Even though I had decided to skip the East Coast, where all the tall mountains are and spend 6 days in Taipei instead, I still wanted to do some mountain hiking. 20 km. north of Taipei lies a beautiful national park, the Yangmingshan National Park, which is nicknamed “the back garden of Taipei”. Yangmingshan is home to the tallest mountain in Northern Taiwan; Mount Qixing. I decided to do a day trip there and hike the mountain, which is the tallest mountain that I’ve ever hiked on my own – and the third tallest in all (the other ones being Mount Batur in Indonesia and Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia).
Mount Qixing is 1.120 m. tall and there is a 2,7 km. trail going all the way from the visitor center to the two tallest peaks at the summit of the mountain. I set off from Taipei at noon and began my hike around 2 PM, after wandering around the national park for a while.
The hike was easy, as there were steps almost all of the way. But for some reason, my legs just wouldn’t cooperate with the rest of my body that day. My legs hadn’t had time to fully recover after the many hikes that I had been on recently, so I had to pull myself up all the way to the top. Every step was a real battle.
As I’ve written about before in previous posts, one of my favourite things about hiking is the fact that everyone you meet will say hello to you. When I was almost at the top of Mount Qixing and felt like I was about to faint from exhaustion, I met a group of 7-8 locals, who were all coming down from the mountain. One of them stopped to ask me a few questions; here’s our little conversation:
Him: “Ni hao!”
Me: “Hello, almost there now!”
Him: “Yeeees almost. You from Belgium?”
Me: “I’m from Denmark!”
The whole group: “Ooooh Denmark!!”
Him, pointing at my eyes: “Look at eyes. What colour, blue?”
The whole group gathers around to stare at my eyes, while complimenting me on them (I’m flattered, but my face is turning bright red haha!)
Me: “Where are you from?”
Group: “Local local! Taipei!”
Me: “Oh I love Taipei!”
Him: “Oh do you! Thank you! Welcome welcome! Have a nice day.”
Me: “Bye bye, nice to meet you.”
Group: “Bye byeeee”
And off they went. That conversation was the cutest thing ever, I wish I had filmed it! Before this, I felt like I was about to give up, but their friendliness and cuteness gave me the last bit of energy to get to the top!
When I finally got to the Main Peak, my legs were shaking from exhaustion, but still it was an amazing feeling. I needed proof of what I had just done, so I asked a nice guy, Jay, if he would take a picture of me with the summit sign. Afterwards, we spent over an hour talking on the mountain, until there were no one else there and the sun was about to set. It’s funny how you meet people sometimes! This is the first time that I’ve met a friend at the peak of a mountain 😉
My original plan was to go up to the East Peak as well and then hike back down the same way that I came up, but since Jay was going down a different route, I decided that I would rather have a friend than conquer another peak with my shaky legs. And I’m really glad that I did!
We saw something really awesome, that I didn’t even think Taiwan had. Fumaroles!!!
Stinky little vents letting out volcanic gas that smells like human gas on the side of the mountain. I saw and smelled them for the first time in Iceland a year ago and they had the exact same distinctive smell; like a ton of old paté!
There were also certain places, where we could feel the heat coming from the volcano and hear the lava bubbling! It was a great experience.
After investigating just about every fumarole, we hiked down the mountain to a parking lot, while watching the sun set behind the clouds. A bus picked us up and took us back to the visitor center, where we caught another bus back to Taipei.
It was a beautiful day and although my legs were killing me afterwards, I was happy that I had done it. Sometimes pain is something that you need to live with in order to not miss out on the good things in life! And I can certainly deal with that 😉