After eating the trusty Dong Wu breakfast buffet again (including eggs, toast, and wontons), we caught a bus and headed off to Yangmingshan National Park, which is north of Taipei. We read that the park is the site of a dormant volcano... now that I am thinking about it maybe the park itself IS the dormant volcano? Anyway, we got off the bus after a 40 minute standing-room-only bus ride and had NO idea where to go. All the maps and signage we found were in Mandarin, so we decided it was a safe bet to follow the crowds so off we went with everyone else. Along the way we passed this bathroom. I kind of had to go, but... I decided to keep going. :)
Before long, we settled in to what turned out to be a beautiful hike through a massive park. The weather was also a little cooler and breezier at this higher altitude, and we enjoyed being a little more removed from the city's pollution. The walk ranged from leisure strolls to some steeper paths through more mountainous areas, so it was nice to be able to set our own pace. Lots and lots of foilage, mountains, ponds, waterfalls, and vistas -- too many pictures to post here (it would take us all night! Check out the website to see some of what we saw.). In true Taiwanese style, it seems, the park was also pretty crowded, though not unbearably so.
At one point early on, while we were trying to figure out where to go, I sat down and Adam went looking for a map. This group of women below were very proud of themselves and their English which consisted of "Hi!" and "Hello". I smiled and said hi and hello back, and they seemed very proud of themselves. Later on in our hike, we ran into them again, and they asked to take a picture with me. I thought it was kind of funny, but what the heck, so Adam took one with our camera too. They seemed very happy and then they disappeared again.
Later on I decided I did in fact need to go to the little girls room and fortunately for me I got to use the squatty potty. First on this trip (not to bad), so I figured I would share the facilities with you in the Western world who have never experienced it. You aren't missing much. :) None-the-less it serves the purpose. Adam noted that men's facilities seem to be universal -- isn't that just lucky for him!
Situated in the middle of the park is beautiful building housing the gift shop and snack bar. Adam went up to the second floor to check it out while I sat and waited to see if it was worth my while. (I wasn't wearing the best shoes for hiking and my feet were tired!) Below is Adam letting me know not to bother coming to the top.
As we walked and began to discern the various posted maps, we found that the park trails consisted of one huge, main loop around the park with little trails veering off in every direction. One could probably spend days in the park and not explore all the trails it had to offer. Some of the trails were paved, others mere stone steps with little bits of moss growing on them (slippery). Deeper into the park, we saw the first sign for the waterfalls and decided we really wanted to go see them. The rock steps were very steep and slippery but off we went anyway. Down, down, down, and when we arrived, it was all worth it.
The falls were absolutely beautiful and soothing. We sat for a little while taking in the scenery and then up, up, up we went! (For the Coasta Rica team it reminded me of the zip line hike) My legs were burning!
At this point it started to look like the rain clouds were coming in so we headed back to the bus.
The line for the bus was HUGE, though very organized. There were different lines for each bus, each clearly marked with the codes for various buses. Ours was the R5 line. For the ride back, we decided we wanted a seat, so we waited a little longer in the line that assured us a seat and it did not dissapoint. After 4 hours of hiking in slip-on shoes I was ready to sit.
Here a a couple of funny pictures for the day. Even dogs wait in line for the toilet... Actually he was patiently waiting for his owner, but he stood there so obietiently we got a good chuckle out of it.
Next is a stange sign... I makes you wonder what had to happen to make you put a "NO BIRDS" sign on your bus. :)
One of the best parts about Yangmingshan -- other than the bus fare, it didn't cost us a dime! (Or 1 TWD)