F Taipei Adventures: Day 1, stop 3, The Elephant Mountain - jeepneyjinggoy

Taipei Adventures: Day 1, stop 3, The Elephant Mountain

I was chasing the sunset on my first day in Taiwan. The guys from the Whatever, Whenever desk of W Taipei highly recommended go at day’s end at the Elephant Mountain.

“It offers one of the best views of Taipei City. It’s worth the hike.”

With “hike” as an operative word, they warned me (twice, in fact) with a (naughty) smile that I have to warm up before hitting the trail. I just laughed it off— because the stunning panoramic shot of the city at sunset with the Taipei 101 dominating the landscape sealed the deal, so to speak. How strenuous can making it up a tourist attraction really get?

The MRT exit to the challenging climb ahead


It was marked as the last stop for the day after Yong Kang Street to try the Mango Ice because it’s in the same address as my home base.

However, I overspent my time at the CKS Memorial Hall. If I had to catch the sunset, I had to skip the Mango Ice to go climb a mountain.

Xiangshan aka Elephant Mountain is a 183-meter high mountain with a hiking trail and an attraction in the Xinyi District along with the Taipei 101. Its close proximity to the terminus of the MRT Red Line 2, the Xiangshan Station, makes it easy to reach, the starting point that is. The climb is another story.


The Elephant Mountain climb starts here


Spotting the entrance to the hiking trail, I made my way up. This was what the earlier warning was all about—there seem to be no end to the flight of stairs. I was “warned”.

The first flight of stairs. It's a very long journey up



Finally, I reached a platform that offered a great view of the city. This though, wasn’t “it”, but just a viewing deck with a great photo opportunity. The better views are higher up.


Finally the viewing deck. And no, this is not yet the best spot yet


First sunset in the city.


After catching my breath and taking a few shots, I decided to continue the climb. I don’t want getting that nagging idea of “you should have done it, you were already there.”


Resume the uphill battle.


Clearly I was out of shape. The next flight of stairs was torture on my thighs and my heart felt like its about to burst. I had to stop and pretend to enjoy the non-existent view while the fitter ones pass me by.


Fifteen minutes more, if you don't stop. Not for this unfit explorer though... LOL

The Elephant Mountain hiking trail map


When you're trying to catch your breath but don't want to be too obvious. Stop & enjoy the view, if there is one.


I even had to ask someone heading down what there was up there and was told the six rocks were just ahead of that boulder before me.


Six Giant Rocks is just after this rock marker


The Six Giant Rocks is an attraction and gets busy at sunset with everyone lining up and taking turns for a photo above one of the rocks with the Taipei City skyline as the backdrop.


Well at least I reached this point- Six Giant Rocks

Lining up for a turn at the most popular rock of the Six Giant Rocks


The hiking trail didn’t stop there and goes around the mountain. This spot was my terminus.

I got my shot, and waited for nightfall with the rest of the tourists and photographers.


My turn, finally. Atop one of the Six Big Rocks standing tall beside the iconic tower


Almost sunset


It was worth the climb and wait, indeed. I’m glad I went to see the sun set over Taipei City and watched it bathed in night light as the sky turned deep blue.


Taipei city at dusk


Now time to head home, but not after a good meal. I deserve one. The last bite I had was breakfast.

To get there: Tale MRT Red Line 2 to Xiangshan station, the terminus. Exit 2 and walk along the park’s path, take a left at the end of the road. The entrance of the to the hiking trail is just after the towering temple.

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit ofapplesandlemons.com and jeepneyjinggoy.com

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.