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Maokong: Taking a positive stride!

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I decided to try out two places today with starting off at the Taipei Zoo and then heading off to Beitou, where the hot springs are!. I figured that rationally this would make sense... with walking the zoo and then relaxing the hot springs. The muscles and the body couldn't ask for a better choice! All this while in the blog I have been focusing on what I need to change and understand the areas that I need to develop on.... but I keep forgetting on the things that I actually have to offer and keep forgetting my self worth... Today, is about focusing on the good and taking things with a positive stride :).

P1: Universal Learner: That is one of my traits, I like getting to know new things, new cultures, new technology and researching about things before walking into situations for the experience.
It took about 25 minutes to get from the hostel to the Taipei Zoo by the MRT on the brown line and is located in the Wenshan District in Taipei. It is the most famous zoological garden in Taiwan; a leader in conservation, research and education, and recreation. and is one of the largest zoos in Asia, with a total area of 165 hectares, of which more than 90 ha are developed. The zoo was founded in 1914 as the Maruyama Zoo and was privately owned by a Japanese citizen and changed hands to the Taiwanese Government post World War II.

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The Taipei Zoo displays animals from Taiwan, Australia, Africa, the Asian tropical rainforest, the desert, and the temperate zones. The zoo also displays domestic animals in its Children's Zoo, as well as over 12000 birds of over 130 species in an aviary. Other exhibitions in the zoo include an insectarium, amphibian and reptile house, penguin habitat, koala habitat, nocturnal animals display, and a panda exhibition. The Giant Panda house is one of the main attractions of the zoo as it has a history of being called the "panda diplomacy"with the intent to build a strong union between the Peoples Republic of China and Taiwan. The two endangered panda's are named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan. The offspring of Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, Yuan Zai, was born on July 6, 2013. She is the first panda cub to be born in Taiwan. Yuan Zai's public debut was on January 6, 2014.

P2: Staying Connected: Another trait that I strongly feel that I have is my uncanny nature to remain connected with people that I care and love. I will make that effort if I feel it matters to me.
Now, I did not take a picture of the panda and have used stock photography in this blog. The reason I didn't take a picture was because I was video chatting with Caleb at that point and we both were watching the panda's together. I am glad that despite him not being here, we had a chance to share that moment together and view such a wonderful exhibit. This zoo was a huge zoo and it was just amazing to see how naturally kept most of the environment is. The pics below do not do justice to the experience and definitely a must see attraction in Taipei

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The weather was a hot 28 degrees with some humidity and surprisingly it felt very pleasant. I ensured that I had enough liquids on the trip, but realised that my intake of food wasn't much. Something that I would need to be cautious about through the day.

P3: Change Instigator: While change is not easy for anyone, I think I adapt to changes a lot better than most, especially the ones that I initiate
While the initial plan was to do the zoo and then head over to Beitou and relax, that plan soon changed. As I had started my zoo adventure, I noticed gondolas in close vicinity and that took me on a quest to seek out what attraction that might be. The research took me on this journey to take the Gondola all the way up to Maokong.

Widely known as the most scenic spot in Taipei to drink quality, locally grown tea, Maokong is a quaint village located at the top of a mountain providing breathtaking views of Taipei City. The Maokong Gondola was built in 2007 and retrofitted with Crystal Cabins (glass-bottom cars) in 2010 to provide more viewing angles and opportunities, also lowering the service interval to 3 minutes per car. The trip though was not the most scenic mostly cos of the dense fog of pollution that covered Taipei City.

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Breath taking views and it reminded me of the tea estates in Munnar (India), the last trip that we took as a family in 2016.

P4: Challenges and taking calculated risks are my thing: Lets face it, people who best know me, are aware that I like to try new things and explore areas that people traditionally don't want to explore. The idea of a challenge kicks in the adrenaline in me.

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I decided that I would try and trek it down the road from Maokong Gondola station to the Zhinin temple station. This trek is about 1.5kms and an elevation drop of about 40m; however, it is also in a valley. Two options lay in front of me:

  • Take the normal paved pathway, and do a steady walk that would take about 70 minutes with road side assistance
  • Cut through the valley and go down some pathways that have been taken on but little to no uncertainity. Google said, 30 minutes :D

As I was trying to make my decision on which path to take, I heard two older ladies talking and I approached them to say hi. We didn't exchange names, but they were both sisters from Ottawa who were visiting Taiwan for a wedding and then took to site seeing. As we made small talk, I suggested doing the shorter path and they agreed to joining me. We started the trek and as we made it 10 minutes into the trail, the ladies realised that the task ahead of them was not going to be easy and they decided to proceed along the longer route. I still continued down the path and boy was it a memorable one.

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P5: Knowing when to give in or not: This can be both a good and bad thing; for me and people who know me, its the fact that I will give it my all to make things happen before I decide to step back
The path that I had taken suddenly felt daunting and while I knew I had ample time before the sun sets (about 2.5 hours) I was a bit concerned owing to the ankle (a lot better now) and the potential for exhaustion (I need to accept that I am no longer a 20 year old); but I kept going. A wrong turn somewhere along the way took me through what seemed like unscaled territory and it definitely didn't add to my confidence when a snake dropped from a tree a few feet away from me. Thankfully, it did slither away and I realised that I need to potentially revisit my plan and maybe atleast step back on to a hiking trail. And so I did. And that is not typical of me: But I was in a different country, no one knew that I was on trek in Maokong. Chances are that if something were to happen to me, it would be days or months before anyone had a clue as to where I am at. This was me looking out for me! Life is short, but I want to make sure I live it my way!

So the trek began again and as I neared the 1 hour mark, I figured that as much as this was an adventure, I know that I was reaching a point of exhaustion. I had some tea and water in my backpack and I kept resting and pacing myself through the walk. I was soaked completely with the humidity. I truly felt like I was on an episode in Survivor and totally on survivor mode. The thing that kept me going was Caleb. I imagined us being a team on the Amazing Race (an older version of him) and he somehow ahead of me and urging me to keep going and not to give up!!! That was my drive and I hope with everything that is going to happen on my return home, he and I are able to have a sound relationship with each other. I know that I will be committed to making it happen.

The last 15 to 20 minutes of the trek were the longest and I remember stopping every 2 minutes as I made the climb up; even stopping to make a video of how dead beat I felt. My mind kept saying just a few more 100 meters of a climb but my body just kept pulling me back asking me to stop the torture. I finally made it to the Zhinan Temple station and it took me 3 long hours and while I keep telling myself, I will never do such a thing again.... I don't believe one word of it :)

P6: I am a good person and I am me: I do believe that I am a good person and yes I have done things that are wrong, but in my heart, I know that I will try and recitify a wrong. People have used words like eccentric, mysterious, dependable, loyal to describe me and I believe that's what makes me be me and unique

This trip has been good for me. While I didn't realise what my intent was, I think I have been able to find my inner strength and potentially understand who I am. I believe this is a positive growth for me and something I needed to do.

Posted by soulsearch295 15:15 Archived in Taiwan Tagged zoo taiwan maokong

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