumaroles! be careful not to stay too long in this area as inhaling sulfur is not good for your health

Qixingshan 七星山 or Mt. Qixing is the highest peak in Taipei at 1,120 meters and is located at the heart of the national park. Personally, I thought it was a big feat for myself to reach the top in less than an hour!

This is my first picture with a mountain's peak marker so I am officially ticking off that item on my travel bucket list. It was raining harder this time and the winds are stronger than ever, but I still tried to take some time to appreciate the scenery (even though it was blocked by clouds). As per the information boards, it would have been possible to see Taipei especially when the weather is clear.

qixingshan peak
ta-dah, I had to change my outfit because it was FREEZING! There’s no way I’d be able to climb Mt. Qixing in shorts

yangmingshan taipei
clouds hindering the view

taipei qixingshan
some parts of the city is visible from the peak!

The Xiaoyoukeng Trail to Qixingshan wouldn’t take much of your time – I was surprised that it only took me two hours round trip, considering how awful the rain was. I only knew of the Miaopu Trail after doing some online research for this post, apparently, you can also hike up the peak of Qixingshan but will take longer (about 4 hrs) through Miaopu.

qixingshan marker

As I reach the end of the trail going down, the sun and white clouds decided to show up. Hello hello! At least it wasn’t raining all the time I was here, which was something I was really happy about because I was able to appreciate Xiayoukeng 小油坑 in a better light. This is one of the more geologically active areas around the park, featuring post-volcanic fumaroles, sulfur crystals, hot springs, and landslide land forms.

yangmingshan rain

yangmingshan silver grass
Taiwan was just messing with me, it seems like. The clouds seem to have cleared up as soon as I was going back to the trail’s exit point

I was intrigued by Lengshuikeng that I planned to make it my next stop, however, I didn’t expect the bus going there would take so long to arrive. I decided to postpone and head for the farthest attraction which is Qingtianggang 擎天崗, a lava plateau that developed from the lava that flowed from Mt.Zhugao. I did the Qiangtanggang loop trail that spans 2.4 kilometers wherein you could see some sites the military used on these mountains.


yangmingshan grassland

Just grass, grass and more grass. That’s what you’ll see in Qiangtanggang. But the scenery is so glorious! I mean, it’s just basically grassland but the dramatic clouds made it so much more inviting. Again, I’d like to think I was a bit lucky for the rain to have stopped when I visited this place because I think it would different with a gloomy backdrop.

I now have no regrets of not going to Cingjing Farm. I originally wanted to go there because of the grasslands (nope, I didn’t want to go there for the sheep), so boy, was I glad that I visited Qiangtanggang!

yangmingshan grassland
I’m in my happy place!

taiwan grassland

taiwan farm
just in time to see silver grass, which pop out during autumn

taiwan mountain

taipei mountain

At about half past three, the area got covered by dense fog, it was really difficult to see my feet, much more track my surroundings.. I spotted a couple who were supposed to do a pre-nup shoot that had to cancel. I feel good that I had this sudden change of mind to drop by here first, my traveler’s instinct in action, I guess.

taipei mist

taiwan fog
uh oh..
aww too bad this couple had to cancel their shoot

dramatic fog
the area looked so eerie...

I only had limited time at Lengshuikeng 冷水坑, an area in Yangmingshan where you can take a dip on the hot springs for free. The water is not that hot at 40 degree Celsius, making the English translation of its name, cold water pit, the perfect descriptor. Since I was still not comfortable bathing with people in my birthday suit (even though the pools are segregated by gender), I opted to warm my feet at the outdoor foot-soaking pool.

perfect spot to relax after a long tiring day at the park

If I came during the right season, I would have also made time for Erziping 二子坪步道, known for its lush vegetation. Yangmingshan is also famous for their cherry blossoms which can only be seen during spring. If you plan to do so, head to Yangming Park 陽明公園. Don’t miss this place especially if you’re looking for a refreshing getaway around Taipei.

shilin night market
the massive crowd at Shilin Night Matket

Also situated nearby Jiantan Station is the Shilin Night Market which is probably the most popular night market in the country. It covers a wide selection of clothing stores, arcades, souvenir shops and of course, restaurants and food stalls. There are literally hundreds of options and be ready to spend because you will definitely be tempted to try lots of good stuff. The best way to end this tiring day in Taipei! Here are some of the yummy treats I sampled out of the hundreds of choices available there..

shilin night market taipei
probably the most well known night market in the country

quirky shirts, I would have liked to own any of these

night market arcade
arcades are also dime a dozen

taipei night market

taipei night market
my dinner after a tiring day at the mountains..

cheese balls, anyone?

it's a no-brainer you'd got to give those fruit juices a try!

night market asia
more meats, of course, I got me some!

More of my 16-day exploration of Taiwan here:








New Taipei

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