Maokong was Saturday feels, a late start day, a lazy meandering sort of wonderful.
Though I miss our hare-brained and crazy weekends, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to aimlessly wander about in a piece of land whose main attraction and purpose is the sale and purchase and promotion and celebration of tea. To me, tea is (probably what should have filled) the holy grail. ((Shoutout to the Da Vinci Code for teaching me that the grail is actually a cup. Full of Mary Magdalene’s lack of virginity? Or something. Maybe it’s time to re-read that book))
But tea! Maokong is Taipei’s natural tourist trap, and I happily stepped inside, riding the ‘Crystal Cabin’ (a regular gondola with a clear floor) up to the top of the mountain, bearing the stagnant air of the enclosed space to experience the ironically wide green expanse around. Maokong presents some of the best views of Taipei City in my humble opinion, and the slightly damp weather offered a multitude of clouds that layered the distant city in many hues.
We ventured to the Maokong Tea Promotion Center (no bandying about with intentions, promotion is promotion), walking down a winding highway in the hilly breeze [go left after you exit the Maokong Station, through the small food market. You’ll arrive at a slightly solitary red brick building on your right in about 15 min.]
At the Promotion center we found free piping hot tea to cool off our sweaty bodies (laugh, it is never cool in Taiwan in the summertime), and then sat down to more tea tasting. As much as I want to go wine tasting in the near future, it shall not compare to tea tasting in a foreign nation, the only form of communication between vendor and customer being the aromatic semi-colored drinks served in dainty bowls. I actually liked the free tea best – it was made of the cheap stems of the famous Maokong tea, rather than the leaves themselves. *Shrug* I’ve always been a second-hand kinda gal, but *cry* they wouldn’t sell it to me!
At this point, I bid farewell to my drooping companions (it was a tired sort of Saturday, after a very un-tired sort of Friday night) and set off into the “trails” in the area, which were really paved and constructed pathways and steps. The ‘Healthy Trail’ sets off right across from the Maokong Tea Promotion Center, and descends into a dark, dense, quiet, buggy, beautiful forest.
I’m really learning to relish the quiet and clear headspace of venturing places alone. I made my way to the Earth God temple, Pot Hole (it was marked as such and led to…nothing), and finally the Sky Walk, which was a large deck built overlooking a valley and the unequivocal highlight. The sign read this:
“Here we left you a pure sky as your private garden. No matter if it is daytime or night, raining or sunny day, when you stroll here, you will find the different faces of Maokong.”
A truly cooling breeze blew constantly, and enabled standing for a long time, gazing dramatically into the green, feeling all the feelz, and getting ‘motional if so desired (it was desired).
On my descent, I meandered into another tea shop and bought some leaves (no one carries the stems for my cheap soul), looked out to find a fervent downpour and looked back to find the shopkeeper bustling towards me with an old umbrella. Really, this country is something else; I don’t go a week without someone telling my sweaty face that I am pretty, smiling kindly, handing me sweet samples, and just generally being wonderful.
The afternoon was complete the way every afternoon should be completed – with slightly overpriced (90 NTD) green tea and black tea swirl soft serve ice cream, which I sat down in the shop to enjoy. On reflection, I think that’s the first time I’ve sat down at a restaurant to just eat, without my phone/book/computer/purpose and I can attest that it wasn’t in the least bit lonely.
Smiles all around.