YangMingShan National Park (陽明山國家公園) is known for being the site of Taiwan’s tallest volcano, its amazing cherry blossoms, its world class hiking trails, and for its venomous snakes!
I had enjoyed a lot of late starts in Taipei during my stay, which meant more time in bed! However, for my trip to YangMingShan I had planned to get there very early, which meant an even earlier start! Before I left Taipei, I decided to have some traditional Taiwanese breakfast, which included a Dan Bing pancake, a Youtiao, and Dou Jiang soy milk. It was good to get a taste of Taiwan and stock up on the carbs before I headed into the wild at YangMingShan. By the way, how DELICIOUS is dou jiang? As a Briton, I am not familiar with it in my country, but here in Taiwan apparently everybody eats dou jiang for brekkie – you can now count me in as a fan, too!
If you don’t have time for breakfast beforehand, then you should know that before you enter YangMingShan national park there are many sidestreets that have food stalls. It is a good place to grab a bite to eat before you embark on your hike. Get as many bottles of water as you can carry too!
Despite my early start (made better by that delicious breakfast I ate), I arrived on what began as a fairly sunny morning. It was also very hot and humid, although later on in the day, it did begin to get slightly cooler, which may be down to the elevation changes I encountered in the park.
What I noticed more than anything was that this was a very beautiful park, with lush foliage everywhere. In many ways, it reminded me of the some hiking trails through Singapore’s Central Catchment area, such as Macritchie Park or Bukit Timah nature reserve. Yet here at YangMingShan it seemed to be even more immersive, which may be great if you are here as part of a group, but as a solo traveller, the atmosphere is already quite scary! Treading very carefully, and always on the look out for those dangerous snakes and spiders I had read about online beforehand, I began my hike in earnest.
There were plenty of places to rest in YangMingShan, although nowhere that I could see that sold refreshments. I am now aware there were a couple of places, but interestingly enough I did not see them as I was walking, in which case other travellers must have had the same problems. That’s why it is important to stock up on water before you enter the park.
Many idyllic spots can be found along YangMingShan’s many walking trails. The Juan Si Falls are very picturesque although hikers are advised to avoid this area in rainfall due to the danger of mudslides. What impressed me most was the so-called Milk Pond, which was just kind of sitting there unpretentiously in the middle of the green grass. I am told this is due to sulphur in the ground which turns the water the milky colour. I had never seen anything like it before, and if truth be told, it made the place seem a little ethereal and otherworldly. With the cloud cover coming in, and with the constant threat of snakes in the long grass, it made me once again question the wisdom of trekking YangMingShan solo.