Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yangmingshan National Park

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)


Anonymous said...

I've gotten caught up on the blog..and looks like you guys are getting a good taste of the culture of your kids.
Good Luck with everything and I'm really enjoying following your adventure.
Stephanie Y

Anonymous said...

Looks peaceful and relaxing- well, minus all the hiking. It is beautiful weather here (77 degrees). It's the first day of spring. We will pray that we will have similar weather when you guys get home so that we can spend a lot of time with the kids at the park. Great chatting with you last night. ~Kate and Andy

Mama said...

The park looks really big and beautiful. How interesting that three of the ladies wanted a picture with a Western lady. Don't guess they see many in their lifetimes. The picture of the squatty potty reminded me of Beijing. Can see why you passed the first toilet - looks like a trailer. Who knows what the facilities were inside!
Happy you are getting around so well. You two are becoming daring explorers. Dora the Explorer would be proud of you! haha
I love you,

Anonymous said...

So you had me cracking up over the squatty potty! Loads of fun!Glad you are able to see the surroundings a bit. I know you are ready for the 2 little ones though! Prayers.

Kelly Moore

Sharon said...

Checking in on you...SO glad your back is better. What do do you meet your little ones? Can't wait to seem them with their forever family!

Kristi said...

Looks like it was a wonderful adventure in the park. Once again I'm pretty impressed with your navigational skills. Maybe if you take the kiddos back you'll wear better shoes?
Guess I'll check to see if you have more than one post before I ask a question again. Kylie was pleased that Maylin will have known about squatties...
I'm wondering about the birds on the bus too. Oh, and cute dog!

Tricia said...

Oh my word. The hosiery in that first picture is something else. I hope you're not taking any fashion notes while you are there. :) And I'm curious about the squatty potty. Do you have to take a leg out so as not to tinkle on your pants. That's just weird.

It was a great day here. Like Andy said high 70s. The kids and I were out side ALL day. Andrew had his first soccer game tonight. He scored both goals for his team and they won 2-1. After each goal, he ran the length of the field "fist pumping" and jumping. It was so cute. You'll have to bring the kids to one of his games when you get home. Can't wait to see them (oh, and you).

Also heard from Cassie. :) Thanks for that.

Steve said...

From the world of the irrelevant: Men's restrooms in Middle Eastern countries do not have urinals as it is not in keeping with Muslim tradition and practice for men to urinate standing up. Something about the practice being unclean as well as too much exposure.