Saturday, April 19, 2008

Day 7 Saturday :: Yangmingshan (YMS) Calla Lily Season > Flower Clock > Beitou Hot Springs Museum > Beitou Public Hotsprings Pool > Shilin Night Marke

~8.30am, travelled to Jiantan station to catch any bus that goes to YMS. There were long lines forming early in the morning as it was a weekend in the Calla Lily Festival. There were traffic controllers in place at the bus stands. Everyone was orderly and various buses were arriving in a continuous stream so we boarded the Flower bus 129 shortly. The situation was unlike my prev. trip there where we waited 30mins for bus 260. At the 2nd parking lot ~9.20am, we transferred to Flower bus 131 who brought us to Zhuzihu Terminal stop.

Tip: If you wish to go to Zhuzihu by bus, you can consider buses with stops at Dinghu顶湖or Shuiwei水尾 which are all within Zhuzihu. Bus Transport Link:

According to our bus driver, 131 and S9 were the only buses to enter Zhuzihu Proper竹子湖or Bamboo Lake. You could ask the buses S9 & Flower Buses 131 traveling in to let you alight anywhere within the area if the mood takes you. However, if we took the park bus 108, it would drop us at the Zhuzihu Police station (竹子湖派出所) NOT Zhuzihu and we’d have to walk for 30mins to order reach our destination. The Zhuzihu area is made up of 3 sections: Donghu (东湖), Dinghu (顶湖) and Xiahu (下湖). If you enter Zhuzihu from the 2nd Parking Lot direction via Yangjing Rd 杨金公路, you will reach Donghu, literally meaning East Lake which was developed earlier before the other 2 areas. Bus 131 passed the peaceful calla lily farms in Dinghu, loosely translated as Top lake as it was sited above the other two on the map. I expect Donghu would be a better option for visitors taking bus 108 as they wouldn’t need to walk that far in. Dinghu and Donghu seemed to be less commercialised unlike Xiahu (Lower Lake, the innermost and most bustling during Calla Lily Festival) which had restaurants, street peddlers, food stands offering snacks, fruits and veggies and cafes lining the Calla Lily Boulevard (海芋大道). It was relatively quiet in the mornings till around 11am when the narrow road transforms into a car-choked road at Xiahu. Under the hot sun, long queues formed for ANY bus to get out of Bamboo Lake. As the crowd built, queues were cut, tempers flared, and the traffic degenerated into a crawl.

After getting out of Zhuzihu by Bus 130, we strolled past the park blooming to azaleas to the Flower Clock to look at cherry blossoms before leaving YMS. By 3pm, the traffic was in chaos. People were still doing their best to get up the mountain in stretched bus services while early birds were starting to get off the mountain. The problem was that all the operators were focused on alleviating the queue getting up the mountain and into Zhuzihu by diverting all available buses that they quite forgot about the bunch trying to get out. From what we found out from traffic controllers at the temp bus stop in the Flower Clock parking lot, many bus routes were changed that day in order to cope with the bursting traffic within YMS. Flower Buses switched to internal operations within YMS region. S9 ceased going down to Beitou as the entire fleet were stuck on the mountain, much to the disbelief of many commuters queuing for S9 to Beitou. Further questions revealed that the only buses that were traveling as scheduled (meaning no extra buses) were 108 and 260 (which gets off YMS and plies the city). It was after furious ‘discussion’ between some commuters and the beleaguered traffic controllers (in case you were wondering, I didn’t participate in the discussion) at the Flower Clock that they managed to recall a bus 535 zooming out of the carpark to kickstart the ‘evacuation’ process (sounds rather dramatic eh?). They urged all the people waiting for S9 to take that one available bus out of YMS to Shipai Station as they didn’t know when S9 will be able to leave.

The good part of going to YMS that day was: 1) you can’t possibly get lost. If you wish to go somewhere, just follow the crowd or ask the numerous traffic controllers handy. 2) There were many bus options available within YMS but very few buses descending the mountains.

It was exhausting but finally we got out of YMS and transferred onto the metro at Shipai 石牌to visit the Beitou Hot Springs Museum near Xinbeitou 新北投 Station and the beitou public hotsprings pool (NT40) to get a sense of how a public pool looks like. By the time we got out of the hotsprings, Hell Valley was already closed for the day so we headed to famous Shilin Night Market near Jiantan Metro Station to rub elbows with the locals (it was so crowded, I mean it literally) before calling it a day. While I was queuing for the Congyoubing 葱油饼 recommended by Taipei walker, I heard a Taiwanese remark that Shilin was unusually packed that weekend; even this stall she frequented had a longer than usual queue. Tried the Shanghai Pan Fried Pork Buns (上海生煎包),Horfun Cake (河粉煎),Onion pancakes (葱油饼) ,XXL Fried Chicken Cutlet (豪大大鸡排), Jacket potato, Coffin board - stuffed deep-fried bread loaf (棺材板) just to name a few. Other must eats include: 润饼卷 similar to burrito?, Small biscuit within a Biscuit (大饼包小饼), Stinky tofu (臭豆腐).

No comments: