Taiwan 8 Days Solo Travel – Taipei Zoo & Shenkeng Old Street (Day 3 – pt 2)

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After an eventful morning spent at Maokong (貓空), the next destination would be Taipei Zoo (臺北市立動物園) which is located along the same Maokong Gondola line, and just two stations from Maokong.

Taipei Zoo
Taipei Zoo

Taipei Zoo (臺北市立動物園)

(2pm)

Taipei Zoo
The Popular Panda

As a solo traveller, zoo is not exactly my kind of thing, you know?  If it wasn’t due to its close proximity from Maokong and its popularity as the largest zoo in Asia, I wouldn’t have bothered. Anyway, many would visit this zoo just to see the star Pandas.

Now, at NT65 (USD1.95) entrance fee, there was really no reason not to just pop in and take a look, I’d thought.

Getting to Taipei Zoo

I opted for a regular cabin (not the glass-bottom) on the return trip. Guess what? I got the entire cabin to myself. Not that there wasn’t anyone in the queue. Apparently, they did their best in not mixing groups giving each much needed privacy. Nice!

INFO: You can get unlimited MRT and Bus rides in Taipei through the Taipei Transport Fun Pass. It also gives you access to 5 tourist shuttle routes. One option also includes unlimited rides on the Maokong Gondola. Yes, unlimited. :) Most people who have used it think it’s value for money. One good thing is that you can also save precious time by skipping the ticketing queue. 

Maokong Gondola
You make funny faces when you have the entire gondola to yourself? 

You can either alight at Taipei Zoo Station where the main entrance is or Taipei Zoo South Station. I alighted at the latter as some reviewers said it’s down slope and easier to walk.

TIP: If you are here solely to visit the Pandas, do alight at Taipei Zoo station (main entrance). Otherwise, you need to walk the entire zoo to see the pandas.

In any case, the panda section was one of the least impressive enclosures in the zoo. Too many people and too few pandas….think only two. I’d to stand behind rows of people to get a photo or two of the pandas.   

From the south entrance, I was told to board this cute shuttle train (FOC) that took me to the official starting point in the south.

Taipei Zoo
Mini Train

Brisk-Walk through a very BIG Taipei Zoo

I’m not kidding. I brisk-walked through the zoo right from the start, only momentarily pausing to take photos with a few selected animals. That took me 3 hours even after skipping several “buildings” and segments. I was almost running towards the end because I was late for my next itinerary.

Taipei Zoo
Some animals that I bothered to take photos of

No wonder people said Taipei Zoo was TOO HUGE. It really was! I’d overheard so many times when people said “Wah. So late already. Let’s hurry up.”

There were just too many things to see, and you could easily spend an entire day here. Even if you skipped the segments, you would still need to walk a long way out. No wonder some online reviews shared that Taipei Zoo was in fact too huge for family with young kids. It required too much walking. 

Taipei Zoo
It’s looking at me! “Hello, how can I help you?”
Taipei Zoo
The best selfie was taken with non-living things….fake penguins ok? Duh!

Oh No. The Gorilla Charged At Us!

A macho-looking gorilla was sitting near the glass panel that separated him from the crowd who were observing his every movement. The huge animal was just sitting down and enjoying his afternoon veggie snack.

Taipei Zoo - Gorilla
Enjoying his afternoon snack.

All of a sudden, he stood up and looked out of the glass panel. We were so excited to see his frontal view.

While I was distracted working on the camera, I heard a loud bang. It was loud enough to cause some to shriek. Looking up, I realised that the gorilla had charged towards the crowd and collided with great impact against the glass wall.

Taipei Zoo - Gorilla
Poor Gorilla!

He backed off, looked a bit concussed and was clearly in great pain. He rubbed against his knee and frowned in agony, before sitting down to rest.

Why did he do that?

After re-watching the video, I noticed a Caucasian woman staring at the gorilla intensely and deliberately. She’d stretched her neck forward with her face almost touching the glass panel, and was looking fixedly into the gorilla’s eyes. My guess is that she knew such an act would cause gorillas to react. Was she trying to provoke the gorilla so as to please her curiosity, and get her ticket price worth?

I felt sorry for the imprisoned gorilla who already had to endure being watched upon the entire day. And someone obviously thought it wasn’t enough misery.

Is Taipei Zoo worth going? 

Yes. If you have an entire day for it, and if you or your kids love animals…and walking. But no if you have a tight itinerary. 

I’d reached the main entrance/exit around 5pm, after brisk-walking for close to 3 hours. On hindsight, I thought Zhinan Temple would have been a more suitable destination for me than Taipei Zoo – cool, high altitude, amazing scenery and touring at a more leisure pace. Next time maybe….

 


Shenkeng Old Street (深坑老街)

Next destination was the popular tofu street or more aptly described as the “Smelly Tofu (beancurd) Street.”. It was just a short bus ride from the zoo.

