This week, I was lucky enough to have the company of my brother, who took time out of his busy schedule to come visit me in Taiwan for Christmas. With it being his first time in Taiwan and the East, we went on a tourist overload starting with Maokong Gondola and headed to one of the great temples overlooking Taiwan.
Although called a gondola, the Hello Kitty themed attraction is actually a really long cable car first opened in 2007 and covers roughly 3 miles over mountains. The closest MRT stop to the Gondola is Taipei Zoo station and the actual entrance is about 5 minutes walk down the road. We decided to get into a Crystal cabin which has a glass floor so that you can see the view (mostly trees) below you.
We got off at the 3rd stop, Zhinan Temple (指南宮), where we took a short break to have lunch next to a small pavilion by the Gondola stop. I think it was based on the Chinese zodiac as there was a circular timeline to showing the zodiac as well as zodiac based seating statues which allowed tired visitors to take a break.
Zhinan temple is mainly a Taoist temple made up of a collection of 3 shrines, one of which we were told is dedicated to both Taoism and Buddhism. Along the way we spotted many trees with gold and red tags, and were told these were wish tags. People would often visit the temple and purchase these with a wish or blessing dedicated to a certain area of ones life (mainly marriage, career, family, wealth, and longevity).
The 1st and main shrine we visited was quite big spreading across 4 floors and had many different deities for different years. My brother and I both found ours were told to make a small prayer. The interior was decorated very intricately and with bold colours of gold and red.
Unfortunately when we visited the outside of the main temple was being renovated. I guess even traditional structures need maintenance every now and then too!
At around 5 we found ourselves descending the mountains and back to the busy city, but we got a little farewell form the mountains in the form of a warm sunset.
My experience in Taiwan so far has been nothing but positive and I can't wait to share my experiences along the way!