I WAS chasing the sunset on my first day in Taiwan. The guys from the Whatever, Whenever desk of W Taipei highly recommended that I go at day’s end at the Elephant Mountain.

“It offers one of the best views of Taipei City. It’s worth the hike.”

With “hike” as an operative word, they warned me (twice, in fact) with a (naughty) smile that I have to warm up before hitting the trail. I just laughed it off— because the stunning panoramic shot of the city at sunset with the Taipei 101 dominating the landscape sealed the deal, so to speak. How strenuous can making it up a tourist attraction really get?

It was marked as the last stop for the day after Yong Kang Street to try the Mango Ice because it’s in the same address as my home base.

However, I overspent my time at the CKS Memorial Hall. If I had to catch the sunset, I had to skip the Mango Ice to go climb a mountain.

Xiangshan aka Elephant Mountain is a 183-meter high mountain with a hiking trail and an attraction in the Xinyi District along with the Taipei 101. Its close proximity to the terminus of the MRT Red Line 2, the Xiangshan Station, makes it easy to reach, the starting point that is. The climb is another story.

Spotting the entrance to the hiking trail, I made my way up. This was what the earlier warning was all about—there seem to be no end to the flight of stairs. I was “warned”.

Finally, I reached a platform that offered a great view of the city. This though, wasn’t “it”, but just a viewing deck with a great photo opportunity. The better views are higher up.

After catching my breath and taking a few shots, I decided to continue the climb. I don’t want to get that nagging idea of “you should have done it, you were already there.”

Clearly, I was out of shape. The next flight of stairs was torture on my thighs and my heart felt like it was about to burst. I had to stop and pretend to enjoy the non-existent view while the fitter ones passed me by.

I even had to ask someone heading down what there was up there and was told the six rocks were just ahead of that boulder before me.

The Six Giant Rocks is an attraction and gets busy at sunset with everyone lining up and taking turns for a photo above one of the rocks with the Taipei City skyline as the backdrop.

The hiking trail didn’t stop there and goes around the mountain. This spot was my terminus.

I got my shot, and waited for nightfall with the rest of the tourists and photographers.

It was worth the climb and wait, indeed. I’m glad I went to see the sun set over Taipei City and watched it bathed in night light as the sky turned deep blue.

Now time to head home, but not after a good meal. I deserve one. The last bite I had was breakfast.

To get there: Tale MRT Red Line 2 to Xiangshan station, the terminus. Exit 2 and walk along the park’s path, take a left at the end of the road. The entrance of to the hiking trail is just after the towering temple.

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit ofapplesandlemons.com and jeepneyjinggoy.com