Taipei visitors and residents embraced the warm and sunny weather yesterday by flocking to various attractions in the city, including the Maokong Gondola, Taipei Zoo and the Taipei International Flora Expo.
The expo, which spans three sites — Yuanshan, Xinsheng Park and Dajia Riverside Park — drew a record-breaking 100,000 visitors before 4pm yesterday, attracting long lines at every pavilion and food stand.
“We gave up on the idea of visiting any of the pavilions because it’s just impossible to get in. It’s so crowded today, but it’s still a pleasant day to come out with family,” said Huang Chien-yuan (黃建元), a Taoyuan resident who visited the expo with his wife and two children.
The event’s general producer, Ting See-you (丁錫鏞), said the expo would stop allowing visitors to enter the sites if the number of people inside the expo reaches its maximum capacity of 150,000.
The city’s only cable car system, the Maokong Gondola in Muzha District (木柵), also drew a large number of visitors who started lining up for a ride at 6am.
According to the system’s operator, Taipei Rapid Transit Corp, the gondola attracted more than 26,000 passengers yesterday.
Meanwhile, Taipei Zoo drew more than 40,000 visitors. Zoo director Jason Yeh (葉傑生) said the Panda Hall, which houses the two giant pandas sent from China as a diplomatic gift, remained the most popular attraction.
The two pandas — Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓) — are entering their third breeding season in the zoo.
Yeh said Yuan Yuan, the female panda, has shown signs of estrus, and the zoo will try to stimulate Tuan Tuan and continue to monitor the two pandas in hopes they could conceive by May.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) greeted visitors at the gondola and Taipei Zoo yesterday morning, giving out red envelopes and wishing them blessings for the new year.
The city’s Department of Information and Tourism expected the number of visitors to Taipei during the holidays to increase about 15 percent.
Hau said unlike previous years, when Taipei residents returned to their hometowns during the holiday, turning the city into a ghost town, visitor numbers were expected to rise from 400,000 to 600,000 because of the shorter vacation.
“The flora expo has also drawn more visitors to Taipei during the Lunar New Year holiday, and we hope both local and foreign visitors have enjoyed their time in the city,” he said at the zoo.