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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Maokong Gondola and Taipei Zoo @ Taiwan

Most tourists shunned  the idea of heading to the zoo, because they thought it is a waste of time when you could spend it somewhere else instead, moreover all the zoos in the world are pretty much the same, isn't it? Well, consider putting Taipei Zoo (also known as "Muzha Zoo 木柵動物園") in your itinerary. Boasting more than 165 hectares of combined space and, several exhibition houses and observatories, Taipei Zoo is not only a leader in conservation, research, education and recreation, it is also the largest zoo in Asia!

Directions to Taipei Zoo

1. Take the MRT to Taipei Zoo Station (Muzha line). Walk approximately 5 minutes to the zoo.

2. The following bus services head to Taipei Zoo station: 236, 237, 282, 294, 295, 611, 676, 679, 933, 1073, 1501, 1503, 1558, B3, B6, B11, B15, G1, S12

3. Take the MRT to Taipei Zoo Station (Muzha line). Head to the Maokong Gondola station and get a ticket (NT$30) to Taipei Zoo South Station. The gondola stops outside the zoo, where you can take a short shuttle bus ride (frequency varies 15-20 minutes) into the zoo.

Entrance fee to Taipei Zoo is NT$60 (NT$30 with Youth Travel Card)
(Photo source: Maokong Gondola main website)
The gondola ride is generally smooth with few hiccups and takes less than 10 minutes to reach Taipei Zoo South Station. For your information, there is a more expensive "crystal cabin" ride where you can enjoy the scenery from below the gondola as well. (Not for the faint-hearted or acrophobics though!)

Please kindly not mind our nonsense again. The gondola ride is safe, we were just over-exaggerating.

The scenery is pretty impressive, you could even see Taipei 101 on a clear day. It was pretty foggy and drizzling on the day of our visit, but we could still have a slight peek of Taiwan's pride. Other than the occasional buildings here and there, most of the picturesque landscape is covered with beautiful greeneries.

If you enter the zoo from the main entrance, you will be greeted by a flock of beautifully pink-coloured flamingoes. This part of the zoo reminded me of Singapore's zoo, where we have flamingoes as "welcoming escorts" as well.

Besides individual exhibitions (like birds or reptiles), Taipei Zoo is primarily divided into several zones which includes Asian Tropical Rainforest, Desert, Australian, African etc. The zoo is generally easy to navigate, but if you happened to get lost, do not hesitate to ask the friendly locals.
For higher quality of the map, please click on the link below:
Why not get a Waffle Tree drizzled with dark chocolate (NT$30) before the exploration? (Note that it doesn't taste as great as it looks, I'd rather get some herbal eggs and a milk tea with the money.) They do sell other snacks as well, if you're still interested, they are located beside the gift shop of the Amphibian and Reptile House.

Below are some of the photos taken from the trip:

Girlfriend Peiyi was hesitating about entering the Amphibian and Reptile House, as she creeps at the sight of slimy and scaly creatures, while I find them truly intricating and interesting. Just look at the details of the frog and the uniformity of snakes scales.

Please do click to enlarge the images.

The stars of Taipei Zoo is none other than two pandas named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan (meaning "reunion" in Chinese) from the People's Republic of China (PRC) as a gesture of unity between the two countries. Apparently, lighting wasn't on my side, flash is prohibited and the pandas were actively moving all around, hence the quality of picture.

There are obviously a whole lot more of creatures, but I've only uploaded a fraction to keep the suspense. So if you want to view more, do not forget to add Taipei Zoo in your itinerary to Taiwan!