I have never been to Yang Ming Shan (YMS) and like many others, I turned to my BFF, Mr Google, for help on how to plan my day trip there. A link brought me to the government website (YMS website here) where the first safety tip was: Choose your hiking buddies carefully YIKES! I looked at my SO and he looked at me, both sure imagining the worst from the climb. But more research showed that the route was popular among the elderly Taiwanese who kept healthy by climbing the mountain daily. So we figured how hard can it be right?
YMS is a really huge park covering about 113.4km square and it borders quite a few places in Taipei. To get up there, you can refer to the YMS website and choose the route most convenient for you. As for us, we got down at Jian Tan Station (where Shilin Night Market is located) and took a shuttle bus to YMS. That bus only reaches the bus depot and to get to the HQ visitors centre, you have to walk some distance and I really mean walk…your hike probably starts there.
At the visitor’s centre, you can get a map of YMS and it is good to plan out your route and there are quite a few scenic walks to choose from. Each trail covers a different peak and naturally, I went for the highest.
I took the Mt. Qixing Trial which covers 2 peaks: Mt Qixing Main and Mt. Qixing East. For those that are less fit, it is possible to cover just the circumvent the Main peak and just go up Qixing East peak. But being the Kiasu Singaporean that I am, I just had to go up the main peak.
This is not the exact route I took since I came from the Headquarters Visitor Centre. Another reason why you should start at the headquarters is that they have really friendly staffs who were so helpful in helping me plan my route. Telling me what was good to see and what can be missed since I only had one day there.
After being certain that I have everything I needed, I gave myself a pat on my back for committing to exercising on this trip and went on my way. The road up was long and arduous and I had many instances of hits to my ego as the old folks walked past us like it was as natural as day. To be fair though, they didn’t reach the peak. As mentioned, there are many routes throughout the park and the old folks seemed to all climbed to this particular place with an exercise park and stopped there.
Anyway, I huffed and I puffed and I put one feet in front of the other and then somewhere along the way up, I saw this.
A peek of expansive beauty amidst the lush greenery was just the motivation I needed to continue my trek. Further more, as we got higher, the air also became a little cooler and more comfortable.
The greenery, however, hid the view of the peak from us and so every turn we made, we kept hoping to see the peak so that we could figure out how long more we have to endure. Just as our energy was almost drained away, we reached the crossroads to the 2 peaks.
Mt Qixing Main Peak
Mt Qixing East Peak
I took a deep breath and breathed in the freshest air and enjoyed the cool breeze as we took in the sights. From the peaks, we had a view of Taipei City, as well as the townships by the seaside (Jiufen and Keelung).
To reward ourselves, we continued to walk to Leng Shui Keng (冷水坑). At the visitor’s centre there, we indulged in a bowl of yam cake thing (not sure what it is called but its really delicious) and some Meiji ice cream (my favorite is the red bean one).
We then ended off our YMS adventure at a public bath near Leng Shui Keng’s visitor centre. This public bath is fed by the sulphuric waters from volcanic activity beneath YMS. However, to use the indoor baths, you have to bring your own towel and you have to be prepared to bathe buck naked (same gender baths). Otherwise, you can opt for a soak in the outdoor foot bath area which we did as we were short on time.
We caught the last bus back to Jian Tan and that concluded out trip to YMS. Just a note on the bus system. I found it to be very confusing as no one (not even those staff i met at Lengshuikeng’s visitor centre) seem to know for sure the last bus timing. We weren’t going to take our chances so we took the 5.30pm bus, which according to the visitor centre, was the last bus to leave YMS.
Perhaps if you want to stay late in YMS, it might be better to have your own transport? There is nothing much to do at night but the scene of a lighted Taipei from YMS is really pretty and is always featured in Taiwanese dramas!
It was only 6.30pm by the time we got back to our hostel so we scrubbed ourselves clean and headed out to reward ourselves with dinner at Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) which originated from Taiwan but can be found across the region.
We ate at the outlet at Taipei 101 which is not the first outlet, but there was a queue all the same. I heard the queues at the original store has queues up till 2 hours.
We ended our exciting day, full and fulfilled 😀