In a previous post, I mentioned that I went to the Taipei area about a week after the lunar new year. The next day after going to Beipu, we fooled around in Taipei itself. However, despite being in the island's biggest metropolis, we actually got a taste of nature. Taipei is surrounded by mountains, and it's surprisingly easy to get away from the urban-ness and up a couple hundred meters if you want to.
The bus says "Happy New Year!"
Here's a map for the area. There are four mountains named after animals: Mt. Elephant, Mt. Tiger, Mt. Leopard, and Mt. Lion. There used to be a lake in between the four peaks as well, but it has long since been filled in. During the Qing Dynasty, apparently the governor of Taiwan would go on pleasure cruises in the lake.
"Mt. Elephant Nature Trail"
This view is what makes this mountain so popular. That tower is Taipei 101, the former tallest, and current #2 tallest, building in the world. I think it must be pretty unusual to be able to see a tall tower in the middle of an urban area so close up from on top of a small mountain.
"Four Beasts Mountain Walkway"
My Taiwanese friend said that this is a dung beetle.
On the way down, we came across this temple on the hillside.
A dead butterfly. Taiwan is one of the areas in the world with the highest concentration of different butterfly species.
My friend said that this bird is probably a fertility symbol. In Chinese the word for chicken is "Jee", and the word for penis is "Jeejee". And in English we call it a "cock". What is it with people and penises and chickens?
Another butterfly, this time alive and flying.
This river is in Ulai. Ulai is a bit removed from Taipei proper, but we went there after coming down off the mountain because they have hot springs. I thought the water color here was pretty remarkable.