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Monday, December 17, 2012

5D4N Taiwan Trip Itinerary: Day 2 - Jin Gua Shi + Jiufen Old Street + Shifen

5D4N Taiwan Trip Itinerary - Day 2

For a more updated itinerary for Jiufen, click here.

On the second day of the trip, we will be venturing outside Taipei to visit the Gold Ecological Park at Jinguashi, the bustling Jiufen Old Street as well as the rural beauty of Shifen. Fortunately, these 3 places are easily accessible by taking the Taiwan RailwayAdministrationn (TRA) at Taipei Main Station. Just approach any counters, or if you are familiar with the ticketing system, skip the queue and use the self-service machines. The friendly staff (donned with blue vests) are there if you have any purchasing enquiries. For Jinguashi/Jiufen, buy a ticket heading eastward towards Ruifang Station.
TRA counters in Taipei Main Station

Getting a TRA bento box (NT$100) is recommended if you haven't had breakfast, as the train ride would take approximately 40 minutes. They can be consumed at the train stations, as well as inside the train. Anyway, the bento box which consists of chicken cutlet, vegetables, pickles and braised egg was really good.
Upon reaching Ruifang station, head towards the bus stop which is located just outside Wellcome mart (see picture below) and take a bus heading to Keelung. Again, do not hesitate to ask the bus driver if you are unsure.

Note: Jin Gua Shi is located AFTER Jiufen Old Street.
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.
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. Take the similar buses back towards Jiufen Old Street.

Activity 2: Jiufen Old Street
Originally housed with only nine families in the 1800s, the villagers would purchased nine pieces of the same item in one reservation (hence the name, meaning nine parts/pieces) as roads were not built yet and materials were brought in mainly by ships. Located only minutes away from Jin Gua Shi (金瓜石), it was not long before someone struck gold at this rural village. Words leaked out and the village was soon swarmed with thousands of prospectors hoping to strike rich. The gold mines eventually exhausted and like its faded counterpart, Jiufen suffered the same fate.
Time passes and today, Jiufen is one of the most popular tourist attraction visited by travellers from all over the world to experience its former glory and well, its current glory of being a prosperous old street which offers nostalgic teahouses and the best Taiwanese cuisine, such as popular yam dishes, glutinous rice balls (粉圆), beef noodles, fish balls, herbal eggs, sun cakes (太陽餅) and the list goes on infinitely.
Activity 3: Shifen
From Ruifang station, purchase a train ticket heading to Shifen. Train ride takes about 15-20 minutes.

Located amidst the mountains of Taiwan, and similar to how Jiufen derives its name, Shifen is a scenic rural town built by ten families a long time ago and is most well-known for the railway tracks and the majestic Shifen Waterfall 十分瀑布.
Shifen is also famous for its traditional sky lanterns, which wishes are written on it and sent into the high heavens. The best time to launch the sky lanterns is at dusk or during the sky lantern festival, but you can see people sending their wishes as early as in the morning.
Additional Notes:
If you are visiting Shifen in late autumn or winter season, it is strongly advisable to do so during the morning or afternoons as the entrance to the waterfall closes at about 5pm.