While you are in the downtown area near Taipei Main Station, look southeast to see a group of mountains resembling a Chinese folding screen.
They are Nan-gang-shan and Sishou Hills. The five mountains with properly established trail systems range from one hundred some to over three hundred meters above sea level.
The word Sishou in Chinese means "four beasts;" the name Sishou Hills originated from the 4 mountains each shaped like a tiger, leopard, lion and elephant respectively.
English4TW team brings you to one of the four beast mountains Xiang-shan. Xiang-shan in Chinese means "elephant mountain." The elevation of Xiang-shan is one hundred some meters, which is much lower than the 508 meters for 1O1, the landmark of Taipei City.
Xiang-shan is at a distance away from 1O1, thus affording a nice view of the tall 1O1 from several of its lookouts along the hiking trail.
The trail becomes the prime location for watching 1O1 fireworks during the New Year's Eve celebration every year. The place is always packed with people and TV crews during that time. Finding a comfortable spot to stand on will be a challenging task.
To get the Xiang-shan Hiking Trail, take the MRT number 2 line or the Tam-sui Xing-yi red line to arrive at the final stop, Xiang-shan Station. Take the number 2 exit and you'll see Zhong-qiang Park. Follow the signs for a few hundred meters of walk to get to the trail entrance.
There are many places in Taipei where you can view Taipei 1O1. The most common one is north of the Taipei City Hall, but taking a walk from MRT Xiang-shan station to Xiang-shan Hiking Trail will offer you many more spots to view 1O1.
The area in the vicinity of Xiang-shan Station boasts the most expensive real states in Taiwan. You also get a good view of 1O1 from behind the MRT station. Stay around for a few minutes to see the lofty 1O1 from this wealthy community.
捷運象山站附近的區域是台灣最昂貴的地段。你也可以從捷運站後面取得一個看到一零一的好視野。 可以待個幾分鐘, 來從這富裕的社區看高大的一零一。
Entering the trail entrance, you'll need a bit over 10 minutes to get to the first lookout. Due to the steep trail, we recommend that you take the left route once you hit a fork in the trail after a short hike. On your way down, take the right path to make it easier on the knees.
Taking the left path uphill, you'll see a badminton court. We happened to see people playing badminton here.
There are 3 well-known scenic overlooks in Xiang-shan Hiking Trail for your 1O1 viewing pleasure. If you took the left path like we suggested, you'll see the one recently established by the city government. There is a green 1O1 cutout symbol on the handrail.
Those curvy cutouts symbolize fireworks. This is after all the place to watch scenic fireworks during the New Year's Eve.
We got lucky and spotted a Crested Serpent Eagle while we were here. The sound of the eagle was quite pleasant.
The right fork in the trail by the entrance leads to the other 2 scenic overlooks. If you took the left path to get to the newly established platform, instead of walking back down, simply walk a few steps back and take the path to the left that merges with the right path.
You'll first arrive at a platform affording a large field of view. There are usually tourists up there taking pictures. Up on the platform, you're looking at Taipei 1O1 right in the center.
Going further up the trail, you'll come to the top spot on the ridge. There are 6 large rocks there. It was therefore nicknamed Liu-ju-shi, meaning "six huge rocks" in Chinese.
One of the rocks has "Xiang-shan" in Chinese inscribed on it. The shape of Xiang-shan resembles an elephant's nose and the hilltop resembles the elephant's head. The large rocks are formed over a level ground, making them safe for tourists to climb atop and enjoy the 1O1 view.
Watch your steps on your way downhill. There are typically a good number of tourists, and the slope is quite steep. We saw someone making freshly squeezed orange juice at a stall on our way up and couldn't resist getting some after some hiking and sweat on our way down:)
Taking a closer look at 1O1
After some good views of the 1O1 building along the hiking trail, you can perhaps even get a closer look. The 1O1 building is actually not too far away from the trail. We recommend that you walk toward the lofty building. You'll perhaps find some surprises along the way.
Once you exit the hiking trail, make a right. You'll notice some mansions, buildings and apartment buildings along the way in this rich community. There are cherry flowers planted inside some of the mansions. Cherry flowers blossom in spring.
After about 200 meters of walk, make a left toward 1O1. You'll notice quite a few local dish shops; one of them worth our mentioning is Xiao-kai-yue Nan-cun Local Dish Shop, located on Zhuang-jing Road. We'll feature this restaurant in another one of our articles.