26th March, 2016
On our third day in Taiwan, Kanna suggested a visit to Jiufen, which was a prosperous gold mining town until the 1950’s.
However, it went into sharp decline when mining was discontinued.
Luckily, its quaint streets, tea houses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean saved it from becoming another anonymous mining ghost town.
We took the train to Ruifang Station and the Keeling Transit bus to Jiufen.
The 15 minute bus ride passed many beautiful mountains and sea views as we rode up the hills.
As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by the aroma of dried squid.
I think it’s an acquired taste but I actually love the smell of it, haha!
Of course our first stop was lunch and we both opted for a steamy bowl of delicious Taiwanese Beef Noodles.
They were delicious and the soup tasted much less salty than their MSG-filled HK counterparts 😉
After lunch, I grabbed some stinky tofu from the stall next door.
I know it doesn’t sound very appealing but I’d heard that the stinky tofu in Taiwan tasted way better than those found in HK so I decided to give it a go and it was actually delicious!
It smells stronger than it tastes.
We also passed stalls selling ice-cream rolls…
…and Kanna went for an ice-cream dorayaki.
This is basically ice-cream between two pancakes.
Taiwanese sausages are the best! 😀
We wandered the tiny alleys full of vendors selling incredible food and Taiwanese crafts.
There’s a lot of character to the area which is why it’s so popular with tourists.
Also, if you’ve ever pondered, “hmm, I wonder where I could find sweets that resemble sanitary towels?”
Jiufen is the answer 😉
Jiufen is mainly a collection of tight alleys that climb up the side of a small mountain so the ocean views are pretty spectacular!
As Jiufen was founded during the Japanese Occupation, visitors can still see many of the remnants of Japanese architecture.
The town also became popular in 2001 due to its resemblance to the downtown in the anime movie, Spirited Away. Consequently, it attracted many Japanese tourists.
However, Miyazaki (the creator of Spirited Away) denied that Jiufen was the model city of the movie.
We also came across a cave where people had carved or written in their names so we decided to join in the fun, seeing as I had a Sharpie in my bag 😉
If you find yourself in Taiwan, I would definitely recommend a visit to Jiufen as it was one of my favourite places, full of character, delicious food and cute souvenir shops.
Our next stop of the day was to Shifen Old Street, the most famous stop along the Pingxi Branch Line which was originally built to transport coal.
However, it has now transformed into an internationally renowned railway for people to learn more about Taiwan’s coal-mining history and experience lighting sky lanterns.
The old school vibes attract lots of tourists every day.
Set by Shifen Railway Station, Shifen Old Street is mainly filled with sky lantern and souvenir shops with the odd food stall dotted along the way.
There are lots of different coloured lanterns to choose from, each representing something different.
We went for the red one as it represents good fortune.
The staff hung the lanterns up for us and we decorated the four sides.
Each shop also comes with someone to help you take photos for free and they tell you to do cheesy poses…
♫ LET IT GO, LET IT GO… ♫
Here’s a little clip of us releasing our sky lantern 😉
The trains still run through the middle of town so we had to move ourselves from the tracks a few times while decorating the lanterns.
Oh, and here’s our enthusiastic photographer! 😀
As it was quite late by the time that we had finished with our sky lanterns, we decided to head back to the city for dinner.
However, I’d like check out the Jingan Suspension Bridge and the Shifen Waterfall (a 20 meter tall waterfall that’s also regarded as the most scenic in Taiwan) if I find myself in Shifen again.
See you soon for our final day in Taipei! 😉