This is Elephant Mountain, a forested hill in Taipei’s east, reaching from the city’s edge towards its new commercial and financial center around Taipei 101. Living in Xinyi myself, its dense jungle and the small park of the same name are my favorite recreation spots for some free hours here and there.
Taipei (and its broader metropolitan area New Taipei) lie in a flat basin some 15-20km in diameter. In the east, a valley reaches towards the Pacific. North, the extinct Volcano Yangminshan overlooks the city. To its west, a small hilly ledge separates the city from the strait. And south, waves of hills mount towards the mountain ranges. In a way, Elephant Mountain is their humble vanguard.
Elephant Mountain is part of the “Four Beasts” (together with the leopard, tiger, and lion). For mountaineers, these hills are negligible. Not so for tourists, though! The Four Beasts are a popular weekend destination. If you ever see an image of Taipei with Taipei 101 prominently featured on it, odds are it is taken from here.