⟨ Secret Place ⟩

Reading Life in the Hills and Woods

elsewhere cafe MAO

Words / MINICHERRYB
Photography / Evan Lin
Translation / Fanny Chan

山總有無窮無盡的力量吸引人們一直一直走進,這些日子我們都太需要新鮮的空氣,在哪裡我們看到嚮往已久的城市夜景,在哪裡我們可以聞到青苔的味道?

18歲剛拿到駕照騎著電單車連群結隊穿梭山海,是每位台灣人的青春回憶。

在80年代台北最有名的茶園就在貓空這後山,當時茶莊、喫茶店遍佈整個山頭,從種茶、製茶到喝茶,不分晝夜,像森林中的移動城堡。但自從十幾年前,咖啡廳、手搖飲品店大行其道,連日本人也迷上珍珠奶茶了,貓空慢慢變得十室九空,燈一盞一盞地熄滅。

小羊、小夫、嘉黛、龎鶴在台北市中心經營著「生活在他方」,卻沒有忘記少時結伴騎車到山上看夜景、喝茶的回憶。

「我們想念那些青春日子,也希望更多人可以像我們一樣擁有那段騎車上山的美好回憶,看到我們看過的夜景。」

「所以,我們在貓空找到地方,便著手經營生活在他方夜貓店。」

聽說,愈來愈多人在香港開咖啡廳。

聽說,愈來愈多書店撐不下去。

生活在他方夜貓店比起創始店多了飯麵等餐點,實在說不上是單純的咖啡廳,而且內裡最大的特色是販售由國外直接進口的外文繪本,還有一個展覽的空間。

「這年代,複合性才能生存下去嗎?」我翻開書,覺得斜槓青年這詞很俗,卻又腦海浮現著經營綜合性的空間,加上四位志同道合的負責人,不但能顧好本店,更能在山上展開第二分店,實在不容易。

但是,多次提問四位伙伴的心得和秘訣,都只是得到簡單而堅定的答案。

喜歡山上的空氣,同伴之間絕對的互相信任及分工合作,各司其職地聚在一起,沒有過多的計算;空間配合在地景色,被山林所擁抱著,讓來訪者享受舒心、寧靜的時光。

喝一口大吉嶺紅茶,合上繪本,真令人期待更有趣的貓空,在他方各自又凝聚在一起地努力,山林之間的燈火又再次逐一點亮起來。

There is an everlasting power in the mountain that keeps drawing people in. Yet in days like these, when we all need some fresh air, where can we go to smell the earthy aroma of green mosses paired with a view of the dazzling light of the city?

After receiving their licenses, almost all Taiwanese gather in groups to roam mountainous and seaside roads on motorbikes.

In the 1980s, there was a vibrant scene in Taipei’s Maokong district for its wide variety of tea houses and tea shops located all over the mountain —among which, you could find Taipei’s most famous teagarden. From tea growing, tea making, and tea drinking, all sorts of tea-related activities took place day and night; the little community on the mountain operated like a moving castle in the fantasy novel. But about a decade ago, coffee shops and hand-made beverage shops began gaining popularity, even the Japanese fell in love with bubble tea. Maokong is no longer as popular a site as it used to be, and the lights went out one by one.

Xiaoyang, Xiaofu, Jiadai, and Pinhe run the Everywhere Cafe in Taipei city center. They all share fond memories of riding a motorbike up to the mountain together to take in the night view and have a cup of tea.

“We miss those days a lot and hope that others can also create these beautiful memories like we did; riding up the hill and looking at the magnificent night scene.”

“That’s why we looked for a place in Maokong to start and run the Everywhere Cafe MAO.”

I heard that more and more people are opening coffee shops in Hong Kong.

I heard that more and more bookstores are closing down.

The Everywhere Cafe Maokong branch has a bigger menu than its founding location in Taipei city center as it includes more food options like rice and noodles. One can hardly describe the Maokong branch as a mere coffee shop because it also sells directly-imported foreign language picture books, as well as serving as an exhibition venue.

“Is being a multi-purpose space a way for the business to survive nowadays?” I flipped open the picture book and pondered. Despite how vuglar the term “slashie” is, I began to admire how these four like-minded owners run a multi-purpose space so smoothly and efficiently that they could manage to open a second branch in the Maokong mountain. 

Every time I asked about the secrets to their business success, the four partners gave me the very same simple, yet affirmative answer:

The love for mountain fragrance, the absolute trust and close collaboration among partners with each person doing what they are good at, and not too much calculation. Surrounded by hills and woods, the multi-purpose space becomes part of the natural scenery where visitors can enjoy a peaceful and tranquil moment.

Taking a sip of Darjeeling black tea, I closed the book. How much more interesting and exciting can it be for Maokong in the future? Whatever the future may bring for them, I genuinely look forward to it. With efforts from here, there and everywhere, the lights begin to shine once again in the mountain of Maokong.