Day 14 -- Plum Garden, Thermal Valley (Taipei, Taiwan)

12/31/2016 Saturday

Today is our last day in Taiwan and we will be taking the late night flight home. After breakfast and lunch, we decided to go to XinBeitou again since the last time we were there on Monday, most of the places were closed.

We took the metro and had to transfer at Beitou. The metro that goes to XinBeitou is a little different than the other metro that we took, it is more colorful and even has a TV inside to introduce the area.






It was a short ride there and we walked to the Plum garden.








After the plum garden, we went to Thermal valley before heading home.




After dinner, we took a cab to Taoyuan international airport. We saw the fireworks from the plane as we were departing Taiwan and celebrated our new year on the plane. We reached U.S. on 12/31 due to the time difference, so we get to celebrate new year again which was a very unique experience.

Day 13 -- Taipei Zoo, Maokong Gondola (Taipei, Taiwan)

12/30/2016 Friday

It's been raining the last few days in Taipei. I have been monitoring the weather forecast, so I saved today for the zoo since it was supposed to be dry. After breakfast, we left the house as the Taipei zoo is pretty big and we plan to take the Maokong gondola after the zoo. The last gondola to Maokong from the zoo was at 4pm, so we need to be done with the zoo before then.

We took the metro to Taipei zoo and it was about 40 minutes from our place.



After buying the tickets, we went to get our map and proceed to the formosan animal section first. 






Next, we went to the insect area.









We also went to the butterfly area where many butterflies were flying around us.



Below is not a leaf, it's a real butterfly.



Next we went to see some Macaque.



And some koala bears.





After that, we went to the children's section and saw more animals.




Then, we went to see the highlight of the zoo which is the panda bears.








We also shopped at the gift shop.






After this, we went for lunch. I am really surprised at the price of the food at the zoo. It's about the same price as outside which is about US$5 for a set meal which include appetizer, entree and drink. Usually, at tourist places, you would expect things to be more expensive than usual but this doesn't seemed to be the case for the Taipei zoo. Even the entrance fee is at a ridiculous low price of only US$2 per person. We were here 4 years ago and paid the same price, so there haven't been a fee increase at least for the last 4 years.

Next, we continue on and saw more animals such as the hippos.




Tapir



Camels



Giraffes



Zebras



Elephants



Flamingos




We also went to the reptile section.







We saw some penguins before heading to the bird world station to take the shuttle to the Maokong metro station.






It was a short tram ride to the metro station. 



We paid our fees using our EasyCard. They do offer discount if you used your EasyCard to pay for your zoo admission as well.




It was a very short line to wait for our gondola. We didn't have to share it with anyone else.




It took us 2 stations to reach our destination of Maokong and the view was spectacular.





Although it was only 2 stations, it took us about 20 minutes to reach our station.



We were greeted by many food stalls once we exited the station. 





Stinky tofu. Not recommended for everyone as it's really stinky. Anthony's favorite but not mine.



Tempura


Rice noodles

Sausage

Green/red tea ice cream. Must try if you are in Maokong as they grow tea in this area, so tea ice cream is their specialty.





After getting our food, we walked further north to check out some of their cafes which offers good view.





We stopped there and didn't go further as Maddie was complaining about the walk. There are more attractions further north and can be accessible by bus. 

After that, it was starting to get dark, so we decided to leave. There are 2 kinds of cabins:
1. Regular 
2. Crystal 

We took the regular cabin on the way here, so decided to take the crystal cabin on our way down. There is a separate line for the crystal cabin and the wait is longer as there is only limited number of crystal cabin which has a red exterior. The difference in the crystal cabin is that it has a clear bottom so you can look out from the bottom as well.





Unfortunately, the wait was longer than expected, so when we got on the crystal cabin, it was already dark outside. What I would suggest is that you take the crystal cabin on the way up and take the regular cabin on the way down so that you can get a great view while it's bright outside and doesn't have to wait too long at the end.

After getting back down, we went to Taipei 101 as Maddie really likes the shops there. So we went there and ate at one of the restaurants that I have always wanted to try. I wasn't planning to eat at that restaurant since I wasn't sure where it was. We found the restaurant by chance while shopping around. 

Tim Ho Wan Restaurant selling dim sum. They don't have a lot of selections and most of the dishes that we ordered tasted pretty good. It's supposed to be the world's cheapest Michelin star restaurant. 




Pork Congee with century egg and salted egg


Deep fried tofu with dried meat seaweed mixed


Glutinous rice with lotus leaf


Prawn dumpling


Pan fried radish cake



Baked BBQ pork buns which is one of their specialty. I normally don't like pork but this bun tasted pretty good.


Shrimp vermicelli roll which is our favorite dish in almost every dim sum place we go to


Braised chicken noodle with spicy shellfish sauce. Our favorite dish for this restaurant. 


Rice with beef and fried egg. The worst dish we ordered today.


Mango pomelo sago

Overall, it was a great dinner to end our day before our journey home tomorrow.

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