Friday, August 8, 2014

Maokong Gondola (貓空纜車) [Taiwan Day 341: I Was Flying - Aug. 7, 2014]


I was flying! If Hong Kong has the Ngong Ping Cable Car, Taipei has the Maokong Gondola. Opened in 2007, it is 4 kilometers long and has four stations connecting Taipei Zoo and Maokong. It is an efficient transport system that has a capacity of more than 5 million passengers. It is Taipei’s first gondola transport system and I was very excited to have my first cable car ride in Taiwan.
 







Tickets are very cheap. A one way ride from Taipei Zoo Station to Maokong Station costs NTD 50 and there is no extra charge if you want to ride the transparent cabin also called the ‘Eyes of Maokong Gondola’. Between Taipei Zoo Station and Maokong Station are the Taipei Zoo South Station and Zhinan [Filipino: ji-nan] Temple Station.




















Taipei Zoo has been in my Taiwan Day Adventures before. The first one was in Taiwan Day 63 (Zoovember) and the second one in Taiwan Day 155 (Year of the Horse) so I only want to see the scenic spots in Zhinan Temple Station and Maokong Station.









Since I alighted at Zhinan Temple Station I paid around 40 NTD using my EasyCard. Most people usually go directly to Maokong Station but Zhinan Temple Station has a lot to offer. I saw three beautiful temples and took a lot of pictures. I even saw a coin-operated telescope and I inserted NTD 10 to use it. It was my first time to use such telescope and I was given around 2 minutes to view Taipei City.






After touring around the places in Zhinan Temple Station I went to Maokong Station and paid NTD 30. I don’t have much expectation to this place since what most people do in Maokong is to drink tea. But I was wrong! It was already 7pm and I went to a café and ordered a vanilla iced tea and a bagel. After I ordered my food I was surprised to see the sparkling lights of Taipei City and the iconic Taipei 101. Like jewels thrown in the air, Taipei city glistens at night. 


After my simple dinner I went back to the Maokong Station to take the gondola back to Taipei Zoo Station. I was puzzled why the queue for the crystal cabins was still long despite the fact that you won’t see anything below since it was already dark.


I took the regular cabin and I was alone. I have noticed that the gondola has a motion sensor that detects the presence of people inside. If there was any movement the lights of the cable car will turn on automatically and if you don’t move the lights will turn off. Approaching gondolas were heading to Maokong Station while my gondola was going to the Taipei Zoo Station. 


Most of the approaching cabins that I saw have their lights off. Are there really no people inside those gondolas or were they just not moving? What if the cable got suddenly got trimmed and I fell in the middle in the dark forest? Haha! I was thinking too much. While in the middle of the cable car ride I suddenly saw again the glistening lights of Taipei City but this time it is much closer. I stood up and I was awed by the beauty of the city lights that I forgot the scary things that might happen. 


It was a thrilling and unforgettable ride of my life. I was flying inside the Maokong Gondola and I want to fly again.
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