Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tea Time in Taipei - Maokong

On 9/6/08 I took the Maokong Gondola (a sky tram) in Taipei and enjoyed some Taiwanese Tea at the very top. This was probably the thing I enjoyed the most in Taipei. The view from the gondolas was beautiful. It's very different from Hong Kong's sky tram. Hong Kong has a view of the city, the ocean, vegetation, and of course the Giant Buddha. The Maokong Gondola does not offer a view of a city or ocean, but it offers a spectacular view of the mountains and lush forest of Maokong. I thought it was very beautiful. If you're lucky you'll see flocks of white cranes flying about in the distance as you pass over the forest.

Gondola with Taipei 101 in the background.

In the distance you can also see Buddhist Temples surrounded by forest vegetation.

Once at the top you can enjoy some tea at any number of tea houses. They will show you how to brew the tea and you can drink it outside while enjoying a spectacular view. I went to the PCL Tea House... a modest looking tea house that has been around for a while. If you prefer there are some that allow you to sit on glass while koi and turtles swim under you.

PCL Tea House

Pound at PCL Tea House.
Tea set you drink from at PCL.
Here is the amount of tea leaves you should add to the kettle.
Tea ready to drink!
On clear days you can clearly see Taipei 101. When I was there the weather was good (for Taipei... still too humid for me) and so it was really, really nice sitting outside enjoying the breeze and sipping tea made only at the PCL Tea House.

At PCL I was asked if I knew how to brew tea. I did not so a lady there showed me how. I tried the best I could to repeat it. Here's my second hand lesson in brewing Taiwanese Tea:

I believe I made a mistake in this video. Don't pour the tea back on the little kettle, just dump it in the pan. Only pour water on the kettle; so dump the tea in the pan, fill the white tea container with water and dump it on the small kettle.

Unfortunately I'm not a very good photographer so my pictures of the view from PCL don't really capture the real beauty of the scenery. While sitting here you really can understand why the Portuguese called Taiwan Formosa, meaning beautiful island.

View from my seat at PCL.
A view of the Gondola ride in the distance.
A picture of the Temple built in 1891 and Taipei 101 from PCL... I'm a terrible photographer. This picture doesn't do it justice at all. It was a spectacular view.

After I enjoyed the tea I decided to go check out some of the temples at the lower Gondola levels.
An abandoned pagoda.... it looked beautiful to me from a distance but up close you could see it was not kept in good condition. The water surrounding it looked like a great place for mosquitos to thrive so I left quickly.
The Chih Nan Temple, it's not the original. This is the newer one.

The corridor leading me towards a Taoist Temple.
These three doors signify the original temple built in 1891.

The original temple from1891 I believe. Downstairs is...

I believe this is the Buddhist god of discontent, he is a jaded lover. If you believe in it, visiting him will cause your marriage to fail. I think the superstition is taken seriously by the locals because his shrine was deserted except for me. The other temples were quite full with worshipers and visitors.

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