Friday, April 29, 2016

The Old Town named Jiufen

Sleepy mountain.

Yehliu Geopark was quite a disappointment for us. There were too many tourists, most of them from mainland whose middle names are either 'I-Don't-Follow-Rules' or 'Who-Cares'. After our hearty lunch at Family Mart, we made our way near a convenience store. According to some reliable travel blogs, buses occasionally stop here and pick up passengers bound for Jiufen.

The weather was still cold and overcast, but it didn't dampen our spirits.

The road to Jiufen's old street is reminiscent of Baguio City's Kennon Road. The intestine-like roads were pretty much challenging to drive most especially in areas that are indelibly blanketed by thick fog. As much as I wanted to sleep during the trip, I couldn't. As I peered out the window, the view was spectacular. I could no longer hide my excitement.

We got out of the bus and walked towards the entrance of the old street. There were a lot of people, mostly local tourists coming from the capital, but we didn't mind. The crowd actually added the charm of the place. The smell of incense, stinky tofu, and fried sausages greeted us as we made our way to the innards of the old market. The award-winning animated movie of Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away, was inspired by this quaint mining town. Well, uh, actually in the movie, Chihiro's ordeal started here when her parents turned into pigs. 

The famous lanterns.

Adorable tindera

Lantern overload.

We sampled some of their street foods like crepe ice cream, grilled sausages, herbal tea eggs, milk teas, and a whole lot more. We actually enjoyed everything in the old market. We also bought pasalubong items which were a bit cheaper than in Taipei. Eventually, our feet got tired from all the walking and climbing in some of Jiufen's steep stairs. We hung out at a nearby restaurant which offered a great view of Keelung Mountain. We were seated at the balcony area and enjoyed our hot coffee and milk tea.

Princess Mononoke at the realm of Spirited Away

Stray animals in Jiufen are fat.

Hi, Edna!


At around five in the afternoon, the fog started to roll from the mountains and the visibility got worse in just minutes. The temperature dropped abruptly and we can already see our breaths. I was wearing two layers of clothes yet I was still shivering. But who am I to complain? Back to where I came from, it's perpetually hot that you'll still sweat even if you're half naked.

We can no longer see the town near the sea.

It was already dark when we decided to go home. The queue was quite long but tolerable. Here are some photos I took before we boarded the bus to Taipei.

Our Jiufen experience was pretty good. At least it exceeded our expectations. Jiufen is a perfect place to unwind and is ideal for both solo and group travelers. You will never get hungry when you're there. The food is great and the place is very accessible from Taipei. There are hotels nearby in case you want to extend your stay here at the former mining village of Taiwan.

And as the famous quote goes from an American war veteran of WWII: I shall return.

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