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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gold Ecological Park @ Jin Gua Shi 金瓜石, Taiwan

Located within the mountains in the Rueifang District, and once a flourished gold and copper mining town, Jin Gua Shi was named a potential World Heritage site in 2002 for its rich historical, cultural and natural resources. It is opened to public since 2004.

Directions to Gold Ecological Park

1. From Taipei Main Station, take a train (eastward bound) to Rueifang Station. Take a bus heading towards Keelung directly opposite Rueifang Station (outside Wellcome Minimart with a notable long queue). Average rate of bus is approximately 15-20 minutes. The bus would passed by Jiufen as well.

2. From Zhongxiao Fuxing Station, take a bus heading towards Keelung at Exit 1 and alight at Jin Gua Shi station.

Known as Kinkaseki in Japanese, Jin Gua Shi is used as a prisoners-of-war (POWs) camp during the world war. Although the minerals have been depleted, this nostalgic old town still attracts vistors from all around the world to experience a journey back to its former glory. One can truly embrace the beauty of nature at Jin Gua Shi surrounded by peace and serenity to quiet your soul.

Places of interests in the Gold Ecological Park includes Environmental Building, Museum of Gold, Benshan Fifth Tunnel, Gold Refining Building etc. Most attractions are free-of-charge, but some might impose a small fee to enter.

To realize the eco-museum ideas and give visitors an experience of being in an actual tunnel and a better understanding of the working conditions underground, in cooperation with Taiwan Sugar Corp, the old Benshan Tunnel No 5 was renovated and partly re-opened to the public as the tunnel experience area. (Source: Gold Ecological Park main website)

Entrance fee is NT$50.

Visitors are required to don a safety helmet in case of falling debris and for safety precautions.

Looking all geared-up for the expedition!

Waxworks are used to show the process of ore extraction and how the miners worked in the old days. It also features sound effects triggered by movement sensors to enhance the experience.

The Museum of Gold (admission free) houses exhibitions which shows the journey of gold discovery, old mining equipments, mining transport systems and cultural artifact displays.

The second floor of the museum features gold-theme artwork and characteristics, such as this pair of grasshoppers with pretty impressive details.

And of course, the star attraction which we are here for:

220.3kg of unprecedented solid 999 pure gold ingot! There is a real-time counter on the worth of this block of high-grade gold. As of November 2012, it is more than a whopping amount of NT$358.6M (which is equivalent to S$15.33M)!

And yeah, go ahead and touch it. It indeed feels good to be rich for a few seconds.

If you are looking for some souvenirs, there is a gift shop just beside the Museum of Gold which sells gold-theme items, such as trinkets and jewellery. There is also a place where you could pan (and keep) your own gold (NT$100), but since it runs on a 30 minutes interval and we were rushing to Jiufen, we didn't get to participate.

If you are looking for a rest-stop, check out 山顶豆花This dou-huey (bean curd) stall sells really good bean curd. Unlike the ones we have here which use sugar syrup, they use rock sugar there (along with ginger), giving it a super-refreshing flavour.

Besides the Gold Ecological Park in Jin Gua Shi, there are a few other attractions in that area as well - Jin Gua Shi Shinto Shrine, Gold Waterfall, Cyuanji Temple (just to name some). So why not spend some time to explore this old town, and perhaps bath in the richness of Jin Gua Shi's glory?

For more information, please do visit their main website at the link below: