Sights: Taipei Zoo

Okay this, like many posts I’m hoping to put up in the coming weeks, has been a long time coming.  Last summer a few friends and I planned an outing to Taipei Zoo.  It just so happened that a typhoon developed that week, and was just off the coast of Taiwan that day.  Needless to say we had a wet, cloudy, sometimes sunny, and very muggy day wandering around what is a very nice zoo, nestled up against the Mountains to the South of the city.

I haven’t got any pictures of the day, because one – they’d mostly be of animals, and two – the weather was pretty bad at times, so my camera stayed in my backpack.

It’s not hard to get to the Zoo.  Take the MRT Brown Line to the last stop, which is called Taipei Zoo Station.  This is the same station you get off at to go to Maokong via the gondola.  Actually, both can easily be done as part of day-trip, and you’d still have plenty of time (perhaps not the energy though) to visit a night market that night!

Entrance to the Zoo is NT$60 for adults, and when you realise how big it actually is, and how long you can while away in there, it’s a very good deal.  There’s a small buggy-train thing inside the Zoo too, which can help take you from place to place.

There’s a good mix of animals, and habitats as you walk through.  The main attraction though are the Panda’s (especially baby) and there’s plenty of panda paraphernalia you can pick up at the enclosure too.  There are also quite a few monkeys & apes at the Zoo, which are always fun to watch.  For me, it was also good to see some of the Aussie animals there, such as the resident emus.

All up, Taipei Zoo (and Maokong) make a good whole-day trip, if you are looking for something to do, especially with children in tow.  Just try to avoid a Typhoon 😉

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Useful: Taipei Free WiFi

I’ve been living in Taipei for 6 months now, and I haven’t once purchase a mobile data plan for my phone.  That is something special, coming from someone who was nearly permanently connected to his phone back home in Sydney.  That said, I haven’t been living the life on an online hermit while I’m out & about in Taipei city (or other places in Taiwan for that matter).  That’s because Taipei has a very good free public wifi network, so of course, I’ve signed up to that!

Signing up is easy, and takes a matter of minutes.  Just find TPE-Free in the list of available networks on your phone (or other mobile device), and follow the steps to sign-in (if using Android, you may need to open a web browser first).  The first page you see will be in Chinese, but there’s a link for an English version in there.  If all else fails, here’s a link to the sign-up instructions 🙂 Once you’re signed up, you just need to make sure you are within range of the network, and sign-in when you want to use the internet.

TPE-Free is available at many major public places around Taipei, at every MRT station, most bus stops (from what I’ve seen), and even random street corners, parks and markets.  There’s been many times when I’ve been wandering the city, or waiting at a traffic light, only to look down at my phone & see that I’m connected to the internet!  Of course, the first thing I do then is jump onto Facebook -_-”

One final benefit of signing up to TPE-Free is that it lets you also access other free internet services that are available around Taiwan.  I used the service in Hualien (at the station) to connect to the iTaiwan free wifi network (which is at most government buildings, and train stations).  That came in very handy when figuring out where I was planning to go, or quickly looking up a map before I headed out of the station.

Kaohsiung also has a free public wifi, from memory, though I only remember finding it at metro stations (that was two years ago though, I’ll write up something about how it is these days when I get some time to go down to Taiwan’s southern major city).