Shenkeng Old Street
Shenkeng Old Street

Getting to Shenkeng Old Street

I took bus #236 from outside Taipei Zoo MRT – a 10-minute ride. If you can find other bus services that go there, please avoid taking #236. After alighting at the terminus stop, I had to walk 10 minutes to Shenkeng, out of which half of it was spent walking along busy road with no pedestrian walkway. The road was flanked mostly by car workshops, making it a rather unpleasant and unsafe walk.

TIP: Bus 660 from Muzha MRT Station may bring you straight to Shenkeng Old Street. Google it and confirm, ok? I took that bus on my return trip.

By the time you see a big tree, you would have reached the entrance of Shenkeng Old Street.

Shenkeng Taipei
The big tree – entrance of Shenkeng Old Street

Tofu, Tofu and more Tofu

(5.20pm)

The street sold all sorts of tofu-related dishes and snacks. I tried tofu-ice cream (original flavor) and smelly Teppanyaki Tofu (铁板臭豆腐). The ice-cream (NT40) was okay, tasted like sweetened cold tofu, duh.

Shenkeng Old Street
Tofu Ice Cream

Ordering the Teppanyaki Tofu (NT35) was on the other hand, a huge mistake. It was two huge pieces of really stinky tofu that happened to be wet and gooey. The taste lingered on in my mouth, and I felt nauseous for the next few hours.

Shenkeng Old Street
Hot Plate Smelly Tofu (铁板臭豆腐) – yucks!

A solo traveler like me shouldn’t order this as it was darn filling. I couldn’t take in any other food thereafter. And that kind of concluded my trip to Shenkeng.

Is Shenkeng Worth Going? 

Just like any old street in Taiwan, you can find knick knacks, snacks and souvenirs here. However, I have to warn you that the street was very short. I’d spent less than an hour here despite trying my best to lengthen the duration.

It also lacked the kind of bustling ambiance I’d experienced at other old streets, such as Jiufen and Jinshan Old Streets. If it’s not on the way, I wouldn’t recommend you to make a special trip here….err….unless you are a lover of smelly tofu. 

How to get from Shenkeng Old Street to Taipei?

To get back to Taipei MRT network, cross the road from outside Shenkeng Old Street (the big tree). Take bus #660 and alight at Muzha MRT Station. Journey time: 15 minutes.

 


Ximending Again!

(7pm)

I was dead tired, having walked the entire day. But it was a little too early to conclude the day. Plus I needed to find something to get rid of the horrible taste that’d lingered on. I was still feeling nauseous. No joke.

Okay, here’s how I was teased by my friend. I’d complained to him about feeling nauseous after eating the gooey smelly tofu.

“What do you expect? If you’d decide to go to Shenkeng (深坑), you should be prepared to find “sh*t” in the deep pit. Ha Ha Ha.”

Shenkeng means “Deep pit” in Chinese. :/ 

In the end, I decided to revisit Ximending. It was a poor decision because I found that I was too tired to shop. My legs were aching. After getting a plum bubble tea (NT35) to wash off the Smelly Tofu taste, I called it a day.

28,000 steps walked today. That’s equivalent to about 21km! I’m a crazy traveller.

That’s all for today. Stay tuned to Day 4 of my Taipei 8-day Travel where I would cover North Coast Tour and Keelung.

Essential Info:

  • Accommodation:  Neosoho near Taipei Main Station
  • Month of Travel:  October
  • Itinerary for the Day:  Maokong (Camphor Tree Trail, Tea Appreciation) >> Taipei Zoo >> Shenkeng Old Street >> Ximending
  • Mode of Transport:  Metro, Bus
  • Free Taiwan ‘Must-Buy’ ChecklistDownload
  • Get Printables: 8D/7N Taiwan Itinerary

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4 thoughts on “Taiwan 8 Days Solo Travel – Taipei Zoo & Shenkeng Old Street (Day 3 – pt 2)”

  1. merylbernardino

    Hello ms Nicole. I am a quiet reader but following your Taiwan adventures, i cant help to adore every moment of the trip mishaps or not… i wanna say thanks for providing such huge amount of helpful info..i love the way you tell your story felt like I was with you all the way of the trip. So timely coz im planning a taipei trip too as a solo traveller. Thank you is not enough..

    1. I’m pretty confident you would have fun in Taipei! Happy planning, and glad my story is useful in your planning. :) Feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

      1. Hi Nicole ,

        Your write-up and impressions to Taiwan impresses me; especially so since you were travelling SOLO. Kudos to your bravery. Anyway, I have just finished reading your day 3 travel and must say that your coverage is excellent as you give a good overview and tips on the respective places and venues you visited. At the point of writing, I am continuing to read your Day 4 travel and hope to visit the places you mentioned as I will also be going to Taiwan coming November.

        Keep up the good work, hope to hear more about your travelling through your writing. All the best : )

        1. Thank you for dropping me a note. It gives me the motivation to continue writing. =) Happy planning for your November trip. I always enjoy the planning phase and hope you do too. =)

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